The Greatest THUNDERBIRDS Mixtape Ever! - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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The Greatest THUNDERBIRDS Mixtape Ever!

Not so loud, m'lady...


Kids today do not know the joy of making a mixtape. I'm not talking those CD-R's or 'curating' playlists. No! I'm talking analogue old school mixtapes. The old C60s and C90s. The joy of fitting songs on each side so as not to leave a huge gap that needed spooling to the end, or you missed half the first track on the B-side if you turned it over too early. and equally judging how much space you had left to fit another song on, as not to lose the end of that track if it runs out of tape.

Many an hour of my teenage years was spent knocking up themed compilations of chart hits, movie tracks, love songs (to gift, of course), recording the top 40 from the radio (we all did it, c'mon!) or just collecting my favourite tunes. But I never did make a Thunderbirds themed mixtape, so let's rectify that now with The Greatest Thunderbirds Mixtape Ever!!! (I imagine a long reverb echo at the end there).

Now, by no means am I claiming to include every single Thunderbirds related song there has ever been, oh no, but I believe I've compiled some absolute gems for your listening pleasure. So sit back, relax and enjoy The Greatest Thunderbirds Mixtape Ever! (everr... everrr... everrr)

Pop in the tape, press play and BAM...



F.A.B. feat MC Parker - Thunderbirds Are Go! (The Pressure Mix)
Purists may hate this, but I absolutely love it. Reaching number #5 in the UK charts back in 1990, it's a funky little remix of the Thunderbirds theme tune, with a great introduction (including that iconic countdown) perfect to kick off any mixtape.

F.A.B. feat MC Parker, Thunderbirds Are Go! is packed full of samples from the TV series (and something else quite special which we will get to shortly), as well as some snippets from a couple of Gerry Anderson's other Supermarionation shows; Captain Scarlet & Stingray. Plus it has an awesome music video with Parker on the wheels of steel - it's the original Parker puppet too! He's still got it after all those years.



Barry Gray Orchestra - Fireflash Landing Theme
Barry Gray's soundtrack album for the Thunderbirds TV series is pure quality. All 22 tracks could feature on this mixtape, but as I'm limiting it to a total of 10 songs I've plumped for, IMHO, the best two that aren't the theme tune. The Fireflash landing theme evokes both urgency and atmosphere. Like the track that precedes it, although in an entirely different way, it makes you sit up and pay attention as you know something dramatic is about to go down. And it is...



Busted - Thunderbirds Are Go!
The 2004 live-action Thunderbirds film was not universally greeted with praise from fans of the classic series, but it's not as bad as people often make out. A good Sunday afternoon watch with the children is to be had in this Jonathan Frakes directed adventure. Hans Zimmer was the man on scoring duties, and while he has provided some incredibly memorable works over the years this, sadly, isn't one of them. The standout song, which plays over the closing credits, is this by British group Busted. No matter what you may think, there is a generation which grew up with this track as their Thunderbirds theme.



Fuzzbox - International Rescue
A UK Top 20 hit from back in 1989, a cry for help from International Rescue from the all-female group We've Got A Fizzbox & We're Gonna Use It (who quite wisely often just went by the name Fuzzbox). While the song itself focuses on International Rescue (right down to a recreation of Jeff Tracy's countdown), the video features visual references to Barbarella, Herge's The Adventures Of Tintin, and even backdrop footage from another Gerry Anderson-produced series, Space: 1999.



Barry Gray Orchestra - The Tracy Lounge Piano
The second track from the brilliant Thunderbirds soundtrack album is a perfect mid-point moment. As the title suggests, The Tracy Lounge Piano is a wonderful easy listening piece of lounge music. Dreamy in atmosphere, it evokes cocktails and warm, relaxing evenings gathered with friends. Back to back with the track that follows this is a perfect palette cleanser.



The Shadows - Lady Penelope
Recorded for the 1966 feature-length movie Thunderbirds Are Go, The Shadows (sans Cliff) present an equally laid-back but cool piece of music, very much of it's era but also quite timeless in appeal. The Shadows also recorded a version of the Thunderbirds Theme. It's odd! The intro sounds more like Crossroads than Thunderbirds, which is largely why it isn't included here.



Cliff Richard Jr - Shooting Star 
Reunited and it sounds so good. Cliff & The Shadows appeared in marionette form in the Thunderbirds Are Go movie. How that came about was down a chance encounter between the Andersons and Cliff, as they owned a holiday home in Portugal near each other. It's a wonderfully indulgent couple of minutes of the film, adding nothing to the plot at all, but giving us a dream sequence at The Swinging Star club with Cliff Richard Jr performing this great little tune.

And here's a nice bit of trivia for you - Bob Monkhouse provides the voice of the Swinging Star announcer, Space Navigator Brad Newman.



Moya Griffith's - S.O.S
A prolific director in his early years, Gerry Anderson may have created Thunderbirds, and even wrote for the series, but he never directed an episode of the show. He stepped away from the camera in 1962, after filming an episode of Fireball XL5, and apart from a couple of rare occasions (an episode of UFO and the film Invasion UFO) stayed away from that area of creativity for 20 years. Then, in 1983, Gerry Anderson directed his first music video in the form of SOS, a song performed by Moya Ruskin, who used the stage name of Moya Griffiths and was the singing voice of Kate Kestrel in Terrahawks.

This is an absolute gem, not only does it feature many references to Thunderhawks but also includes some to the Thunderbirds characters, "Mr. Tracy", and vehicles. Plus in a nice marketing ploy, there was a sticker on the sleeve of the 7" single that read "Help Me Fight Zelda. Buy Me".



Barry Gray feat Sylvia Anderson & David Graham - Parker, Well Done
Like all good mixtapes, you don't want to run out of steam too soon. You need to hold back some of the really great tracks and not blow them all at the beginning, ending up like most Now! compilations where after track 7 it's all very meh.

Back at the top of the page I mentioned that some of the samples from the F.A.B. track came from something quite special. This is it. Parker, Well Done is a miniature audio story with a lovely little ditty performed by Sylvia Anderson as Lady Penelope, praising the work of her faithful driver and confident Parker. Written by Barry Gray, tt was first released in 1965 as the B-side to the Thunderbirds theme song and twenty years later became a much sought after item for many bedroom samplers of the day who pinched snippets of its dialogue (like Jeff Tracy's "We got a hot one for you") to include in their dance songs.



The Royal Marines Band Service - Thunderbirds Theme
Over the years, covers of this march have been released by such diverse musicians and bands like Billy Cotton, Joe Loss, Frank Sidebottom, and The Rezillos (and the previously mentioned odd version by The Shadows), plus of course by Barry Gray himself. Taking nothing away from Gray's important work, the last track on the Thunderbirds mixtape is, IMHO, the finest performed version of the Thunderbirds Theme to date.

The Royal Marines Band Service added the Thunderbirds Theme to its repertoire, performing it at many a public event, including the public unveiling of Concorde in France in 1969. There introduction to the piece came about after being asked to contribute to the 1966 Thunderbirds Are Go film, where they performed the march to accompany the closing credits. Filmed in a single morning at the Royal Marines School of Music in Deal, Kent, with the marines conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Vivian Dunn, it's a powerful and perfect rendition of this iconic piece of music.


And that's it! We've come to the end of our mixtape. Hopefully some of your favourite Thunderbirds related tunes were included, and just as importantly I hope that there was a surprise or two along the way.

Let us know your favourite Thunderbirds related tune in the comments below, and you may like to also check out our Star Trek mixtape here.

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