- Battle of the Planets (1978) [TV Series]
Battle of the PlanetsSilva America (SILCD1167)
Format: CD (117 min)
Review: Battle of the Planets
4 / 5 Stars
Let's go back to 1979 or 1980 or so, when I was in junior high in a little town up in Maine. I used to come home from school about 3 PM and toss my book bag down and go fire up our wonderful high-tech 13" black & white TV. This was before cable, mind you, so we only got about 6 or 7 channels, two of which were Canadian since we were only 60 miles from the border (we were on top of a hill with a big antenna). At 3:30 every weekday, I used to turn to ATV and watch this Japanese animation sci-fi/giant monster/super-team show called "Battle Of The Planets". I thought it was a pretty cool show – mind you I was 13 – and I did look forward to watching the adventures of G-Force: Mark, Jason, Tiny, Princess, and Keyop (brrt, toot toot!) as they fought the forces of Zoltar and his (or was it her?) artificial giant bio-robot monsters from Planet Spectra. Each character had their own special vehicle and weapons and some funky winged flying suits modeled after different birds. Lots of nifty sci-fi hardware and battlin' action; definitely a fun time-waster for a 13-year-old trapped in a town way out in the sticks of New England.
I must admit, I never thought I'd see this music collected on a CD. Frankly, I didn't think the series was that popular or important. For a while, Cartoon Network was showing a severely edited version of the show that did absolutely no justice to the original American version (which was yet another edited version of the original Japanese cartoon, "Science Team Gatchaman") But, here it is, in all it's kitschy mid-70's TV music glory! The test: Do I get chills when I hear the title track? The answer: You bet! Ooh, yeah, that's what I'm talking about… the "Main Title" actually sounds similar to Hanna Barbera's "Super Friends" theme in tone, instrumentation, and arrangement, according to the liner notes. This comes as no surprise, as the composer of much of the music (26 tracks) was the legendary late lamented Hoyt Curtin, who composed most of the best and most memorable cartoon scores for Hanna Barbera in the 60's and 70's, including those for "Super Friends", "The Flintstones", "The Jetsons", "Yogi Bear", "Scooby Doo", and "Johnny Quest".
The remainder of the music (12 tracks) is from the original Japanese version and was composed by Bob Sakuma. Their music is actually quite similar in many ways; one can only assume that they were both influenced by each other. The tympanic bombast of Sakuma's "Spectra Versions" segues into the disco-beat & wah-wah guitar (love that, always a plus) of "Fighting Phoenix" and then into the sunny tropical "Coral Reef," which I remember from a beach scene that prominently featured team member Princess in a bikini… remember, I was 13, okay?
The tracks bring to mind some specific animation sequences; yep, "Phoenix Raising" is what was running behind the launching of the team flagship spaceplane; "7-Zark-7'' Song" is a goofy, Jetsons comedy-theme synth bubbler, and the suspenseful "Holding Up a Shade: Into Dark Depths" recalls one particular set of scenes where the team is attempting to infiltrate Spectra's hidden undersea headquarters on Earth (doesn't every evil alien organization need one of those?), dodging Spectra soldiers and nasty bio-mecha critters.
Okay, this CD isn't for everyone. If you are not a fan of this show or of kitschy incidental TV music from the 70's, it would be essentially meaningless to you, sort of like owning Muzak. But if, like me, you were junior high/high school student in the early 80's and you made sure to get home in time to see Battle of the Planets, this one's a must have. If you're into anime and you've never heard of the show (hard to fathom, I know), it's probably worth picking up. It's available exclusively from www.supercollector.com for a reasonable $14.99, so break out that credit card, otaku-san, and get yourself some snazzy G-Force theme jams! Oh no… it says here in the booklet, coming in August 2001 from Kid Rhino, Battle of the Planets on video and DVD! Sigh… there goes the family Christmas present money. Well, I'm sure they'll understand.