Before inheriting the title "Master of
Disaster", a perfectly justified honour for his reputation of creating
some of the greatest disaster movies of the 1970s, Irwin Allen was also the man
responsible for some of the classic TV shows to emerge in the 1960’s. Voyage to
the Bottom of the Sea, The Time Tunnel, and Land of the Giants have all
survived the test of time and become immortalised among the best in terms of
cultural importance. However, above all others, Lost in Space (1965-1968) is arguably
the series that endured. Very loosely inspired by Johan David Wyss's classic 1812 adventure novel
“Swiss Family Robinson”, the premise for the show was fairly uncomplicated and
followed the adventures of the Robinson family, a crew of space colonists who encounter
a number of strange and otherworldly situations after their ship is sabotaged
and thrown off its original course. A
great deal of the show’s appeal was the family, a full generational spectrum
which naturally connected with its audience. Of course, the crew also included
an essential antagonist, Dr. Zachary Smith. Smith was the man responsible for
sabotaging the Jupiter 2 and as a result, finds himself stranded aboard the
spacecraft. Completing the crew was the robot, a charismatic scene-stealer designed
by Robert Kinoshita, the man behind the iconic Robby the Robot from the 1956
sci-fi classic Forbidden Planet (1956).
Another essential element of Lost in Space
was its music, an accompaniment that varied (and re-used) a great deal
throughout its three season history. Many respected composers had worked on the
series including Herman Stein, Hans J. Salter, Alexander Courage, Gerald Fried,
Robert Drasnin and Leigh Harline. However, one composer is perhaps associated
with the series above all others, the legendary John Williams. Williams of
course went on to compose some of the greatest film scores in history. It’s
near impossible to summarise the enormity of his success, but titles such as
Jaws, the Star Wars movies, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Superman, E.T.
the Extra-Terrestrial, and the Indiana Jones series should serve as a pretty
In recognition of the composer’s excellent
contribution to the series, Spacelab9 have released a glorious vinyl box set
featuring the music of Johnny Williams. The four LP’s consist largely of music
from four classic episodes, The Reluctant Stowaway, Island in the Sky, The
Hungry Sea and My Friend, Mr. Nobody. Spacelab9 have put a great deal of
thought and care in producing this highly impressive collection. Aside from
Williams’ original compositions, each of the individual albums is rounded off
with generous bonus material from each of the corresponding episodes. These extra
tracks feature music by the Louisville born Richard LaSalle. A respected
composer in his own right, LaSalle was responsible for the show’s library cues
which not only provided a certain familiarity but were also vital to the show’s
distinctive overall soundscape. Main and end titles are also included for
series 1, 2 and 3 as are some alternate versions and relevant bumper cues.
Lost in Space: The Complete John Williams
Collection is certainly a cohesive set which collates Williams’ entire
contribution neatly into one package. It’s a smart and intelligent move which
also widens its appeal to fans of the composer and not just fans of the TV
The music that Williams composed for the series arguably remains the most memorable. The use of several composers for the later series perhaps disrupted the shows signature sound and shifted the show’s established identification. Williams, who was at this point in his career also working in film, composed with a more serious and dramatic approach. Several commentators have often noted that Williams’ music for Lost in Space was heavily influenced by Bernard Herrmann, and in particular, his music for the Robert Wise film The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). It’s a comparison and an argument which is hard to entirely dismiss. Williams makes great use of futuristic, electronic instrumentation, whilst deep woodwind and bassy brass illustrate the often perilous and threatening situations encountered by the Robinson family. However, it’s these themes that worked so well for the series and at the same time provided a prominent sense of ‘stability’ that was so essential to the show’s success. The audio (contained over 68 tracks) is both sharp and punchy. There’s a lot to enjoy here, over two and half hours in fact, and a great deal has to be attributed to Anders Peterson who has performed wonders in terms of the audio restoration and mastering.
If Williams’ music wasn’t impressive enough, Spacelab9 have produced a stunning piece of packaging for this release. Each of the four albums comes in a coloured (purple, blue, green, and orange) vinyl, and are reflective of the glorious 60s culture. Each of the four albums are presented within an 8-sided, quad-fold book jacket and generously illustrated with some super colour pictures and informative liner notes written by producer Kevin Burns. All of this is presented in a hardbound slip case carrying the show’s iconic Lost in Space logo. It’s certainly a stunning set which works equally as pleasing on the eye as it does the ear. There’s little doubt that a great deal of love and respect has been injected into this very special collection and that time and effort certainly shines through.
Spacelab9 have ultimately produced a highly impressive and very stylish set, a stand-out piece that screams respect and demands to be admired.