Library Music - KPM, De Wolfe, Bruton, etc.

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by izgoblin, Jul 16, 2008.

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  1. izgoblin

    izgoblin Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Any other fans/collectors of library music around here?

    Library music, aka production music or "needle drop" music, is created for use in TV, films and other applications but is not normally issued commercially to the general public. For years this music was avoided by most, as it was thought of to be synonymous with easy listening or Muzak. However, over time people have discovered that in the hundreds of library records released in the '60s, '70s and early '80s, there are some real gems to be found for any music lover.

    The uninitiated should really consider picking up one of the great compilations, such as "Bite Hard: The Music De Wolfe Studio Sampler 1972-1980", "KPM Action Drive" or the De Wolfe "Soundbook" comps on the Irma La Douce label to hear some excellent and way too often overlooked jazzy and funky instrumentals.

    I'm probably in the minority here as I still find it fun to sift through the many horrid tracks and often even horrid full albums to find that diamond in the rough. It takes a special person to plunk down $30 - $60 for an LP only to find one or two exciting tracks. While the compilations include some really great pieces, they also have left off a lot of amazing tunes, and many music libraries haven't earned compilations at all.

    So enough from me for now - anyone else here own or have previously owned any library albums? Any personal recommendations or warnings of albums to be sure to avoid?
  2. jupiter8

    jupiter8 Forum Resident

    NJ, USA
    I actually have to sift through library music every day of my life for my job-listening to it for pleasure might be torture...

    That being said, KPM is by far the best stuff-a lot of their older stuff is quite funky and cool to listen too-plus it was composed more like "songs"-a lot of the stuff I deal with that is new is already cut into :60s/:30s etc. The older stuff they often repackage and even "remix" in different, more contemporary styles.

    Bruton does a lot of great stuff too-they recently released a cd of new music by the James Taylor Quartet, a great UK acid jazz act. I rarely get CDs these days however, it's pretty much downloads...
  3. Cheepnik

    Cheepnik Overfed long-haired leaping gnome

    I have several KPM collections, and a few albums from other libraries. You will occasionally find a smoking instrumental among the soundalike dross on those LPs.

    I collect NFL Films production music, and many of their earliest (and most interesting IMO) themes came from out-of-house. They relied especially heavily on KPM's Flamboyant Themes and The Big Beat albums.
  4. I'd like to know more about compilations of old-school production music. I enjoy the "Music for TV Dinners" CD on Scamp, but that's all I've got.
  5. scotto

    scotto Forum Resident

    I used to work at a sound archive that had complete runs of much of this stuff. We also had a lot of earlier ('30s-'50s) production music and sound effects for radio on 16" transcription discs--that stuff was the absolute bomb! Some of the most fun I ever had was when the boss was gone and I played nothing but "ending stingers" (I think that's what they were called) for a whole afternoon--hours of "boinnnnnnnng," slide whistle cascades, wild fanfares, and assorted punctuating bleeps and blips.
    Cool stuff.
  6. izgoblin

    izgoblin Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I'd highly recommend one of the comps I mentioned in my initial post. There are other good'uns out there, but I don't have them since I started collecting the original LPs. "Bite Hard" is especially top notch from start to finish. The annoying thing is that none of these have any liner notes whatsoever, so if you get interested in the music, you have to go to the internet to learn about the composers.

    I get a real kick out of it when I spot the older tracks in newer productions. Cartoon Network's "Dexter's Laboratory" used several old library tracks, for example. And there I am exclaiming to my wife, "Hey, that music is from an old library album!"

    "That's nice, Dear" is her understandably unenthusiastic response. :)
  7. wildstar

    wildstar Forum Resident

    ontario, canada
    The original Genesis guitarist Anthony Phillips has had a long side career or composing library music, some pieces of which do find their way onto his commercially released archive collections of rare/previously unreleased music.
  8. PhilCohen

    PhilCohen Forum Resident

    Soft Machine recorded an entire album's worth of Library music for De Wolfe. This music was later released as "Soft Machine-Rubber Riff" by the "Voiceprint" label.
    Personel for this session was Karl Jenkins(Keyboards,Flute,Sax), Carol Barratt(second keyboard), Roy Babbington(Bass),Ray Warleigh(Flute), John Etheridge(guitar) & John Marshall(Drums). Warleigh was accidentally not credited in the liner notes. The compositions are all by Jenkins. Carol Barratt is Jenkins' wife, in her only recording with the group.
  9. Gazman

    Gazman Active Member

    As did the Pretty Things...better known now as 'Electric Banana'. Some good stuff...'Grey Skies', 'Alexander' etc.
  10. R. Totale

    R. Totale The Voice of Reason

    I'm a big Ron Geesin fan and so bought one of his KPM records ("Electrosound"), but I don't know if anyone not into Geesin would enjoy it. It's very much bloops and bleeps as the title implies.
  11. Mistermono

    Mistermono Forum Resident

    Toronto, Canada
    A lot of the Alan Hawkshaw (aka The Mohawks) stuff on KPM is worth seeking out.
  12. mfp

    mfp Forum Resident

    Paris, France
    Being a big Brainticket fan, I rabbidly collect Coloursound library LPs which are almost all the work of Brainticket under different names.
  13. DancingArchitect

    DancingArchitect New Member

  14. izgoblin

    izgoblin Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I knew about Soft Machine and Pretty Things, but never knew Anthony Phillips composed library music. Was this done under his own name or a pseudonym I wonder?

    Indeed rock fans can find something of interest in a few of these albums. I'm probably in the minority, but one of my favorites is one on the KPM label titled "Rock On", which contains some funky '70s guitar-based rock. Although a few of the tracks are a bit underdeveloped, this does stand alone as a pretty decent rock instrumental LP in my opinion.

    It's rare and pretty expensive, but I was giving a listen to the terribly titled "Pop Sound by The Cool" on the De Wolfe label yesterday. Fans of late '60s rock would likely enjoy the Jethro Tull-ish "Highway Song" and an almost Electric Prunes-ish pop song "Emily Waits". Sure, one can think of it as manufactured corporate music, but many of the composers were talented and enthusiastic folk who found this their only way to make money by making their music.

    While the general rule is that the great library composers put out just as much garbage as they did genius material, I personally find that the most consistent is guitarist Alan Parker. His two volumes of THE GUITAR FAMILY albums on the Themes label are exclusively performed on acoustic and electric guitars - a really good listen if you like that sort of thing.
  15. mfp

    mfp Forum Resident

    Paris, France
    And in Italy, many composers who were famous in their own right made library music that kills: Morricone, Trovaioli, Umiliani, Ortolani...
    A great compilation of Italian Library is Barry 7's Conncetors vol.2 (the volume 1 is all French composers):
  16. Buckyball

    Buckyball Forum Resident

    I picked up a few LPs of production music on the Major Records/Valentino label and in doing so discovered a good funky compilation of some of their prime stuff from the late '70s/early '80s.

    Cinemaphonic: Electro Soul (on the Emperor Norton label)
    Be careful following that link as the cover image features a nude woman.
    A1 Walter Murphy - Hokus Pokus
    A2 Mario Nascimbene - Hot Buns
    A3 Walter Murphy - Creepy Street
    A4 Nicolas Flagello - Wailing Wail
    A5 Johnny Hawksworth - Rhythm and Rock
    A6 Fernando Antonio Pearson- Mellow Dancer
    A7 Walter Murphy - Dancin'
    A8 Michael Coliccio - Ebony Tower
    B1 Edward Simon - Harvey Wallbanger
    B2 Mario Nascimbene - Hot Asphalt
    B3 Mario Nascimbene - Shake and Bake
    B4 Tom Manoff - Mr. Max
    B5 Michael Colina - Man Through the Day
    B6 Fernando Antonio Pearson - Street Corner Talk
    B7 Emmanuel Vardi & Lenny Hambro - Hot Line
    B8 Richard C. Sanders - Afro Cat
    B9 Richard C. Sanders - Electro Soul
    B10 Earl Salisbury - Lunar Module

    Walter Murphy, who made lots of music for Valentino, is probably most famous for making A Fifth of Beethoven and the music for Family Guy. Some of the records I picked up from that label featured orchestral music by Piero Umiliani.
  17. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    I own my fair share of these records due to being in broadcasting. I love the UK Library Music discs a great lot.
  18. rcdupre

    rcdupre Flying is Trying is Dying

    I recently discovered this kind of music on youtube, and I LOVE IT ! The funky seventies stuff, there's so much of it on there... the generic looking albums covers all the same except a number and name...there's also a buncha KPM CDs out there which I need to get! Incredible stuff, mostly British I think (?)
  19. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    Also, let me make a recommendation. If you like funky soul and Moog breaks, look for some Pepper Tanner production library records. Showcase has some real goodies. Memphis studio musicians played on these recordings. So, some of the American Studios, Stax, and Hi session players can be heard on these.
  20. rcdupre

    rcdupre Flying is Trying is Dying

    here's some I like from youtube, you can go on forever with the links:

    Klaus Weiss
    Teddy Lasry
    Bernard Estardy
    Daniel Janin
    Pierre Dutour
    Andy Loore
    Janko Nilovic

    man, how many of these records are there? Thousands ???? There's a bunch of Bristish people too whose names I can't recal...
  21. izgoblin

    izgoblin Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Yeah, there are tons. I was randomly buying library LPs from several different companies for a while but now I try to limit myself to just the KPM and DeWolfe libraries as I get excited to come across a piece of music I've heard and liked in a movie somewhere and it seems these libraries were used the most.
  22. nlgbbbblth

    nlgbbbblth Forum Resident


    Here's some purchases from last November's Utrecht fair.


    Bernard Estardy - Piano et Orgues (Telemusic)
    Bernard Estardy - Piano et Orgues Vol. 2 (Telemusic)
    These are most enjoyable - especially the soulful Farmiente Amoureux and the moody Super Angoisse on the first one and the beaty Phasing Liturgique on Vol. 2

    Jean-Claude Petit et Son Orchestre - Dance and Mood Music Volume 6 (Chappell)
    Another solid entry in the series - the fantastic Strange Galaxy is the high point here.

    The Cavendish Nine - Cavendish No 4 Series
    Ray Davies gets a whole side to himself and burns it up with the fuzz-meets-Confessions series funk of Action Line. Soul City and Two Way Stretch are also worth the entry fee. The second half is pleasant but nothing to get excited about - aside from Syd Dale's It Takes Nine To Mambo.


    Ray Davies / John Fiddy - Contemporary Themes (KPM)
    Brian Bennett / Alan Hawkshaw - Synthesis (KPM)
    Keith Mansfield - Big Business / Wind of Change (KPM)
    A fine trio of KPMs. Contemporary Themes is from 1977 and comes with punchy and pacy tunes like Power Play and Action Assignment. Same year as Ray's Cops and Robbers LP. Big Black Cadillac is the menacing funker from Synthesis. Two versions of World In Action on Wind of Change.

    Narassa Orchestra di Amedeo Tommasi - Camera-Car (Rotary)
    A long-time want. There's seven in the series, I now have two. From the Diggers Digest stall, a jazzy, moogy classic. The title track is mightily great.
  23. Dillydipper

    Dillydipper Sultan Of Snark

    Central PA
  24. izgoblin

    izgoblin Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Not all gems is right!! Collecting these is one of the most frustrating hobbies ever. You spend WAY too much money to maybe only get a few good tracks here and there, and some LPs are bloody awful from start to finish. Sure, there are some which are great from start to finish, but those are truly few and far between.

    I told myself a few years ago I was going to stop buying any more, but then I get the addiction again. I just know there are more treasures out there waiting to be unearthed (that is, music which would suit my tastes but perhaps not that of those who put together the many compilation CDs).
  25. jupiter8

    jupiter8 Forum Resident

    NJ, USA is doing more and more stuff with well-known artists- they have 2 new collections of music by Boris Blank (Yello) as well as stuff "executive produced" by George Martin, Eddie Kramer, Jack Douglas, etc
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