THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Bob Thompson's SOUND OF SPEED - now on LP!

Space Age Pop specialist Bob Thompson was a contemporary of Mancini and Esquivel, one of the all time great "mood" musicians. I once had the honor of interviewing Bob for Atomic Magazine (still swinging at age 86!), as well as providing liner notes to the CD reissue of his landmark lounge album, The Sound of Speed. Now, Bob's son Spenser has re-reissued this melodic masterpiece in its original, intended format - LP! Below is my review of the CD reissue as originally published on the Port Halcyon web site (now called RetroSpective Magazine). You can also download a compilation of Bob's music on iTunes. Enjoy it in any format, it's the perfect platter for your next (or first) swank cocktail party. Cheers!

Finally, a stateside reissue of the seminal cocktail culture composer Bob Thompson's landmark lounge album, The Sound of Speed, has been released on CD courtesy of those pop culture archeologists at Dionysus, and the tireless efforts of Thompson's son, Spenser. The brilliant Thompson, a contemporary of such celebrated and better known RCA mood music magicians like Juan Garcia Esquivel and Henry Mancini, is long overdue for popular and critical re-discovery, and this crucially cool LP is a perfect launching pad for this revival.

Recorded in Rome in 1960, The Sound of Speed may seem relatively syrupy in our current culture of hyper-frenetic bass beats and pulse-pounding urban rhythms, but this music hails from a totally different context and era: The Space Age, when rest and relaxation were as much a part of our perceived future as electronically enhanced convenience. While Bob Thompson was at the peak of his powers, a lifestyle of luxury was promised for all, from the stay-at-home mom to the working stiff to the corporate climber. The soothing, stirring orchestration on this collection conveys both inspiration and intoxication. Each track is devoted to a different mode of transportation, most incorporating (or "sampling") the actual mechanical sounds of the object in musical question.

The soaring rhapsody of "Star Fire" (Jet Plane) and the bouncy lushness of "Early-Bird Whirly-Bird" (Helicopter) have been heard before on lounge compilations, but the rest of the dozen tunes here will be beautiful new music to the lucky listener's ears. From the continental coolness of "La Vespa" (Motor Scooter) to the dreamy drama of "Sub-Manhattan Blues" (Subway Train) to the aquatic aural atmosphere of "Sea-Spray" (Speed Boats) to the cosmic blast of "Count Down" (Missile), Bob Thompson will take you for one wild, wondrous ride. The destination for each traveler is the same: the sanctuary of your own sonically soused soul.

Along with the original cover and liner notes, the CD package also includes excerpts from an interview yours truly did with Bob for the Fall 2002 issue of ATOMIC Magazine, in which he humbly acknowledges the resurgence of interest in his music with bemused appreciation. Here's to you, Mr. Thompson: cheers, and thanks for the bright, shiny, brand new musical memories. The 21st Century welcomes you!

- Will Viharo