For the Love Of Geoff

It’s a funny thing, the mind, and in particular memory.  Whilst reading the Radio Times of a couple of weeks back (8-14 September), I had a wonderful stroll down memory lane, getting some childhood members back from the dark recess.

There was an article about the James Bond films, in which Mark Kermode and Simon Mayo were discussing Bond themes, and how as children,their love of Bond had been greatly enhanced, via a Geoff Love movies album. I hadn’t thought about those albums for several decades, but they were an important part of childhood and early teens too.

I adored these albums, Geoff Love was a band leader/composer whose forte was making albums of movie tunes with his big band, cover versions of soundtracks. With actual soundtracks being expensive then, and  home video still in it’s infancy, several years off from being accessible to the masses, these albums were very precious to infant movie aficionados such as myself everywhere. The versions of the themes were not bad, (well… they were not pan pipe offensive), I expect if I heard them today, I would cringe with embarrassment, but they were great to listen to then, and tape from vinyl to audio tape numerous times.

A much-loved gift in 1979

One of my very earliest childhood memories is of my Mother giving me one of my first albums, Geoff Love’s Themes for Super Heroes as a surprise present.  Back then, I was a huge fan of  Tom Baker in Doctor Who (still am today)  and the American tv series of The Incredible Hulk (still am today as well).  I remember that the album had both these themes, albeit Geoff Love cover versions, but I was just so so  pleased with it.  By the end of its life, it was scratched to pieces from over-use, but it was the first gift that I really remember loving.

The seminal artwork for Geoff Love’s Big Bond Movie Themes

Kermode and Mayo in their article, draw attention to the artwork on the Big Bond  Themes album (see above)  which was bloody fantastic,  I remember using tracing paper and copying it.  It was so good, The Bond album cover looks like a greatest hits of Bond poster ,  I remember looking at it for hours and I am sure this LP played a big part in my addiction to the Bond films which I love as much as the horror genre.

The Absolute  favourite of all of these LP’s was Geoff Love’s Big Terror themes album, which was my pride and joy. Once again, because of its artwork and the fact that it had the main theme from Jaws (see my blog entry Der Dum for more JAWS) on it. The album basically contained all the disaster themes from the 70’s, with Rollerball, The Exorcist (Tubular Bells) and Psycho to beef up the terror boast.  I first become aware of The Exorcist from this album, and I remember my cousins telling me that it was one of the scariest films ever made as I played them Geoff Love’s version of the Mike Oldfield classic.

I first saw The Exorcist when I was 13 when it was very much banned, on a pirate video from a school chum.  I told my parents, it was an old black and white horror, as they would not have sanctioned me watching anything scarier than Hammer or Universal films, the kind of monster mash served up on BBC 2 on saturday nights then as late night horror double bills.  Due to my love of all things, ghoulish, they let me watch these double-bills, but  contraband Linda Blair and her green pea spewing/swearing antics would not have been condoned.  I remember watching it alone, on a late night when they were asleep.  It genuinely scared the hell out of me, but I loved it at the same time. I felt like a real rebel. To think, it is now shown regularly on terrestrial tv with no fuss at all.  How times change !

Another film that I couldn’t wait to see was Hitchcock’s Psycho, the green tinged image of Norman Bates on the terror artwork, had wetted the appetite. It gained legendary status when my Mother told me, it was so nasty and scary that she had wanted to leave the cinema when she saw it in the sixties. Although she liked Hitchcock films, she always refused to re watch Psycho, so that too was a big film to be crossed off the Geoff Love Big  Terror list, and be terrified by.

A musical landmark of my childhood

With the internet, today’s kids probably don’t have to wait for anything, I expect they are watching Serbian films, Human Centipedes, and all of today’s controversies and horrors online without any fuss at all. One thing they will not experience though, is the joy such albums as Geoff Love’s movie albums brought, It was kind of like owning the movie, way before this was possible in the late eighties when sell-thru video retail bloomed.

Of course,  I ended up giving these albums away to the jumble sale, Geoff Love’s Bond Themes replaced by The Best Of James Bond, where you could hear the proper versions, Shirley Bassey,Tom Jones,  Paul McCartney and Wings etc etc.  Sadly, I had outgrown Geoff, and wanted the real thing.  However,  without these wonderful seventies compilations, I do not think my current appreciation of  the power of film music would be as strong.

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