Dramatic Funk Themes Vol. 1 is another great library music compilation and showcases some cool (mostly previously unreleased) funky, jazzy, easy and groovy tracks from the archives of the Themes International Music Library.
The soundtrack for scenes that don’t yet exist. Well produced, budget priced music in all styles, which were intended for use in backgrounds for radio, television, films and advertising. This music was never commercially available and was pressed in limited quantities from the 1950s onwards allowing samples to be sent to production houses and radio stations for use as and when required. Due to the fact that producers with a limited budget didn’t have the funds available to commission a specially composed soundtrack, it made economical sense to license suitable “off the shelf” tracks from library archives.
Since library music was intended to convey specific moods and atmospheres, it wasn’t uncommon for composers to switch between different styles such as jazz, rock, funk, easy listening, electronic, avant-garde or baroque in just one record. Although it only reflected the contemporary world of music, library seems to have a uniqueness which sets it apart from commercially available music. Perhaps this is because composers had the freedom to do whatever came in mind to create specific atmospheres. Miles away from the world of the pop charts, they only had to follow a tight production schedule to guarantee low production costs.
During the 70s library music era, some of Europe’s leading jazz, classical and avant-garde musicians took part in composing and playing on those library recordings. While many were involved just once, others (like Alan Hawkshaw – our main featured composer in this compilation) penned thousands of usable themes for different library companies.
The strange appeal and mystique of library music is intensified by the anonymity of its musicians. There is no image or cult and library tracks were never played live or sold directly to the public (with the exception of the relatively small number of signature tunes which became popular due to their continued use and ended up appearing on compilation albums of television and film themes). The record sleeves usually stated mood descriptions for each track; e.g. “high-powered dramatic theme”, “funky underscore with movement” or “medium beat”. Most library tracks are instrumental themes. Only a very small number of recordings contained vocals.
In the mid 90s library music started to drawn the attention of hip-hop producers looking for samples, breaks and loops. The discovery of library records proved to be a goldmine providing an almost endless supply of breaks and beats. DJs and collectors alike started to dig through crates of cheap records in second hand shops as news of the library phenomenon began to spread. Nowadays however, one is only likely to find these rarities on websites such as Ebay as most items of interest have long since been snapped up.
The demand for library records was fuelled even further as library music compilations started to become available to the public. The prices for some funky items began to soar and most of the Themes library records, found in this compilation, usually fetch between 40 and 400 US Dollars. The most sought-after and highly recommended albums are “The All American Powerhouse”, “The Voice of Soul” as well as Alan Tew’s “Drama Suite Pt. I & II”, which was used on the television series “The Hanged Man”.
Now sit back and enjoy the first compilation to be compiled solely with rare grooves from the Themes International Music library. Furthermore, none of these tracks have ever been released before!
by Michael Schütz, Jon Vokes