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FSM debuts on CD two LPs released on Warner Bros. Records in the early 1970s: Kung Fu (1973) and Man in the Wilderness (1971).
Kung Fu was a highly successful ABC-TV series starring David Carradine as a Chinese-American Shaolin priest who, having accidently killed the Chinese emperor’s nephew, finds himself a fugitive in the American West. Flashbacks to Carradine’s early training with his Chinese mentors, Master Po and Master Kan, were a unique feature of each show.
One of the series’ most evocative elements was its music—composed, arranged and conducted by Jim Helms. Using a modest, string-based ensemble augmented by “exotic” colors like recorder and harpsichord and rare percussion instruments such as Chinese temple bells and waterphone, Helms created a unique but subdued background for the show’s unusual blend of Western action and Eastern philosophy. Each episode also featured the series’ evocative signature tune, which the producer called “one of the prettiest themes in the history of television.”
After the success of the first season, Warner Bros. Records issued a “concept album” LP with music and dialogue from the show. Helms re-recorded his score with a larger (45-piece) orchestra for the music-only selections and an 8-piece ensemble for the dialogue tracks. This FSM re-release features authoritative notes by Jon Burlingame, including excerpts from interviews with Helms and several of his colleagues.
Man in the Wilderness was a gritty and violent survival movie starring Richard Harris as a grievously wounded fur trapper who fights his way back from near-death only to find a new peace with himself and his foes. To score the film, Harris chose his friend Johnny Harris (no relation), who had worked as an arranger and conductor on some of the actor’s pop vocal albums. The music is often spare, always moody and evocative, and occasionally muscular—the robust march which opens the film is balanced by a gentle and reflective theme (introduced on a music box) for the principal character. There is also a pioneering use of synthesizer in the music for the Arikara Indians. Liner notes by Jeff Bond and Alexander Kaplan include new interview comments by the composer.
Both scores have been newly remastered from the original 1/4" stereo album tapes. The 28-page booklet designed by Joe Sikoryak includes original album art and liner notes, plus the usual informative track-by-track commentary. FSM is proud to make these rare soundtracks available once again, in the best possible sound and at an affordable (not collectors’) price.