Saturday 15 May 2010
Dylan Jones: The Pearl & Dean theme tune became ironic decades before irony was commodified'
The sound of the future has been imagined many times, so many times in fact that it always tends to sound the same. Through attrition, repetition, and – one suspects – laziness, the future always sounds accelerated, robotic, metallic and other-worldly. And not a little computer-generated. Which is obviously how we like it. Walter Carlos has imagined it (he wrote much of the incidental music for A Clockwork Orange), as have Giorgio Moroder and Tonto's Expanding Head Band. Neu did it, John Barry did it, and Kraftwerk have been at it for 40 years.
But no one imagined the future quite like the British composer Pete Moore, the man who wrote "Asteroid", or, as most of us will know it, the Pearl & Dean theme. The cinema advertising business was ignominiously sold off last month for £1, offloaded by the Scottish broadcaster STV Group to the Irish businessman, Thomas Anderson, who runs the Empire cinema chain. It's not exactly clear what he intends doing with the company, but he would be a lunatic if he decided to ditch its rather wonderful signature tune.
Pearl & Dean has been around for 57 years, and for many the theme tune which announced generic ads for Indian restaurants and soft drinks became an ironic institution decades before irony was commodified. We somehow knew that it was trying to punch above its weight, that its very portentousness was its saving grace.
"When I wrote 'Asteroid', many people in the profession accused me of writing music for the future, and ahead of its time" said Pete Moore in 2003. "With the longevity of this music I thoroughly agree." It was officially released for the first time in the mid-Nineties, when the easy listening "boom" was in full swing. Although true aficionados had had recordings of the 20-second masterpiece for years. Perhaps predictably, the tune first appeared in 1968, the same year as 2001: A Space Odyssey, something the Pearl & Dean graphics still pay homage to.
So, hopefully not for the last time, all together now: "Pah-pah-pah-paaah pah-pah-pah-paaah pah-pah-pah! Pah-pah-pah pah-pah-pah-pah-paaah-aaaaah!"
Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'
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