Public Service Broadcasting – The Race For Space

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Having bought the latest release, ‘Every Valley’, by PSB I decided to also buy the previous release, ‘The Race For Space’ which, as the title suggests, is about just that. As is their method, it contains many vocal samples to help illustrate the story they are trying to tell and for this particular subject we open with John F Kennedy delivering his ‘We choose to go to the moon’ speech at Rice Stadium in Houston, Texas on September 12, 1962. It’s edited, so not the whole thing, but begins with “we meet in an hour of change and challenge, in a decade of hope and fear, in an age of both knowledge and ignorance.

PSB seem to be the Marmite of music, you either loved them or hate them, and so far I have to sit in the camp of the former as it isn’t all about the samples, I like the music itself and the samples are there, for the most part, in place of a vocalist and it works just fine for me as they aren’t random but cleverly placed and they fit the music really expertly.

Track 3, ‘Gagarin’ is made doubly fabulous by the video below, it’s a sort of celebratory song for a man who should be a hero to everyone on the planet. To quote the sample, ‘The whole planet knew him, and loved him‘.

October 4th 1957 marked the start of the space age, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Observatory was the largest radio telescope in the world and the only device that could track Sputnik’s carrier rocket. The Lovell Telescope picked up Sputnik on 11 October 1957 – on the anniversary of that date in 2015, Public Service Broadcasting filmed the video for ‘Sputnik’ in front of the iconic structure. The video celebrates the launch of the first satellite into earth orbit and highlight The Lovell Telescope’s role in making space exploration history.

And continuing in celebratory mood we have ‘Go’ which relates to the Apollo 11 mission, the one where, if you are not one of the many conspiracy theorists, man reached the Moon for the first time.

A1 The Race for Space
A2 Sputnik
A3 Gagarin
A4 Fire In The Cockpit
A5 E.V.A
B1 The Other Side
B2 Valentina
B3 Go!
B4 Tomorrow

It really is a joyous album and there’s lots of info included in the accompanying booklet, tucked in to the half of the gatefold sleeve that doesn’t house the record. There are serious moment of course, not least on track 4, ‘Fire in the Cockpit’, relating to an incident at Cape Kennedy:

Astronauts Virgil I. Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee were killed tonight in a flash fire during tests of the Apollo Saturn 204 vehicle at Cape Kennedy. The fire occurred while the astronauts were in the spacecraft during the countdown of a simulated flight test.

I shall probably go back again, to the release before this one. I like these guys.

3 Comments

  1. Tony

    It is strange the marmite effect these guys have. I haven’t heard the latest but it’s on the list to check out. I heard ‘The Other Side’ on the radio in a “live in studio” session by pure chance last year and was spellbound. I went home and checked it out on Spotify and the vinyl was spinning on my turntable a few days later.
    It might be because I have a real fascination with the subject matter – this all-consuming quest and targeted use of engineering and intellect toward something so seemingly unattainable that we now take for granted – but I really like this one. The Other Side is still my favourite (I don’t really like Gagarin) and still manages to give me goosebumps. I tend to look at is a fantastically well-synced soundtrack to a documentary I’ve never seen but really want to.

    Like

  2. verian

    “I tend to look at is a fantastically well-synced soundtrack to a documentary I’ve never seen but really want to.” That’s a really good way of looking at it, and I think it really helps if the listener has a reasonable understanding of the subject matter. I know a fair bit about the history of these two albums but if it was an album relating to something I knew nothing about I’m not sure if that would spur me on to learn more or whether I would just not like it.

    Like

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