Exhibit / March 1, 2017
Object Name: “Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Other Disco Galactic Themes” by the Geoff Love Orchestra
Maker and Year: Geoff Love/Music for Pleasure, 1978
Object Type: Album LP
Description: (Richard McKenna)
As the 1970s drew to a close, the appetite for science fiction-related material of any type and in any form (though preferably of low price) was such that its effects were visible in every field: the post-Star Wars windfall admitted all comers. The collision of sci-fi with another then-dominant expression of contemporary pop culture, disco music, brought about the musical genre now known as space disco. After seeing Star Wars on the day of its release in 1977, trombonist and record producer Meco (Domenico Monardo) had been struck by the idea of producing a disco version of the film’s soundtrack. Several weeks later, he and his band (also called Meco) released their version of the Star Wars theme, which rapidly climbed to number one in the U.S. pop charts and went on to become a bestseller around the world. Personnel on the record included synthesizer wizard Suzanne Ciani, who provided sound effects, and Tony Bongiovi, who had provided production work for such seminal records as Gloria Gaynor’s Never Can Say Goodbye (1975), The Ramones’ Leave Home (1977) and Rocket to Russia (1977), and Talking Heads: 77 (1977). Meco’s first two LPs, Music Inspired by Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk and Encounters of Every Kind, were also released in ’77, followed by a string of similarly-themed records including Superman and Other Galactic Heroes (1978), Moondancer (1979), and Across the Galaxy (1980).
A parallel process was also underway across the Atlantic, where British record label Music for Pleasure—a joint venture between EMI records and Hamlyn books—targeted the less demanding, budget-conscious consumer with albums distributed through large high-street chain stores. A large number of these albums featured arranger, composer, and bandleader Geoff Love. Although he originally gained popularity in the 1950s as the exotic-sounding Manuel and his Music of the Mountains, Love is best known for the orchestral easy listening cover versions of film and TV themes he started releasing in the late ’60s, which often incorporated whatever happened to be the popular musical or topical flavor du jour. In 1977, Music for Pleasure released Love’s Star Wars and Other Space Themes, an LP of relatively faithful covers of various film and TV themes, performed with a punchy big band sound and hints of restrained funk. The next year’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind LP applied the four-to-the-floor mechanics of disco to an eclectic assortment of sci-fi-related theme songs and originals, Geoff Love and his Orchestra having now mutated into Geoff Love’s Big Disco Sound.