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THE MUSIC OF DARK SHADOWS

 

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The Music of Dark Shadows
by Billy Ingram

Dark Shadows Soundtrack AlbumYeah, I was one of those kids that ran home from the bus stop to try to catch the last 10 minutes of Dark Shadows. Fortunately, all the best stuff happened in the last act but it led to some confusing Mondays when I'd miss the resolution of the Friday cliffhanger.

But 10 minutes of Dark Shadows 5 days a week was not enough so I sampled the Dark Shadows comic book from Gold Key but it was really lame. So was the board game.

But the Viewmaster set was pretty groovy with the 3D stereoscopic photos taken in the living room set at Collinwood, and elsewhere. I still have it here somewhere.

I bought the soundtrack album and it blew me away. The music by Robert Cobert was as important to the mood of Dark Shadows as any character, the Old House or the great house at Collinwood; ethereal, spooky, at times sweetly romantic. I don't think there's ever been a more effective horror soundtrack, as a body of work it stands as one of the most unforgettable of the decade.

The Dark Shadows soundtrack album (The Original Music of Dark Shadows) spawned a minor hit single the summer of 1969, 'Quentin's Theme,' perhaps you remember it. The instrumental single (Billboard #13 pop chart, #3 easy listening) didn't come directly from the album but was recorded by the Charles Randolph Grean Sound. That single was backed by another re-recording of an album tune, '#1 at the Blue Whale,' named for the sleazy and exceedingly smokey waterfront bar in Collinwood, basically a lame attempt at contemporary 1960s juke joint music.

There were lyrics on the album version of 'Quentin's Theme' spoken by the actor who played Quentin Collins, David Selby.


The Robert Cobert Orchestra / David Selby version of the song was also released as a single, the B side was probably the weakest cut on the album, 'I'll Be With You Always' with spoken word by Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins. 'Quentin's Theme' was covered by several crooners at the time including Andy Williams.

The original soundtrack broke into Billboard's top 20 national album chart in 1969 and is still is one of the top-selling TV soundtracks ever.

Other singles were released from the soundtrack album but none struck a cord. The Charles Randolph Grean Sound followed up their success with 'Josette's Music Box' backed by 'Back at the Blue Whale' both cribbed from the soundtrack but the 45 rpm disc failed to chart.

Meanwhile the Robert Cobert Orchestra released a syrupy strange 'I Wanna Dance with You' with vocals by Selby and series co-star Nancy Barrett (Carolyn Stoddard) in 1969 backed with the 'Theme from Dark Shadows'; 'Ode To Angelique' with 'Missy' on the flip side followed in 1970.

Dark ShadowsThe hauntingly lovely 'Ode To Angelique' was heard on the TV show however none of these follow up singles were found on the soundtrack album. Thus ended the brief run of Dark Shadows music releases - for a while anyway.

Back to the original soundtrack, there were some choice cuts on that album, especially the recitations by Jonathan Frid set to Robert Cobert's creepy music. Those ominous poetic readings stand out as some of Frid's finest work, like 'I Barnabas.'

 

Pretty cool, huh? Another standout was 'When I Am Dead,' written by dead English romantic poet Christina Georgina Rossetti (1830-1894) set to the love theme from the series.

I was a budding actor as a youngster so these recitations really reverberated with me - like 'Epitaph' set to one of the show's eerie signature themes. If this doesn't put you in a suicidal mood I don't know what will! This was another necromantic Rossetti poem, she was apparently fascinated with what might go on after death, as you lay in your coffin, so her somewhat rare darker writings were a perfect fit for this project.


Here's a Jonathan Frid piece, 'Meditations,' set against one of the lighter themes. I don't know the source of this poetry, probably written for the album.

  

There were cuts that weren't spoken over like 'A Darkness at Collinwood,' if you watched the show you'll surely recognize this music. It was updated slightly for House of Dark Shadows. When a character was being stalked this was the music that would rise up and swell behind the scene.


In 1986 some enterprising small record company came out with a Dark Shadows soundtrack Volume 2. It contained the music beds that Jonathan Frid spoke over without the overdubs in addition to other seminal music sepulchers from the show. Two more volumes followed, I bought the first and it's the best soundtrack for a Halloween party ever. Just music from the series unadorned, magnificent. All of the various soundtracks were collected in DVD form.


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THE MUSIC OF DARK SHADOWS

 

DARK SHADOWS
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The Music of Dark Shadows

 

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