KPM / Be With Records

I guess the interest in Library Music must have begun with Hip Hop DJs and producers. Searching for samples of the ever-more obscure, in an attempt to outdo the competition, and avoid The Winstons and Skull Snaps. Quit doing the Funky Penguin with Paul Winley bootlegs and Ultimate Breaks And Beats. The first I knew of its existence, at least, was chatting with DJ Format about Guru Guru LPs, and `fessing up to the fact that the only Johnny Dankworth numbers I owned were on Dusty Fingers compilations. Matt, was playing me stuff on Bruton, De Wolfe, and KPM. But Library Music`s influence has become far greater. Its echoes can be heard in the songs of Broadcast and Stereolab. The compositions of 291Out and Hampshire & Foat. Ghost Box` Belbury Poly. Anyone remember Add N To X? It has helped define the aesthetic of labels like Trunk and Wonderful Sound libraries. While Italy`s Edizioni Mondo, and Japan`s Snaker, were set up as direct tributes. To be honest, up until the release of these Be With Records reissues, the only KPM vinyl I possessed was Strut`s collection from 1999. Whose excellent sleeve notes by Charles Waring, I’m borrowing from here. 

KPM started “manufacturing” Library Music in 1959. Upon the merger of two companies, Keith Prowse Music and Peter Maurice Music, whose business model was to provide soundtracks – and music publishing – for ads, documentaries, and dramas. They recruited a rotating assembly of session men, musicians, composers, and arrangers, who could work to order, and quickly. There`s a whole list of names, many of whom have gone on to earn legendary status. Les Baxter, Brian Bennett, Dennis Bovell, John Cameron, Kenny Care, James Clarke, Ray Cooper, Francis Coppieters, Syd Dale, Herbie Flowers, Steve Gray, Alan Hawkshaw, Les Hurdle, Laurie Johnson, Shake Keen, Duncan Lamont, Keith Mansfield, Alan Moorhouse, Mike Moran, Barry Morgan, Alan Parker, Johnny Pearson, Neil Richardson, Frank Ricotti, Len Stevens, and Klaus Weiss (I apologise to anyone I might have left out). Folks who`d honed their chops anonymously crafting the UK`s Pop hits of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Seasoned from stints with the likes of Dusty Springfield, Joe Meek, Tom Jones, Cerrone, and Cliff and The Shadows. All were assisted in their new task by engineer Adrian Kerridge. The LPs coveted by DJs / producers / collectors were simply “calling cards”. Pressed up in limited quantities and handed out to prospective customers. They were never officially released. Hence their scarcity. While supposedly for demonstration purposes only, some of the tracks on these samplers did actually end up as TV themes. Len Stevens` News Scoop scored Grandstand. Grange Hill opened to the strut of Alan Hawkshaw`s Chicken Man. Mastermind started for ten with Neil Richardson`s Approaching Menace. Laurie Johnson`s Gala Performance had Eamonn Andrews surprising guests with his big red book on This Is Your Life. Johnny Pearson`s The Awakening announced News At Ten. His Piano Parchment signaled Sunday tea-time, and All Creatures Great And Small. Captain Pugwash, Countdown, as a child sat in front of a 1970s goggle-box, the music of KPM, it turns out, was inescapable. Which explains why when listening to these reissues my head`s full of televisual references. Big brassy Sale Of The Century fanfares. A Faces guitar line makes me ask What Ever Happened To The Likely Lads? A jaunty whistle has me hoisting the Red Flag with Citizen Smith. Parp-ing horns are Some Mothers Do `Ave `Em`s hapless Frank. Military marches, Dad`s Army on manoeuvres. LWT sit-coms. Robin`s Nest. Jason King thrillers. Pink Panther vibes. Wild West gallops. Alfie Elkins` lament. Time Tunnels and impossible missions. Groovy Disco Rock that packs a Batman Pow! Pictures of protagonists on speed boats in hot pursuit. Starsky And Hutch. The Persuaders. Randal & Hopkirk (Deceased). Jack Regan on his second bottle of scotch. Butch and Sundance crossing the border. Fantasy Islands of bongos and palm trees. A cruise on The Love Boat (Aaron Spelling’s not Gil Scott-Heron`s). Soft Porn farces. 

Each of the ten Be With reissues contains gems. Often set to David Axelrod-worthy deadly drums and / or groovy, Moog-y b-lines. Across a vast range of genres, moods, and tempos, there`s something for fans of Burt Bacharach, the occult, sine wave maypole dances of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, Jeff Britton`s Rub Out, Bowie`s Young Americans, Bob Chance, Cortex` cool Fusion, the Mod-Jazz of Georgie Fame, Luboš Fišer, Goblin`s Argento scores, Goldfrapp`s plugged-in Glam, Dick Hyman`s Give It Up, Turn It Loose, Ahmad Jamal, Mireille Mathieu, The Dudley Moore Trio, Jimmy Page`s riffs, Nelson Riddle, Labi Siffre`s You Got The, Sparkle`s Hawaiian Soul, Stax, Muscle Shoals, and Travis Wammack`s Country Funk. Exotica, Easy-Listening, Sambas, and rubber-bass-ed, aquatic ambience. Jives, Jitterbugs, Blockbuster Stomps. Boogie, Rock & Roll, and, of course, Jazz.

To round off the KPM project Be With have also licensed Alan Hawkshaw and Brian Bennett’s new long-player, Full Circle. In the main, it`s more smooth Jazz, some of it in the vein of Cafe Del Mar favourites Dancing Fantasy. The latin, Corcovado, could be an outtake from Marcos Valle`s Nova Bossa Nova. The standouts for me though, are the more electronic pieces. The Vangelis-esque Serengeti. Or, On The Nile, which adds sultry sax, and orchestral Bond theme details, to a bubbling bass-line reminiscent of Donna Summer`s cover of Vangelis` State Of Independence. 

You can order directly from Be With Records. 

Below is an hour of my own selections from these releases. 

Track-list

Alan Hawkshaw & Brian Bennett – On The Nile (Full Circle)

Francis Coppieters – Funky Chimes (Piano Viberations)

Alan Hawkshaw & Brian Bennett – Alto Glide (Synthesis)

Alan Parker – You`ve Got What It Takes (The Sound Of Soul)

Alan Hawkshaw & Brian Bennett – Mile High Swinger (Synthesizer & Percussion)

Alan Hawkshaw, Brian Bennett, & John Fiddy – Name Of The Game (Hot Wax)

Keith Mansfield & John Cameron – Liquid Sunshine (Voices In Harmony) 

Keith Mansfield & John Cameron – Half Forgotten Daydreams (Voices In Harmony)

Alan Hawkshaw & Brian Bennett – Mermaid (Synthesis)

Alan Parker – Love Is All (The Sound Of Soul)

Alan Parker & Madeline Bell – Love Is All (The Voice Of Soul)

James Clarke – Quietness Sustained (Mystery Movie)

Alan Hawkshaw & Brian Bennett – In The Clouds (Full Circle)

Keith Mansfield & John Cameron – Husky Birdsong (Voices In Harmony)

Alan Parker – That`s What Friends Are For (The Sound Of Soul)

Alan Parker & Madeline Bell – That`s What Friends Are For (The Voice Of Soul)

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