"Dear Beau Hunks: I Just Wanted To Let You Know How Much I Enjoy Your Music On The Planet Earth

…and equally how enjoyable it is while floating weightless in space.

I have always been a fan of The Little Rascals & Laurel and Hardy, and have always searched for recordings of their music, but never came across any until a few years ago, when my brother told me about the Beau Hunks.

The level of work and concentration aboard the space shuttle are pretty intense during the flights. So the relaxation of listening to music during short breaks or before sleep are priceless. I listened to The Beau Hunks on many occasions during [April 1997 and July 1997] flights, usually during an hour break when I was able to float in front of a window and watch the world go by.”

- NASA Astroanaut Don Thomas, who sent his shuttle-flown Beau Hunks CD (“still in good shape after traveling over 11 million kilometers”) to the Beau Hunks in July 1998.

I’ve posted this link before, but neglected to mention the great Beau Hunks DVD, a live, pro-shot concert performance that includes a complete showing of Laurel and Hardy’s Their Purple Moment with live BH accompaniment.

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At Last! The Avengers Original Soundtrack Music!

I’m an optimist.

Back when there used to be LP stores… back when there used to be CD stores… I would dutifully head to the soundtrack section on every visit and look for certain LP’s and later, CD’s.

I knew I wouldn’t find them, because I knew they didn’t exist. But I kept looking.

Music from the Our Gang and Laurel and Hardy movies? Nah. Wouldn’t ever happen.

The OST from The Time Machine? How many would they sell, maybe three?

And, of course, The Avengers.

For my money, the best TV soundtrack music of all time.

Laurie Johnson had written some of the most memorable “generic” production music, as I found out by accident when “scoring” a corporate video from production LP’s. (It was Laurie Johnson who wrote the wonderful piece Happy Go Lively, heard in John K.’s Ren and Stimpy over and over again). Lo and behold, even the Theme From The Avengers was originally written for use as production music, as I discovered when checking the cuts on an old disc. (It was originally titled The Shake.)

It took decades. Since the original Hal Roach recordings had disappeared, it took an incredible amount of work to piece together complete versions of the songs, but my friend Piet Schreuders did it. And then it took dedicated musicians playing period instruments – The Beau Hunks – to record note-perfect recreations of the LeRoy Shield Tunes.

After a false start – a re-recording of Russ Garcia’s score for The Time Machine – the real thing emerged, just a few years ago.

The new three-CD set of Laurie Johnson music has one disc devoted to The Avengers, with 70 minutes of original music score. I just ordered my copy from Buy Soundtrax.

Now, if someone would only find the original Larry Adler/Muir Matheson soundtrack to Genevieve, I could stop looking for the one album that would never exist that, for some reason, still doesn’t exist.

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The Beau Hunks In Rehearsal

For many years, when blowing out birthday candles or on other occasions that gave me a free wish, I wished that someone, somewhere, would re-record all of the wonderful LeRoy Shield tunes heard as background music in the Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang, and Charley Chase Hal Roach Shorts. I don’t know which wish-making opportunity yielded the results: the incredibly wonderful recordings by The Beau Hunks Orchestra.

I still have birthdays, so I’ve switched over to the next impossible dream – seeing The Beau Hunks at a live performance.

I’ve talked to Piet Schreuders and Gert-Jan Blom about playing here in the U.S., and the financial implications of a tour are staggering. Not out of the question; just staggering.

Perhaps inspired by the concept behind stem cell research, Piet Schreuders informs me that there may be a solution that allows the sound and spirit of The Beau Hunks to travel. According to Piet, the formula is that the “…Beau Hunks ‘inject’ a few key members into existing local orchestras, bring their charts, rehearse for three days, and bingo, a good time is had by all. This opens up new possibilities — for instance, a performance on Roy Shield’s birthday in Waseca, Minnesota someday!”

Sounds great to me, as does the recent rehearsal above. According to Piet: “The Beau Hunks orchestra and the German Filmorchester Babelsberg recently combined to give a performance of Leroy Shield’s music and to accompany two silent Laurel & Hardy films. The performance was in Potsdam, near Berlin, Germany, on August 24, 2007. This clip shows a rehearsal of the tune “Let’s Face It” the day before, conducted by Scott Lawton. Beau Hunks leader Gert-Jan Blom watches from the front row.”

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If Hal Roach Had Made Newsreels

Sorry, couldn’t resist.

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Roy Shield and Company – Saturday Night Live on NBC

You may not recognize “Moonlight on the Ganges,” but you are sure to recognize the theme for NBC Radio Network’s “Roy Shield and Company.” (30m) Roy Shield (sometimes LeRoy Shield) wrote all the great music for the Laurel and Hardy, Charley Chase, and Our Gang comdies from the 30’s. You’ll most likely recognize Roy’s theme song as the “Oh, Miss Crabtree” music from Our Gang short “Love Business,” but it has appeared in countless Hal Roach Films. Its title is actually “You Are The One I Love,” (2m) and the only reason I know this is because of the fabulous Beau Hunks CD’s with inflection-perfect recreations of the (now lost) originals. On Roy’s show, you’ll hear Eve Young sing “I Should Care.” Roy and his orchestra also play “Violets for Your Furs,” a song I know only because Frank Sinatra recorded it. Nelson Olmstead narrates a version of Poe’s “The Raven” which proves that every era has its William Shatner. A selection of programs with orchestral backgrounds by Shield can be found here.

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