Song of the Day: David Lindup “Sixth Sense”
The Spider-Man animated series debuted in 1967. Produced by Grantray-Lawrence Animation on a budget, the show featured limited animation. But with story consulting by Spider-Man co-creator Stan Lee, and art direction faithful to co-creator Steve Ditko’s comic panels, the show featured classic villains (Doctor Octopus, Mysterio, the Sandman, and the Green Goblin among many others) and a now-classic theme song by Paul Francis Webster and Bob Harris. Additional incidental music by working composer Ray Ellis was hard-swinging crime jazz that added sophistication and suspense to the production. The blend of cheap animation with great stories and amazing music made for an irresistibly watchable show. Season one is a flat-out classic.
Despite the successes, Grantay-Lawrence went bankrupt in 1968 and production was taken up by Steve Krantz, who turned over the reigns to Ralph Bakshi for seasons two and three with the instruction to continue the show on an even lower budget. Bakshi eliminated all the spider-villains, replaced them with anonymous green and red space monsters, and recycled animation and abstracted watercolor backgrounds wholesale from another production (the largely forgotten Rocket Robin Hood). Despite these cost-cutting measures, Bakshi’s Spider-Man managed a darkly psychedelic mood that was altogether unique for a cheap super hero cartoon. Also getting the axe was original incidental music composer Ray Ellis, replaced by pre-recorded library music from UK labels like KPM. KPM was making some wonderful music in the late 60s, full of depth, drama, and style, and definitely in the same spirit as Ellis’s original compositions. Using the rights-free KPM catalog also ensured hassle-free international syndication. An easy win for Bakshi and co.
David Lindup’s “Sixth Sense” (Or maybe Spidey Sense?) was originally released by KPM on the Tension and Suspense album the same year Spider-Man debuted. It is now included on the freshly-released Spider-Jazz vinyl collection on UK-based Trunk Records. While Spider-Jazz doesn’t feature any music from season one (or any mention of Spider-Man, for that matter, for legal reasons*), it is a terrific re-packaging of KPM library tunes used in seasons two and three of the show. And in a loving homage to the show’s title credits, the album art is awesome. And as close as we’re ever going to get to a Spider-Man soundtrack since Ray Ellis’s master tapes have been missing for decades.
Check out the late-night drama of “Sixth Sense” as it gives way to a swinging jazz vamp in the extended version below.
And because I couldn’t wait for my copy to arrive from the UK, I largely recreated the album track listing from the original KPM releases in a Spotify playlist:
*full legal ramifications title: Spider-Jazz: KPM Cues Used in the Amazing Animated Series That We Are Not Allowed to Mention By Name for Legal Reasons