ZThemes

Samantha’s Mine Spectrum RCA 1589 (Released 28/04/67)

According to various sources, Spectrum was a group created as a tie-in with Gerry & Sylvia Anderson's 1967 Supermarionation series, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons – the follow-up to his fantastically-successful Thunderbirds. ‘Spectrum’ was the name of the Earth’s security organisation, i.e. ‘the goodies’ who fought the Martian Mysterons i.e. ‘the baddies’ from their Cloudbase HQ. Not surprisingly for an outfit called Spectrum, the agents were all named after colours and the indestructible Captain Scarlet was the hottest of the hues.

A now-defunct site called ‘Scarlet Fever – everything you ever wanted to know about Captain Scarlet’, said:

"Composer Barry Gray’s original version of the Captain Scarlet theme tune was replaced by a version [with lyrics] performed by The Spectrum, a five-piece London-based group who had been manufactured by RCA Victor to compete with the success of the American manufactured band The Monkees. Gerry Anderson signed them to a £100,000 contract and promoted them in tandem with the launch of Captain Scarlet.”

On stage, the band wore uniforms like those worn by the Spectrum puppets, but despite the puppets becoming cult TV heroes, there is no sign of the band ever having enjoyed any anticipated Monkee-type adulation. Something must have gone wrong with the deal, because it appears that the vocal version of the Captain Scarlet theme never achieved release as a single.

Spectrum members were Tony Atkins (ld gtr), Colin Forsey (vocals), Bill Chambers (kbds), Tony Judd (bs) andKeith Forsey (drms).

Keith remained with the band through three line-ups and went on to became a producer for Billy Idol. He produced film soundtracks for FlashdanceBeverly Hills Cop II and The Breakfast Club and co-wrote the Simple Minds track Don’t You Forget About Me.

It is unclear how the group’s Captain Scarlet connection ties in with what seems to have been a completely separate and already-established pop career. Spectrum released either two or three singles* – including this one – well before the Anderson’s TV programme premiered in September 1967. Which begs the question, was this really a manufactured band, or did an existing outfit called Spectrum sign a contract with Gerry Anderson?

Career-wise Spectrum was yet another British group that became more popular abroad than at home. They enjoyed #1 hits in Spain with Samantha’s Mine and Headin’ For A Heatwave (their third 1967 UK release), and hit the top spot in Germany, with their cover of the Beatles’ Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (their second 1968 UK release).

Their follow-up to Samantha’s MinePortobello Road, became a great Radio London favourite and proved popular when revived during recent offshore recreations. As happened with many ‘might have been hits’, unfortunate timing meant that the single lost out on vital airplay by being released during Big L’s final weeks.

[* With Samantha’s Mine generally regarded as the band’s first single, it may be that Little Girl – the first of the releases on the Record Collector Rare Record Price Guide Spectrum list – may have been recorded by a completely different band of the same name. A possible clue is that Little Girl(1965) was on the Columbia label, whereas all the other Spectrum singles up until 1969, were on RCA.]

Surprisingly, the Spectrum’s recording of the Captain Scarlet theme tune is omitted from the Price Guide list of their recordings, which would indicate that it was never released by RCA. This was a strange decision, considering the intended promotion of the band alongside the TV series and the alleged £100,000 contract. Moreover, another incentive for release was that the theme to an earlier Anderson creation, Fireball XL5, had already become a minor hit for Don Spencer in 1963.

Was there more than one Spectrum and why wasn’t the Scarlet theme released? It’s what you might call a ‘Mysteron mystery’.

Spectrum’s vocal version of the Scarlet theme song was heard on the end credits of episodes 7, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20 and 22-32 of the popular series.

Scarlet fans can visit Spectrum HeadquartersChris Bishop's unofficial Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons website – where there’s a photo of the band wearing their colourful uniforms alongside their puppet counterparts. The Beeb also has pages devoted to the cult series.

Another version of the theme tune by Manfred Mann’s Mike Vickers.