Notes: The Mood Modern is not only a major study of a fascinating sector of the music industry, but also essential reading for anyone with even a passing interest in soundtrack music. … Read more
Also known variously as mood, stock, background or production music, for decades library music has made an important though anonymous contribution to the broadcast media, supplying film, radio and television with innumerable themes and underscores.
The Mood Modern is three books in one, weaving together the separate strands of company history, biography and critical assessment of some of the most important music collectively produced by the KPM and Bruton libraries during the course of a quarter century, spanning the years from 1956 to 1980. At the heart of the book, however, is the Phillips family, one of Britain's great music publishing dynasties, but in particular Robin Phillips (1939-2006).
The mid-1960s through the '70s have come to be regarded as library music's golden age. In Britain, it was when this somewhat mysterious branch of the music industry emerged from the chrysalis of its light music heritage, into a vibrant new era of modern, colourful sounds. Robin Phillips played a fundamental role in this transformation when, in 1966, he established a new library - the KPM 1000 Series. Robin would also introduce several new composers who would quickly become some of the best-known and most successful names in the library music field: Keith Mansfield, Johnny Pearson, Syd Dale, Alan Hawkshaw, James Clarke, David Lindup, Brian Bennett and Steve Gray among others. And thanks to Robin's guidance, by the early '70s the 1000 Series had become one of the world's foremost libraries, its music a ubiquitous presence in countless films, documentaries, radio programmes and television series.
Drawing on interviews with members of the Phillips family (including Peter Phillips) and many of the composers, recording engineers, musicians and staff of both libraries, The Mood Modern tells the remarkable inside story of how KPM and, subsequently, Bruton came to be dominant forces in library music, both in Britain and internationally.
In addition to charting the origin and history of the music publishing firms - Keith Prowse and Peter Maurice - that merged to form KPM, The Mood Modern covers numerous related areas. These include the birth of Britain's library music industry; the early British libraries and their inseparable link to the English light music tradition; how the arrival of commercial television in Britain led to the formation of the Keith Prowse library in 1956 under the aegis of its manager, Patrick Howgill, which paved the way for the KPM library; KPM's legacy as a famous popular music publisher and its place in the history of Denmark Street (London's Tin Pan Alley); Robin's father, legendary music publisher Jimmy Phillips; the corporate manoeuvring that saw Keith Prowse, Peter Maurice and KPM bought and sold; and the clash with management that eventually caused Peter and Robin Phillips to leave KPM for ATV Music.
The importance of the recording engineer is acknowledged in The Mood Modern, and those who largely shaped the "sound" of the KPM and Bruton libraries are featured: Ted Fletcher, Adrian Kerridge, Mike Clements, Richard Elen (KPM) and Chris Dibble (Bruton Music). There's detailed coverage of all the KPM 1000 Series' overseas sessions - including personnel, dates, locations and what was recorded - and chapters respectively devoted to the sessions in Bickendorf, Cologne (along with the stellar lineup of international jazz talent that played on them) and in KPM's two in- house studios. The Musicians' Union embargo, which had forced British libraries to record much of their material on the Continent, is also scrutinised, as are the negotiations with the MU of the late '70s that finally allowed British libraries to resume recording in British studios with British musicians.