Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Sounds of Outer Space: Sci-Fi Spoken Word Performance Circa 1968

by G. Jack Urso


Fig 1: From author’s collection.
The Sounds of Outer Space is a spoken word performance printed on a flexible disc that accompanied the AMT Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser model kit released circa 1968. I obtained a copy (see fig. 1) with an original Leif Ericson model kit I bought in 2004. In researching this piece, I was unable to identify the composers. One report suggested the lyrics originate from the 1967 psychedelic album, The Zodiac: Cosmic Sounds; however, after having listened to the record and not hearing the lyrics that assertion seems to be in error. The same report also claimed the background ambient music came from the original The Twilight Zone TV series This latter claim may have more credibility since the recording was produced by Auravision, a division of CBS Records. Since CBS produced The Twilight Zone in conjunction with Rod Serling’s Cayuga Productions, the ambient sound bed heard in The Sounds of Outer Space may indeed be sourced to Twilight Zone background music. The original recording is provided below. 
Fig 2: S.S.C. Leif Ericson, from author’s collection.
Fig 3: From author’s 
collection.
Interestingly, there appears to be a further connection between the Leif Ericson and The Twilight Zone. The cover of Rod Serling's Other Worlds, a sci-fi anthology released by Bantam Books in March 1978, features the Leif Ericson with some design changes. Such alterations may have been made to avoid copyright violations; however, the changes themselves include design elements from a Space: 1999 Eagle Transporter and a Star Wars X-Wing. I leave it to my fellow sci-fi aficionados to spot those changes themselves.

Fig 4: Close up of the Leif Ericson from Rod Serling's Other Worlds.
The lyrics to The Sounds of Outer Space are more like the acid-laced musings of college students, and considering LSD was legal until 1966 the trippy quality of the piece stereotypically exemplifies the era.  It’s an ambitious attempt that seems awkward by modern tastes, but the model kit was designed for teenagers and young adults so I have to give AMT credit for trying something new and off-beat that captures the psychedelic spirit of the 1960s.

The Sounds of Outer Space Lyrics:

On my mark it will be T minus 10 and counting. MARK. 10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…Zero.

The stars, brilliant as diamonds. Space, cold as the winter wind.

Timeless, inky blackness…deep and silent. Or is it?

Mortal men venture into the great unknown like explorers of the dawn, and looking down, find themselves looking up.

To be afraid and not care that you are afraid is the courage of which astronauts are made.

The alien opal light of Uranus filters through indigo dust.

A spaceship sailing across cosmic oceans of yellow and red turquoise, drifting down green and purple galactic seas.

Listen to Saturn’s mystery of music telling fortunes to the universe.

The Sun is one, claiming the solar system as its own, bursting with yellow splendor.

Is man really exploring an atom with room to spare?

Tune-In, Turn-On, and Drop-Out while you listen to "Sounds of Outer Space," a psychedelic spoken word performance that accompanied AMT's Leif Ericson Galactic Cruiser model kit, released circa 1968:



2 comments:

  1. I remember this from my childhood circa 1968 as well. However it was attached to the back of a cereal box. The dialogue was identical but the he sound effects were slightly different. Thanks for taking the time to upload this!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never heard of that version - now I've got to see if it still exists! Thanks!

      Delete