Still up there after all these years

“Telstar,” the space-age instrumental composed by Joe Meek in 1962 for The Tornados, a band he was producing — the US pressing came out as by “The Tornadoes,” for reasons I cannot fathom — sold somewhere upward of five million copies, hit #1 in the US and the UK and lots of other places. (In fact, it made #5 on the Billboard Hot R&B Singles chart.) Inevitably, there would be cover versions and vocal versions by the score.

Perhaps the definitive vocal version — in English, anyway — was titled “Magic Star” and was sung by one Kenny Hollywood, born Kenny Plows in London. Meek produced it too, and it went nowhere in particular on the British charts, but Hollywood managed to sustain a career for the next few decades, though not Stateside, where “Magic Star” was covered by Nashville background singer Margie Singleton.

My favorite of the vocals, though, was this version by Slovenian singer Marjana Der┼żaj:

Inevitably, there would be a version played on the Moog synthesizer:

L’ingegner Giovanni e famiglia — “Engineer Giovanni and his family” — were actually our old friend Piero Umiliani (“Mah Nà Mah Nà”).

And somehow, Big Daddy managed to meld it with “Tara’s Theme” from Gone With the Wind. The video contains lots of nice extraneous 1950s sci-fi film. More than that, I cannot say.





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