A few years back we were extremely fortunate here at the State Library to be on the receiving end of a marvellous (and large!) collection of vinyl record albums from the estate of Kevin James. Kevin lived in NSW and, as an avid music lover, was also an avid collector of recordings; happily for us some of his favourite genres also happen to be ours as well, including film music and musical theatre. Kevin lived in a regional town and was heavily involved in the local arts scene, including the theatre and local radio station on which he hosted his own show.
This extraordinary collection of records, numbering in excess of 3000 albums, was built up by Kevin over many years and used as content for his broadcasts, as well as his work in the theatre and entertainment at home. Quite apart from the bewildering depth and variety on show, I stand in awe of a collector who amassed such a wonderful treasure trove in an era well and truly pre-Internet (or anything even vaguely like it!), and who must have spent hour upon hour searching out catalogues, contacting overseas suppliers, drawing international money-orders, etc., etc. in order to build what is probably a unique sound collection here in Australia. Now that’s what I call collecting, and we are all the richer for Kevin’s passionate endeavours.
I’ll be highlighting the collection over the coming months (it could take years!), but here is just a random sample of some of the soundtrack albums to be found, complete with glorious cover art.
Just a couple of albums from John Barry, famous for so many James Bond films, and so much more as well.
Not the original soundtrack album for The Caine Mutiny (considered one of the most sought after albums of all time due to its withdrawal by the studio within days of its release), but a later private pressing; a real curio.
One of Hitchcock’s less revered films, Marnie still has its supporters, and it’s hard for a Hitchcock movie to be anything less than interesting. Bernard Herrmann was similarly incapable of writing music ever less than compelling.
Tony Richardson’s film The Charge of the Light Brigade has grown in stature over the years following its less than successful premiere in 1968 when its harrowing portrayal of military and political incompetence failed to gain an appreciative audience. John Addison’s score however was recognised as a masterly piece of work from the outset, counterpointing, highlighting and mocking the unravelling disaster with unerring precision.
Kevin James Collection
Considered something of a turkey in its day (and yes, even now), Taras Bulba nonetheless boasts one of Franz Waxman’s finest scores, which is no small accolade given that he also composed the music for films such as Sunset Boulevard, Rebecca and The Philadelphia Story.
John Williams, Star Wars, what more needs to be said? Arguably the most famous film score in history. And that uncompromising cover…..
So far we have well over 2000 of Kevin’s albums accessible via the Library catalogue, with more appearing on an almost weekly basis, thanks to the mighty efforts of Sandra from our Manuscripts Collection.They can be ordered from our offsite store by contacting Library staff and you can listen to them in our Heritage Collections Reading Room here at the mother-ship. The only problem is, where does one begin?