By Joseph Walter
"Star Fleet" is an odd duck, and one I discovered entirely by accident. For reasons I could never be able to totally explain, I was binging through 80's cartoon theme songs during my Freshman year of college, and after hours of things I knew like Thundercats, and others I did not ("Vytor: The Starfire Champion," featuring a singing Peter Cullen. Yes, the Peter Cullen that is Optimus Prime) I eventually uncovered this gem, which was like discovering a hidden trove of treasure in an ancient tomb that's been looted centuries ago.
The first thing that struck me about "Star Fleet" is that it's not a cartoon. It's this:
Originally known as "X-Bomber," this Japanese production was inspired by the marionette-and-miniature sci-fi works of Gerry Anderson (which include the aforementioned "Thunderbirds," and others such as "Captain Scarlet") with the kind of flair that only a Japanese interpretation could produce. After its run in Japan, it was brought to the UK and localized as "Star Fleet," where it was met with tons of praise from kids and fans of Anderson's beloved shows.
The closing theme was my first exposure to the franchise and also what started my obsession. I'm now a proud owner of both the soundtrack and the full series' DVD release, and couldn't be happier.
The music is composed by Paul Bliss, who uses nothing but synths to create the surreal soundscape. In a rare move, the opening to the show features no vocals, and instead opts to have the "traditional" vocal theme play during the credits.
The reasoning is, most likely, that the song is so God-damned awesome they wanted to put it at the end to make the kiddies would watch the entire episode and then be sure to tune in next week.
Let's give it a go:
There's little to discuss about the "hows and why" in regards to what makes this work so well. The space-opera lyrics, the power chord in the middle, and the 80's synth-levels at full glory all combine to form the greatest of anthems.
In fact, the song is so good that Brian May (of Queen) and Van Halen decided to cover it.
Don't believe me? Do yourself a favor and watch Brian May's floating head serenade you below.*
* = This video is the short version, the song on the actual "Star Fleet Project" EP is around 8 minutes long and features an elaborate guitar solo in which Van Halen's guitar strings break.