ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK How I Won The War
Impossibly rare 1967 UK double-sided 12″ sized metal based high grade methyl cellulose lacquer actetate, containing Ken’s score from the soundtrack to Richard Lester’s motion picture, which starred John Lennon in his only non-musical role as Musketeer Gripweed. This one-off item comes direct from the vast personal archive of NEMS agent founder Vic Lewis, whom Ken was signed to as musical director & who’s company was bought by Brian Epstein, see below for the full story….
“…I saw a film today oh boy. The English Army had just won the war…”
The film to which it refers was directed by Richard Lester. It recounts the story of the British Army’s “Third Troop, The Fourth Musketeers” & their attempt to build a cricket pitch behind enemy lines in World War II Tunisia. In the small part of “Musketeer Gripweed”, Lester cast the bespectacled, 26-year-old, John Lennon & the two had already established a working relationship, with Lester having directed all of the Fab Four in their musical films A Hard Day’s Night & Help!.
Beatles aficionados will be aware Lennon spent six weeks on set in Almería for the movie, located in the southeastern corner of Spain (a location that graced Lawrence Of Arabia, Patton & Sergio Leone’s dollar trilogy). Incidentally, it was this desert shoot that allowed Lennon the time & headspace to plant the seed for Strawberry Fields Forever, where the first demo for the song was recorded.
Perhaps deemed lost in the vaults or too short for public consumption, the soundtrack for How I Won The War, composed by Ken Thorne, has never fully seen the light of day.
Ken Thorne passed away in 2014 & would be best remembered for his Grammy nominated score for The Beatles’ Help! feature film, but he also composed scores for Inspector Clouseau & counterculture stuff like The Monkees movie Head & The Magic Christian starring Ringo Starr.
A modest & approximate 18 minutes in length, the acetate contains 15 musical cues for the film. Strictly in mono, these cues comprise the opening & end themes, army marches, Penderecki-like horror tones & even some clattering pre-Day In The Life low piano stabs for great movie effect.
Of note, there is NO Lennon acting dialogue on the disc. Instead there are unedited take anouncements in between tracks, presumably the voice of Ken himself.
Speaking of ‘A Day In The Life’, this is THE film referenced in the lyric “…I saw a film today oh boy. The English Army had just won the war…” We would consider this acetate a great talk piece & one where its history is its main point of interest than its actual musical content. A prize one-off indeed, what Beatles collection out there will contain such a disc?!
This one-off acetate had been stored in Vic Lewis’ private archives since the day it was cut. During Vic’s time as an impresario & agent there were few luminaries of the show business world with whom he had not been associated at one time or another; these archives have already produced a number of awe inspiring & unique items like this & we are all too proud to bring them to the market when we can.
On close inspection, the acetate appears in stunning condition. There is some very mild chemical reaction to the poly bag in patches, but mostly just by the label area. It has been played perhaps two or three times only, including our initial play test. The disc is in mono only & plays beautifully & without fault, with just the lightest evidence of cosmetic wear.
All in all, a real curious discovery & one that would make a special entry to a serious Beatles-related collection.
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