Patchwork-Mean and Dirty.

Label: De Wolfe Music Library.

Format: LP.

Nowadays, library music is highly collectable, especially the albums released by KPM, Amphonic, Conroy,  Sonoton and De Wolfe between the late-sixties and early eighties. That is regarded by many collectors as a golden age for library music. This is ironic as the albums of library music were never meant to fall into the hands of collectors.

Originally, library music was meant to be used by film studios or television and radio stations, and was never meant to be commercially available. The music was recorded on spec by music libraries who  often hired  young unknown composers, musicians and producers. This ranged from musicians who were known within publishing circles, to up-and-coming musicians who later, went onto greater things, and look back fondly at their time writing, recording and producing library music. This they now regard as part of their musical apprenticeship.

For the musicians hired to record library music, their remit was to music libraries with a steady stream of new music, which was originality referred to as production music. During some sessions, the musicians’ remit was write and record music to match scenes, themes or moods. This wasn’t easy, but after a while they were  able to this seamlessly. Soon, the musicians were able to enter the audio and write and record a piece of music that matched a theme or mood for a film or television show.

Once the library music was recorded, record libraries sent out demonstration copies of their music to advertising agencies, film studios, production companies, radio stations and television channels. If they liked what they heard, they would license a track or several tracks from the music libraries. That was how it was meant to work.

Sometimes, copies of these albums fell into the hands of record collectors, who realising the quality of music recorded by these unknown musicians, started collecting library music. That is still the case today, and nowadays, many original albums of library music are highly collectable. Often, though, these albums are beyond the budget of most record buyers. Luckily, many independent record labels are reissuing library music.

Hardly a week goes by without a new library music compilation hitting the shelves of record shops. Then there’s the reissues of albums of library music from the golden age. This includes Patchwork’s Mean and Dirty which was recently reissued by De Wolfe Music Library.

Mean and Dirty was released in 1978 and the twenty tracks were written and performed by Patchwork which featured Chris Rae and Frank McDonald. Some of the tracks they cowrote while others they wrote themselves.The emphasis of the music is on “drama, activity, industry” and they’re also atmospheric and cinematic. Others are driving, exciting, moody and tense while others are ruminative and even comedic or light-hearted. All of the tracks paint pictures in the mind’s eye. 

Side One.

The album opener Moving Target was a dramatic track where  searing guitar riffs play their part in a track where Patchwork combine funk and fusion. Bank  Job is moody and there’s a degree of tension in a track that sounds as if it belongs in an episode of The Sweeney. 

Then the tempo drops on the atmospheric sounding Slow Fuse and on Blue Mood which has a laidback and almost sensual sound. 

Flying Squad is a funky rock track that wouldn’t sound out of place on The  Sweeney as Regan and Carter chase villain snd “spin drums.” Arrival Time is a mid-tempo slice of good time funky music. 

Quite different is the mid-tempo Prowler where a degree of tension is apparent during this mesmeric track. The funky Route 67 breezes along and so does the percussive sounding and Fast Mover where funk meets fusion and closes side one.

Side Two.

Side two of Mean and Dirty opens with Dragster which is fast, dramatic and features blistering guitars. Listen carefully, and there’s a nod to the legendary surf guitarist Dick Dale. 

The tempo drops on the moody sounding Night Moves while Easy Drive is an uptempo track that has an almost light-hearted sound. Smash and Grab is a cinematic sounding track that conjures up images of cops chasing the bad guys after a robbery has gone down. Then Mean and Dirty heads in the direction of fusion while Mind’sEye is ruminative and Zero Hour is a dramatic track that chugs along. Pulsating and dramatic describes The Boys In Blue whole Nightwatch is slow, moody, broody and dramatic. It’s one of the highlights of side two and the perfect way to close the album.

The reissue of Mean and Dirty is a welcome one because this a library music classic from Patchwork that nowadays is a rarity. It’s Patchwork’s finest hour and a reminder of the golden age of library music which was between the late-sixties and early eighties. Much of the music recorded during this period was heard by millions but the viewers knew nothing of those that wrote and recorded such an eclectic selection of music.

Musicians like Chris Rae and Frank McDonald had to be versatile and be able to write music to suit moods, themes  and scenes. They were capable of writing music that was atmospheric, dramatic, exciting, moody, ruminative and even comedic or light-hearted. Other times, there was a degree of tension to the music which was always cinematic and was the perfect accompaniment to television shows in 1978 and beyond. 

The music was funky, jazz-tinged, rocky and sometimes even headed in the direction of jazz-funk and fusion. Chris Rae and Frank McDonald were versatile and formed a potent partnership as they recorded albums of library music including as Patchwork. Of all the albums they recorded Mean and Dirty which was Patchwork’s sophomore album is their finest.

Patchwork-Mean and Dirty.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: