Whenever I hear this piece of music, I’m transported back to my childhood in the 1970s every bit as much as when I hear Get It On, All the Young Dudes or Rebel Rebel. Those were all singles that I’d buy, hear on the radio several times every day and see performed on Top of the Pops.

Funky Fanfare by Keith Mansfield wasn’t available to buy at my local Woolworths or any other record selling outlet. It wasn’t released as a single. I never heard it once on the radio and never saw it being performed on Top of the Pops.

I did though hear it – or, more accurately, an eighteen second clip of it – often enough on visits to the cinema, usually accompanied by the sound of popcorn being munched and Kia-Ora slurped. Even today, if I listen to it, it brings up in my mind’s eye that red, pink, orange, green and black swirling psychedelic background and animated white text that I must have seen hundreds of times as I’d wait expectantly to watch some double bill of kung fu flicks or American B-movies in my local – and long demolished – Caledonian cinema, with plumes of cigarette smoke rising from the right-hand (smoking) side of the theatre. Yes, the cost of admission and snacks was reasonable, and you often got two films for the price of one, but there were negatives about the film-going experience back then.

I had no idea who was behind the track and hadn’t yet heard the term ‘library music’. I’m still no expert on the subject but I do now know that this was a parallel musical universe where anonymous tracks were produced by work-for-hire musicians as a cheaper alternative to hiring a composer or using pre-existing music by known artists who owned the copyright to their tunes.

This suited many film production companies and TV and radio shows, but I reckon it’s safe to say that nobody chose to work in the field of library music (sometimes also referred too as stock music) to achieve fame and fortune. And not only that, their music could be used in some godawful movie in a way that its composer considered inappropriate.

These composers could surely never have imagined that some of this work would live on and still be appreciated decades after being recorded.

Albums of this speculative music were only ever pressed in very limited quantities to be sent off directly to potential clients. Nowadays these are prized possessions for crate digging enthusiasts and prices on eBay are soaring. Songs have been sampled by big name artsts. Albums have been compiled by companies like Trunk and Recur. A documentary on the subject is on its way and books written about it, such as David Hollander’s Unusual Sounds: The Hidden History of Library Music. Such was that book’s success that an album has recently been released to accompany it on Anthology Recordings.

It kicks off with Funky Fanfare, which, if you’re younger than me you might recognise as being one of the few tracks be used in more than one film by Quentin Tarantino. In Kill Bill: Volume 1, it’s heard just after the appropriation of the Shaw Brothers’ SB logo against the frosted glass backdrop. It also opens Death Proof.

Before Keith Mansfield had forged his reputation in British library music circles, he had worked largely as an arranger, working with everyone from Robert Plant’s first band Listen to Roy Harper and Dusty Springfield.

keith mansfield

He also issued material available to the public such as his All You Need is Keith Mansfield album from 1968. This mainly featured his covers of big hits of the day like All You Need is Love and A Whiter Shade of Pale but also a few of his own compositions, Soul Thing and Boogaloo, the former being an early, less polished version of the track that became Funky Fanfare.

Mansfield might never have appeared on Top of the Pops in person, but he did have a hand in creating hits that were showcased on that high-profile programme.

In January 1968, sales of The Love Affair’s second single Everlasting Love shot through the roof. This later proved a little controversial as the band, apart from singer Steve Ellis, didn’t play on the record and later admitted this live on TV. Instead, Ellis sang along with a backing track supplied by the Keith Mansfield Orchestra.

The tune went on to become a British #1 and it wasn’t to be Mansfield’s last involvement with a chart-topper.

He also arranged Marmalade’s take on a Beatles’ track from the White Album, Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da. This became Britain’s first new number one of 1969. It isn’t a favourite of mine so, instead, here’s an earlier Mansfield arranged track, Marmalade’s breakthrough single Lovin’ Things:

Sadly, Marmalade singer and guitarist Dean Ford passed away on the final day of 2018, due to complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Dean Ford (born Thomas McAleese) 5 September 1946 – 31 December 2018.