Monday, 20 July 2015

This Rugged Coast Soundtrack by Urban Bowerbird (197?)

This Rugged Coast was an Australian documentary series that followed Ben Cropp and his team as they traveled around Queensland's Coral Sea  in the 1970s - like a cross between The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau and Ron & Val Taylor's Inner Space. I discovered it by accident a few years ago while watching late night tv and got so excited by it, I wrote a number of blog articles remarking on its amusing anachronisms and my genuine fondness for the show. As I described the program at the time:
The crew is lead by Cropp perpetually standing alert at the helm in nothing but skimpy bathers and a beard, smoking a pipe and continually lifting his binoculars skyward and scanning the horizon for anything film-worthy. The watery, blue depths are his domain and he presides over them like a tanned Antipodean Neptune. He is joined by Hal the fearless sea-snake expert with a perplexing accent and thick-rimmed glasses, a crew that seems to consist mainly of beach-belles in bikinis (it wasn't clear at first what their capacity on-board was, but Lynn was credited with 'sound' so I can only assume the other girls are equally technically equipped), guys with beards who look like they know a thing or two about boats and of course the ship's cat, Skipper. In tonight's episode, our crew are venturing around a treacherous maze of coral reefs called 'The Coral Labyrinth' (the name is repeated at every opportunity by the voice-over guy who pronounces it 'Lab-ee-rinth' with a faintly rolled 'r'.)
Like all good underwater documentary shows, the drama on  This Rugged Coast is constantly underscored by music. I asked James Pianta of Votary Records, about the source of this music back in 2011 and he said; 

"I actually spoke to Ben Cropp a few years back about releasing his soundtrack music, he was less than interested.

Although he did tell me that he uses library music. This is problematic as unless the original cue sheets exist (they never do) it becomes really hard to source all the tracks let alone licensing."

So, I took it upon myself to piece together a soundtrack by ripping the audio from the DVDs. Most of the audio comes from The Coral Labyrinth episode mentioned above. There is the unavoidable presence of narration and dialogue from the program over the music that, at first bothered me as being 'messy' but which I now rather like as it truly recreates the atmosphere and the ambience of the show.

Now, here's a challenge. All of the music on this soundtrack is sourced from library records - does anyone recognise any of these pieces and can you identify them?



  1. Firstly, this is awesome, and I'm so glad you did it/shared it. Second, I'm on the case. I'll report back if I have any luck.

  2. Thanks Flash! This has been years in the making! I originally started this five years or so ago. I figured better late than never. It's such a cool show and it was available cheaply on DVD a while ago - although it seems like the website I bought it from no longer exists!

  3. That's "High Diver" by Alan Hawkshaw, originally from [Themes International] TIM 1002 - 'new blood '(1973). It's also on my compilation "Library Rhodes 1" at

  4. ... and here's a youtube version :

  5. Holy shit Simon, I didn't know if any of these would be identified, let alone this quickly. Damn, you guys are good. Really cool track, too!

  6. Dear Rohan, thanks again for this real life Captain Zissou recording & making the ost.. the off comments are priceless. I manage to find the original docu which made me very happy

    1. Thanks for the kind words and providing that link megatron. I bought all the episodes on DVD a few years ago - it's a really ideal companion to the Inner Space DVD.