Magazine ad for the 1962 World’s Fair
The June 23, 1962 issue of Billboard reported that Capitol would be distributing “the Seattle World’s Fair official album,” The World of Century Twenty First. I wonder if the designation of Alexander Laszlo’s “Musical Panorama” as the official LP of Expo 62 hurt the sales of the other World of Tomorrow releases, like Attilio Mineo conducting Man in Space with Sounds or Vincent Lopez’s Music out of Century 21. At least, did it annoy their managers? Did someone get a phone call?
Laszlo was a composer of TV and movie music whose credits included Night of the Blood Beast (1958) and Beast from Haunted Cave (1959). The record sounds like the future as imagined by a 1962 TV orchestra joined by a mad scientist on synthesizer and theremin; in fact, it’s the State Symphony of Hamburg (a/k/a the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra) and some unnamed “electronic devices” Laszlo used to make what he called “Electrosonic Music.”
Vincent Price narrates, reading the parts of both the wise tour conductor and his passenger, a bewildered 20th century sap who stands in for you, the listener. The Monorail hurtles into the future (Price doesn’t say exactly when, but the Popular Science feature about the exhibit was titled “What’ll It Be Like in 2000 A.D.?”), stopping at tomorrow’s modular, movable house, with its electroluminescent lighting, tax-preparing “computer robot,” and mysterious home electronics:
We still have broadcasting, but no sets anymore. Receivers? Yes, like this little matchbox in my hand. Speakers for our high-fidelity stereo broadcasting are just two tiny pellets sized like a pill. They may be placed in curtains or in draperies. The television screens are part of architecture and interior furnishings. See this painting? It converts into a television screen when you wish.
We are very, very proud of our phone system that is televised. Notice, first: every baby born in the century 21 receives a birthday gift of his own phone number. This is his for life. No similar number will exist for any earth-born individual. Whether you remain at home, where messages can come by TV phone, or traveling, receiving calls over your own radio wristphone, the call will always be transmitted on your private, individual number, by simply speaking the number into the phone.
Vincent-1 and Vincent-2 hop in the car for a demonstration of the new scientific system that controls the weather outdoors. The auto of the future has no need of a “gasoline motor” or wheels; its anti-gravity air jets are powered by atomic energy beamed from radio transmitters. As we learn on the track “Atom For Humanity,” all the cheap, abundant energy buzzing through the air is a product of nuclear fusion. Science has also discovered how to produce fresh water from the ocean, where we grow “unlimited tons of nourishing foods at low prices,” and rockets are flying all over the place:
Both time and space are telescoped into an awe-inspiring whole. Rocket travel to distant places on the earth and moon has become a daily business. Global mail service is done mainly by rockets. The countdown has become a part of daily life.
Oh, and war has been abolished, along with hate. You can stream all of The World of Century Twenty First at The Sound of Vincent Price. Below is the recent PBS documentary When Seattle Invented the Future: The 1962 World’s Fair.