Remember, I only said slightly less morose. Still, it’s a stunningly beautiful day, and I guess things could be worse.

Compilation: 'Cocktail Mix Vol 4: Soundtracks With a Twist' (CD; Rhino; 1958-1968)
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I've had this compilation for over five years, and it still slays me every time. It's just a perfect distillation of almost everything I find cool and interesting about 60s soundtrack music. There are 15 tracks, and pretty much all the greats film composers are represented, including John Barry, Ennio Morricone, Lalo Schifrin, Henry Mancini, Quincy Jones, Michel Legrand, Burt Bacharach and Francis Lai.

Although Lai's most famous work—the exquisite wordless 'A man and a woman'—is here, most of the selections are anything but obvious. John Barry is represented by 'The Knack', a spooky and superbly atmospheric theme. The Ennio Morricone theme to 'Ad ogni costo' is a wild, catchy theme that I've only heard via this compilation. Mancini's excellent and rather rare 'Susan' is taken from 'A touch of evil'.

The other great thing about this compilation is the way it highlights the work of George Duning. Most famous for his score to Picnic, Duning also scored the witchcraft movie Bell, Book and Candle and The World of Suzie Wong. Three tracks from these (2 from 'Bell', one from 'Suzie') are included here, and all are excellent pieces of beatnik-style jazz with plenty of bongos and horns.

Pretty much every track is worthy of special mention, so here we go. Nelson Riddle's 'Lolita Ya Ya' is a nice change of pace - a slow, almost 50s-style number with girly (yes, little girly) vocals and great strings. Michel Legrand's 'The Boston Wrangler' from The Thomas Crown Affair is a pulsating track with a fantastic organ sound. Alex North's 'Misfits Theme' is a super-cool bouncy jazzy number with piano and wild horns. Quincy Jones's 'Happy Feet', from Walk, don't run, is a fun, laid-back track with whistling. Burt Bacharach's 'Stripping Really isn't sexy is it?' from What's New Pussycat is classic Bacharach, nice and jazzy with some surprising time signature changes. Herbie Hancock's 'Bring down the Birds' from Blow up will be familiar to most, since it was sampled to great effect by DeeeLite.

And I nearly forgot: Johnny Williams's 'Come live with me (with vocals by Tony Scotti) is a fantastic piece of croony pop with a cool jazzy piano backing.

There really isn't a bad track here, and if you need an education in 60s film music, I highly recommend starting here.

Compilation - Beach Boys: 'Endless Harmony' (CD; EMI; 1966-1980)
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Hmm. I'm going to have to put my neck out and say this really isn't such a great disc. It has enough in the way of outtakes and curiosities to satisfy a Beach Boys geek. And I'm nearly a Beach Boys geek. But not enough of one to really enjoy this. I think at the end of the day my problem with the disc is that it highlights the cheesier side of the band's work.

I bought this compilation shortly after it came out in order to hear the outtake of 'Til I die', one of my favorite Beach Boys tracks. It's interesting, to be sure; twice as long, with a vibraphone very high in the mix. Also interesting are alternate mixes of 'Surfer Girl', 'Kiss me, Baby' and 'California Girls', and rehearsal version of 'Good vibrations' and 'God only knows'.

Less enjoyable are the live tracks - 'Long promised road' has lost its studio magic, and tracks like 'Wonderful' and 'Darlin' were never really to my taste anyway.

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