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The Mad, Mad World of Soundtracks, Volume 2  (Compilation) - 1968-1977
Label: Universal Jazz 520 942-2 (Germany)
Format: CD
From: Germany
My rating: 9/10

Entered: 08/10/2001
Last updated: 05/03/2003

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I loved the first volume of this series so much that I felt obliged to splash out $20 on the second. I'm very glad that I did; it really is quite excellent - a super cool and varied compilation of soundtrack music. As on the first series, the compilers mix actual soundtrack singles and recordings with other interesting interpretations of songs from films. And since they have several musical passions in common with me (e.g. Astrud Gilberto, Claudine Longet, Scott Walker, Lalo Schifrin, Henry Mancini), I find this mix pretty intoxicating.

There are many standout tracks on this 20 track compilation. Oddly enough, it picks up three tracks which I have singled out myself over the years from my vinyl copies: Scott Walker's 'That Night' (from 'the moviegoer'), Kai Winding's 'Harper' (from 'more brass', with arrangement from Claus Ogerman) and the vocal version of 'The odd couple' by Neal Hefti. I had forgotten about the latter, having (for some reason which escapes me) sold my vinyl copy several years ago. I'm delighted to have this again, just because the lush arrangment in the introduction is completely breathtaking. The vocals don't come in until half way through the song, and if you haven't heard it before, they're pretty entertaining, particularly if you are as familiar with this excellent instrumental theme as I am - think of the tune, but sung with these lyrics: 'no matter where they go, they are known as the couple./they're never seen alone, so they're known as the couple../as I've indicated...they are never quite separated...they are peas in the pod/don't you think that it's odd...'

There are also a couple of real treats for me - tracks by Claudine Longet and Astrud Gilberto which I had not heard before. Claudine sings 'Nothing to Lose' from the Peter Sellers film 'The Party', a lovely recording which I had lived without for too long. Now I just wish the A-side of the 45 it was taken from, the sublime 'White Horses', would see the light of day on CD. Either that, or that someone would sell me the 45... Astrud sings 'A time for us' from 'Romeo and Juliet', a lost track from a 45 which I didn't even know existed. This sounds like it's from the same period as 'I haven't got anything better to do' and has the same production/arrangment team of Alberto Gorgoni and Brooks Arthur, who turn up a slow, lush arrangement. I love it because I love Astrud, but I guess it isn't completely world-shaking. Great to hear it though.

There are several other amazing tracks which I had never heard or even heard of before. Ella Fitzgerald sings the groovy 'a place for lovers', which has a nice arrangement reminiscent of the one used by Quincy Jones for Sarah Vaughan's great version of 'the pawnbroker' theme. Sam Spence's 'Wie ein blitz' is a groovy piece with tune picked out on a low, twangy guitar, a fast, funky beat and some moody strings. It has a great instrumental break with a big brass section and then continues with a classic late 60s easy sound. Pat Williams's 'Streets of San Francisco' confused me at first - I thought Pat Williams was a woman, who recorded an album with Lalo Schifrin. But no, this is Patrick Williams, and it's a prime cut of Schifrin-esque funky thriller music with electric piano and a lot of horns.

The compilation continues to blow me away more and more with Ingfried Hoffman's - 'Robbi, Tobbi & Das Fliewatuut', a simple, bluesey, funky number, which contrasts a gentle strings and brass, Bacharach-style backing with a very sharp sounding melody played I guess on the synthesizer. Later we get some whistling as well. Super groovy... I was surprised when I saw a Bachelors song in the track listing, just because the Bachelors are one of those bands with records all over British charity shops. I've always ignored them, like pretty much everyone else. This version of 'diamonds are forever' really isn't bad though. It even gets going with a nice little beat in the middle. It's from 1971; it's a John Barry song - I guess it would have been hard to go wrong.

Klaus Doldinger's 'Tatort' is a nice action theme, which goes all funky in the middle with a distorted organ sound and a cool beat. The inclusion of 'Die Kette' by Jochen Brauer Group & Tender Aggression ensures that no one could accuse this compilation of being same-y - it's a german language vocal proto disco/funk track. Pretty cool, although I wouldn't want to hear it every day...

So, a very cool compilation. There are a couple more contributions by famous American jazz musicians - Jimmy Smith does a very interesting version of an obscure Henry Mancini piece, 'the night visitor'. Chet Baker sings 'Come Saturday Morning', and wow, this sounds nothing like any Chet Baker I've heard before. Kind of folky with a prominent acoustic guitar. Very cool. I can't wait for volume 3...

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