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Sunday, May 21, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Green Hornet

The Green Hornet
Music by Billy May
Harkit Records HRKCD8222
11 Tracks 24:08 mins

Marking the 40th anniversary of the short-lived crime-fighting show from the producers of the popular Batman series, comes this limited edition CD release of Billy May's original soundtrack album, which may seem a little brief at just over 24 minutes, but that was not an atypical length for an LP at that time. In any case, those 24 minutes are packed with fine, jazzy music by Billy May, who is probably best known as a band leader and arranger, but who also did not inconsiderable scoring work, particularly for TV.
Another key man in the creation of the music for The Green Hornet is trumpeter Al Hirt, who blows up a storm on May's dynamic main theme, which, whilst spelling out the show's title as its main thematic line, also incorporates May's adaptation of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee," which had been used in the original radio serial. This exciting theme, which must have left Hirt breathless, I should imagine, features on four of the album's tracks, including what appears to be the "Main Title," which appears to be taken from the show's soundtrack itself, as it is the only track noticeably in mono.
"Four Hornets" is the first of two easy listening lounge numbers (the other being "Guardarahornet), which still manages to incorporate "Green Hornet" in its melodic line. The breezy jazz of "Casey" follows, and then we get an actual piece of dramatic scoring in the Batman-like action of "Horneted House." "Kato" is a cool jazz track, with a hint of pseudo-Orientalism. The other two non-main themed tracks are the catchy dance numbers "Do the Hornet" and "Black Beauty."
As good as the CD itself, is the 16-page accompanying booklet, which is packed with stills and publicity photos, with Martin Gainsford's notes providing a history of the show and a biography of the composer. All in all a fitting tribute to a short-lived show that sadly suffered in comparison with its big brother Batman, but first brought the amazing Bruce Lee to the attention of the world.


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