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Friday, January 05, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Spy With My Face - Music From The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movies

The Spy With My Face - Music From The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movies
Music by Goldsmith, Stevens, Fried, Riddle and Shores
Film Score Monthly Vol.9 No.18 (U.S.A.)
36 Tracks 76:01 mins

After the third volume of music from the classic '60s spy series The Man From U.N.C.L.E. it seemed unlikely that Film Score Monthly would or even could release any more, which made me more than a little sad as a) I've always loved both the series and its music and b) among the various themes I had remembered over the years, I especially recalled a piece of music from one of the episodes made feature film One Of Our Spies Is Missing, which accompanied scenes of Ilya tracking a bugged cat through Soho, and to my great disappointment this was omitted from all of the volumes. So when I discovered the track, entitled "Cat Jam," was on this disc, you can imagine I almost jumped for joy. And there's plenty more good stuff where that came from, though it has to be said that there is some repetition, particularly in the main and end title tracks for each film, though some of these are slightly altered from their TV incarnations (all the films are basically two-part episodes of the series, put together, but often with some additions to make them that much more theatrical). Also, some of the incidental cues presented here draw on thematic material present in the first three volumes. There are however still previously unheard gems aplenty.
The disc kicks off with two tracks from the first U.N.C.L.E. film To Trap a Spy, with music by Jerry Goldsmith, these basically presenting Jerry Goldsmith's famous theme, as well as his Meet Mr. Solo. Five tracks from Morton Stevens' score for The Spy With My Face follow and range from sultry and seductive, to light and comical, to all-out, exciting action. The next two films feature music by, to me, the most consistently great U.N.C.L.E. composer, Gerald Fried, for One Spy Too Many and One of Our Spies is Missing; the five tracks from the former featuring his exciting take on Goldsmith's theme for the opening sequence, plus plenty of wide-ranging, jazz-pop music to cover the twists and turns of the plot. For the latter, the music is even better, with yet another variation on the main theme, this one over three minutes long, plus some "go-go" music, that slinky cat music I have already mentioned, and plenty of great action and chase music. There is also a track that has never previously been heard, as the scene it accompanied was cut from the film. "Hot Tie" is a fab variation on the aforementioned "go-go" theme.
Nelson Riddle only scored the one U.N.C.L.E. adventure, The Spy in The Green Hat but, having always enjoyed his jazzy sounds for the successful Batman series, I thoroughly enjoyed his similar scoring for Solo and Kuryakin, although the main and end titles were a Robert Armbruster arrangement, Fried-style, of Goldsmith's theme. There's still plenty of Riddle on display over the four incidental cues though.
Back to Gerald fried next and his score for The Karate Killers, and seven cues present yet another arrangement of Goldsmith's theme, plus plenty more catchy jazz-pop sneakiness and action.
The underrated Richard Shores provided the scores for The Helicopter Spies and How To Steal The World. A generous amount of music from the former has already been featured on Volume 2 of the series compilations, so just Goldsmith's theme, yet again arranged Fried-style, is included here. There are however a couple of Shores originals from the latter, the great action theme he wrote for the main title sequence and the brief action music from the finale.
Once again, album producer Jon Burlingame has written a splendid guide to the films and their music for the lavishly illustrated 20-page booklet that accompanies the disc.
It is with a heavy heart that I have to accept that this is now surely the final U.N.C.L.E. release, but I will be eternally grateful for the great work the folks at FSM have done in making available this great music.


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