Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2010 December 20 • Monday

The 144th Soundtrack of the Week is another CD of Joe Harnell music for The Bionic Woman.

Actually the first piece is by Jerry Fielding, the theme music for the show. It's always been one of my favorite pieces, beginning with tense action/suspense music that blooms into a beautiful melody, switching meters from 4/4 to 3/4 in the process.

To my ear, though, this doesn't sound like the recording used in the show. Perhaps it's a result of remastering or something or maybe it's a re-recording. On this CD it's "Produced and Arranged by Dominik Hauser".

Harnell's scores for three episodes take up the rest of the CD. First up is "Once a Thief", a comedic episode with appropriately lighthearted music, switching from whimsical, old-fashioned jazz grooves with laughing horns to circus-like, polka dervishes.

There's also the necessary suspense cues and interesting use of electronic instruments."I Wish Mom Was Here" has romantic violin playing and quotes Harnell's own Bionic Woman theme (which was used for the end credits).

"Time Changes - Instrumental", the first cue from "Deadly Ringer: Part 1" is a tender piece with soft drums and electronic piano. I can see the light getting fuzzy in that '70s TV sort of way. Things get more menacing with "Jaime Gets Switched" which again quotes from Harnell's Bionic Woman theme.

"Late for School" starts out as a breezy 6/8 cue but abruptly switches to unsettling and eerie atmospheres. "A New Life" likewise starts out very sweet but becomes ghostly and strange.

"Growing Madness" is pretty much eerie all the way through. "Firewood/Face Down and Dead" gives us Harnell's Bionic Woman theme as a samba.

The final score presented here is for the "Bionic Beauty" episode, one that has a special place in my hearat.

It was 1991 and I was living with three roommates in my first apartment in New York City, on Bleecker Street, right next door to Matt Umanov's. It was the first time I'd lived somewhere with a television set since I was four years old.

I was enjoying the TV quite a bit and I was thrilled to discover that reruns of The Bionic Woman, my favorite childhood show, were being broadcast at 3:00 Sunday night/Monday morning. Of course I stayed up to watch it, as well as Mission: Impossible, which came on either right before it or right after it!

"Bionic Beauty" was the first one I saw. Jaime, our feminist superhero—note that the show is called The Bionic Woman, not The Bionic Girl—goes undercover as a contestant in a beauty pageant. For the Talent portion of the contest, she sings "Feelings" and dedicates it to Steve Austin (the Six Million Dollar Man)!

It was brilliant. And so is the music. It begins with blaring pageant music, then goes into more appropriately subdued moods for Jaime's secret agent activities. This features one of my favorite Harnell cues, a toe-tapping number with a lot of electric bass activity. It often accompanies scenes of Jaime's bionic running.

"Jaime Doped/Breakout" gives an especially funky setting for Harnell's Bionic Woman theme, but also has cloudy, woozy music for, presumably, the drug's effects. The bass line I mentinoed before is played on timpani and horns here.

"Saving the Day/Miss United States" has tremendous horn and percussion writing, a bit similar to the theme for the Wonder Woman television show. Again we hear Harnell's Bionic Woman theme.

The CD includes some unused source music (lounge) and other unused cues and, best of all, the recording of Lindsay Wagner singing "Feelings"! She does a fine job!