Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2011 July 04 • Monday

The 172nd Soundtrack of the Week is Les Baxter's score for Beach Blanket Bingo, the fifth Annette Funicello/Frankie Avalon "beach party" movie.

My original idea was to watch all of these movies before reporting on this CD, but after watching the first one, Beach Party, I lost my motivation.

I love Les Baxter's music, though, which sounds great on this CD. Since La-La Land Records couldn't, "for licensing purposes", get the rights to the vocal performances of the songs, which are by Jerry Styner and Guy Henric, the songs' backing tracks are thrown in as a bonus.

The "Opening" varies between pop grooves with surfy guitar and bass guitar and some dramatic background. "Erich Von Zipper" starts out pretty goofy, with laughing timpani and Keystone Cops-type harpsichord. Then it hits a couple of other moods, the "Beach Blanket Bingo" groove and another antic-sounding cue.

"Parachute Jump" is a soaring piece for the orchestra, with some interesting use of the organ. The second half is has sparser, more dramatic writing.

"Stop House Band" goes through several changes: straight up rock and roll, a march bit that's probably for Erich Von Zipper, an ethereal Muzak sort of section and then a return to more guitar-driven rock.

"Beach Walk" is another ethereal cue and "Parachute Jump" is reworked (with more guitar) for "Frankie's Parachute Jump".

"Von Zipper Bit" recycles more of the music we've already heard. The same ethereal melody returns for that as well as "Bonehead Hears the Music", though the latter also features some dramatic underscore, some more rock grooves and even some circus-sounding music.

"The Big Cheese" features the piano and sounds like silent-movie accompaniment. Perhaps this is because Buster Keaton is in the movie.

"Bonehead's New Love" is a dreamy, sappy tune. Nice use of organ or vibes or both or something else, though. Then it goes into a surprisingly harsh and aggressive rocker with sharp guitar and blaring horns.

Next up are the backing tracks for the songs. You can do karaoke!

You get the instrumental-only versions of "Beach Blanket Bingo, "Fly Boy", "I Think You Think", "I'll Never Change Him", "It Only Hurts When I Cry", "New Love", I Am My Ideal" and "These Are the Good Times".

They're all really cool numbers and some of the melodies will be familiar from the score.