Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2017 September 11 • Monday

Our 482nd Soundtrack of the Week is the wonderfully catchy music from A Hero Ain't Nothin' but a Sandwich. Who wrote it? It doesn't say on the record, rather coyly putting "Various Artists" on the spine (and nowhere else) even though all the music is performed by the Hubert Laws group with some suppplemental musicians and string section. Tom McIntosh plays trombone and also produced, arranged and conducted this session. He's also the only one named on the record label and is credited as composer on imdb so I guess he's the author.

On the first track, "School's Out (Benji's Theme)" Laws's flute sails above a buoyantly funky groove that's almost impossible not to tap to your toes to.

Things slow down and get late night and sensual for "I'm Your Fool (Butler's Theme)", which features some great tenor sax playing by either Plas Johnson or Herman Riley. (Both are on here and I can't swear that it's Plas.) Laws also takes a fine flute solo.

"Tiger's Pad" leads with the vibes playing of either Victor Feldman or Richard Lepore and is a laid back but groovy and smokey jazz lounge number that wouldn't have been out of place (except for sounding a little too ahead of its time stylistically) in the Peter Gunn soundtrack. There's some great guitar playing by Barry Finnerty.

Things get a little more energetic with "Trackin'", which is kind of mixture of funk and jazz with a bebop edge. The tenor sax flexes some muscle here and the rhythm section is right on it, as they are on all these tracks. There's also another great guitar solo.

Side A concludes with the tender and beautiful "Rehabilitation", a hauntingly sweet tune with both melancholy and optimistic strains running through it. Hubert Laws is the main voice here.

The B side opens with the sunny and jazzy "Drop and Pop" which has a bit of gospel in it and features great piano playing from Marc Grey as well as a great vibes solo.

"Somebody Right Now" is a relaxed jazz tune, almost a ballad but not quite. It's quiet and gentle with a lilting rhythm, good for late night dancing, featuring vibes and once again benefiting from the team of Michael Richmond on bass and Victor Lewis on drums.

This is followed by another gentle and easygoing tune, "Something To Feel Good", introduced by more of Barry Finnerty's tasty guitar playing and with sax playing that sounds very much like the one and only Plas Johnson to me. This is another romantic-sounding late-night mood.

After that comes "I Can't Leave You, Sweets", which sounds like a straight continuation of the last piece, same mood, same feel, same key, same everything, Plas still soloing brilliantly.

And then the record comes to an end with a reprise of "I'm Your Fool (Butler's Theme)".

It's a great album and an expanded CD of it would be most welcome.