Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2018 October 01 • Monday

For our 537th Soundtrack of the Week we're digging into the vinyl again and out we come with Wild, Wild Winter, one of several post-Frankie and Annette teen romp movies. Frankie Avalon had left the beach for a Ski Party so it's only natural that the slopes would see some action from some of the other players again.

The A side is songs from the groups given prominent billing on the cover. The B side is score, mostly by Jerry Long. Maybe. It's a little confusing. Next to each piece, Jerry Long's name occupies the "composer's name" space, with the exception of the Main Title theme, which is credited to Chester Pipkin.

Under the track listing it says "Instrumentals Directed by Frank Wilson". It's not clear what "Directed" means in this context. Arranged? Conducted? Both? Something else?

Just to make it even less clear, in the liner notes is the assertion that what one hears is "background music by Frank Wilson and arrangements by Jerry Long", which is the opposite of what' it just said's written a few inches to the left.

So I don't know. But it's a nice record for the fans of this sort of thing.

The first song on the first side is "Two of a Kind" by Jay and the Americans. It's a typically groovy and catchy ‘60s pop number with a nice rhythmic shift in the chorus and pleasant placement of minor chords in the verse.

I love The Astronauts and their inclusion here is one of the reasons I bought the record. I don't think much of "A Change of Heart", though. I prefer their instrumentals and while this is a decent bluesy number with an insistent rhythm and of course their great guitar sounds, it's not an essential track from them. Nice to see them included, though!

After that comes another not-essential number, The Beau Brummels' simplistic "Just Wait and See". One nice feature of it is the descending scale that concludes the verses.

"Heartbeats" by Dick and Dee Dee is sunshine pop, a bit on the corny side but I bet it’s perfect for this movie. The band is solid and the blend of voices works really well. It’s not a mystery that they were popular at the time.

The first side ends with Jackie and Gayle's "Our Love's Gonna Snowball", a relaxed but intense love song and perhaps the only one to make a direct reference to the concept (such as it is) of the movie. They sound a bit like The Honeys.

Then we flip the record to hear the score or background instrumentals or whatever you want to call it, composed by whoever composed it, maybe Jerry Long, maybe Frank Wilson.

Except, of course, for the "Main Title", which is apparently by Chester Pipkin. It's a sixties pop instrumental lounge number with sleigh bells and a melody that sounds like it's played on harmonica.

“Latin Source" is a fleet, Latin-tinged number with piano and saxophone handling the musical statements but also a nice and unexpectedly spiky electric guitar solo.

"Wild Watusi" is, no surprise, a straight-up watusi with a good groove and some nice saxophone playing as well as a decent guitar solo and rocking piano work.

Then we have "Hawaii to Military", a love theme, apparently, with swelling backgrounds, gentle chimes and of course a flute. But then in comes the snare drum and it’s marching military time, alternating with some Mancini-ish combo writing and even bringing in accordion and harp from out of nowhere.

"The Chase" is at first that formulaic “silent-movie chase scene solo piano playing” but then the pianist starts playing stride and it ends with a funeral march, so something else presumably happens.

And finally, just to add even more confusion to the matter of who came up with this music in the first place, the "End Title", a reprise of the "Main Title", which was supposed to be by Chester Pipkin, is credited to Jerry Long.

Whatever the case, I hope that all fees went to the right people.