Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2023 November 27 • Monday

Pete King's music for The Last of the Secret Agents? is the 806th Soundtrack of the Week.

Nancy Sinatra is in this movie and does in fact sing the title song, but it's not on this soundtrack album.

The first track is "The Height of the Spy Season", a swinging spy instrumental with bongos and walking bass which starts out sounding like John Barry but swings into Elmer Bernstein The Man with the Golden Arm territory once it gets going. After a bit of that it goes into a post-Mancini sort of Vegas sound. All of this is punctuated by occasional gunshots followed by a couple of rests. It's pretty good.

Next is the very Mancini-esque "To You", which has lovely strings, smooth muted horns and nice guitar playing.

After that comes a song contributed by the great Neal Hefti, "You Are", sung by Steve Rossi. This is an effervescent jazz waltz love song: "You are special / So special to me" etc.

Less than a minute of your time is needed for "The Grabbers", a blast of jazzy action music with frantic strings, swinging rhythm section and blaring horns.

"The Villa" is another tune that had its passport stamped by Mancini Country, this one in a swinging sort of Latin mode, very sunny and perky with nice alto sax playing.

If the villa wasn't the place then presumably "The Place" was the place. It sure sounds like it. Now we get an organ-driven rock instrumental combo slinking through a hully-gullyish number with some seriously fuzzed out guitar and more cool alto blowing.

Even only a passing acquaintance with the Eurospy genre to which this movie belongs will suffice to guess what "Belly Dance" is likely to sound like. This is actually an unusually laidback approach to this perennial with lovely electric guitar playing that does call and response to an acoustic plucked instrument, perhaps mandolin or something of that nature.

Side 1 ends with "Hi-Jack", which brings the listener right back into the heart of James Bond musical territory with urgent strings and horns driving urgently toward—a totally unexpected shift into 3/4 calliope music that's occasionally interrupted by blasts of classical pastiche similar to the "William Tell Overture" or some such thing.

The second side starts off with "Last Stop Paris", which surprisingly isn't the standard accordion-driven "French" music but a cool, jazzy tune in 7/4 (with a little bit of 6/4,too) with the strings delivering a pleasantly serpentine melody assisted by bongos and horns.

"Paris Street" is a lovely waltz with the strings once again providing a lush and gorgrous setting.

A second Steve Rossi vocal number follows, "Don Jose, Olé!", which is very Spanish-oriented in its lyrics but otherwise a bossa nova.

At just under a minute "The Kiss" can't be too lingering but it's a rich, romantic string texture in the Mancini vein.

Gentle, late-night swing with laidback guitar, piano, vibes, muted horns, etc., again something that would fit right into a Peter Gunn episode, comes next in "Baby May".

But then the fuzz guitars come back with the same rock organ combo for "The Big Ball"! There's saxophone, guitar and organ soloing and its a classic "shake".

"The Treasure" is another 50-second cue, but this is a pensive, cloudy, suspenseful mood, a good balance to all the swingin' good times that have suffused the record so far.

I had high hopes for the next track, "Zorba A Go Go", but it's not very go-go, more or less a standard "Greek" tune with Greek or Greek-sounding plucked instruments. It's similar to "Belly Dance".

The album ends on a strong note, however, with "Of Mace and Men" combining some Peter Gunn theme menace with Bond score-style horn writing.