Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
rob + = email

2024 March 25 • Monday

The 823rd Soundtrack of the Week is from our old friend Nico Fidenco: Tranquille Donne di Campagna.

This score finds Fidenco in classical mode, with the main theme, repeated with variations throughout, basically being a small ensemble, string quartet plus a few other colors, playing a romantic, unhurried, lyical melody.

When the music deviates from this it's for things like a fox trot or a sort of late-night, bluesy jazz slow dance.

There isn't a single shake on the record! Which is a shame, since Fidenco is so good at them.

But it's lovely music all the same, and demonstrates the versatility of the composer.
2024 March 18 • Monday

And now it's back to a favorite, Joe Harnell's music for The Bionic Woman, for the 822nd Soundtrack of the Week. This is Volume 5 and contains compositions for "Assault on the Princess", "Bio-Feedback", "Jaime's Shield" Part 1 and "The Over-the-Hill Spy".

The cues from "Assault on the Princess" lean heavily on Harnell's Bionic Woman theme, not the Jerry Fielding title music that plays over the opening credits but a lyrical piece of music that Harnell can put over a vicious funk groove or make into a sweet and tender romantic moment.

In addition to that there's some Vegas-style writing, some restrained funk suspense pieces, a bit of jazz and dramatic underscore of various moods.

Unusual sonorities are front and center for "Bio-Feedback", with percussion and electric guitar (as well as maybe sitar), adding eerie and unsettling tones while oboe handles a lot of the main voicings.

"Tear Gas Run" has an interesting variation on Harnell's Bionic Woman with some relaxed grooves before returning to the more ominous ideas.

For "Jaimes' Shield", things start off very chipper with "Jaime the Cop", a cheerful and sunny piece with bits of funkiness dropped in before landing in a breezy and swinging 6/8 groove.

The rest of the score is heavier and more serious, despite some irresistible beats and arrangements that should make you tap your toes.

“The Over-the-Hill Spy" starts with the kind of cue that should make you think of stock footage of Washington, DC, before getting into a somewhat silly funky groove that gets interrupted by some quasi-classical and comedic writing.

The rest of it is fairly serious, though, and even has a pretty sick keyboard sound in parts.
2024 March 11 • Monday

The 821st Soundtrack of the Week is Nelson Ridddle's music for Howard Hawks's El Dorado.

The main title song is in 3/4 and has lyrics that refer more to the myth than to the movie’s story. (The movie stars John Wayne and Robert Mitchum and legend has it that when Hawks approached Mitchum about doing the movie and Mitchum asked what the story was about, Hawks replied, "No story, just you and Duke". Perhaps Hawks meant that any number of stories would do with two such actors in the leads because El Dorado actually has a very impressive story, courtesy of great writer and frequent Hawks collaborator Leigh Brackett.)

A tenebrous and tender cue comes next, the miniature masterpiece of “Hasta Luego”, which blends harmonica, strings and guitars.

Tension begins “Luke’s Life Lingers” and gives way to a more journey-appropriate mood before ending on a narsh note of danger.

Percussion and strings provide an ominous and dissonant background for winds in “Come Get Your Boy/Ambush/Cole’s Misery”.

Beautiful acoustic guitar playing starts “Hasta La Vista/San Miguel”, soon joined by harmonica and bass before the orchestra enters with the second theme, a more upbeat and exciting section.

Then it’s time for some pleasantly laidback mariachi music for “La Cantina”. So glad it’s not saloon piano!

“Charlie's Demise/The First Stroke” initiates the second action scene of the movie and the introduction of James Caan’s character. It starts with grim suspense before moving to a sunnier and happier place, which itself is intruded upon by the reappearance of blaring horns again signaling danger.

“Ride, Boldly Ride” is an instrumental version of the main title theme, followed by the slow dance sound of accordion and guitar playing “The Night and the Stars”.

After that comes a reverby and percussive electric guitar accompanied by drum set and bongos, bringing a surf sound to “Maria Informs/Outmaneuvered”.

Then it’s electric bass guitar for “Message from Maudie/McLeod Catches Cole”, another slow-burn suspense piece that would have worked well in an episode of Danger Man as well as here.

Staggered ascending lines begin “The Farewell”, which also gets a lot of milesge out of the percussive capabilities of the electric guitar.

Action music writing bubbles up in “Bugle Call/Shootout”, which is about energetic horns and more relaxed strings.

The main theme gets a reprise for the “El Dorado Finale”, followed by two alternates for the same theme.
2024 March 04 • Monday

Happy birthday!

Late winter and late summer are ofen times of laziness around here. And here is my new low: the 820th Soundtrack of the Week is going to be a single because I just don't have the energy for more than that right now.

But don't panic. It's a special single. It's Mike Post's theme from Hill Street Blues b/w "Aaron's Tune". And the single itself is a transparent 45 shaped like a freaking cop car.

I picked this up last week at Dusty Groove in Chicago. As you can see, it features Larry Carlton, who does indeed contribute some impeccable guitar playing.

The theme music seems to be not only immediately recognizable to everyone about my age, but immediately hummable or singable, without even a hint.

At least the opening piano part is. It gets developed in ways I didn't remember, possibly because I never actually watched this show, not even once. This also seems to be the case with people my age.

I kind of want to check it out now, though.

"Aaron's Tune" starts out as a mellow love-theme variation but digs into a backbeat and lets Carlton's compressed and overdriven guitar sound take over.

We need more Mike Post. I'm hoping for a complete music from The Rockford Files someday soon.