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Category:    Home > Reviews > Spy > Comedy > Soundtrack > Girl From U.N.C.L.E. (Limited CD)

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – Volume Three also featuring

The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.  (Limited Edition CD Soundtrack Set)

 

Sound: B-     Music: B

 

 

In the big Spy genre boom in the 1960s on TV and in motion pictures, it was not always easy to be distinct.  Competition was often fierce, but the standouts were in on the game early and that often included their music.  The Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV series had the benefit of a character name straight form a James Bond novel.  Not that it mattered as to whether Napoleon Solo was actually the name of a gangster, Robert Vaughn was cast as a hero with the same name and the show was one of the big Spy hits on TV.  Thanks to the genius of Jerry Goldsmith, they had a theme song and starting score to keep them interesting.

 

Film Score Monthly’s FSM CD soundtrack label has now issued the third and supposedly final limited edition of all the music from the series that could be found on its own form the original archives.  To add to that, this latest double set offers a whole CD devoted to the score from the spin-off series The Girl From U.N.C.L.E., which attempted to launch Stephanie Powers into bigger star status in the role of April Dancer.  The show did not last, but is now a cult classic and items from both shows are more sought after than you would think.

 

Dave Grusin, Gerald Fried, Morton Stevens, Walter Scharf, Lalo Schifrin, Robert Drasnin, Richard Shores and Robert Armbruster eventually added key music to both series and several of the artificially cut feature films, simply made out of TV episodes that were shot in color, but deemed releasable as most people did not have big screen and color TVs yet.  As is always the case with all FSM CDs and these well-researched U.N.C.L.E. volumes in particular, the booklet included offers great details and facts about all the productions and some good photos as well.  Even if you do not like the show, or thought the spin-off got too silly, this is very interesting stuff, especially since none of it is on DVD yet still.

 

With that said, the booklet notes the diversity of the scores, a necessity considering the series did not have the budget to go globe-hopping like the James Bond films.  Since the scripts were playing with the fantastic side of the genre, something like this way necessary for the show to work, despite the talent behind the camera and in front.  Besides the fast-paced Jazzy score adding to the energy of each scene, the idea was to keep things as exciting as TV would allow.  This music also kept viewers from turning the dial during commercial breaks.

 

Many would question even having such a set if you do not know what episodes they go to, let alone whether you have seen those shows or not, but it is fun music on its own at a time when TV music was expected to be good.  As a matter of fact, the music here and on the previous U.N.C.L.E. sets are better (if slightly dated and campy) than most TV music and much feature film scoring we are getting of late.  Having heard all three sets, this is the one I would recommend the most.

 

As for the sound quality, it varies, with occasional, unavoidable distortion in places.  Some tracks are monophonic, while others are stereophonic from three-track tapes for some of the TV and all of the theatrical film applications.  They sound good for the most part, especially considering Warner Bros. will issue the episodes in puny Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono if they ever do the DVDs of each season.  That is reason enough to go to www.filmscoremonthly.com and check out more information on all three double sets.  This includes track samples, purchase information, track selection and more great CD scores.  You will want to do this soon, however, as all three sets are limited to only 3,000 pressings.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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