September 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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A Guide for the Married Man  
For further information (including track list): filmscoremonthly

After FSM's previous offering of Ron Grainer's truly magnificent score for The Omega Man, I really wanted to say kind things about this long awaited release of one of John (Johnny) Williams early works, before the heady days of Spielberg and Star Wars. But sadly I'm going to find that difficult. Let me try to explain why.

The title song performed by The Turtles with lyrics by Leslie Bricusse is actually quite a fun, very sixties pop tune and this melody features throughout in various incarnations on tracks such as 'Misdirection/Emergency Kit' and 'Trial Run'. The mainstay of the score is a combination of this swinging, then fashionable pop music, with orchestral background comedy scoring, which while being extremely accomplished is less rewarding to listen to.

Williams certainly provides many proficient cues like 'Prologue/Off to Work' with its subtle, intricate opening and music to illustrate the advance of time from dinosaur to modern man. 'Why do they do it?' is also worth mentioning where everything is exaggerated, all with tongue firmly in cheek.

Many pieces are of course incredibly dated now, like 'The Bust-Up Scene' and 'The Divorcee' and although I suppose that may be attractive to some, personally I found it all rather tiresome. The problem with a score like this is the question of its value beyond the historical. The appreciation of film music divides many fans. Do we admire a soundtrack from a technical point of view or simply as music? Each has his own view. But whatever the case, you are entitled to enjoy your listening experience. If you are technically minded, a score like this will no doubt prove fascinating, but for many others it will have far less appeal.

There are a few small pleasures. The unused version of the 'Main Title: A Guide for the Married Man', as performed by a small studio chorus, is quite entertaining, especially as a musical time capsule. Also of note is 'The Globetrotters', a kind of mock secret agent theme that isn't at all bad. Indeed, it would not have been out of place in something like Our Man Flint, made around the same period.

But what is right for a film is not necessarily meant to stand up as purely a piece of music and my own personal ratings will always be geared toward the listener rather than the viewer. After all, it's the CD I'm discussing, not the film.

Few could fault the overall presentation or quality of this CD, the inclusion of numerous bonus and alternate tracks to be commended. But removed from its source, it really is only interesting in an academic sense.

So, while acknowledging this as a fine example of a sixties comedy score, I find it very difficult to recommend with any true conviction.

Mark Hockley



Mark Hockley


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