February 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings / February /


The Man From UNCLE  
Music composed by Robert Drasin, Gerald Fried, Jerry Goldsmith, Walter Scharf, Lalo Schifrin, Richard Shores, Morton Stevens
  FSMCD Vol. 5, No. 18   2 CDS Running time disc 1: 77:05; disc 2: 76:08

Available from Film Score Monthly, 8503 Washington Boulevard, Culver City, CA90232; Tel: 1-888-345-6335; overseas: 310-253-9595; fax: 310-253-9588; email: Info@filmscoremonthly.com Website: http://www.filmscoremonthly.com/

man from uncle

DISC ONE

  • First Season Main Title (Jerry Goldsmith) 0:45
  • The Vulcan Affair (Jerry Goldsmith) 14:01
  • The Deadly Games Affair (Jerry Goldsmith) 11:48
  • The Double Affair (Morton Stevens) 6:51

  • The Project Strigas Affair (Walter Scharf) 7:14
  • The King of Knaves Affair (Jerry Goldsmith) 12:22
  • The Fiddlesticks Affair (Lalo Schifrin) 6:30
  • Meet Mr. Solo (Jerry Goldsmith) 2:05
  • First Season End Title (Jerry Goldsmith) 0:49
  • Second Season End Title (Goldsmith, arr. Schifrin) 0:49
  • The Alexander the Greater Affair (Gerald Fried) 13:12
Total Time: 77:05

DISC TWO
  • The Foxes and Hounds Affair (Robert Drasnin) 5:16
  • The Discotheque Affair (Gerald Fried) 8:49
  • The Re-Collectors Affair (Robert Drasnin) 6:29
  • The Arabian Affair (Gerald Fried) 5:29
  • The Tigers Are Coming Affair (Robert Drasnin) 4:20
  • The Cherry Blossom Affair (Gerald Fried) 5:12
  • The Dippy Blonde Affair (Robert Drasnin) 7:50
  • Third Season End Title (Goldsmith, arr. Fried) 0:39
  • The Her Master's Voice Affair (Gerald Fried) 4:50
  • The Monks of St. Thomas Affair (Gerald Fried) 7:37
  • The Pop Art Affair (Robert Drasnin) 4:50
  • Fourth Season Main Title (Goldsmith, arr. unknown) 0:32
  • The Summit-Five Affair (Richard Shores) 5:52
  • The "J" for Judas Affair (Richard Shores) 8:03
Total Time: 76:08

I imagine if you were there in 1964, or grew-up with The Man From UNCLE then this release is something special. Otherwise it is more of academic interest, a useful document of a style of scoring which influenced a decade or more of television and even extended its reach into the hip and cool side of movies. Film Score Monthly are certainly treating this release as a major event; it's the company's first ever double album, with almost eighty minutes worth of music on each CD. The album also comes with a splendidly produced 28 page colour booklet featuring detailed notes on the development of the show, the composers and the music selected for the album, written by film music expert Jon Burlingame. This is the official publicity announcement:

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (1964-68) was television's first major spy show, an hour of high-style adventure starring Robert Vaughn as Napoleon Solo and David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin, resourceful agents of a worldwide peacekeeping organization. Their battles with the international criminal conspiracy Thrush, and other assorted bad guys, kept audiences enthralled for four seasons on NBC.

Now, the best of all four seasons of U.N.C.L.E. music (over two and a half hours!) has been assembled into a 2CD set. In addition to suites drawn from the three first-season Goldsmith scores, the album includes music by Lalo Schifrin, Morton Stevens, Walter Scharf, Gerald Fried, Robert Drasnin and Richard Shores. The music is newly remastered from the original monaural session tapes, with fourth-season music remixed in stereo. Veteran film-music journalist Jon Burlingame, who has written extensively about the series through the years, chronicles the entire history of U.N.C.L.E. music in a lavishly illustrated 28-page booklet.

This is Film Score Monthly's most elaborate production to date, a long-awaited collection of exciting original tracks from a fondly remembered '60s classic. This limited-edition release is sure to be a sought-after collector's item for U.N.C.L.E. fans, Goldsmith aficionados and anyone interested in great TV music!

Now I'll cheerfully admit that I was never a fan of The Man From UNCLE, even growing up in the 60's regarding it as a cheap television attempt to cash-in on the James Bond movies. Nevertheless, as someone who never saw more than a handful of episodes several decades ago - and more recently a couple of the dreadful "movies" cobbled together from two part TV shows - the sound of the music on these discs is instantly familiar.

Following the example set by Jerry Goldsmith, who defined the sound of the show with his title theme and pilot score, a handful of composers created a sound which spread throughout the burgeoning TV spy genre and into such related areas as cop and detective dramas. This is the sound of American TV for anyone who was watching television in the 1960's and '70's. Brassy, percussive, jazz-influenced ensemble music with one foot in traditional techniques, all the while looking towards the current sounds of the 60's and paying homage to the very different types of cool defined by John Barry and Henry Mancini.

The album opens with Goldsmith's title theme, and later contains the versions used for each of the four seasons of the show including arrangements by Lalo Schifrin and Gerald Fried. The first disc also contains suites totalling around 38 minutes for the pilot show, The Vulcan Affair, and the two further episodes scored by Goldsmith, The Deadly Games Affair and The King of Knaves Affair. The orchestra for the pilot consisted of 27 musicians, while later recordings featured 15-18 players. Of the first 29 episodes, 14 had original scores, the music then being recycled in typical television style in later shows. Thus the series developed a distinctive sound as various themes and motifs recurred throughout each season. The small, string free, orchestras gave the show a necessarily intimate sound, the composers having to depend heavily on imaginative colourings rather than massed forces and shear power.

Regular composers were among others Robert Drasin, Gerald Fried, Lalo Schifrin, Richard Shores, and Morton Stevens, all featured on these two CDs. The album contains representative suites from 19 episodes, as well as the title themes and Goldsmith's "Meet Mr Solo", an MOR cocktail lounge theme penned for commercial release.

As to the scores themselves, they are literally generic to a fault, in that they actually do define an entire genre. This is television spy music circa mid-1960's USA. The Goldsmith cues are clearly identifiable as the composer's work, boasting muscular rhythms and strong brass writing as well as infectious melodies. As for the rest, well, it does the job. As Jon Burlingame says, this music was written quickly and meant to be heard once or twice mixed with dialogue and effects played back through poor quality TV speakers. That said, the mono sound (stereo for the fourth season suites) is pretty good, though the recording is nothing special. Likewise the music is functional and triggers and instant nostalgia trip back the way the world of formula television used to be. Cult, kitsch and really rather negligible other than as a cultural artefact, this is what it is; a lovingly prepared and beautifully packaged celebration of some routine scoring which managed to define untold hours of highly mediocre television. One for Man From UNCLE devotees and Goldsmith completists.

Gary S. Dalkin

**(*) 2

Return to Index

 
Reviews from previous months


You can purchase CDs, tickets and musician's accessories and Save around 22% with these retailers: