Perhaps one of library music lovers’ dearest darlings, this is one exciting example of mood music from behind the Iron Curtain. The A side consists of productions from the Budapest Radio Orchestra, the B side comes from the Polish Radio Orchestra. The two orchestras have contributed a lot of material to the Apollo Sound music library. Some of the tracks are featured on CD albums that can be bought on the Apollo Sound website along with other test card music. (I wonder why they don’t reissue these albums, they would probably sell much better than the somewhat arbitrary and generic compilations.) The recording quality is rather poor, but the very peculiarities of the recording technique may also add to the atmosphere, depending on the listener. These two orchestras have featured music with strange and intriguing arrangements that seem to defy musical conventions we are used to – therefore probably being all the more satisfying to many library music enthusiasts looking for those strange sounds. »The Lights Of Hong Kong« is one of the most impressive mood music pieces I know of, and it is closely followed by »Prayer And Passion«, with its dreamlike arrangement. The Polish B side is more of a disco compilation, with a polka track and other obscure fusion.
In a way, this is a proto-MPS record, since the SABA record company was the predecessor renamed to MPS in 1968 – that is, Musikproduktion Schwarzwald, later reverently »Most Perfect Sound« or even »Magic Purple Sunshine« by a certain blog… »Das Tanzorchester des Südwestfunks« was a radio orchestra of the South-West German regional television SWF, nowadays SWR. Some parts of the record sound older than 1968, other parts are delightfully over-the-top sophisticated radio orchestra arrangements seldom encountered elsewhere, including the typical sleek wall of brass. Wonderfully 1960s-artsy cover. This record should fit in neatly with any MPS collection.
One of the (at least) two records Les Baxter did with 101 Strings for Alshire Records. The other one is »Que Mango!«. For some reason, this seems to be the more popular one, although I think Que Mango! is the stronger one. »La La La« is a cover version of probably Bobby Sherman’s »La La La« from 1969. Some of the arrangements, however, are very different to the original song, and border on Jobim sublime. »Girl On The Boulevard« sounds like a theme for a charming maybe late-1950s comedy film. Indeed, I think there’s still something old-fashioned, 1950s-exotica-style about many of Les Baxter’s later works, along with elements of the respective time. »Bahia Blanca« is a wondrous piece of jet-set mood music with a Brazilian touch – it doesn’t get better than this. »A Taste of Soul« is probably the most popular track in general due to its strong groove elements.
A very nice record in a gritty rare groove style. Hazy Osterwald was a Swiss bandleader, and you can find background info here. »Oumbala-Oumbalo« is a funny (or at the very least comical) track cheerfully celebrating African clichés uga-uga style. »Rio« is a solid track with a real Brazil groove and another example of how the »cidade maravilhosa« is seen abroad – as some of the biggest brands of carefree exotic indulgement (like Acapulco, or Hawaii). My third favourite is New Mexico, a splendid rock groover. Originally I got all excited over the title, assuming I had found a whole record dedicated to the jet-set sound, but »jet-set« perhaps refers to the different locations the band »visits« during the album.
I think it is only appropriate to start off my very first music blog and my very first music blog post with one of my all-time favourite composers, Henry Mancini. He is one of the composers and arrangers so skilled that I don’t hesitate buying everything from him that gets reissued. He was purportedly also a very sweet person. There is a couple of interesting interviews with and on Mancini on YouTube. Mancini gets primarily connected with his hit period in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and tracks such as Peter Gunn (1959), Moon River (1961) and Pink Panther (1962). His creative output in the 1970s hasn’t nearly received equal amount of attention, and unrightfully so. There is also a great overview by Doug Payne, »Mancini in the Seventies« (part 1 and part 2). 99 and 44/100% Dead is a wry gangster film, and as Wikipedia states, »the title is a play on an advertising slogan for Ivory soap«. The score finally made it on CD in 2010 (on the Intrada label) at an amount of 1200 copies. Those sold out pretty darn quickly, and nowadays the used score fetches very high prices. Mancini should have been a safe bet so as to produce much more than 1200 copies, but maybe it was because Intrada is not that big a label and the film itself is not too well-known. After all, we ain’t talking about no Bullitt, here.