With the rise of soundtrack composers like Lalo Schifrin and Quincy Jones, jazz became an important element of film scoring as the 1960s gave way to the 1970s. An important composer in this jazz soundtrack renaissance was Roy Budd, and Fear Is the Key provides a good example of his jazz-oriented style. Budd had a rare skill for seamlessly blending orchestral touches and jazz rhythms, and that skill is on display all over this album: "Main Theme" backs up a yearning orchestral melody with a slinky mid-tempo jazz groove and "The Hostage Escapes" adds all sorts of dark string and horn shadings to the relentless, frenetic throb of its bass line and percussion. However, his shining moment on this album is "The Car Chase," a ten-minute epic that spirals through a dazzling array of riffs and arrangement twists as it gives the orchestra and the jazz instrumentalists a thorough workout. The stunning end result is the perfect sonic re-creation of a car chase, complete with wheel-skidding sound effects worked into the mix. Action cues like these are balanced with lighter, more lounge-styled source music cues like "Louisiana Ferry" and "Bayou Blues," which give Budd a chance to stretch out on the piano and show off his keyboard chops. Cinephile's reissue of this album lacks the bonus tracks that their other Budd reissues usually have, but they make up for this with detailed liner notes that give ample information on the album's recording and Budd's biography. All in all, Fear Is the Key is a brisk action score and a solid pick for film music fans who like their scores jazzy.
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AllMusic Review by Donald A. Guarisco
|Fear is the Key, film score|