Various Artists

Inner City Beat!: Detective Themes, Spy Music and Imaginary Thrillers

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The 24 tracks compiled by Soul Jazz for this release are, at least aesthetically, a companion volume to the label's 2012 release TV Sound and Image (British TV, Film and Library Composers 1955-78).This music was assembled from sound library recordings at KPM, De Wolfe, Amphonic, and Conroy. It was recorded between 1967-1975 for use in television shows, radio programs, and films. The labels handed out their music for hire in hopes that the BBC or British film studios would license it. Most of this material was never used; it's been lying about in vaults for decades. There is a wide range of music here. There are mod-ish big-band rave-ups (Reg Tilsley's "Ode to a Stone"), breakbeat funk (Clive Hicks' "Transit"), orchestral psych (Brass Incorporated's "Come One, Come All"), and vibes-laden groove jazz (Francis Coppetiers' "Cross Talk"). Other highlights include Johnny Pearson's "Product Efficiency," with its Meters-like groove (filled in with horns), the raucous, brassy harmonic and rhythmic dissonance in Johnny Hawksworth's "Conveyor Belt," the rad biker jazz in David Lindup's "Super Performance" (which sounds like the Clarke-Boland Big Band with a guitarist and on speed), and Brass Incorporated's "On a Bicycle Built for 3" (which would have been well-placed in a period James Bond film). Soul Jazz relied on lesser-known composers for this set, Tilsley and Coppetiers excepted. As a result, some of this material is minor league at best. Two of five such examples are Ernest Copley's "Fuel Injection," which sounds more like a campy Fantasia than a companion to an auto racing scene, and Dave Richmond's "Gotta Getaway" is a dreamy, Moody Blues-eque instrumental pop that feels utterly out of place here. Inner City Beat!: Detective Themes, Spy Music & Imaginary Thrillers is also beautifully packaged with a 60-page graphic novel by the rather mysterious British pulp novelist Markham "Badly" Antringham -- complete with a typo in his bio. This is a pleasant hour of music that, while not altogether engaging, is a fine diversion.

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