Henry Mancini / Henry Mancini & His Orchestra

The Pink Panther [Music From the Film Score]

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The Pink Panther is another fine, early-'60s soundtrack from Henry Mancini. The title track became one of his most recognizable themes and kicks off a pleasant program of dreamy lounge cuts and Latin-tinged numbers. As he did on many other movie/TV albums (Touch of Evil, Peter Gunn, etc.), Mancini also includes some noirish, big band numbers, like "The Tiber Twist" and the main title. Along with these up-tempo songs, he balances out the mostly light material with the solidly swinging mambos "The Village Inn," "Something for Sellers" (as in Peter Sellers, the movies' star), and "It Had Better Be Tonight" (co-written by frequent partner Johnny Mercer and something of a minor vocal hit upon its release). The program's highlights, though, come from the kind of sublime (some might say cheesy) ballads he usually included on his soundtracks; the after-hours jazz tune "Royal Blue" stands out in particular, with its tasteful string arrangement and glowing trumpet solo. This is a great title for fans of Mancini's lounge/soundtrack material, but those more into his jazz material should consider either his Peter Gunn or Combo soundtracks. [The 2001 reissue by Buddha includes several bonus tracks: "Return of the Pink Panther," "The Greatest Gift (Instrumental)," "Here's Looking at You Kid," and "Dreamy."]

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