The Brass Ring

Love Theme from the Flight of the Phoenix/Lara's Theme

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Thanks to the keepers of the kitsch at Collectors' Choice Music, the "classic" mid-'60s recordings by Phil Bodner and his Brass Ring are available once again. This two-fer CD includes the instrumental ensemble's first two long-players, Love Theme from the Flight of the Phoenix and Lara's Theme, both from 1966. The two albums draw heavily from popular and relatively modern film soundtracks, as well as more established pop titles. The updates (as it were) of "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" and "My Foolish Heart" are bathed in vintage doo wop arrangements that come off as dated -- even by 1966 standards. Arguably hipper are "Unchained Melody," an organ-filled "Secret Love," Henry Mancini's "Moon River," and the title composition, "Lara's Theme." The latter should be differentiated from the reading of simply "Laura," the Johnny Mercer co-penned number. Speaking of digits, Love Theme from the Flight of the Phoenix landed just shy of the Top 100 at number 109 in the spring of 1966. Lara's Theme followed shortly thereafter, lifting both its name and the song itself directly from the Brass Ring's debut effort. They didn't even bother to re-record the tune, either. As was the occasional custom of the day, the record company went to earlier releases to find filler for "new" product. That caveat aside, the Brass Ring update their songbook with a light rearrangement of fellow Dunhill Records labelmates the Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreamin'," as well as John Barry's "Theme from Born Free" (a hit for pianist Roger Williams) and the Sandpipers' "Guantanamera." The latter has a particularly interesting lineage, as the music is credited to José Fernández Diaz and adapted by Pete Seeger, while the lyrics were based on a poem by José Marti. Other Latin-flavored numbers include Luiz Bonfá's "Samba de Orfeo" from Black Orpheus, Pérez Prado's "Patricia," and the Bodner original "Bahama Shuffle."

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