Various Artists

Mad, Mad World of Soundtracks

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This album, a companion piece to a book with the same title, is a delightful collection of vocal and instrumental cues from primarily late-'60s soundtracks that bridges the gap between cinematic mood music and lounge pop. The result is a collection that is a delight for both lounge fans and collectors of soundtrack obscurities. Fans of crime jazz will no doubt enjoy The Mad Mad World of Soundtracks because it features plenty of tracks in this vein: Lalo Schifrin's "Ice Pick Mike" builds from a minimalist blend of jittery piano and percussion into a swinging, full-blooded jazz track dominated by a wild horn arrangement, and Sid Ramin's "Stiletto" layers punchy horns and gritty organ flourishes over a funky, relentlessly twisting bassline. At the other end of the musical spectrum, this disc features plenty of light, vocal-oriented pop tunes: "The Swinger" is a jazzy, horn-heavy pop tune that Ann-Margret belts out with gutsy style, while "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" finds the Sandpipers adding their trademark hazy vocal harmonies to an elegant track of keyboard pop. Collectors will be happy to note that many of these vocal tracks were lifted from rare one-off singles that are tough to find today. In between the crime jazz and the vocal pop, there are plenty of stylish exercises in instrumental lounge: A notable highlight in this department is Hugo Montenegro's take on "(Theme From) The Fox," which transforms a stately movie theme into a bouncy bit of California pop that features harpsichord, harmonica, and plenty of peppy vocal harmonies. The package is rounded out by a set of witty, informative liner notes that cover the selections track by track. All in all, The Mad Mad World of Soundtracks is an engaging and colorful listen from start to finish and a great selection for anyone interested in the lounge-ish side of soundtrack music.

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