Elmer Bernstein

The Caretakers [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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One of the shortest soundtrack albums associated with a major movie of the 1960s, The Caretakers is also something of a throwback to Elmer Bernstein's work of the previous decade. The album itself is a bit schizophrenic, in that the first side is steeped in a highly accessible light jazz sound, reminiscent at times of the composer's music for pictures such as The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). It is a bit smoother in places, however, with the obvious aim at pop appeal on numbers such as "Take Care," "Blues for a 4-String Guitar," and, most of all, the highly danceable "Birdito." And this part of the album marks a fun interlude between more substantial and flavorful Bernstein scores before and after, and obviously didn't require much heavy lifting by anyone concerned at the time -- and it's clear that the musicians are having a great time here. Side two, in contrast, is much more dramatic programmatic music, aimed at highlighting specific harrowing incidents in the picture, and is a lot less accessible -- but it is also a lot more interesting, especially a slow, string- and reed-driven interlude called "The Cage." "Electrotherapy" is effect music that makes excellent use of tuned percussion. It's all first-rate music, the light and "heavy" sides of the album alike, and the only flaw is that there isn't a little bit more of it, and the musicians themselves aren't credited.

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