FSMCD Vol. 5, No. 10
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Limited Edition: 3,000 copies
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What Film Score Monthly Says:
I Spy (1965-1968) is an hour-long action-adventure series fondly remembered for its globetrotting action and hip character humor. The show was groundbreaking in more ways than one: produced by Sheldon Leonard, it was the first to pair a white and black actor in starring roles (Robert Culp and Bill Cosby), and was filmed on location all over the globe. Produced in the midst of the '60s "spy" craze, it shunned camp gadgetry in favor of gritty realism and snappy dialogue, and the repartee of the leads paved the way for the modern-day buddy action-comedy.
Unlike its contemporary series such as Star Trek, Mission: Impossible and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., I Spy had an original score composed for every one of its 82 episodes: two-thirds by Leonard's friend and regular composer, Earle Hagen, and one-third by veteran feature composer Hugo Friedhofer. The style was "semi-jazz," blending local color with swinging big band action and an eclectic mix of suspense -- amongst the finest television music ever composed. Although Hagen re-recorded two LPs of I Spy themes at the time of the series, the original television recordings have never been released. (For legal reasons, it is easier for us to release the original TV soundtracks than the LP recordings.)
For this premiere original soundtrack CD, FSM has selected five of the best episode scores: "So Long Patrick Henry" (set in Hong Kong and aired as the series premiere), "The Time of the Knife" (the first Japanese episode), "Turkish Delight" (Hagen's first Mexican score), "The Warlord" (one of the series' most unusual and darkly dramatic episodes, set in Burma), and "Mainly on the Plains" (a Spanish comedy-adventure, one of Hagen's personal favorites).
Through spectacular good fortune, the three first-season scores ("Patrick Henry," "Knife" and "Turkish Delight") are presented in dynamic stereo (along with the series' main and end titles), remixed from 1/2" three-track tape -- possibly the best-sounding '60s television music ever released. The two second-season scores ("Warlord" and "Plains") are presented from clean-sounding mono 1/4" tape.
The CD comes with an illustrated 24-page booklet with liner notes by Lukas Kendall and a foreword by Robert Culp, who in addition to starring wrote the teleplays for "So Long Patrick Henry" and "The Warlord." From big band action to exotic adventure and hip jazz attitude, I Spy is a high point of television music.
"So Long Patrick Henry"
Episode #3, Hong Kong
1. The Defector/Main Title 1:05
2. Hong Kong/Elroy 1:25
3. What's the Trouble? 1:05
4. Keep Running/You Lose 4:10
5. That's My Man 1:27
6. Stop That Plane 2:25
7. The Whistle Blows 2:14
8. "007" 0:45
9. End Title 0:52
[Total Time: 15:38]
"The Time of the Knife"
Episode #10, Japan
10. Tokyo/Jean and Kelly/Jean's Pad/Trailing 6:19
11. Oops, the Troops!/Away We Go/Shiftycraft/Dead for Real 3:32
[Total Time: 9:51]
Episode #20, Mexico
12. Away We Go to Mexico/Bye Bye Scotty/Rapido/On the Road Again /Trunk Store/Chicken Hearts/Lt. Hernandez 5:14
13. Taxi Tour 2:01
14. Japanese Trick/Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow/How About That!/Babe, With Rocks 5:15
15. End Title 0:38
[Total Time: 13:14]
Episode #36, Burma
16. Burma/The Chase/And On and On/Of Some Value 9:14
17. My Lord!/She Is Chinese 4:47
18. Prelude to Dreamsville/The General Dies 4:12
19. Down the River 1:55
[Total Time: 20:09]
"Mainly on the Plains"
Episode #52, Spain
20. The Plaza/Main Title 3:19
21. Don Silvando/Blonde Gothic/Travelin'/Sighted 3:37
22. Don Quixote II/Attack/Upsy Daisy 4:45
23. My Professor, the Nut/Wild Stuff/Goodbye Crooks 3:55
24. Don Strikes/So Long, Don 2:41
25. End Title 0:38
[Total Time: 19:04]
Total Disc Time: 77:57
Tracks 1-15 Stereo;
Tracks 16-25 Mono.
When 'I Spy' first aired on America's NBC in the autumn of 1965, it was groundbreaking in so many ways. The stars were Robert Culp and Bill Crosby who played two rather offbeat spies who travelled the world undercover, posing as a tennis star and his trainer. The fact that a black man and a white man were cast as best friend and equal partners was pioneering for the time and while other contemporary TV shows were shot in Hollywood, the cast and crew of 'I Spy' jetted around the world to shoot in exotic locations. The approach to the programme's music was also unique. No library music was ever used and new music was composed for each of the 82 episodes. Earle Hagen was responsible for scoring 53 of the episodes with the majority of the rest coming from Hugo Friedhofer. FSM have selected five of Earle Hagen's episodes to give a delicious taster of his charismatic jazz style, which was used throughout the series with such flair.
Earle Hagen's theme for 'I Spy' is distinctive, hummable and, importantly, simple enough to be easily adaptable without becoming unrecognisable. While the music for each episode was specially written, the theme does make an appearance at regular intervals and provides a thread to tie everything together. The series' excursions around the world allows the music to don many different robes over a fascinating skeleton of jazz and sixties spy music. The episodes featured in FSM's selection visit Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Burma and Spain, so bits of local musical flavours creep in among the basic jazz, from mariachi to flamenco, Chinese mouth organs to Japanese banjos. The music is always entertaining and full of musical twists and turns making it a perfect backdrop to zany antics of the two spies, Robinson and Scott.
The FSM presentation is excellent with a 24-page booklet containing lots of stills and blow-by-blow accounts of each track as well as an interesting background on the series. The music is great sixties, big band jazz with the typical spy flavour of the era. Highly recommended for those looking for a little nostalgia or a feel of the sixties.
-- Andrew Keech, MusicFromTheMovies.com
I wish all soundtrack releases could get the FSM treatment. Their packaging and presentation, sleeve notes and attention to detail always impress me.
The music presented here for the popular sixties adventures series I Spy is a perfect example of the kind of jazzy, pop-based scoring that was so much in evidence on American television in the mid to late 1960s. However one of the most remarkable things about the soundtracks for the series was that each of its eighty-two episodes had original music, expressly written for each individual show. And although Earl Hagen's work was the mainstay of the series, other composers such as Hugo Friedhofer and Nathan Van Cleave also contributed (with occasional examples also included here).
The CD itself is broken up into several different episodes, representing the globe trotting nature of the series, featuring sections depicting Hong Kong, Japan, Mexico, Burma and Spain. This provides a wealth of variety rarely found on this kind of television based compilation and makes this particular release very worthwhile.
Another success story for FSM with many to follow I'm quite sure.
-- Mark Hockley, Film Music on the Web