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Of Panthers and Baby Elephants: “The Essential Henry Mancini” Coming Soon

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Henry Mancini’s film score work has been anthologized numerous times, and the latest such release is due August 24 from Legacy as part of their ongoing The Essential… series. The Essential Henry Mancini is a 2-disc overview containing 36 tracks, dating between 1958 and 1983. During that time, Mancini was one of Hollywood’s most prolific composers, creating memorable themes for the big and little screens alike. Mancini’s longterm collaboration with Blake Edwards ranks with the Danny Elfman/Tim Burton and John Williams/Steven Spielberg teams as among the most influential ever in the annals of film music.

Based on the track listing, The Essential Henry Mancini appears to be a solid 2-disc Mancini primer, touching on the most famous songs and themes composed by the gentleman. These are expected to be drawn from his large catalogue at RCA Victor, where he re-recorded most of his film scores as listener-friendly albums. (Soundtrack buffs still await the release of many of Mancini’s most famous scores as actually heard in the films, such as The Pink Panther or Charade, but record company contracts make such releases unlikely.) There is, expectedly, considerable overlap with past Mancini anthologies such as Days of Wine and Roses (RCA CD 66603) and Henry Mancini: Greatest Hits (RCA CD 67997), though are some unique selections here. (Hopefully new liner notes and a respectful remastering will sweeten the deal.) In addition, with such a large body of work, there were bound to be omissions, and there are many: in the television arena, Mancini’s recognizable themes to What’s Happening? and Newhart are absent, just to name two. On the film side, it’s easy to miss the haunting “Whistling Away the Dark” from Darling Lili and “Wait Until Dark” from the movie of the same name, not to mention the groovy title tune to The Party.

To do this esteemed composer true justice, one would have to assemble a cross-licensed set combining actual score recordings (Film Score Monthly, Kritzerland and Intrada have all released impressive Mancini albums in recent months), the RCA cuts and vocal renditions of his memorable songs by artists like Andy Williams, Johnny Mathis and Julie Andrews. Some of those aforementioned artists can actually be heard on a previous Legacy release, The Music of Henry Mancini (Legacy CD 66505).  In the meantime, The Essential Henry Mancini should be a solid introduction to one of the all-time greats of the soundtrack world.  It includes most of his best-loved compositions, and of course his hit recording of Nino Rota’s “A Time for Us (Theme from Romeo and Juliet),” the only track on this set which wasn’t composed by Mancini.

Pre-order here, and hit the jump for the track listing with source information for each track!

The Essential Henry Mancini (Sony/Legacy, 2010)

Disc One

  1. The Pink Panther Theme
  2. Mr. Lucky
  3. Dear Heart
  4. Charade
  5. Baby Elephant Walk
  6. The Days of Wine and Roses
  7. Experiment In Terror
  8. Peter Gunn
  9. In the Arms of Love
  10. Natasha’s Theme
  11. Darling Lili
  12. “The Thorn Birds” Theme
  13. Two for the Road
  14. Candlelight on Crystal
  15. The Sweetheart Tree
  16. Theme from “Cade’s County”
  17. Oklahoma Crude
  18. It Had Better Be Tonight

Disc Two

  1. Moon River
  2. High Time
  3. One Eyed Cat
  4. Main Theme from “A Shot in the Dark”
  5. Ludmilla’s Theme
  6. Dreamsville
  7. Rain Drops In Rio
  8. Mystery Movie Theme
  9. A Time for Us (Love Theme From “Romeo and Juliet”)
  10. Happy Barefoot Boy
  11. The Great Waldo Pepper March
  12. A Quiet Happening
  13. Natalie
  14. A Powdered Wig
  15. The Hills of Yesterday
  16. Nothing to Lose
  17. The Inspector Clouseau Theme
  18. Pie-in-the-Face Polka

Disc 1, Tracks 1 and 18 from The Pink Panther (United Artists, 1963)
Disc 1, Track 2 and Disc 2, Track 3 from Mr. Lucky (CBS-TV, 1959)
Disc 1, Track 3 from Dear Heart (Warner Bros., 1964)
Disc 1, Track 4 from Charade (Universal, 1963)
Disc 1, Track 5 from Hatari (Paramount, 1961)
Disc 1, Track 6 from The Days of Wine and Roses (Warner Bros., 1962)
Disc 1, Track 7 from Experiment in Terror (Columbia, 1962)
Disc 1, Track 8 and Disc 2, Track 6 from Peter Gunn (NBC-TV , 1958)
Disc 1, Track 9 from What Did You Do in the War, Daddy? (United Artists, 1966)
Disc 1, Track 10 from Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? (Lorimar, 1978)
Disc 1, Track 11 from Darling Lili (Paramount, 1969)
Disc 1, Track 12 from The Thorn Birds (ABC-TV, 1983)
Disc 1, Track 13 and Disc 2, Track 10 from Two for the Road (20th Century Fox, 1967)
Disc 1, Track 14 and Disc 2, Track 16 from The Party (United Artists, 1968)
Disc 1, Track 15 and Disc 2, Track 18 from The Great Race (Warner Bros., 1965)
Disc 1, Track 16 from Cade’s County (CBS-TV, 1971)
Disc 1, Track 17 from Oklahoma Crude (Columbia, 1973)
Disc 2, Track 1 from Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Paramount, 1960)
Disc 2, Track 2 from High Time (20th Century Fox, 1960)
Disc 2, Tracks 4 and 17 from A Shot in the Dark (United Artists, 1964)
Disc 2, Track 5 from Visions of Eight (David L. Wolper Productions, 1973)
Disc 2, Track 7 from Mr. Lucky Goes Latin (RCA Victor LPM/LSP-2360, 1961)
Disc 2, Track 8 from The NBC Mystery Movie (NBC, 1971)
Disc 2, Track 9 from Romeo and Juliet (Paramount, 1968; RCA Victor single 74-0131)
Disc 2, Track 11 from The Great Waldo Pepper (Universal, 1975)
Disc 2, Track 12 from Gunn (Paramount, 1967)
Disc 2, Track 13 from Me, Natalie (Cinema Center Pictures, 1969)
Disc 2, Track 14 from Combo! (RCA Victor LPM/LSP-2258, 1960)
Disc 2, Track 15 from The Molly Maguires (Paramount, 1970)

Written by Joe Marchese

July 26, 2010 at 10:33

2 Responses

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