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What’s New, Pussycat? Classic Burt Bacharach and Lalo Schifrin Soundtracks Reissued

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Burt Bacharach turns 83 today on May 12, 2011, and we’ve got some news to celebrate!

“Pussycat, pussycat, I love you…” Chances are you can sing along to the hip-swiveling melody of those lyrics, sung by Tom Jones and written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the 1965 film comedy What’s New Pussycat?. But raise your hand now if you remember the sequel! Five years after the success of the original film, United Artists released Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You, a half-sequel, half-remake moving the locale to Rome and more or less telling the same story with different characters portrayed by a decidedly lesser-caliber cast. With Bacharach declining to reprise his duties as composer, the filmmakers turned to Lalo Schifrin (Mission: Impossible, Bullitt, Cool Hand Luke), who wrote one of the least-known scores in his canon for the film. Spain’s enterprising Quartet Records label has just announced a surprise for fans of both Bacharach’s original score and the Schifrin ouevre. The label will release a two-for-one CD containing both the original soundtracks to What’s New Pussycat? and Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You, and more excitingly, both soundtracks will be presented as they’ve never been heard before.

The original 1965 film may be best remembered for Bacharach’s title song, although it also introduced “My Little Red Book” (performed by Manfred Mann and later covered by Love) and “Here I Am,” recorded by Dionne Warwick. The film also launched Woody Allen’s screen career as both an actor and screenwriter. Clive Donner directed a stellar cast led by Peter Sellers, at the height of his fame.  He delivers one of his most underrated madcap performances as psychoanalyst Dr. Fritz Fassbender, equal parts Clare Quilty (Lolita) and Inspector Clouseau (The Pink Panther). Sellers was joined by Peter O’Toole as the womanizing Michael James, and Capucine as Fassbender’s patient Renee Lefebvre, stalked by the doctor but actually longing for Michael’s affections. Paula Prentiss (the American tourist in France) and Romy Schneider (Michael’s fiancee) are, of course, also both in love with Michael. Though Allen has distanced himself from the film, its a perfect example of the mid-sixties sex comedy, and his screenplay still has its share of deft, farcical moments.  He shines onscreen as well in the role of Victor Shakapopulis, a nebbish with dreams of being a ladies’ man himself.

The comedy also marked Burt Bacharach’s debut as not only songwriter, but score composer. What’s New Pussycat can be seen as the first of a Bacharach trilogy continuing with After the Fox (1966) and concluding with Casino Royale (1967). All three scores have a similar compositional signature, with Bacharach approaching film scoring much like he did songs, with quirky chord changes and time signature shifts but an unerring sense of melody. His music echoes the wacky action onscreen, employing kazoos, tubas, pianos and horns with nods to waltzes, polkas and jazz.  Following Kritzerland’s definitive remaster of Casino Royale earlier this year, Quartet takes a page from that label’s playbook and will present Bacharach’s score in two versions. First is the original album version, which was released on CD in 1998 by Rykodisc (RCD 10740) but is remastered here.  Following that version, Quartet debuts a version in film score order. This was accomplished by removing some of the soundtrack’s edits to create standalone cues. In either version, though, you’ll delight not only to the three songs, but to instantly memorable, humorous cues like “Downhill and Shady” and “Marriage, French Style.” Both are as catchy as anything the maestro has ever written. In addition to Jones’ “Pussycat” and Manfred Mann’s rocking, piano-pounding “My Little Red Book,” Dionne Warwick’s gorgeous “Here I Am” is a criminally unknown ballad that could qualify as an art song.

Hit the jump to join Lalo Schifrin in 1970 as he follows in Bacharach’s footsteps for Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You!

Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You starred Ian McShane (Deadwood), John Gavin (Psycho), Anna Calder-Marshall and Severn Darden. It involves a neurotic American living in Rome who consults with his psychiatrist about his various love troubles. The movie (and CD) kicks off with a song intended to evoke the sprit of the Tom Jones original. With lyricist Gene Lees, Schifrin wrote “Groove Into It,” performed by vocalist Henry Shed. The film allowed Schifrin ample opportunity musical pastiches: Italian opera, a comic German march and a homage to Italian scoring legend Ennio Morricone. Bacharach collectors should be aware that the soundtrack includes a number of adaptations of the original Bacharach/David song.

A soundtrack was not released in 1970 for Pussycat, Pussycat due to the film’s dismal failure. Lukas Kendall of the Film Score Monthly label uncovered it for 2008’s MGM Soundtrack Treasury, an expansive 20-score box set (FSM Box 03). The limited edition quickly sold out and it looked like Schifrin’s score might have once again been relegated to obscurity. Quartet is not only giving this score a second chance to be heard, but is re-ordering it as well. For The MGM Soundtrack Treasury, the music was presented in film order. But, in 1970, Schifrin prepared a soundtrack album master which remained unreleased. Quartet’s soundtrack presents 16 tracks intended for that release in album order; and appends the rest of the film soundtrack as a bonus section in recording order. Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You was remastered by Claudio Fuiano in Rome, the city in which the movie’s comic antics take place!

What’s New Pussycat/Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You is available for pre-order now directly from Quartet as well as from the other usual film score suspects. It includes a 24-page full color booklet with notes by Randall D. Larson.

What’s New Pussycat?/Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You: Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtracks (Quartet Records, 2011)

CD 1What’s New Pussycat? (United Artists LP UA-LA278-G, 1965)

  1. What’s New Pussycat? (Vocal: Tom Jones)2:20
  2. School For Anatomy* – Bookworm 1:24
  3. High Temperature, Low Resistance 1:27
  4. Downhill and Shady 2:33
  5. Stripping Really Isn’t Sexy, Is It? 2:12
  6. Marriage, French Style – Here I Am 4:10
  7. Here I Am (Vocal: Dionne Warwick) 2:50
  8. Marriage, French Style 1:22
  9. My Little Red Book (Vocal: Manfred Mann) 2:29
  10. Pussy Cats On Parade 1:29
  11. A Walk On The Wild Wharf* 1:52
  12. Chateau Chantel 1:51
  13. Catch As Catch Can 1:23
  14. What’s New Pussycat? (Vocal: Tom Jones) 2:20
  15. High Temperature, Low Resistance 1:27
  16. What’s New Pussycat? (Instrumental) 0:46
  17. Carol 1:04
  18. Downhill and Shady 2:33
  19. My Little Red Book (Vocal: Manfred Mann) 2:22
  20. The Crazy Horse 1:06
  21. Here I Am (Vocal: Dionne Warwick) 2:50
  22. Pussycats On My Mind 1:07
  23. Bookworm 0:49
  24. Pussy Cats On Parade 1:29
  25. Marriage, French Style 1:22
  26. Dawn In Paris 1:55
  27. Love Theme 1:17
  28. Chateau Chantel 1:11
  29. What’s New Pussycat? (Reprise) 0:46
  30. Catch As Catch Can 1:23

* does not appear in the film

Tracks 1-13 represent the original album
Tracks 14-30 represent approximate film order

CD 2Pussycat, Pussycat, I Love You (first released on MGM Soundtrack Treasury, Film Score Monthly FSM BOX 03, 2008)

  1. Groove Into It (Vocal: Henry Shed) 2:26
  2. The Guru 4:00
  3. What’s New Pussycat? * 1:10
  4. Fred’s Theme 2:28
  5. Le Accetiamo 1:32
  6. Coffee Break 1:11
  7. Flashing Lights 1:42
  8. What’s New Pussycat? * 0:21
  9. Hydro-Therapy 1:53
  10. Oh Perfidy 1:05
  11. Pussycat, Pussycat I Love You (“millie”) 2:45
  12. Stagecoach Dance 1:39
  13. Angelica 1:33
  14. Ornella 1:13
  15. Pussycat Source 3:04
  16. Cowboys And Indians 2:48
  17. Stripper / Battle Of The Bulge Salon / Sauna Bath / Fernando / True Friends 2:12
  18. Millie / Dr. Fahrquardt 1:24
  19. Tickling Bubbles 0:23
  20. Sneaky Fred / Sleepy Fred / Young And Active 1:43
  21. Theme For A Fierce Embrace 1:14
  22. Duplication / Spoiled Juvenile 0:54
  23. Mission: Impossible 0:26
  24. Too Little, Too Late / Grant Granite / The Unwritten Rule 1:26
  25. Top Down / White Convertible 1:25
  26. Fraulein Anna / What’s New Pussycat?*/ Out Of Gas / War Paint 1:47
  27. Indian Camp 0:46
  28. What’s New Pussycat? * 1:52
  29. False Fronts 1:00
  30. You Think Of Everything 0:45
  31. Anvil (Il Trovatore) (Arr. Schifrin) 0:53
  32. Caccia / Slow Motion Chase / Coo Coo Collision 2:17
  33. Happily Ever After 1:03
  34. Hales 1:07
  35. Avanti / Have Chickens Will Travel / Dirt Road à lá Italiana 1:07
  36. Organ Medley 2:12
  37. Fred’s Theme (Short Version) 1:14

* composed by Burt Bacharach

Tracks 1-16 represent the original, unreleased soundtrack album
Tracks 17-37 are bonus cues

Written by Joe Marchese

May 12, 2011 at 10:22

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