The Second Disc

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Steps In Time: Dave Grusin and Cy Coleman, Meet Dick Van Dyke!

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What Oscar-winning composer let the world know “And Then There’s Maude,” joined Billy Joel on 52nd Street and The Nylon Curtain, and shared the music of The Graduate with Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel?  Something’s telling me it might be Dave Grusin.  His score to The Goonies was described as a “holy grail” by this very site back in March 2010 upon the occasion of its first release on the Varese Sarabande label, and it was indeed snapped up near-immediately.  But when it comes to a Grusin collection, The Goonies alone isn’t good enough!  Kritzerland has already lavished the deluxe treatment on his scores to A Dry White Season (1989) and Mulholland Falls (1996), but for the label’s next release, the clock is turning back to the very first score that launched Grusin’s career.  Producer Bruce Kimmel tells The Second Disc, “I’d tried licensing [the 1967 Norman Lear-Bud Yorkin comedy] Divorce, American Style a year ago from MGM.  They did the research and found they did not own it and that the album rights were at Capitol; several UA albums went that route, including the Bond films.  Once I knew that, then it went right on my list there.”  Kimmel’s patience paid off.

Beloved American funnyman Dick Van Dyke headlined Divorce, American Style, describing it in his wonderful recent memoir as a “sprawling, topical comedy.”  Two years earlier, he starred in another big-screen comedy, The Art of Love, with another Norman – this time, director Norman Jewison.  That score was composed by Cy Coleman, the Broadway baby behind Sweet Charity, City of Angels and Little Me.  Kimmel thought of the earlier film, and so the label’s latest two-for-one reissue was born.  Kritzerland’s Divorce, American Style/The Art of Love reissues the original soundtrack albums as heard on United Artists and Capitol, respectively.  Both titles have been freshly remastered, of course, but the producer’s sleuthing at both the movie studio and record label has led to a Divorce that will sound more vibrant than ever.   Kimmel confirms, “MGM did have the four-track masters [to Divorce] in their vaults and they gave them to us to use, which was great.  Capitol only had the two-track album master, which I wasn’t that crazy about because they’d added a ton of reverb, and the natural reverb that was on the four-tracks was much cleaner and much more real.”  So Grusin’s premier score will be presented in sparkling, crisp sound, and with additional material: “Every note of what was on the four-tracks has been used and put where it belongs in the score sequence.” 

And both scores have more than just Dick Van Dyke in common!  When not receiving Oscar nominations for films like Tootsie, The Fabulous Baker Boys, The Firm, Heaven Can Wait and On Golden Pond, Grusin has had a parallel career as a jazz musician, founding GRP Records along the way.  Coleman, too, came from a jazz background, leading The Cy Coleman Trio and writing such standards as “Witchcraft” and “The Best Is Yet to Come.”  So it’s no surprise that both scores have jazz leanings.  Both also owe a bit, in different ways, to Henry Mancini’s style.  Kimmel tells us, quite correctly, that “anyone who only knows Grusin from The Goonies really doesn’t know Grusin.”  He offers, “This is more like the Grusin of Tootsie, only ‘60s hip rather than ‘80s hip.  He was very much in the Mancini mode for Divorce, but it really is uniquely Grusin and surprisingly the film is not a typical comedy score; it’s got some real depth to it and it’s very clever.”  Coleman’s soundtrack LP to The Art of Love followed the established Mancini pattern of actually consisting of cues re-recorded for a pop-oriented audience.  Divorce melodically fuses many disparate musical styles, much like Grusin’s contributions to The Graduate, including jazz, romance, baroque and even a Tijuana Brass-inspired tune.  But there’s also much drama in the scoring, befitting a sophisticated film from Norman Lear’s pen.

Dave Grusin and the late Cy Coleman have long been two of the coolest cats in music, and this may indeed be the coolest soundtrack of the year!  Both scores are making their first-ever appearance on CD.  Divorce is a touchstone for Grusin’s career, while Broadway great Coleman’s film work (also including Father Goose, The Troublemaker and The Heartbreak Kid) has been terribly under-represented on disc.  You can bring this exciting pairing (a limited edition of 1,000) home by the last week of August for the price of $19.98 plus shipping, but pre-orders from the label usually ship one to five weeks earlier. 

Hit the jump for the complete press release, plus the track listing and pre-order link, where you can hear sound samples!

Kritzerland is proud to present a limited edition double-bill soundtrack – two great scores on one CD, both making their CD debut: 

A man drives up into the hills overlooking a Los Angeles suburb.  He pulls out some legal briefs and then a baton and begins conducting as Dave Grusin’s music accompanies shots of upscale houses from which we hear sounds of the endless bickering of unhappy married couples.  Thus begins Divorce, American Style, a classic comedy from 1967 that was a huge hit with audiences and critics.  Written by Robert Kaufman and Norman Lear (who received an Academy Award nomination for their work), and directed by Bud Yorkin (the latter two gentlemen would shortly change the face of television forever with All in the Family), the film stars an incredible cast, including Dick Van Dyke, Debbie Reynolds, Jason Robards, Jr., Jean Simmons, Joe Flynn, Shelley Berman, Tom Bosley, Lee Grant, Martin Gabel, Van Johnson, Lee Grant, and a young Tim Matheson.

The film veers effortlessly between hilarious comedy and drama and tying those elements together into a cohesive whole is the utterly charming, tuneful, and great score by Dave Grusin.  The score to Divorce, American Style is instant classic Grusin right out of the gate.  We get the classical-sounding yet jazzy main title music, we get cool big-band grooves, we get gorgeous 1960s-style romantic music (the kind you always wish was accompanying you in your romantic endeavors), dramatic scoring to lend the film a bit of pathos and depth, a baroque-flavored fugue, a Herb Alpert/Baja Marimba-style Mexican-flavored tune, but all uniquely Grusin – it’s an amazing debut film score. 

Divorce, American Style was released on a United Artists LP.  For this first ever CD release, we had the original album masters but happily we also found the original four-track masters and that is what was used for this release.  The sound on the four-tracks was spectacular, and there was even a little bit of music that didn’t make the LP.  Every note of what was on the four-tracks has been used and put where it belongs in the score sequence.  This is our third Dave Grusin CD (the others are A Dry White Season and Mulholland Falls), and it’s a particular thrill to bring his very first film score to CD for the first time, in stunning sound and with all music present and accounted for.

Two years prior to Divorce, American Style, Dick Van Dyke starred in another comedy, this one a frothy farce from director Norman Jewison (in the days when he made frothy farces) and screenwriter/actor Carl Reiner.  The Art of Love also starred James Garner, Elke Sommer, Angie Dickenson, Carl Reiner, Miiko Taka, and Miss Ethel Merman as Coco La Fontaine (a role that was originally offered to Mae West).  To score the film, Jewison turned to Broadway composer Cy Coleman.  Coleman had already written several songs that had become standards, including “The Best Is Yet To Come” and “Witchcraft” (written with lyricist Carolyn Leigh), as well as two shows for Broadway, Wildcat (starring Lucille Ball), and Little Me (starring Sid Caesar), as well as scoring two films in 1964 – Theodore J. Flicker’s low-budget comedy The Troublemaker, and Universal’s big-budget comedy, Father Goose, starring Cary Grant and Leslie Caron. Coleman’s score for The Art of Love is tuneful, fun, and filled with his typical gift of melody and rhythm.  It also features a wickedly amusing homage to Mancini’s Peter Gunn, infectious main title music set to great DePatie-Freleng animation, and romance and comedy in equal doses.

The Art Of Love had an album on Capitol Records, but, in the style of the then-popular Henry Mancini albums, it was a re-recording with Coleman conducting and playing piano, doing all the main themes from the film but in more pop-style arrangements.  However, three tracks on the album were very close to their film counterparts and those three tracks were orchestrated by the great Russ Garcia (The Time Machine).  Since the album was designed more as an easy listening album than a score album, we’ve slightly rearranged the sequence to play more like the film.  This is the first CD release of this delightful score and the original two-track album masters which were housed in Capitol’s vaults were in pristine condition.

So, here are two wonderful 1960s scores by two very different but equally terrific composers.

This release is limited to 1,000 copies only.  The price of the CD is $19.98, plus shipping.   Additionally, we are offering a special deal with the purchase of this release.  Go to the item page, below, and click on the link to find out about it.

Dave Grusin and Cy Coleman, Divorce, American Style and The Art of Love (Kritzerland KR20019-6, 2011)

  1. Prologue
  2. Social Suburbia (*)
  3. The Other Woman
  4. Drunk at Home (*)
  5. The Judgement
  6. Sudden Bachelor Blues
  7. Financial Counterpoint
  8. Tacos For Un Por Favor, Jose
  9. The Scheme
  10. Sunday Fathers
  11. Reconciliation/Epilogue
  12. Main Title
  13. Parisian Women
  14. Nikki’s Theme
  15. The Inspector Revisited
  16. The Chase
  17. So Long, Baby
  18. I Wish I Knew Her Name (Coco’s Theme)
  19. Blues for Laurie (Laurie’s Theme)
  20. Kick Off Your Shoes
  21. The Art of Love

Tracks 1-11 from Divorce. American Style, United Artists UAS-5163, 1967
Tracks 12-21 from The Art of Love, Capitol ST-2355, 1965

(*) denotes track containing additional material not on original LP

Written by Joe Marchese

July 18, 2011 at 10:33

2 Responses

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  1. I like your use of the phrase – a “frothy farce”. That phrase might be applied to many things in our lives…say, your sex life.


    July 18, 2011 at 10:47

    • All credit for that turn of phrase must go to album producer, press release author and Kritzerland head honcho Bruce Kimmel! 😉

      Joe Marchese

      July 18, 2011 at 10:57

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