Mission Impossible/Part 2/Schifrin/Davis

June 10, 2006

 

GNP Crescendo released in 1992 The Best Of Mission: Impossible Then and Now, a combination of shows from the original television series of 1966-1972, the remake of the series composed by John E. Davis in 1988-1990, and a special recording of the main and plot theme with the Israeli Philharmonic from 1992. In addition as a bonus there is a 15 minute interview with Peter Graves by the executive producer of the album Neil Norman. The first 17 tracks are devoted to music from the original television series, ones written by Lalo Schifrin. They are from episodes aired in 1968 "The Contender" Pt. 1, 1970 "The Submarine", 1970 "The Killer", 1971 "Takeover", and 1972 "Underground." A lot of

"The Plot" and "Mission: Impossible Main Title" themes in a wide variety of styles, themes, and variations are used. Also keep in mind that there were other composers such as Gerald Fried, Kenyon Hopkins, and Jerry Fielding who worked on particular episodes but this recording only includes material from either Lalo or John. The included episodes are just some of the ones that Lalo worked on. He also played piano, harpsichord, and did the arranging for the material. The original arrangement (DLP 25831) for "The Plot" was a march and that style is used in "The Contender" to start with. It switches to a solo bass, a little bit of jazz style with brass, a flute solo of it, and on and on. "The Bower Hotel" is an interesting track in that you can actually hear some parts of "Ice Pick Mike" from Bullitt in it as well as in the next track "Check Out Time." For those of you who are not familiar this is the track that was played during the cat and mouse sequence before the famous car chase! In fact several of the tracks on this recording have a familiar flavor to Bullitt yet another Schfirin soundtrack for you to explore if you haven't already done so. "The Trick" has yet another familiar melody built into part of it and that is "Jim On The Move" from the original Dot LP which was previously discussed in the review of that album. The track starts with a nice rendition of the main title on the flute and bass and then slowly slides into the "Jim On The Move" theme still teasing with the main title. This is an excellent track! "Tape Machine" is a nice jazz theme with some electric guitar improvisation in a simple but effective melody. The first part of the CD ends as it began with a short rendition of the main theme and then we hear original John E. Davis music as well as his arrangement of Mission Impossible. It is a lot more electronic sounding with louder pulsating percussion quite a departure from the Schifrin arrangements which frankly had that cool jazz sound. In fact, had there not been a return to the "Plot" and "Main Title" themes the underscore music could have come from any number of other venues, as it is quite generic in nature. That is not saying it is good or bad but quite different. Some of this could be the time John spent with such groups as Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea and others. Remember too Lalo came from the famous Dizzy Gillespie ensemble and jazz was his bread and butter but a different style from what John was used to.

The final track is a rousing 6+ minute live rendition of "The Plot" and "The Main Title" featuring excellent piano and drums from the Israeli Philharmonic. While many times so called pop arrangements can be quite flat and uninspiring this one has a lot more to offer in terms of a good toe tapping version, complete with quite a little bit of crowd noise. The liner notes don't say if it was Schifrin himself who played the piano solo, but regardless it was excellent. Given the fact that the original lp would be a bit more of a task to locate, this CD still being available from GNP at an excellent price, is a perfect way to go to introduce some of the original music to your collection of soundtracks. One minor complaint from me would be the sequencing. I would have put the interview as the last track giving it some separation from the rest of the CD as opposed to placing it between the end of the John Davis tracks and the Israeli Philharmonic track. Recommended

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