Not With My Wife, You Don’t!/Johnny Williams

August 19, 2006

 

Before we get started on this review the Johnny Williams who composed “Not With My Wife, You Don’t!” is the same John Williams who conducted the Boston Pops and is the single most prominent figure in the history of soundtracks. It is just different from the style you are accustomed to. This is a light, big band, swinging, airy 60’s style score quite the norm for the type of comedy films produced in the 60’s. For those not familiar John was a much in demand studio pianist who recorded for Henry Mancini and the other half of this CD soundtrack “Any Wednesday” George Duning among others. He was known as Johnny in the early days and even then he was a step above many of the other composers of the time.

The Norman Panama directed film starred Tony Curtis, George C. Scott, and Virna Lisi in this love triangle comedy which flashbacks to the Korean war when Virna was a nurse and fell in love with both Scott and Curtis. Because she thought Scott was killed she chose and married Curtis and all was well for 14 years until Scott reappears and the story is on. However, this run of the mill film produced some awfully good music from the pen of Williams and Mercer. While Williams had not won an Oscar yet, Mercer had. The lyrics are crisp and biting for “Big Beautiful Ball” and “Not With My Wife, You Don’t!” and soft, dreamy, and romantic for “My Inamorata.” Johnny sings Beautiful Ball in his carefree style, while the chorus which sounds similiar to the one Mancini would use, does the other two. And mixed in with these are some very creative underscore including some very clever titles such as “Foney Poochini” a delightful mixture of Row Your Boat and a Rossini style overture piece. “Hungarian Jungle Music” with the tom tom drum pounding and the alto flute create some good underscore. “Arrivederci Mondo” is another one of those dreamy romantic tracks with the melody carried by an electric guitar. All twelve tracks are not only good but flow very well from one to another. Keep in mind that this soundtrack was a re-recording so it had the advantage of Williams being able to orchestrate and arrange them for the lp, picking the most interesting cues and being able to give special treatment to them. Back in 1966, most films were not released to lp, so the fact that this one was indicates it was a step above most scores and WB felt there was a market for it.

Robert Ellis Miller directed a similiar style comedy starring Jason Robards, Jane Fonda, and Dean Jones in yet another love triangle. This one involves Fonda about to lose the apartment she is living in and Robards figuring out a way to have his business buy it. Of course Robards wife has no idea what is going on. Add an employee Jones and the plot thickens. George Duning, who is best known for his haunting romantic score to “Picnic”, was given the scoring assignment and produced a nice big band, and once again a very 60’s sounding piece. There are a couple of differences between the two scores. George uses his main theme a lot more in fact it appears in most of the tracks. While George doesn’t use jazz in the purest sense he does appear to allow a bit of improvisation or at the very least eludes to it. It is entirely possible the flute solo was written note for note in the “Prologue and Main Title” track but the flavor and arrangement of it indicates otherwise. His use of percussion and vibes is strong and the bongos especially add to the tracks. The theme is used over and over again but the entire score is only 25 minutes and the variations are interesting especially if you enjoy and are in to the big band style of music.

The remixing and mastering help to retain the brightness of the original lp recordings. What is lacking is that lower frequency of a digital recording from beginning to end. Having said that I am not sure if this recording would benefit from that anyway. Far more important to have nice clean bright highs.

This recording is likely going to appeal to the older generation and any of you in that group who enjoy listening to a early Mancini score or one of his many instrumental albums. Reviewing this score lately has been a most refreshing change for me given the large amount of synth music I have had to go through. And even though it was recorded 40 years ago it sounds pretty darn clean and fresh to me. Did Williams ever write a bad score? Not in this reviewers opinion. Recommended.

Golden Score Rating ***

Produced by Lukas Kendall

Mixed by Michael McDonald

Mastered by Doug Schwartz

CD# FSM Vol. 9 No. 3

Track listing

1. Main Title (Big Beautiful Ball) (02:56)

2. My Inamorata (Vocal Version) (02:50)

3. Hey Julietta (02:00)

4. Trumpet Discotheque (02:58)

5. Two of Everything (02:26)

6. Not With My Wife, You Don’t (02:30)

7. Big Beautiful Ball (01:51)

(Vocal: Johnny Mercer)

8. My Inamorata (Instrumental) (03:10)

9. Foney Poochini (Labrador-Opera Montage) (02:02)

10. Arrivederci Mondo (Italian Movie) (02:16)

11. Hungarian Jungle Music (03:03)

12. Defending the Flag (01:49)

NOT WITH MY WIFE, YOU DON’T ! (1966) tracks 1-12; total time 30:16

13. Prologue and Main Title (03:21)

14. Split Screens (01:32)

15. Playboy John (01:20)

16. Frantic Cass (01:35)

17. Pigeon John (03:18)

18. Righteous Cass (02:13)

19. Cass and Ellen (02:06)

20. Frantic John (02:31)

21. Double Clinches (02:28)

22. Wife Meets Mistress (02:57)

23. Lecher John and End Title (02:15)

ANY WEDNESDAY (1966) tracks 13-23; total time 25:59

Total Duration: 00:55:27

 

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One Response to “Not With My Wife, You Don’t!/Johnny Williams”

  1. April Says:

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