Hawaii Five-0/Morton Stevens

October 10, 2010

One could easily make the argument that this was the greatest television theme of all time and a majority of people would agree with you that this 50+ second theme has become a motif for the state of Hawaii. When you hear this theme you instantly think of the islands. We could also argue that it has replaced “Tiny Bubbles” as the national song of the islands. The Ventures, a rock instrumental group quite popular in the surfing era, made it a huge hit reaching the charts which didn’t happen often with instrumental recordings. The album (Capitol ST410) was somewhat of a disappointment with sales and over 40 years have elapsed until FSM has finally released it on CD. I remember the album for its obvious stereo effects left to right especially on the beginning of the main theme thinking at the time this was so stereo. Today I find it a distraction.

The Leonard Freeman production featured Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett, James MacArthur as Danny, Kam Fong as Chin Ho, and Herman Wedemeyer as Duke who fought crime in Honolulu with a flare. The famous line is “Book him Danno, Murder one,” something which immediately identifies the show and McGarrett. Over the years composers Bruce Broughton (Emmy nomination), John Cacavas, Ernest Gold, Pete Rugolo, and Mundel Lowe contributed to the 284 episodes from 1968-1980 but this release is from the original season all composed and conducted by Morton Stevens.

Beside the infectious main theme, which is repeated on the final track “The Chase/Hawaii Five-O, all of the other tracks are varied in style and orchestration and well worth listening to over and over again. “McGarrett’s Theme” is a light jazz with South American rhythm depicting one of the quieter moments of the series, showing the hardnosed cop did have a softer side on rare occasions.  “Front Street” is a hard biting well done jazz track that is similar to something that you’d hear on Mission Impossible or from the film Bullitt.”Blues Trip” is honky tonk organ Jimmy Smith style along with some 60’s rock and roll classic guitar. The two instruments take turns soloing back and forth making this a great track. “Beach Trip,” a track with the psychedelic sound and some strange sounding percussion features three members of the Ventures including Mel Taylor producer of the Capitol album along with Don Randi, John Guerin, and “Red” Rhodes. “The Chase/Hawaii Five-0” is classic chase track which incorporates the Five-O theme and then ends with a repeat of the main theme to conclude the album.

At 30 minutes this is one of the shorter FSM releases, who are known for bonus, alternate, and just about anything that had to do with the particular soundtrack. There is also an absence of stills from the show itself leading me to believe that there was some sort of licensing issue. Notes from veteran writer Jon Burlingame provided interesting information about the use of “Up Tight” music as well as “Call to Danger,” an unsold pilot and information about The Ventures and their involvement with the show. There are no limits on the number of copies, a rarity for our hobby. One of the finest television soundtracks of all time thus it gets my highest recommendation.

FSM Vol. 13 No. 14

Track Listing:    

1.   Hawaii Five-0 (01:32)

2.   Call to Danger (01:48)

3.   McGarrett’s Theme (02:25)

4.   Front Street (02:42)

5.   The Long Wait (02:18)

6.   Blues Trip (03:14)

7.   The Floater (02:23)

8.   Interlude (01:53)

9.   Operation Smash (02:05)

10.   Beach Trip (02:30)

11.   Up Tight (02:05)

12.   The Chase/Hawaii Five-0 (04:36)

Total Duration: 00:29:31

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3 Responses to “Hawaii Five-0/Morton Stevens”

  1. seconda Says:

    Operation Smash is one of the best songs of this album in my opnion.

  2. Ernie Kho Says:

    I’m trying to find out who the musicians were in the orchestra. Any leads on that. The jacket doesn’t say much. Sax, guitar and drums standout.

  3. g Says:

    Morton Stevens and His Orchestra


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