When I first started actively listening to Mancini, I guess it was in '94 or '95, I was put off by his work from the late '60s/early '70s. I guess my impression was that he wrote these brilliant pop scores until the mid-'60s and then just starting doing mediocre orchestral Beatles medleys and stuff like that. Well, lately I've been realizing how misinformed my first impression was. In fact, it seems i've been enjoying Mancini's work from this era even more than much of his older stuff. "Giovanna" is a great, jaunty little instrumental from Vittorio De Sica's 1970 film "Sunflower." The very Italian-sounding arrangement is carried by the organ and accordion. I think the "Sunflower" soundtrack is too often compared to Morricone. While I can maybe hear the influence, the sound is distinctly Mancini. Another good track from the album is "Love In The Sand" which features, uh, some very nice harpsichord work.
A beautiful Mancini piece from one of his best-known soundtracks that I had somehow managed to neglect completely. The Pink Panther was never at the top of my wish-list, but after picking up the CD last week for a mere 50p, I was very impressed. The score utilizes the accordian slightly more than I would have liked, but has some fantastic textured tracks, such as this one.
The track opens with a 'Blues in the night' style riff on the piano. The lead is then taken by a blistering muted trumpet sound. I've always thought of Angelo Badalamenti's Twin Peaks work as being heavily Mancini-influenced, but that link has never been more clear to me than on this track, which has a similar moody tone to some of the best tracks on the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me soundtrack. The classic Mancini string sound is also in evidence, as well as a gentle wordless chorus. About half-way through, legendary tenor saxophonist Plas Johnson takes up the melody. The dreaded accordian gets a brief look-in before the track concludes with some more riffing on the trumpet. Fantastic stuff; Mancini really was an inspirational arranger.
Here's Mancini at his moodiest, really digging deep for an eastern-meets-baroque vibe. With banks of silky brass, dreamy flute, harpsichord and marimba! Such a master of color and image, right down to the gong strike at the end, fabulous! Part of an often overlooked LP that details sides he recorded during some of his famous soundtrack sessions, utilizing the talents of his many players at the time. A must for the Man-fan!