For a studio who’s goofier late 70s / early 80s live action efforts involved a cat from outer space, an astronaut in King Arthur’s court and a midnight treasure hunt that tried to rope audiences in by offering a real prize, perhaps no oddball old regime premise was as face-palming as a cartoonist jumping off the Eiffel Tower in a bird suit. But if there was one composer who could turn this kind of Clouseau-esque bumbling into a class act, then it was Henry Mancini, whose score for 1981s CONDORMAN had a feeling of swooping, bold comedic adventure that’s made this truly odd duck in his repertoire one of the composer’s most oft-requested scores.
Now after showing the musical glory of such crazed Disney flesh and blood efforts as THE BLACK HOLE and THE LAST FLIGHT OF NOAH’S ARK, Intrada finally unfolds the truly glorious wings of Mancini’s CONDORMAN, an album that starts out with the most rousing main title to repeatedly sing a character’s name this side of Leonard Rosenman’s theme for ROBOCOP 2. And whether it was an incompetent French inspector, Santa Claus or a comic book artist trying to be a wing-flapping superhero, Mancini invested a real sense of dramatic adventure into the silliest of premises.
CONDORMAN is truly rousing stuff beyond its lyrics, bending the unexpectedly powerful theme into the stuff of Bondian action with brass-driven thrills for a super-cool car that shoots laser beams, jolly yodeling exoticism for a trip to the Matterhorn, and swashbuckling rhythm for a speed boat chase. And of course, no Mancini score would be complete without a sensually lush romantic theme, which is positively sophisticated here in Barbara Carerra’s company. The extras offer a surfeit of nutty ethnic offerings from the Arabic percussion of “Mummy Tummy” to the balalaikas of a “Russian Party Dance.” This complete CONDORMAN is manna from heaven for Disney golden turkey cultists as well as Mancini lovers.
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