In addition to releasing current international scores like Alberto Iglesias’ I’M SO EXCITED and Pino Donaggio’s PASSION, Spain-based soundtrack label Quartet has also been digging into some of the 60s and 70s loopier scores like Dominic Frontiere’s HAMMERSMITH IS OUT and Riz Ortolani’s WOMAN TIMES SEVEN. But where said American and Italian were lucky enough to get some LP albums out long before a time when silver age soundtrack CD’s became hip, the equally prolific British musician Stanley Black (VALENTINO) had unaccountably never had one original title available.
That makes this two-fer of WAR GODS OF THE DEEP and CROSS PLOT one of the cooler releases to come from the increasingly bountiful Quartet. Where some New Yorker’s might best remember WAR GODS for its afternoon TV rerun being interrupted by news of Elvis’ death, Black’s gorgeously turbulent score stands well on its own apart from AIP’s ok take on 20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, as mostly done on landlocked sets. In a similar fashion to Paul J. Smith’s approach to that Jules Verne adventure, Black creates a virtual floating symphony of haunting strings, eerie bells and percussion, going for just about every way that richly melodic music can approximate deep water. Black’s impressive scope also powerfully embodies Vincent Price’s romantically haunted privateer and the menace of his gillmen-filled domain. The fact that Black can even hold his breath for ten straight minutes of this constantly intriguing, ever-roiling stuff says more than enough about his creative staying power.
Where WAR GODS will mostly wow the horror nostalgia crowd, the constant re-discovery of kitsch has always proven to be hip. 1970s jovial thriller CROSSPLOT had Black providing a pseudo-Shagadellic goldmine for SAINT star Roger Moore, who would soon be jivin’ to a Blaxploitation Bond score. But CROSSPLOT‘s music is all about swinging Britain, with Black’s dapper blend of lighthearted orchestral suspense and jazz swagger especially well suited to Moore’s caddish ad man, His Hitchcockian exploits are given groovily lush spy thrills with bongo percussion, rousing strings, staccato brass and exotic chords that give a fun THIRD MAN ambience to its Eastern European bad guys. Best yet, Black has a truly wonderful, Tom Jones-esque song at his side, whose melody proves memorable thematic accompaniment to the breezy thrills. Fans of Moore’s other cult English action show THE PERSUADERS will also take notice of the bunch of CROSSPLOT cues that were used for it. But whether the thrills are found in a creature’s tattered shirt of a bird’s miniskirt, WAR GODS and CROSSPLOT are testament to the range of a composer whom Quartet has finally given the chance to crow.
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Article: CD Review of WAR GODS OF THE DEEP and CROSSPLOT soundtrack