Sure they might release such elegantly prestigious Euro scores as Georges Delerue’s THE CONFORMIST and Philippe Rombi’s WAR OF THE BUTTONS. But Music Box Records is perhaps even more fun when handle kitschily entertaining works by such composers us Yanks have never heard of like Michael Magne’s EMMANUEL 4 and Serge Franklin’s LE GRANDE PARDON.

Now of particular, disco-ish delight is George Garvarentz’s score to 1976s KILLER FORCE (aka THE DIAMOND MERCENARIES), one of those all-star Anglo thrillers that provided fun South African vacations to such Americans as Telly Savalas, Peter Fonda and O.J. Simpson, here ripping off some precious gems. Rather than a hard-edged approach, Garvarentz plays the robbery with a fun, funky groove more befitting Afrikaners hustling beneath a glittering ball. Wah-wah guitar, rocking leisure suit grooves and lush strings do the job in fun style, sort of a pseudo-Shagadelic blend of Lalo Schifrin 60s crime jazz meeting THE LOVE BOAT along with some truly meaningful symphonic romance, ably assisted by Garvarentz’s famed French songwriting friend Charles Aznavour.

Next up on the disc is Garvarentz’s Hong Kong spy heist score to 1967s THE CORRUPT ONES, a way nuttier, and far more “serious” soundtrack led off by the groovy title song by Dusty Springfield. The alternately pouncing and shrieking orchestra suggests more of a horror film than a “Eurospy” pairing of Robert Stack and Elke Sommer, its portentousness going to the twilight zone with the ooo-wee-ooo inclusion of a particularly piercing Theremin that brings to mind the musical exclamation points in HIGH ANXIETY. Stormy suspense mingles with 60s beat swing and sultry brass, along with some goofy Orientalisms. But make no mistake that like KILLER FORCE, THE CORRUPT ONES hows off Garvarentz as a composer with a great sense of knowing fun, not to mention pop drama. And thanks to Music Box’s release, his name is now on my map when it comes to seeking out some of the nuttier crime-suspense scores that swung for American stars abroad.


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