CD: Liquidator, The (1965)

August 7, 2012 | By

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Rating: Excellent

Label: Film Score Monthly/ Released:  November, 2006

Tracks & Album Length: 24 tracks / (63:04)


Special Notes: 16-page colour booklet with liner notes and reproduced original LP liner notes..


Composer: Lalo Schifrin




Lalo Schifrin was still a year away from achieving immortality as the composer of TV’s Mission: Impossible, but he’d already scored a handful of films (Les Felins / Joy House) that showed his adeptness with orchestral jazz that was hip and refreshing for its ripe rhythms. The Liquidator was one of several spy films crafted after the James Bond franchise had become a global sensation. For MGM’s more satirical poke at the super-spy genre, the producers craftily got Shirley Bassey to croon the tongue-in-cheek song which is a cheeky parody of the more famous Goldfinger (1964) theme.

Fans of Schifrin will really relish his stylistic markers, including the sometimes ferocious orchestral action cues, the inventive colours (like bell chimes and bass) which share a similar exoticism with Schifrin’s Enter the Dragon (1973), and source cues that actually contain lengthy improv sections. Being a jazz man, Schifrin can’t write a bad jazz source cut; even the funky, rock-jazz dance number “The Bird” runs over 3 minutes (epic for the era), and features great woodwind and electric guitar solos.

Another highlight is Schifrin’s theme variations, which range from a barely recognizable march heard in the pre-credit sequence to a Bossa Nova version with smooth vibes, and a rock-jazz rendition. There’s also some marvelous use of flute (echoing heavier, cooler usage in Bullit), such flute and guitar duet in “Bikini Waltz” and “Boysie’s Bossa,” and “Carry On,” a superb, super-cool rhythm-based version with flute, ambient bass, and brief melodic statements from strings and a hip cluster of woodwinds.

FSM’s CD essentially replaces the prior MCA LP reissue, but to expand the content they had to make use of a sealed LP and ¼” tape sources because as producer Lukas Kendall explains in the liner notes, all the album tracks were snipped out from the 3-track master tapes; they had superb quality copies of the unreleased cues, but in lieu of a missing album master, other sources had to be used to facilitate this expanded CD release.

Within The Liquidator there’s a smooth balance between sources, although you can tell when we’re back to the resonant 3-track masters, which sound fantastic. (A favourite example is “The Secret Act,” where harpsichord, bass, and electric guitar are paired with a groaning bass clarinet; no frequency’s been ignored in the CD mastering.) Filling out the disc are 3 bonus cuts featuring unreleased and LP theme & source versions.

This is easily one of Schifrin’s most fun scores from the sixties, and a perfect calling card which proved his adeptness in handing any genre with a great sense of personal style.



© 2012 Mark R. Hasan


External References:

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