Latest reviews of new albums:
I, the Jury
  • Composed by Bill Conti
  • La-La Land Records / 2013 / 61m

1982’s I, the Jury, featuring Mickey Spillane’s notorious Mike Hammer transplanted into the later era, didn’t go down that well with either critics or audiences on its release.  It’s been largely forgotten in the intervening three decades but as is so often the case, a soundtrack album has belatedly appeared for the first time.  The score was written by Bill Conti, at the height of his popularity at the time (his absence from the scoring stage in recent times just goes to show how fickle Hollywood can be – he was doing hit after hit for quite a few years).  Director Richard T. Heffron had worked largely in television beforehand (and in that capacity worked with a string of talented composers, including John Barry and Basil Poledouris) and would return to the medium three years later for what proved to be his biggest success – North and South – which of course featured one of Conti’s crowning achievements as composer.

I, the Jury is a largely jazzy effort designed to showcase the talents of various top studio musicians, led by pianist Mike Lang.  The dynamic opening title piece is undoubtedly the highlight – it hits hard, it’s so dynamic and vivid.  The blaring brassy style is reprised later for several action sequences, which don’t always make for the most pleasant listening but are certainly powerful (heard too are more conventional orchestral action tracks, like the explosive “Kendrick’s Taxi Time”).  A treat is “Chopin Nocturne / Stairway to Surrogate”, which sees Conti gently shift from Chopin (elegantly played by Lang) into dynamic thriller music – he does it very skilfully.  The album isn’t consistently great – some of the electronics date it and some of the more hardcore avant garde jazz funk will certainly not be everyone’s cup of tea – but there’s much to enjoy here, along with some spectacular highlights.  Conti’s an underrated composer, too – it’s nice to have another of his scores available, one which showcases a more serious side to his music than is often considered.

Rating: *** | |

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  1. AJ (Reply) on Saturday 12 October, 2013 at 15:34

    I think this one deserves 4 stars in Conti’s oeuvre. It offers good a solid counter to Conti’s symphonic work, and I think a bullseye for Mike Hammer. Conti’s version of Fielding’s Big Sleep.

  2. Jason Farcone (Reply) on Thursday 17 October, 2013 at 18:05

    sorry, have to.:::::::

    I mean, c’mon…. we all (ME2) forget Conti can write action up there with Williams Goldie Horner Morricone etc.