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Artwork copyright (c) 2005 Turner Entertainment Co.; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Fascinating, virtually unknown tv music by some film music legends


It's amazing really that in this day of the internet and all the data available to everyone, including various minutiae on all the main film composers, that there can have been projects scored by A-list composers like Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams that people haven't really heard of.  Film Score Monthly released one of these before (Nick Quarry, by Goldsmith, which was music he wrote for a tv show that never actually aired) and have now done it again by releasing music to the long-forgotten tv series Jericho and pilot episode of a show that was never aired, The Ghostbreaker.  It's amazing really that we live in a time when such things can get released - but it's great, too!

Jericho, made in 1966-7, was a series about a trio of Allied spies engaged in various derring-do in Nazi territory during the Second World War.  It was reasonably popular, but only lasted sixteen episodes.  (I only know any of this by reading the album's liner notes, by the way.)  Produced by the same person as The Man from UNCLE (Norman Felton), it was originally to have had a Lalo Schifrin theme, but Jerry Goldsmith became available at just the right time so he was engaged to write a theme and score one of the episodes.  Essentially, the rest were scored by the "UNCLE team" of Schifrin, Gerald Fried, Morton Stevens and Richard Shores.  All of the music written for the series is included on this album.  (Ten episodes featured original music, the other six having tracked cues.)

The music team's UNCLE pedigree is plain to see, featuring as it does many of the same characteristics.  A militaristic sound, almost always with a great sense of fun and of adventure, the music is consistently high-quality.  Goldsmith's main theme is short but very catchy, and makes a fine addition to the library of his televisions scores; and while most fans' attention will be on the eleven-minute score he wrote for the episode "A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread and Pow!" (I love episode titles from these old shows!) - and it's certainly high-quality stuff - then the pick of the music is probably Schifrin's driving "Upbeat and Underground" and Fried's fantastic "Eric the Redhead", which maintains a furious pace and wonderful energy throughout.  In truth though, there's not a bad piece during the 50-odd minutes of music from the show.  Schifrin's bizarre original theme is also included as an extra.

The thought of John Williams scoring a pilot episode of a tv show which may never air is so alien today that it's almost laughable, but before he was the famous composer he is, it's what he did to make a living, and so it proved with The Ghostbreaker, which featured a "supernatural detective" and a more regular detective who of course didn't believe in any of that nonsense (hmm, The X-Files suddenly doesn't seem quite so original).  The pilot wasn't aired for three years and it never got turned into a series.  Still, thanks to the miracle of technology (or something), forty years later its music has been released on CD!  Williams's career history is curious indeed.  These days he has one of the most instantly-recognisable sounds of any film composer and he is, of course, the most popular and commercial composer of any sort alive at the moment, but before his big break with Jaws, his music honestly sounded so completely different it's untrue.

Wise men will say that his early tv scores contain hints of music which was to come in his mega-famous scores of many years later, but no matter how many times I listen and try to hear them, I just can't.  It genuinely is as if someone kidnapped Williams in 1975 and replaced him with an identical twin, or something.  In any case, the early Williams's music - if hardly reaching the dizzy heights to which we are now accustomed - was frequently entertaining enough, and The Ghostbreaker is no exception.  With some light pop source music that sounds like Mancini and some shimmering, sometimes stinging strings that sound like Herrmann (and, yes, I'll admit it, the occasional brass flourish that sounds just a little bit like latter-day Williams) it's an entertaining score, though probably slightly hampered by the lack of a genuinely memorable theme.

With fascinating, very long liner notes and fine sound, this is a top-notch album, particularly for Jericho, a real treat for fans of Goldsmith, Schifrin and 60s tv music in general (it was surely the golden age of television music at the time).

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  1. Jericho Main Title (JG) (1:04)
  2. A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread, and Pow! (JG) (10:52)
  3. Upbeat and Underground (LS) (8:47)
  4. Dutch and Go (MS) (4:38)
  5. Have Traitor, Will Travel (MS) (2:28)
  6. The Big Brass Contraband (RS) (3:40)
  7. Wall to Wall Kaput (RS) (2:07)
  8. Eric the Redhead (GF) (5:33)
  9. One for the Mountain (RS) (3:16)
  10. Two for the Road (RS) (4:49)
  11. Four O'Clock Bomb to London (RS) (4:29)
  12. Alternate Main Title (LS) (:45)
  13. The Ghostbreaker Main Title (JW) (1:00)
  14. Teaser (3:39)
  15. The Spooked Skyscraper Strikes Again (2:08)
  16. Men of Unitran (1:44)
  17. Accent the Supernatural (3:01)
  18. Greensleeves (1:23)
  19. Don't Trip Over Diablo (3:57)
  20. Organ Piece (2:31)
  21. Outspook a Spook (6:25)
  22. The Ghostbreaker End Title (:49)