Friday, February 15, 2013

Condorman (1981) Intrada Soundtrack Review

Condorman is a wonderfully charming Disney adventure flick and a personal favorite of mine, and I have very fond memories of watching the VHS clamshell edition back in the day. Naturally, when I heard that Intrada, the same company that released the complete score of The Black Hole, would be releasing Henry Mancini's (Charade, Breakfast at Tiffany's, The Pink Panther) score for the film, it was only a matter of time before I purchased it.

Now that I have the soundtrack in hand, I must say that I'm very satisfied with the release. The score sounds perfectly crisp, the artwork is lovely, the booklet is nice, and the extra tracks are a treat as well.

Mancini's score itself is a huge part of why I love the movie, and there's a good variety of tracks to be found. The main title music is a thing of beauty, full to bursting with thrilling orchestrations and choral interjections that brilliantly set the excitingly goofy, comic-book tone for the rest of the film. This theme is reprised multiple times throughout the score, sometimes with the choir and sometimes without. The tracks that represent the threat of the villains are hammy but intimidating, perfectly nailing the presence of Krokov (placed with sinister delight by Oliver Reed), Morovich (Krokov's homicidal henchman with a silver eyeball), and their armies of jet-black Porsches and speedboats. There are also some great tracks that represent the exotic locales in the movie, from the subtly zany "Gypsy" for a section set in Yugoslavia (which, for some reason, reminds me of the theme to Alfred Hitchcock Presents) to the foot-stomping and decidedly alpine outings for the Matterhorn sequences. Aside from those, however, many of the tracks have an ethnic feel to them. The music that struck me the most while revisiting the score after all these years are the pieces for the leading lady, Natalia. These tracks are some tenderly beautiful stuff and represent prime Mancini work. They work off of the same unforgettable tune, sometimes playing it with warm piano, sometimes with cascading strings, sometimes with whispering choir, and even once with music-boxy synthesizer. It was a real treat hearing all these pieces after such a long time, and I could visualize just about every scene as I went through the track-list.

The score, presented in stereo and digitally transferred from the pristine multi-track sessions, sounds spectacular. The choir's ecstatic exclamation of "CONDORMAAAAAAAAAAAAN" in the main titles is infinitely clearer in this release than even my nostalgia-tinted memory could remember the VHS sounding like. I honestly couldn't be happier with the quality. The bonus tracks consist mainly of music played in the film itself; for example, an accordion piece played during a rousing Swiss party our heroes attend and the music the belly-dancer gets down to during the scene in Istanbul. Speaking of the belly-dancer music, there are, funnily enough, three different versions of that track included, each with a different tempo. The only thing missing from this release that I can think of is the electronic cue for the Condorman logo's introduction at the beginning of the movie. My guess is that this was done because the piece was not written by Mancini and/or wasn't available in the recordings used as the master for this release.

The booklet is nice as well, obviously written by people who love both the movie and its soundtrack. Also a treat for Condorfans like me are some behind-the-scenes tidbits on Condorman's production and especially the recording of the score. All good stuff!

You can purchase this release or listen to samples of the music by clicking here. All in all, I'd highly recommend this soundtrack to fans of the movie, composer, or rousing adventure scores in general. There's plenty of joyous fun to be had in the 60 minute program provided with Intrada's release!

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree with your review! I just bought the soundtrack and it has simply incredible sound even when comparing it to DVD, never mind VHS. All the music stirs wonderful memories from the 90s and seeing it over and over again. Intrada really should be praised for their work here on remastering and mixing this score to perfection. I love the music and the film. Thankfully they are both available in modern formats for all to enjoy, and not before time.