The Classic Soundtrack Collection

by: Henry Mancini

A massive nine-disc box set that reveals itself to be all the more massive upon the realization that each disc contains two full soundtracks, Legacy's 2014 set The Classic Soundtrack Collection enshrines Henry Mancini's peak. Nearly all of the 18 movies here were released in the '60s -- the earliest is Breakfast at Tiffany's from 1961, the latest is 1978's Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe? -- and Mancini's lush, sometimes hep swinging strings are associated with both the sound and feel of the decade. Although a handful of his best-known themes were sexy and slinky, informed as much by the attitude of jazz as its sound (think The Pink Panther and Peter Gunn), he rarely veered away from this signature -- it was there even in films as seemingly tense as Experiment in Terror -- but he sometimes chose to embellish it with various fads and trends, including cha chas and twists (or disco, for The Return of the Pink Panther). Such flourishes, which also include period re-creations like marches and flirtations with regional music, do give each film a character within his signature and that's why the box rewards time: it shows the imagination and skill that lurk behind the washes of strings. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine

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