Henry Mancini – The Music From Peter Gunn – Our Shootout Winner from 2010

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A distinguished member of the Better Records Rock and Pop Hall of Fame

This early White Dog pressing (4s-6s) has plenty of the Living Stereo Magic RCA was justly famous for back in 1958. Both sides earned a sonic grade of A+ to A++. (The best Hot Stamper copies of More Music from Peter Gunn show you just how well this kind of music can be recorded.)

Listen to all that crazy reverb on the piano and drums — it may not be the most natural sound in the world but it’s pretty cool when it’s done this well.

Both sides here had excellent brass as well. So often the pop records from this era have smeary, blary, shrill brass reproduction, but this copy managed to avoid that problem. The brass could use a bit more weight on side one and on side two it sounded a bit more crude than we had heard previously.

There was plenty of 3-D space on both sides, although the overall sound was a bit more distant and dark than we would have liked.

This is the album that started it all, and it’s still a lot of fun, especially when it sounds this good!

Wikipedia’s Entry for Peter Gunn

Click on the link above to read it all. Here’s a key exerpt:

The show’s use of modern jazz music, at a time when most television shows used a generic orchestra for the background, was another distinctive touch that set the standard for many years to come. Innovative jazz themes seemed to accompany every move Gunn made, ably rendered by Henry Mancini and his orchestra (which at that time included John Williams), lending the character even more of an air of suave sophistication. Famous jazz musicians occasionally made guest appearances, such as trumpeter Shorty Rogers in an early episode.

Most memorable of all was the show’s opening (and closing) “Peter Gunn Theme”, composed and performed by Mancini. A hip, bluesy, brassy number with an insistent piano-and-bass line, the song became an instant hit for Mancini, earning him an Emmy Award and two Grammys, and became as associated with crime fiction as Monty Norman’s theme to the James Bond films is associated with espionage. The harmonies fit the mood of the show, which was a key to success.

The soundtrack album by Henry Mancini was a smash, reaching #1 in Billboard’s Pop LP Charts. Ray Anthony won the singles war, reaching #8 on Billboard’s Hot 100 with his 45 of the title theme. Mancini’s single made the Variety magazine Top 25 retail chart, selling well in the Boston area.

TRACK LISTING

Side One

Peter Gunn
Sorta Blue
The Brothers Go to Mother’s
Dreamsville
Session at Pete’s Pad
Soft

Side Two

Fallout!
The Floater
Slow and Easy
A Profound Gass
Brief and Breezy
Not from Dixie

AMG  Review

… a key piece of jazz and pop music history. Back in 1958, Peter Gunn was one of the unexpected hits of the new television season, capturing the imagination of millions of viewers by mixing private eye action with a jazz setting. Composer Henry Mancini was more than fluent in jazz, and his music nailed down the popularity of the series.

With the main title theme, a driving, ominous, exciting piece of music to lead off the album, The Music from Peter Gunn became a huge hit, charting extraordinarily high for a television soundtrack and doing so well that RCA Victor came back the next year asking for a second helping (More Music From Peter Gunn) from Mancini. The music holds up: “Session at Pete’s Pad” is a superb workout for the trumpets of Pete Candoli, Uan Rasey, Conrad Gozzo, and Frank Beach, while Barney Kessel’s electric guitar gets the spotlight during “Dreamsville”; and “Sorta Blue” and “Fallout” are full-ensemble pieces that constitute quintessential “cool” West Coast jazz of the period. In other words, it’s all virtuoso orchestral jazz, presented in its optimum form.