Hefti’s soundtrack compositions always seem to define a sense of good safe ground.
Throughout the 1960s, Hefti provided light but always memorable scores
including TV’s Batman (1966-68), How to Murder your wife (1965), Barefoot in
the park (1967) and The Odd Couple (1968). Perhaps rather less memorable were
the comedies Boeing Boeing (1965) and Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s hung you in the
closet and I’m feelin’ so sad (1967). Boeing Boeing marked the last strains of
Paramount’s association with Jerry Lewis and co-starred Tony Curtis. A romantic
comedy farce, the film is set in Paris, and Hefti’s loungey, easy-listening feel
makes it an enjoyable experience. There are of course certain familiarities. Hefti’s signature sound is hard to ignore:
smooth brass and witty electric keyboard motifs all signify a certain 60s
charm. Vocalion’s new release (CDLK4578) marks Boeing Boeing’s first venture on
CD. At just 28 minutes, it’s a straight forward re-release of RCA’s original
1965 LP. Nevertheless, Vocalion have sensibly paired Boeing Boeing with Hefti’s
soundtrack album, Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung you in the closet and I’m Feelin’
So Sad (1967). A much darker comedy and based upon the stage play by Arthur L.
Kopit, the film version starred Rosalind Russell, Robert Morse and Barbara
Harris. Hefti’s music offers a rather bizarre mix of flavours, with its main
theme song (a kid’s ditty of sorts) performed by a children’s chorus. There is
also a good deal of Bossa Nova beats and a rather nice Latin infused love
theme. Again, it is typical of that very comfortable Mancini Sixties
environment. Listen out in particular to the track ‘This is Mother’ and you
might just pick up more than a hint of Hefti’s Batman’s backbeat. Hefti’s Oh
Dad is another short score, and another straight reworking of the original album
- coming in at just 24 minutes
probably fair to assume that either of these scores (in their individual
capacity) would tend to struggle. However, as a pairing they actually work very
well and complement each other seamlessly. They achieve a rather nice balance
and as a result, a very enjoyable collection of Neal Hefti’s film music emerges.
The accompanying booklet consists of just a 2 Panel (4 page) insert containing
the original album notes – which is a shame. Thankfully, Vocalion’s excellent audio
production of the two albums makes it a worthwhile purchase.
Nancy Sinatra posted a tribute to her brother on her Facebook page.
BY LEE PFEIFFER
Frank Sinatra Jr, the only son of the iconic singer and actor, has died at age 72 from cardiac arrest. A consummate performer who was described by the Washington Post as the "Keeper of his father's flame", was on tour when he fell ill. Sinatra Jr.'s story is not dissimilar to that of other children of legendary entertainers in that his last name opened certain doors and helped him establish a career but also posed challenges in terms of his ability to establish an identity of his own. Sinatra Jr. always had a checkered relationship with his father. While not actually estranged, the young man found his father to be a remote figure who was content to have his son educated in expensive boarding schools. The elder Sinatra never tried to mentor his son or advise him as to what profession to enter. Sinatra Jr. discovered early in life that he also had a gift for singing. In the 1960s he made the decision to follow in his father's footsteps by crooning traditional love songs accompanied by a big band. His father neither encouraged or discouraged that decision. Sinatra Jr. was bucking the trends of the 1960s counter culture, an era in which hard rock music was all the rage among people his age. Yet he never embraced it and in fact denounced rock and roll. Over the decades Sinatra Jr. doggedly worked to establish his own identity- an admittedly difficult task considering he was mostly singing numbers made famous by his father. Sinatra Jr. made headlines in 1963 when he was kidnapped and held for ransom. Ironically, one of his kidnapper's was a friend of his sister Nancy. The situation made international news and involved such disparate figures as Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, F.B.I. chief J. Edgar Hoover and mob boss Sam Giancana. He was eventually released unharmed and the kidnappers were arrested. In 1988 he was shocked and delighted to be asked by his father to serve as his conductor for his live concerts. Sinatra Jr. indicated that this was the closest he would ever get to his father, traveling and working with him over a period of seven years. The two men were never close but Sinatra Jr. was clearly grateful for the opportunity to work with his father in a professional capacity. After his father's death, Sinatra Jr. resumed his big band concert tours, winning over appreciative audiences. He candidly told the media in 2006 that "I was never a success", pointing out that he never had a hit record or movie. However, he did take satisfaction from performing in front of his own fans and working diligently with his sisters to ensure the Sinatra legacy through official documentaries and books. In that respect he was indeed a success.