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Soundtrack Review

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The Essential Mike Post Collection


Composer: Mike Post
Performed by The Daniel Caine Orchestra, London Music Works, Mark Ayres and The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
Silva Screen Records
RRP: £13.99
Available 26 April 2010

It is difficult to underestimate the importance of a show's theme tune. Along with the opening credits it conveys some of the flavour of the subsequent story, whether it is a drama or comedy.

Mike Post has been one of the most successful American music writers for television, with many of his memorable tunes becoming fan favourites. Praise has also be given by his industry and Post is the winner of both Grammys and Emmys. He has also worked as a producer for Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton and Van Halen. His work in television really took off when he secured the gig to write the theme tune to The Rockford Files.

The Essential Mike Post Collection gathers together fifteen of Post's best known pieces and kicks off with the theme tune to Blossom, a joyously lightweight jaunty piece that just pours out exuberance for life. Instantly I was back watching the show with my then very young daughter again, again, again and again, to be honest I was rather grateful when the show was cancelled.

The next track and we are on to WiseGuy, not a show I recall ever watching, but the horns and strings are pure Post. Ah the screaming sax opening of L.A. Law kicks in next with more lush strings. Both of these tracks have a similar construction which musically indicated that what you are about to watch is a little bit serious, they sound diametrically opposed to the joy of the opening track, but in keeping with the shows they fronted.

Ah! A personal favourite springs up with Quantum Leap and we are back to a more upbeat Post, I even caught myself humming along to this one, odd how a piece of music can have a profound effect, just listening to this track made me want to revisit the show.

Back to the serious Post with the theme to Law and Order with its signature twangy guitar and oboe combination which creates a much laid back feel to the piece, it is one of the more minimalist tracks, gone are the lush strings and sweeping musical motion.

For the next theme Post has introduced a synth for Hardcastle and McCormick, I think I caught a few of these and they didn’t impress and in truth there is something lazy about the theme tune as well, it’s okay for what it is but nothing as good as Post at his best.

Now we are in pig heaven with the theme tune to The A-Team, whatever your feeling about the show there will not be an adult who would not instantly recognise the grinding guitar and sweeping strings. Next up and to honest sounding like a slowed down version of the A-Team’s signature tune comes the Tales of the Gold Monkey.

Top of the Hill is a pleasant piece underscored with a persistent rhythm set up by the drum and strumming guitar, with a soft horn tracing out the main theme. Meanwhile we quickly move to the funky guitar opening of Magnum P.I. which is followed by the deceptive heavy drum intro to NYPD Blue which fades and changes places with the horn section before changing completely again to another lush Post tune.

Back with the more bontempi frivolity of the theme to Doogie Howser M.D. and were getting the feeling that there are Post elements which range across all of these tunes, it’s not that they are overly similar or copies, just that like most musicians Post has an individual voice when it comes to writing.

The set is wrapped up with another personal favourite and possibly the best track Hill Street Blues which exemplifies much of Posts work with its combination of piano, strings and a horn section reproducing a growing and memorable theme, carrying on with the idea of leaving the best to last, next up The Rockford Files with its warbled harmonica playing. The set wraps up with the theme to Hunter.

So there you have it a great collection of theme music from one of its masters.


Charles Packer

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