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Gunn, Bent, Roses

March 13, 1994

Regarding Calendar's lists of dubious Grammys (Feb. 27 and March 1):

Twice in three days, your pop music writers took issue with Grammy voters' 1958 choice of Henry Mancini's "Music From 'Peter Gunn' " as album of the year, clearly implying that the popular TV soundtrack was somehow inferior to several competing albums.

Their cavalier dismissal of Mancini's album is typical of writers weaned on rock. In fact, the "Peter Gunn" score was every bit as influential and trend-setting as the other records cited.

Mancini's use of jazz in dramatic contexts on "Peter Gunn" changed the course of film and television scoring for decades to come. Private eyes, cops and secret agents still chase, shoot and make love to jazz-related music as a direct result of the artistic and popular success of his landmark score.

Mancini exposed tens of millions of viewers and record buyers to this fresh sound. And jazz-trained musicians from Pete Rugolo to Dave Grusin, Lalo Schifrin to Quincy Jones, began to find work in Hollywood within the next few years, making the 1960s a far richer era in movie and TV scoring than almost anything we're hearing today.




I was surprised to read that "Alley Cat" was "by a Dutch musician"; I heard years ago that "Bent Fabric" was the nom de plume of the very talented and always witty Steve Allen. Live and learn.



Joel Whitburn, in "Top Pop Singles," identifies Bent Fabric as the nom de disc of Bent Fabricius-Bjerre. We'll admit an error, though, as Fabric's nationality is actually Danish.


Robert Hilburn's poignant feature on past Grammy winner Joe South ("His Rose Garden Was Full of Thorns," Feb. 27) was quite touching. It was truly sorrowful to read of South's fate; however, factors other than drugs and personal problems should be noted.

First, because of the commercial crossover nature of South's material, he was unjustly perceived mainly as an AM artist in the then-burgeoning FM climate. Hence, "high-profile touring" was likely out of the question.

Moreover, the extremely poor packaging of his follow-ups to "Introspect" disrupted things even further, with his label, Capitol, experiencing its own slow period. When South finally unleashed a worthy follow-up, late 1972's grand "A Look Inside," virtually no promotion was done on the record despite a glowing lead review in Rolling Stone.

South spoke the truth, no matter where the chips would fall, and the world is better for his existence. He should never view himself as a "nobody." "Games People Play" struck a raw nerve unlike anything that came before it--or has maybe come since.


West Los Angeles

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