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In Rotation: Lee Hazlewood's original soundtrack to 'A House Safe for Tigers'

September 21, 2012|By Randall Roberts
  • Lee Hazlewood was best known for his production and baritone harmonies with Nancy Sinatrain the 1960s.
Lee Hazlewood was best known for his production and baritone harmonies… (GAB Archive / Redferns )

A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers and contributors are listening to right now...

Lee Hazlewood was an odd duck. Best known for his production and baritone harmonies with Nancy Sinatrain the 1960s, Hazlewood got his start recording guitarist Duane Eddyin the late 1950s and developed a grand, rich production style that he perfected over the course of a curiously constructed 40-year career. Hazlewood, who died in 2007, spent much of the latter half of his life in Sweden, where he continued to consistently work far removed from the gaze of his longtime L.A. home.

Recorded in 1975 to accompany a work by Swedish filmmaker Torbjorn Axelman, "A House Safe for Tigers" is vintage Hazlewood, featuring his signature voice on many of the tracks, along with sparse, graceful guitar lines, Ennio Morricone-style harmonica solos, the occasional boom of a timpani, and dynamic orchestration. It's a trip, basically, one whose tone is set both melodically and lyrically on the lush opener, "Soul's Island" and moves through a cycle featuring instrumental interludes, a few choice bongo breakbeats and, perhaps best, an ethereal chorale version of the film's title track.

Just as exciting as this new issue — the first time the recording has been available in America — is the future Hazlewood projects this release portends. The esteemed label Light in the Attic is responsible for it, and it's the second in a series of Hazlewood-related reissues arriving in the next year, most of which will focus on the musician's record label LHI. Those whose only exposure to his work is through "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" take note: This man was a maverick.

Lee Hazlewood

Original soundtrack recording to "A House Safe for Tigers"

(Light in the Attic)

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