I didn’t do last week’s writeup of the Internet Archive’s latest Unlocked Recordings vinyl rips because, at the time, there wasn’t that much distinctive — a lot of classical and a bunch of world music, for the most part.
The Archive has lately coughed up a pop artifact that my pop-geek readers might find interesting, though. It’s an example of one of the Beatles doing a little job-work outside the Fab Four:
I don’t know the full story of how Paul McCartney ended up writing the score for the 1966 British movie The Family Way, which featured father-and-daughter team John and Hayley Mills, as well as future U.S. Top Ten monologuist Murray Head. I imagine all kinds of projects crossed his transom — since everyone wanted to work with a Beatle, after all — and he decided film work might be interesting.
I suspected that the writing process consisted of Paul tiddling tunes on a piano and George Martin padding them out for orchestra.
Wiki goes even further, suggesting that McCartney contributed only a few scraps of ideas, which were then expanded and rearranged by Martin into a short album’s worth of music.
(The standard Wiki disclaimer applies — could be true, could be not — though I have no trouble believing this version of events. Of course, the album cover gives McCartney huge play and Martin very little, but that’s to be expected.)
McCartney does not appear on the record, although the classical-music geeks in my readership (you’re out there, right?) might recognize one member of the George Martin Orchestra.
According to Wiki, violinist Neville Marriner — later to become a renowned conductor — played on the sessions. Marriner, like Martin and McCartney, later got a “Sir” appended to his name.
How’s the music? Pretty unremarkable instrumental movie music, IMHO. There are no Great Lost McCartney Melodies to be found — nothing a pop nerd could use to sound smugly superior in conversation. (“‘Silly Love Songs’? Meh. Have you ever heard Untitled Cue #5 from ‘A Family Way’? McCartney at his finest.”)
And from the sound of it, any ear-grabby moments are more likely to have been George Martin’s work than McCartney’s anyway.
If the music had been composed by Paul Jones and arranged by George Smith, there would be pretty much no reason to take an interest in it.
But it wasn’t: It’s the Second and Fifth Beatles at work. And so, it drew my attention. And perhaps it will draw 20-odd minutes of yours.
(Edit: The soundtrack to The Family Way turns up on precisely one survey from the invaluable ARSA database of local radio airplay charts. It was a “spotlight album” on Top 40 station KFXM 590 in San Bernardino, Calif., for the week of July 14, 1967. The station was playing some phenomenal music that week, none of it from The Family Way; one wonders what drove them, besides sheer Beatle speculation, to choose the record as a spotlight album.)