As a spy/espionage film in
1968, Sebastian was modelled after James Bond clones like
The Ipcress File, but with a score more reminiscent of
Goldsmith's Our Man Flint, and Elmer Bernstein's The
Silencers. It's a score with a light rock 'n roll framework
but orchestrated more like a small jazz band or combo including
electric guitars, string bass, drums, horns, and even a sax.
Obviously a small budget score with few pieces, Goldsmith soloed
many instruments for a more solitary atmosphere than trying to
energise a small group. Piano, trumpet, bass, drums, and even
a harpsichord are all given solo treatments. But, mostly it sounds
like vanilla rock 'n roll that parents would accept for their
teenagers. When I interviewed the composer in 1974 and mentioned
this film, he said it wasn't one of his favourite scores. When
I asked about the electronic instrumentation, the composer said
the electronics had been done by someone else (Tristram Carey).
We just moved on to another subject. Still, there are passages
which demonstrate how the composer, with limited budget, was
able to satisfactorily underscore a silly little film.
The Main Title introduces the first of two themes in the
score, and the quick tempo that carries most of the score. It's
a fast moving piece with electric guitars, xylophone, drums,
and a driving theme that reminds one of Our Man Flint
and The Man From U.N.C.L.E. There is a vocal accent added
from a small choral group-no lyrics, just tones-which is incorporated
as a fifth section of the band. It's a creative touch repeated
in Checkmate and First Day at Work.
You Gotta Let Me Go is one of the two cuts on the album
that weren't composed by Goldsmith. This choral vocal is what
we D.J.s used to call "chicken rock"-too scared to
be the real thing. Sounds like late 1950s, early 1960s bland
teen pop. Some good jazzy sax work, but otherwise an inane, silly
little song not worth a second listening.
The Decoders is one of the three most interesting
pieces on the album, along with Checkmate and The Trip.
Here we begin with a piano solo that's joined by string bass,
then drums, then strings. It's a driving number, full of energy,
with a Johann Sebastian Bach-like quick tempo. Did I say "Sebastian"?
Could the composer have had that in mind as an in-joke? It would
sound right at home on a pipe organ. It's a light, jazzy piece,
fundamentally performed by a jazz combo supported by a small
string section with some creative counter pointing during the
later development. This isn't true, thematic counter point, just
motifs vying for our attention. One of the more musically complex
Checkmate begins with a harpsichord solo which
introduces us to a variation of the main title theme performed
with the same light jazz combo. This soon evolves as a sudden
string bass solo, scaling down dramatically and accompanied by
a horn which acts as a segue to change moods. Then the main theme
returns, building in strength until the full compliment of instruments
(available) including the choral group rounds it out.
There's a definite dramatic tone to Carol's Apartment
with snare drums and cymbals carrying us forward through a brief
8-note horn motif-motif, not really a theme, just a phrase-repeated
several times. Then, strings that roll by in a 2-note motif.
This segues to a light jazzy variation of the main title theme.
This is a variation, but with such a strong identity it almost
doesn't sound related to the main theme. It's reminiscent of
the early jazz scores the composer wrote for The Twilight
Zone. Lastly, the strings enter with the secondary theme,
a sad love theme.
Comes the Night is a vocal with music by Goldsmith
and lyrics by the late Hal Sharper. It's performed by Jimmy A.
Hassell and is really a vocal rendition of the love theme, but
hard to listen to, and doesn't bear repeat play. Hassell is a
poor clone of the Al Martino, Matt Munro school of singing, but
the piece is typical of many so-called rock 'n roll songs that
appeared in mid-1960s motion pictures.
The main title theme is again
reprised in Night Scene, a pleasant, mellow piece-"pretty"
is a good word. Again, it has a percussion foundation which is
the framework for this score, but incorporates a soft horn solo
which is replaced by strings carrying the melody, rejoined by
Suspense is a word that aptly
describes The Trip. It begins with driving percussion,
just a rhythm, no melody or motif. This is joined by light brass,
electric guitar, and a strongly reverberated punctuation by strings.
It is the same echoed punctuation the composer used extensively
in the first part of Planet of the Apes to symbolise an
unearthly, or dreamlike environment. Rhythmic wood blocks enter
the foreground (can we spell "Charade"?), accented
by a most interesting inclusion of horns in the background that
sound like an animal angry at our invasion of its territory.
Slowly the cue builds in energy, rising in pitch with every repetition
of a simple motif led by an electric guitar. It ends abruptly
without any closure or resolution.
The electronic piece the composer
referred to during my interview is Sputnik Code by Tristram
Carey. It's totally electronic, in the 1960s experimental vein.
If you can imagine a primitive nuts and bolts robot trying to
boogaloo, on a wooden floor, and trying to talk in a voice like
a college student's 1930s automobile horn you have the picture.
Let's move on.
The final cue on the original album
is actually the only one I used to play from this album on the
air during my motion picture radio program. First Day at Work
is a full orchestral version of the main title theme with driving
percussion, electric guitars, vocal accents, and strings. It's
almost a big band or small orchestra sound different from the
jazzy combo flavour of most of this score. Nothing spectacular,
dated, fairly uninteresting, but representative of the score
overall, which may be the reason the composer told me it wasn't
one of his favourite scores.
This first CD issued was by the controversial UK based Harkit label
featuring the soundtrack album re-recording as discussed above along with some
unnecessary edits from the Sputnik Code.
Finally in 2013 we had the long awaited Intrada disc with the album
from the multi track masters as well as the full film soundtrack in
the surviving mono source. Plus the earlier Cary material.