Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Neal Hefti (1922-2008)

Neal Hefti (1922-2008)
The composer of the themes from the '60s Batman TV series and the 1968 movie version of The Odd Couple, Neal Hefti died of a heart attack over the weekend. He was 85.

Here's what Jeff Bond wrote about Hefti's surf rock-style Batman theme in his liner notes for the Film Score Monthly release of Nelson Riddle's 1966 Batman feature film soundtrack:
Hefti (like Riddle a band leader and jazz arranger) wrote an appropriately dynamic and instantly recognizable theme that launched with a heavy 4/4 rhythm for bass guitar, low brass and percussion and eight singers (four sopranos and four tenors) singing the words "Batman!" in unison with the trumpets... Ironically, despite (or perhaps because of) its apparent simplicity, Hefti has described the Batman theme as one of the most challenging things he has ever written.
In 1989, Hefti received the ultimate shout-out when Prince quoted the former Sinatra bandleader's Batman theme during "Batdance," a highlight of the Purple One's much-maligned Batman-inspired concept album.

Hefti's other credits included the cult favorite Lord Love a Duck, Sex and the Single Girl, How to Murder Your Wife, Duel at Diablo, Barefoot in the Park and A New Leaf. It's a shame that much of Hefti's work--like the enjoyable Odd Couple soundtrack, which contains themes that were later reupped on the classic Tony Randall/Jack Klugman TV series--hasn't been reissued on CD (props to Film Score Monthly for including Hefti's How to Murder Your Wife and Duel at Diablo score tracks on its now-sold-out MGM Soundtrack Treasury box set).

The Nov. 4 edition of "AFOS A-Go-Go" will open with a tribute segment consisting of Hefti's themes from Batman and the '68 Odd Couple. Those Odd Couple tracks still sound sweet even though the soundtrack album is a re-recording that's interspersed with Jack Lemmon/Walter Matthau dialogue clips that for some stupid reason, were reedited to include a laugh track (canned laughter on a film score album is like Mohinder's voiceover narration on Heroes--totally pointless).

No comments:

Post a Comment