Friday, February 11, 2011

"Rock Box" Track of the Day: Neil Richardson, "The Riviera Affair"

Ocean's thirteen? What's he doing for his thirteenth birthday? Have his pubes shown up yet?
Song: "The Riviera Affair" by Neil Richardson
Released: 1970
Why's it part of the "Rock Box" playlist?: When I first saw Ocean's Thirteen, I dug the old-sounding Warner Bros./Village Roadshow logo music.

I wasn't aware that the logo graphics and music were a reference to '70s and '80s TV, in keeping with the film's nostalgia for things like '60s and '70s caper flicks and the camaraderie of the Rat Packers who starred in the original version of Ocean's Eleven (as heard in "You shook Sinatra's hand," the film's frequently repeated line to Al Pacino's villainous character about how much of a backstabbing asshole he's become). I didn't grow up in New York, so I learned on YouTube that the swanky Ocean's Thirteen logo music--"The Riviera Affair," a library music cue written by British composer Neil Richardson, who died in October at the age of 80--was the same instrumental that used to open and close the "4 O'Clock Movie" broadcasts on New York's WOR.



Steven Soderbergh's shout-out to the WOR movie broadcast graphics is the director's way of saying, "Ocean's Thirteen is just like those old, breezy caper flicks that used to turn up at 4:00 on WOR."

Neil Richardson (1930-2010)
Richardson's instrumental was left off the Ocean's Thirteen soundtrack album, but it's part of 1996's Sound Gallery '60s and '70s library music instrumental compilation. An Amazon.com user review of The Sound Gallery sums up "The Riviera Affair" well. "Picture David Janssen and Diana Rigg cruising in a turquoise convertible along the open highway with the wind in their hair and the glorious possibilities of the future before them," says the reviewer. "This will give you just a small idea of how glorious and transcendent this tune is!!"

True, although when I hear "The Riviera Affair" and picture nearly the same thing--a relaxed playa cruising in a turquoise convertible along the open highway with his woman by his side--the twitchy star of the original Fugitive TV series doesn't exactly come to mind.

In 2009, another one of Richardson's loungy library music instrumentals was used to great effect when director Michel Hazanavicius gave ample screen time to Richardson's "Rio Magic" in the French spy spoof sequel OSS 117: Lost In Rio.

All the other "Rock Box" Tracks of the Day from this week:
Iggy and the Stooges, "Search and Destroy"
Raekwon feat. Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah and GZA, "Guillotine (Swordz)"
Dinah Washington, "This Bitter Earth"
Earth, Wind & Fire, "Reasons"

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