This is a collection of Henry Mancini songs and themes from films and television programs ranging from the ’50s to the ’80s. Both Oscar and Grammy nominations and awards have been bestowed on most of the selections. Some of the songs are classics, like “Peter Gunn Theme,” while others are obscure, such as “Life in a Looking Glass” from the film That’s Life.
The disc starts with “The Pink Panther Theme.” That should be enough for you to buy the album right there. This is quite possibly one of the coolest tracks of all time, and it alone places Mancini in the upper echelon of composers. If you don’t have a copy of it, stop reading, run to your nearest music merchant and buy the album now. You’ll thank me later.
His daughter, Monica Mancini, sings nine of the 17 tracks. She has a pleasant voice that complements the songs in an appealing way, but she doesn’t transcend them. Her voice doesn’t have distinctive or memorable qualities to it, which would allow me to recognize her from any other competent singer.
While Monica stays true to the compositions, one of the more interesting songs is an updated version of “Moon River” from Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Stevie Wonder plays the harmonica and Take 6 performs the vocals. You can tell that it’s Stevie right away if you are familiar with his work. For some reason he doesn’t do any singing, which is a shame, but a capella group Take 6 do a wonderful job blending their sound with the talented Ultimate Mancini orchestra.
The work of Henry Mancini belongs in the collection of any serious movie snob or fan of pop standards.