Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chart Song Cinema: Last Tango in Paris (1973)

Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris depicted a steamy affair between two hopelessly damaged souls: an American widower (played by Marlon Brando in one of his quintessential performances) and a young French married girl who remain nameless to each other. At once a clear manifestation of post-sixties sexual freedom and its very seventies psychic complications, the bilingual film knocked critics off their theater seats and gave mere thrill seekers mental scars. What certainly lingered in all moviegoers' heads, though, was the moaning trumpet in Gato Barberi's theme music. Many instrumentalists got busy with personalized arrangements of the song, with only Herb Alpert and Tonight Show trumpeter Doc Severinsen checking in with chart listings. Composer Jack Elliott's theme music for the Charlie's Angels TV show (1976-81) would evoke the Last Tango theme, perhaps as an effort to heighten its already sexual edge.

Herb Alpert and the TJB - "Last Tango in Paris" (1973, Billboard #77). Written by Gato Barbieri. Produced and arranged by Herb Alpert. "String and things" by Quincy Jones. 45: "Last Tango in Paris"/"Fire and Rain" (A&M 1973). LP: (no US album appearance).

Side B is a marimba-cha-cha version of James Taylor's "Fire and Rain."

Doc Severinsen - "The Last Tango in Paris" (1973, Billboard # 106). Written by Gato Barbieri. Produced by Joe Reisman. Arranged by Harry Betts. 45: "Last Tango in Paris"/"Alone Again (Naturally)" (RCA 1973). LP: (no US album appearance).

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