"Mad Men" scores with its scores @ 27 August 2013 09:55 PM

"Carbonara" is much more than a delicious pasta recipe. It’s a fine composer who contributes an enormous amount of atmosphere, dramatic impact and even ironic humor to one of the greatest series in TV history.

Creating a score for a series that captures the eclectic styles of the ‘60s and how they changed over the decade, has to have its challenges. What I like about David Carbonara’s music is that, like the sets, props and costumes on Mad Men, it’s authentic. There’s no nod to contemporizing it to make it more marketable to “today’s tastes.” What results is music that stands on its own, written and played by its own rules.

The latest album of Mad Men soundtrack scores is called Mad Men: On the Rocks. It’s a blend of new selections with some previously released tracks.

There are quite a few Mad Men albums out there, so I tried to sort them out. Basically they fall into two categories. The score albums contained instrumental background music primarily composed by Carbonara, but also a few selections by other composers that have been performed for the series soundtrack by Carbonara and the studio orchestra.

The compilations, which are not necessarily “official” Mad Men albums, are collections of hit songs and obscure gems, many sung by the original artists, from the ‘60s, which were either featured on the show or might have been.

Music Score Collections:
 Mad Men: Original Score, Vol. 1 (2009)
 Mad Men: After Hours (2010)
 Mad Men: Night Cap (2013)
 Mad Men: On the Rocks (2013)

Compilations of Classic Songs Played on the Show:
 Mad Men: Music from the Series, Vol. 1 (2008)
 Mad Men: Music from the Series, Vol. 2 (2009)
 Mad Men: A Musical Companion (2 Discs) (2011)
 The Many Moods of Mad Men:  A Musical Companion (2 Discs) (2013)

The very first album, “Mad Men: Original Score, Volume 1,” is available for download but is hard to find in CD form, at least for a reasonable price, plus you can also find some of the selections from that 2009 album on “Mad Men: After Hours.” I have not yet been able to determine if there was ever a Volume 2 of “Mad Men: Original Score.”

Volume 2 of “Mad Men: Music from the Series” is also hard to find but is not available for download.

Mad Men: On the Rocks is pure, magnificent soundtrack score music. Here is the track list with comments:

1.              Pacific Coast Highway*

Not to be confused with the 1969 Burt Bacharach instrumental, but an equally fine bossa nova that is a great way to open the album

2.              The Man With The Miniature Orchestra

Pensive piece suggesting “Moonlight Sonata”

3.              Beautiful Girls
Iconic Mad Men piece that reminds me of the theme from The Artist

4.              Betty Home and Sally’s Story

Tense, tightly wound, much like Betty and Sally

5.              Bunny’s Bop

Energetic jazz number, reminiscent of the Mannix theme

6.              Hurry Into The Far Away Places

Haunting and dark

7.              Drapers Ruse
Another iconic theme, with vibes and flutes

8.              Summer Man
Soul searching; sounds like a trek through a hot, barren wasteland

9.              The Arrival

Calm, cool, Route 66-style

10.           Hotel Bossa

What the the “smart set” hears when they stay in classy digs

11.           Lights Out

Introspective, probing

12.           For Number Four and Anna
Don is lost and alone

13.           At The Codfish Ball

Odd, disturbing waltz as if heard through a looking glass

14.           Don And Betty In Rome

Even tempered with a tense undertone

15.           Like A Good Girlfriend*

Bouncy and “Peanuts”-like

16.           First Kiss

Tender, thoughful

17.           A Little Kiss
Light bossa beat, very bachelor pad

18.           The New York Times

Impending trouble ahead

19.           Glo-Coat

Don’s award winning TV commercial

20.           Christmas Conga*

Merry music masks the forced fun

21.           Pete’s Not Talking
Music for the petulance of Mr. Campbell

22.           Betty’s Call
It’s not good news or is it someone selling aluminum siding

23.           A Beautiful Mine (Performed by RJD2)*

Extended version of the Mad Men theme

*Previously released on Mad Men: Night Cap


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