April 28, 2012


Like many stars in the 1960s, Man From U.N.C.L.E.'s David McCallum recorded a number of albums that crossed between easy listening, pop, and rock. As a classically trained musician, he made arrangements of popular songs for oboe, French horn, strings, guitar, and drums. McCallum conducted and contributed his own compositions. Four LPs were made for Capital Records between 1966-1968. A 2001 compilation CD of his first two records, A part of Me and A Bit More of Me is now out of print, but you can still find it as an MP3 download at Amazon and on iTunes. McCallum's face appeared on many picture sleeves of Man From U.N.C.L.E. singles. Here is a cool Japanese release from one of his "solo" projects listed on eBay.

'Communication' was a minor UK hit in 1966 before his first two LPs were released. Speaking to Record Collector Magazine, McCallum said, : "Well, 'Communication' was just a 50's type novelty record, with me talking over the music.  The follow-up was 'In The Garden, Under The Tree', which came from a film called 'Three Bites Of The Apple.'  It was meant to be a comedy with a lot of funny things in it, but the studio took it upon themselves to recut it and make it into a romantic picture." McCallum was then asked to take on the LP projects. "MGM came to me and said, with the success of 'U.N.C.L.E.', you ought to sing a whole album of songs.  I said, I'm an actor, not a singer.  They said, well, just read the telephone book or something and we'll put music to it.  I found that somewhat reprehensible, and suggested that I could do some orchestral arrangements of contemporary pop songs, using woodwind with four French horns as a back up, and rhythm. The idea was to do it with straight orchestral instruments and no guitar or amplification. They gave the idea to David Axelrod at Capitol, who passed it onto H.P. Barnum, the arranger there, who was involved in Motown and rock. When I arrived at the studio they had the finest musicians sitting there, and you can see it was going to be full rock." Asked if he minded the modern instrumentation, McCallaum said. "No, it was great fun doing it.  My father was touring America with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at the time, and he came along to a couple of those sessions.  The whole period was very exciting. I'm still listening to those [Pop] songs now.  That early '60's music is unique and very expressive of the emergence of the whole rock thing that followed.  The toughest thing was the selection of the music." And speaking of that exciting period, McCallum's father was a noted classical musician who played on some famous tracks from the SGT Pepper sessions with The Beatles!

You can find various tracks, including Communication, on Youtube. Here is the often-sampled song, 'The Edge', from A Bit More of Me (1966) cut to Man From U.N.C.L.E. footage (look for Jack Lord). More McCallum info at the Fans From U.N.C.L.E. website.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...