Of all of the lounge, smooth, cool-jazz, chill and other trendy compilations of the last few years, this is one of the best, coherent in organization and sequence, consistent in theme, and with a unified aural feel. It all fits together just about perfectly, with that unstated Panther attitude and feeling.
Remember, the Pink Panther (original) was an all-Euro production, with European actors, locations, and a decidedly pre-Mod-60s, riche-chic Euro feel. After all, the original locations were Paris, Cortina, and Monte Carlo. This album faithfully captures that reserved, understated and laidback Euro cool.
The liner notes are disappointingly scant, a single albeit accurate paragraph about the Panther, with some whack homage to some artist named Shag. Apparently Shag is "proud to have created the newest chapter in the ongoing evolution of (the Panther)," but it's achingly unclear what this copy is talking about and how it relates to this CD. The liner notes could have been much better, with at least a nod to the brilliance of Mancini.
Sadly missing on this CD is a take on "It Had Better Be Tonight." I'm disappointed that there were no artists who wanted to take on this mod-rocking bit of ski-sweater fireside dance mania.
The CD opens just the right way, with the original Mancini theme, but the jazzy solo and bridge are cut from the track; Track 1 just ends cold and the Fischerspooner theme Mix kicks in. This is an awful segue, and a disrespectful butchering of Mancini's original theme. This Fischerspooner mix, however, is a perfect counter to the original.
The Gabin Remix Edit of Peggy Lee asking the musical question "Fever" is very well done. The pace is just right, not a pounding club bpm, but with enough drive to get up and dance to it if you want, or just to sit back in your sling chair and nod your head to the rhythm. The horns are sparse and soft, with a lot of smooth echo and tremolo. Good stuff.
Titan's "Corazon" follows, and continues the up-tempo trend of the CD. This is a get-on-the-floor dance track. It's a smooth shift here, geographically and ethnically, away from the original Euro Panther vibe to the Latin, and it works. It's not intrusive or jolting, and fits very well after "Fever." Good addition, and a good selection for this release.
"Smokebomb" follows, and is a full-on electronica club assault. It's not too heavy or hard in punctuation--no "Spybreak" here--and it follows well the bass feel and sounds of "Corazon." Good flute and well-defined bongo punctuations in the center, and a great thwanging guitar breakdown to take us back to the Panther theme, maybe even as far back as "After The Fox," a sadly overlooked Mancini soundtrack masterpiece. This track echoes the Latin feel of the previous track and the subtle shift in the CD's direction. Another good choice here, and good sequencing.
Then follows Pizzicato Five's "Girl From Ipanema." Sorry, but this tune is out of place here, too far apart musically, geographically, ethnically, even in metaphysical linking of the ultra-cool cat with hot-n-steamy Brazil.
Then comes Fatboy Slim's relative hit "Weapon of Choice." The muted intro goes on a bit too long before the tune kicks in, but its bass-heavy sound and depth fit well in the CD.
"Summer Sun" follows and fits as well, bringing the album back down a bit in tone and pace, slowing things. This is a light and airy tune, very cool and smooth, and you can hear the sunshine, good stuff. You can hear this tune on "Jazz Lounge" a definite Euro-feel release, which I recommend.
"Bachelor Pad" follows, and it's a fantastic melding of the old and new. This would've worked in any of the mod films of the late 60s, with great fuzzed-out rhythm and lead guitars, and a simple beat and melody to follow. Great dance tune, but again, not too heavy, not pounding or too fast.
Then there's the "Revisited" Panther theme. A better title would've been "Pantha Dub." I swear, my eyes were watering and I was getting hard munchies just bobbing my head with my eyes half-closed to this reggae-fied, horn-heavy yet still very cool take on the original.
I really enjoy the "A Shot in the Dark/Peter Gunn" mix. Very nice phrasing throughout, with most of the original arrangements and sound replicated here. The two themes move in and out of each other very nicely, playing off their sounds and images quite well. One quibble: the track ends way too soon. A great jam like this one should be allowed to run free and have some fun.
"Bossa Per Due" follows, and is a nice, quiet, even haunting chill tune. Good organ punctuation, with smooth female vocals, and nice counterpoint to the drive and humming guitars of the preceding mix.
"Intraspettro" comes next, and is a fantastic addition to this CD. Another piece with a single singing female vocal, it fits perfectly. Great Euro feel and sound, the sound of movement, of adventure, of clear weather and hazy horizons over the Mediterranean. You can find this track also on "Jazz Lounge."
"Tres Tres Chic" is interesting, but the over-enunciated French lyrics quickly become grating. I noticed this also on "Voulez-Vous?" and especially "Sacre Francais," the French ultimately distracting from what are smooth, simple, cool, and enjoyable tunes.
The Panther theme Malibu re-mix concluding the CD is very, very cool, a great closer. This is the sound of James Bond meeting the Panther. It rocks, but again, sadly, the jam just doesn't go on long enough.
In conclusion, this CD is a winner, a fantastic compilation and fitting tribute to the original understated, implicit 60s Panther cool, brought right into the new millennium and updated splendidly. The tracks fit (with a minor exception), compliment the attitude and vibe of the original, and contribute to an overall superb release.