The movie is as unknown as the music. Yet the cast is impressive. In 1973, Peter Yates, the director of The Friends of Eddie Coyle, attempted to follow up Bullitt, his masterpiece that had come out five years earlier. Just as Robert Mitchum took Steve McQueen’s place, the music wasn’t composed by Lalo Schifrin, but by Dave Grusin, who hadn’t yet gained the notoriety he would later be granted through his collaboration with Sydney Pollack. The crime film (about a trafficker turned FBI informant) was a commercial failure whose soundtrack wasn’t even released. This injustice has been righted, as the score has been issued on vinyl for the first time, in the form of a gatefold with liner notes by David Toop. Although it’s no more than 30 minutes long, the album contains 13 exhilarating vignettes, starting with the theme, which ends with a spaghetti western intro, a dusky ambiance, and flamboyant jazz funk. We should mention that Grusin brought together several West Coast jazz aces, including saxophonist Bud Shank, former associate of Gerry Mulligan, whom the composer claimed as an influence. The string arrangements, streaked with psychedelic lines, make it a must of the genre.
Dave Grusin, The Friends of Eddie Coyle (We Want Sounds)