If, by chance, you don’t know the name of Charles Fox, you undoubtedly know his songbook: “Ready to Take a Chance Again.” “Killing Me Softly with His Song.” “I Got a Name.” The themes to The Love Boat, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, Love American Style, The Bugaloos, Angie, Wonder Woman, and more. Varese Vintage has recently celebrated the Emmy and Grammy-winning composer’s enormous legacy with two reissues. The soundtrack to Foul Play returns to CD (having been previously issued as a limited edition by Intrada) in expanded form, and Fox’s solo album makes its world premiere CD release.
Writer-director Colin Higgins’ 1978 action comedy Foul Play paired Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase as a librarian and a detective, respectively, entangled in a nefarious plot to assassinate the Pope. Fox, a veteran of films including Barbarella, Goodbye, Columbus, Pufnstuf and The Last American Hero, was signed to compose the orchestral score. Higgins’ original script called for a song entitled “Taking Chances” to which Hawn would sing along while driving in one scene. Fox teamed with his frequent collaborator/lyricist Norman Gimbel to turn Higgins’ potential song cue into the memorable, poignant “Ready to Take a Chance Again.” As sung by Barry Manilow, the song would peak at No. 11 on the Billboard 100, No. 5 on the AC chart, and receive Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations.
“Ready to Take a Chance Again” is threaded throughout the Arista soundtrack to Foul Play, newly remastered and expanded by Varese. It’s heard in opening and end credit versions as well as in instrumental cues. The soundtrack also features Fox’s richly melodic, varied themes from the romantic to the suspenseful as well as his adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan for one key sequence in the movie. Barry Manilow’s “Copacabana” was also heard in Foul Play as a piece of source music, and included on the original soundtrack album in a 3:55 edit. Rather than use that edit, however, Varese has a special treat here. The original 4:07 mix of the song from Manilow’s Even Now album was replaced on subsequent LP and CD pressings by the 5:46 extended disco version, relegating the 4:07 original version to obscurity. That’s the version of “Copacabana” which is included here, in its CD premiere. In addition to the restored “Copacabana,” this edition of Foul Play has one bonus track – Charles Fox’s theme music to CBS’ short-lived 1981 Foul Play television show. Jim Lochner has written new liner notes, and the colorful package also includes photographs and a period replica Arista label.
Foul Play has been joined by the first CD release of Fox’s 1981 solo album Seasons. Fox arranged, conducted and co-produced (with Ed Newmark) this nine-track collection of some of his finest themes all performed by the composer at the piano. The inspiration for Seasons came via Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major. Ed Newmark sensed the pop potential of the classical melody which Marvin Hamlisch had arranged so memorably for Robert Redford’s film adaptation of Ordinary People. Titled “Seasons,” the Pachelbel composition was rearranged and rewritten by Fox and released as the inaugural single on Epic’s Handshake Records imprint. Fox’s recording fared well, reaching No. 75 Pop on the Billboard Pop chart and No. 20 AC, but was forced to compete with Hamlisch’s own pop single adaptation produced by Richard Perry for the Planet Records label. “Seasons” then inspired an entire album in the style of the single, with Fox on piano supported by lean arrangements for gentle strings and a rhythm section. Yet Seasons was only released internationally by RCA, never seeing a domestic edition…until now!
To the emotional, evocative album, Fox brought two of his most famous songs, “Killing Me Softly with His Song” and “Ready to Take a Chance Again,” as well as themes from One on One (“My Fair Share,” featuring new vocals from Seals and Crofts, who had originated the song in 1978) and Why Would I Lie (“Elusive Blue”). The upbeat “And the Feeling’s Good” had been previously recorded by Lori Lieberman and Jose Feliciano, and the ballad “I Need You Now” was taken from a 1978 Fox/Gimbel stage musical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream which premiered in Los Angeles. Underscoring Fox’s mastery of varied musical genres, Seasons also presented a faithful recording of the Pachelbel composition that inspired it, featuring a large string orchestra.
Varese’s reissue of Seasons boasts a new introduction from Charles Fox, liner notes from Jim Lochner, and one bonus track: a 2015 live recording of Fox at the piano for “Killing Me Softly” accompanied by jazz clarinetist Eddie Daniels and the Harlem String Quartet. Chas Ferry and Daren Chadwick have remastered both Seasons and Foul Play. Both titles are available now…but that’s not all!
We want you to take Varese Vintage’s new reissue of Foul Play home – 10 of you, in fact! Here’s what you have to do:
To enter to win ONE OF 10 COPIES, simply LIKE our Facebook page, and head over to Varese Sarabande’s FB page and do the same! Just leave us a comment on the CHARLES FOX/FOUL PLAY post on our FB page. Let us know: What’s your favorite Charles Fox song? Do you have any fun memories of Foul Play or of “Ready to Take a Chance Again”? Once you like both pages and comment anything you’d like to share, you’ll automatically be entered to win!
If you’ve entered our previous giveaways and have already liked BOTH The Second Disc and Varese’s Facebook page, you can still win: simply enter a comment on our thread to be entered! Only one entry per person. If you’ve won a Second Disc giveaway in the last 60 days, you are ineligible for this contest. Remember, BOTH FB pages must be “LIKED” and a comment left on our page in order to win!
Don’t have Facebook? We’re not leaving you out in the cold! Just send an e-mail to theseconddisc AT gmail DOT com with the subject line “FOUL PLAY” plus your name and mailing address, and you’ll also be entered to win!
The contest ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on the evening of Sunday, September 18, at which time 10 random winners will be selected. Contest open to all. Only one entry per person either via Facebook or email. All winners at sole discretion of The Second Disc. U.S. residents only, please. This contest is NOT affiliated with or endorsed by Facebook. Winner will be notified later in the week of September 19 via Facebook and The Second Disc, so remember to check back! Good luck!
Foul Play and Seasons are available now at the links below!
- Ready to Take a Chance Again – Barry Manilow
- Beware of the Dwarf
- Love Theme – Instrumental (Ready to Take a Chance Again)
- Copacabana – Barry Manilow (from Even Now, Arista AB 4164, 1978)
- Gloria Falls for Trap
- Foul Play – Disco
- Gloria Escapes
- Houseboat (Love Theme)
- Get Me to the Opera on Time
- End Title (Ready to Take a Chance Again) – Barry Manilow
- Foul Play – Main Title (Television Show) (Bonus Track)
- My Fair Share – featuring Seals & Crofts
- Killing Me Softly with His Song
- And the Feeling’s Good
- Ready to Take a Chance Again
- Elusive Blue
- I Need You Now
- Pachelbel’s Canon in D Major
- Killing Me Softly with His Song (previously unreleased, live 2015) – with Eddie Daniels and the Harlem String Quartet