Sherlock Holmes: Notti de Terrore / Repulsione (1966)
Johnny Scott / Chico Hamilton

  1. Sophisticated Thrilling [a.k.a. Carol’s Walk] (Chico Hamilton)
  2. …Seduzioni al buio [a.k.a. Seduction In The Dark] Chico Hamilton)
  3. Languida morbosità [a.k.a. Languid Morbosity] (Chico Hamilton)
  4. Repulsione notturna [a.k.a. Repulsion Nocturne] Chico Hamilton)

Jimmy Woods or John Scott – alto sax, flute
Gabor Szabo or Dick Abell – guitar
Albert Stinson or Spike Heathley – bass
Chico Hamilton – drums

Conducted by Chico Hamilton
Orchestrated by Gabor Szabo

Recorded October 1964 in London

1 to 4 issued on LP in 1966 on CAM AMG-1 [LP] (other titles without Gabor Szabo)
1 to 4 issued on CD in 2008 as Harkit HRKCD 8246 (also including one title, “Carol’s Walk” from Chico Chic Chico – other titles without Gabor Szabo)

Roman Polanski’s film Repulsion opened in London in June 1965. The following year, the Italian CAM label issued four brief cues said to be from Chico Hamilton’s soundtrack to the movie, paired with a soundtrack to the 1965 film A Study in Terror by John Scott – who, incidentally, appears uncredited on Repulsion.

In 2008, the British Harkit label paired Hamilton’s soundtrack to Repulsion – only adequately sourced from the original CAM release – with Hamilton’s 1957 soundtrack to Sweet Smell Of Success (without Szabo), adding “Carol’s Walk,” the Hamilton band’s re-recording of “Sophisticated Thrilling” from the 1965 Chic Chic Chico album (which has never appeared on CD or streaming).

These recordings are hardly a good – or even fair – representation of the Repulsion soundtrack. It is evident that neither the film’s director nor the soundtrack’s composer were consulted on this presentation. Even more likely is that someone who hadn’t seen or known much about Repulsion in the first place was charged with putting this version of the soundtrack out.

Of the four tracks here, only “Sophisticated Thrilling” and “Languid Morbosity” scratch the surface of the music heard in the movie. “Seduction In The Dark” and “Repulsion Nocturne” – both simple blues – are not even heard in the film.

The focus seems to have been to deliver the most jazz-like, even song-like pieces. This was pretty standard practice at the time. Composers of the day, notably Henry Mancini, often re-recorded their film scores as song-like soundtracks, melodious records that could stand without the visuals of the film.

Any effort to deliver a film’s brief cues or musical and atonal expressions of emotion (or mood enhancement) on record would never have made it on a record at the time (this would come years later on “complete score” CD presentations of soundtracks by companies such as Film Score Monthly).

A number of issues, however, remain obscure here.

First, it’s unclear if or just how much Chico Hamilton’s American musicians – in London to back Lena Horne at The Talk Of The Town at the time – participate here. British musicians, such as John Scott, are known to have been on these recordings.

Hamilton is likewise credited as the sole composer while guitarist Gabor Szabo is prominently credited in the film as “orchestrator.” That, too, obscures Szabo’s true participation on the soundtrack: how much of the guitar heard here was his and how much of his orchestration counts as composition. Interestingly, Repulsion is a subject Szabo was neither asked about nor commented upon.

Also, it’s not clear whether a better, more complete soundtrack release of Repulsion is even possible – or whether any specialty label (like the Spanish Quartet Records) would be willing to take on such a project.

Surely, Hamilton recorded more music than is heard on either one of these discs. But it’s fair to comment on what is here:

– The first 1:17 of “Sophisticated Thrilling,” which is more aptly (and correctly) titled “Carol’s Walk,” is heard at the 00:04:04-00:05:17 point in the film (Carol walking down the street the first time). At the 1:18 point of the song, the theme merely repeats itself.

– Approximately 29 seconds into “Languid Morbosity” begins the cue heard at the 00:25:22-00:27:08 point in the film (Carol walking down the street a second time).

What was left out? Plenty. But in all fairness, it doesn’t amount to much in the way of fully formed “songs” as the above two titles do.

As evidenced by the final film, Hamilton provided little more than incidental music. Polanski seems to have limited or curtailed much of the “melody” or jazzy swinging Hamilton may have wanted to bring to the film. This is what ended up in the final film:

– Main Titles – drums (00:00:01-00:01:38)
– Carol daydreaming – solo flute (2 = 00:01:39-00:02:32, 00:07:49-00:08:04)
– Piano scales played in another apartment (3 = 00:22:39-00:23:39, 00:31:26-00:32:00, 01:03:55-01:06:26)
– Street musicians (2 = 00:29:49-00:30:40, 01:14:42-01:15:40)
– Carol’s rapid-fire unraveling (3 = 00:32:04-00:32:26, 00:47:56-00:48:35, 01:24:35-01:25:12)
– “Shock” cues (4= 00:45:04, 00:54:32, 00:56:43, 01:06:36)
– Carol walking – drums (00:59:33-01:00:27)
– Clay walls (01:02:06-01:02:26)
– Surreal apartment (2 = 01:12:20-01:13:42, 01:29:25-01:30:42)
– Carol dazed – bowed bass solo (01:25:34-01:27:11)
– Carol’s imaginary rape (01:28:42-01:28:54)
– End Titles (01:38:25:01:39:59) – bells, ticking clocks and Carol’s humming are not noted here as “soundtrack” items.

These Repulsion “soundtracks” are nowhere near definitive in any sense, But they’re the only ones likely to be made available – so don’t wait around for something better. This is probably it.

My original notes (as reproduced in the Harkit CD):

Film credits indicate Hamilton is the composer and conductor and Szabo “orchestrated.” Personnel detailed by British jazz critic Brian Priestly, who indicates this group was accompanying Lena Horne at the Talk of the Town club in London at the time of this recording. While Hamilton insists personnel are British musicians, an interesting article in the September 26, 1964, issue of Melody Maker (“The Group Jazz Fans Can’t Hear”) bears out Priestly’s claims. According to the article, Hamilton was unsuccessfully seeking performance opportunities for his quartet after finishing obligations to Ms. Horne in London. Szabo’s participation, however, is not in dispute.

The Melody Maker article went on to poll each group member about the current state of jazz and his feelings about the Hamilton experience. Szabo commented that jazz was enjoying a healthy state, spurred by “a revolution” in which brave warriors, such as Ornette Coleman, were bound to make enemies. “When I was studying at Berklee,” he added in discussing his own role, “I got the feeling I couldn’t play the instrument at all, because I could not use my own things as they didn’t fit any set pattern. When I joined Chico, he helped me immensely to develop my own style. He never forced me in any set way. At all times, he encouraged me to be myself on the instrument.”