Mark Doyle Talks About The Songs On
Watching the Detectives: Guitar Noir III

1) Detectives Medley
Once I decided on the concept for the new record, I of course had to do Elvis Costello's "Watching the Detectives" since it was going to be the title of the album and would be the perfect gateway into the rest of the songs. Rather than his reggae feel, I opted for a more impressionistic take, mainly focusing on the opening riff. Irving Szathmary's theme from "Get Smart" follows, given a bit of a Gary Glitter groove from drummer Josh Dekaney. That leads into Nelson Riddle's amazing theme from "The Untouchables," which took me about 3 days to figure out! Just an amazing piece of music, so much drama. The 3-part harmony guitars on the bridges were inspired by Brian May after watching the Bohemian Rhapsody movie.
Guitars: Dan Dishaw Custom. Amps: 1963 Vox AC-30.

2) Kojak Theme
Some of these shows had different themes for each season. I picked the one that I remembered best. I altered the feel, some of the chords, and added the middle solo section. Another thing that I began to notice was that the themes on the shows had to be very short so were sometimes edited in unusual or incomprehensible ways, so a search for the lp versions was necessary. Even then, some things had to be put into a form that made more sense, at least to me. Irving Goldenberg was the composer.
Guitars: 1954 Fender Strat. Amps: 1963 Vox AC-30.

3) Man From U.N.C.L.E.
A really fun track to do. It was the last thing I recorded, just to balance the record out after I started thinking there were too many slow songs. Once again, the form to this was really odd, probably because of TV editing, so I had to even it out a bit. I was using a temporary "Gypsy Bossa" loop when I arranged it on the demo, and Josh kept the flavor while adding his own thing. Josh knows a lot about Brazilian music - his wife is from there and he speaks Portugese. So when he pointed out that my original clave part crossed with the drums in a way that was frowned upon in those circles, I thought I'd better listen to him and redid the clave part. Jerry Goldsmith wrote the theme, which changed each season. I picked the one that Lalo Schifrin arranged because of the groovy Austin Powers bongoes!
Guitars: 1954 Fender Strat. Amps: 1963 Vox AC-30.

4) Lost Letter
One of my earliest influences was Andre Previn, both as a pianist and string arranger. This song was on one of the first albums I ever bought - Previn's Thinking of You on Columbia. It's his tune, a noir beauty. I was working on it the day I heard of his passing. I was deeply saddened but also heartened to bear witness to the fact that his music lives on forever. RIP Maestro.
Guitars: Dan Dishaw Custom. Amps: 1963 Vox AC-30.

5) Johnny Staccato
Absolutely amazing piece of music by Elmer Bernstein. Lots of meter and tempo changes. I figured out a way to rock out the 5/4 main part of the theme with some jungle Glitter drums again (may as well make it a recurring theme, right?) 4-part harmony guitars, a la "Nightmare" from In Dreams. The cool thing about Johnny Staccato, played by John Cassavetes, was that he was a jazz piano-playing detective.
Guitars: Dan Dishaw Custom. Amps: 1963 Vox AC-30.

6) America Drinks and Goes Home
Okay, this has nothing to do with the concept, other than that most detectives were portrayed as hard-drinking womanizers. This is a Frank Zappa piece from Absolutely Free. I had always thought that the changes were beautiful but because he did it as such a lounge lizard send-up, most people missed it (although Woody Herman did a kickin' up-tempo big band version.) I arranged it as a ballad. I had been listening to a lot of Jacob Collier and wanted to do the beginning as multi-tracked vocals, but because the lyrics are really so absurd it just didn't work. I did incorporate the whole vocal arrangement I did with all of the moving inner voicings, but assigned it to two guitars. After the rubato intro, it moves into a jazz quartet and another tip of the fedora to one of my heroes, Jim Hall.
Guitars: Dan Dishaw Custom (rubato intro), then Gibson ES-335. Amps: Roland Jazz Chorus 1-12 Combo (rubato intro) then Marshall JCM800 2203.

7) Thirteen Crimes
I had run out of themes that I thought would work (and believe me I looked) so buckled down to compose this one. I remember watching Escape at Dannemora with my wife Liz and when I saw him burrowing through the tunnel and heard that tense, odd-time signature music creating all of that tension, I jumped up and ran into my room and started composing. It became a really epic undertaking that spanned a few long days and nights, but was worth it in the end. Very challenging string arrangement too - props to all of the great string players, especially Kate LaVerne on cello. That part is not for the faint of heart.
Guitars: Dan Dishaw Custom. Amps: 1963 Vox AC-30.

8) Noir Alley
Another original, stripped down to just a 5-piece band with no strings. The beloved theremin makes a return visit on the bridge.
Guitars: Dan Dishaw Custom. Amps: Vox AC-30 Heritage Series, hand-wired.

9) It Takes a Thief
Dave Grusin composed it, a beautiful piece. Thanks to John D'Angelo for suggesting it to me. The strings once again do a great job on this. Kudos to the whole section: Ally Brown, Shelby Dems, Jonathan Hwang and Joe Davoli on violins and the afore-mentioned Kate LaVerne on cello.
Guitars: Dan Dishaw Custom. Amps: Vox AC-30 Heritage Series, hand-wired, and 1963 Vox AC-30.

10) Everytime
Just a gorgeous song by one of my favorite new artists, Louis Cole. Once again, this has nothing to do with the concept. It and "America Drinks..." were the first things I recorded, but they both were too hard to let go of. The original Guitar Noir was known to wander off concept as well, haha.
Guitars: Dan Dishaw Custom. Amps: 1963 Vox AC-30.

So there you have it. I should mention that this album commemorates 20 years since the original Guitar Noir was released. And I want to thank Jocko Randall for the mixes and mastering, and Andrew Greacen and Steve Brown for additional engineering.

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