November 27, 2006
The 1958 film starring Jimmy Stewart, Jack Lemmon, Kim Novak, Ernie Kovacs, and Elsa Lanchester was a relative success at the box office. Directed by Richard Quine, who was right home with the romantic comedy genre having just completed “Operation Madball”, also with Lemmon and Kovacs and would go on to do “Paris-When It Sizzles” and “How To Murder Your Wife”. It is a story about witches, warlocks, spells, and falling in love. Had Kovacs not suffered the tragic auto accident it could have been the team of Kovacs and Lemmon instead of Lemmon and Matthau as Ernie and Jack worked very well together and seemed to have the right kind of chemistry.
George Duning, even among soundtrack collector enthusiasts, is not considered an ‘A’ list composer, in fact some of you haven’t heard of him at all! Did you know for example that he was nominated for a Golden Globe for the 1949 version of “All The Kings Men”? Oscar nominations for “From Here To Eternity”, “Picnic”, and “The Eddie Duchin Story” among others? To many of you he has just slipped in under the radar.
The Main Title to the film is a light and bouncy theme quite typical of the style of music used for a comedy in the era with bongos, percussion, trumpets (Candoli brothers), and the lush strings when appropriate. It is a great light jazz/lounge/elevator theme and if that is your cup of tea you will really enjoy this CD. Keep in mind that some of the old school composers were slowing down and up and coming ones such as Williams, Mancini, Mandel, Hefti, and Riddle were producing a completely different style of music. Some of the more interesting (15) tracks are “Way Out Calypso” a nice track featuring the Candoli brothers, “The Spell” which is another arrangement of the main title with humming done in the background by Julie London. “The Herb Shop” is a true underscore piece with sliding trombones, plunky percussion along with the appropriate strings. After a bit it slides into the main theme again with a full string treatment of it. “Pyewacket Returns” is a pretty cool underscore track that almost sounds like it could have been written for a cartoon! I guess you have to be French to truly appreciate “L’Assassin Ennuye” sung by Philippe Clay because it was nothing that this reviewer could get into at all. “Zodiac Blue” is a blues number featuring harpsichord, bongos, and the Candoli trumpets again in a light jazz number.
This recording was taken from the original 1959 Colpix mono pressing so don’t expect to hear glorious wide dynamic range, hiss free, stereo material. There are some flaws which upon repeated listens you can hear right past. The liner notes, pictures and artwork are fine. My issue with the soundtrack is the repeated use of the main theme over and over again. But that can also be said about Mancini’s “Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation” and many other scores of this era. If you enjoy the light jazz (no improvisation), want an introduction to George Duning, or something to dance to from time to time this is right up your alley.
Golden Scores Rating is **1/2
Restoration by Art Yard
Produced by Daniel Porter
CD# is HRKCD 8099
1. Bell, Book And Candle – Main Title (2:25)
2. Pyewacket/Queenie/Gil (2:59)
3. Send Me Nicky (2:06)
4. Way Out Calypso (1:54)
5. Stormy Weather (1:54)
6. The Spell (5:23)
7. The Herb Shop (2:40)
8. I Wish I Could (3:34)
9. Shep Shook (2:02)
10. Where’s Pyewacket (2:19)
11. Pyewacket Returns (2:07)
12. L’Assassin Ennuyé (1:03)
13. Zodiac Serenade (2:20)
14. Zodiac Blues (2:16)
15. Only Human – End Title (4:16)
Total Playing Time is 39:12
November 27, 2006
Bonanza was a big deal for early color television! Some very fond memories of going over to my girl friends house on Sunday evening and watching the program in color because we only had a black and white television. While David Rose did write a theme for Bonanza it wasn’t until much later on and the theme that is presented on this CD both as an instrumental and a vocal sung by none other than Lorne Greene was written by the dynamic duo of Livingston and Evans. With 430 episodes shot the 11 tracks that Rose selected and recorded with his concert orchestra are a nice representation of just some of the music from the series. Rose, who made a name for himself with “Holiday for Strings” and “The Stripper”, gives us quite a diverse package of material to listen to some of which is going to be a pleasant surprise for you. Don’t expect everything to sound western sounding because you may be disappointed!
The “Main Title” is a trademark song that is as recognizable as the coke theme and conjures up the west in fine fashion. As an aside I have had the opportunity to visit some of the location shooting in Virginia City which is not too far from Carson City the capitol of Nevada. It conjured up thoughts of Ben, Adam, Hoss, and Little Joe. This particular arrangement is slightly different from the original material as I recall but uses the clopping percussion, electric guitar, and brass nicely. Also keep in mind that themes were usually one minute or less so it would have to be a little bit different. “Journey of the Hopefuls” has a typical western fanfare but then evolves itself into a nice theme which sounds like (not sure) some wagon train style music about a group traveling west hoping to make it to their destination. “Hoss” is a perfect example of a leitmotif! It is a slow, lumbering, easy going melody that depicts the character perfectly in the series. For those of you not familiar, Dan Blocker was as large as a NFL linemen! It is a theme that you will remember and hear if you have a chance to watch the series. The theme is complemented by the vibraphone quite nicely an example of why Rose used his concert orchestra to complement the material. “Annie O’Toole” is a Irish melody in the typical fashion which starts slowly but evolves itself into a nice jig. “Gypsy” has the yearning feeling but also features a romantic acoustic guitar, adding to the flavor of the track. “Ponderosa” has me completely stumped as it just seems out of place. It is a thoughtful romantic theme reminding you of an interlude with a picnic lunch on a blanket under a cool shade tree. Very nice but no hint it came from a western! “Hoedown at Virginia City” is a get your partner and dance complete with a little yipping and hollering in the background. “Balloon Riders”, like “Ponderosa” seems a bit out of place, but you can feel the comfort and soaring in the air from the track. “Horseless Carriage” sounds like a cool little spinoff of the song “My Merry Oldsmobile” with some interesting clacking percussion in the background. “Fury in Old Mexico” has the feel of the Spanish influence in a nice track with castinets, yearning violins, well developed in the four minute time frame. Lorne Greene sings the words on the last track to “Bonanza”. The words are many (too much) and well the instrumental is certainly a lot better. Gee I wonder why the vocal was never used in the series! For nostalgia it is nice to have but one can program to just listen to the first 12 tracks.
As a basic introduction to David Rose this would be a nice addition to your collection, a composer who is likely sorely under represented in your collection. “Bonanza” is not only nice from a nostalgia aspect but it has some pretty nice music in it waiting to be explored. Rose had a comment one time to another composer Henry Mancini as they were passing by each other in their boats saying “Hank, aren’t you glad you practiced?”. Recommended.
Golden Scores rating is (***)
CD# is Harkit HRKCD 8231
Released in 2006
Restoration, Editing, Remastering by Peter Rynston
1. Bonanza – Main Theme (1:40)
2. Journey Of The Hopefuls (2:57)
3. Hoss (2:27)
4. Annie O’Toole (2:41)
5. Gypsy (2:57)
6. Ponderosa (3:23)
7. Hoe Down At Virginia City (1:38)
8. The Balloon Riders (2:47)
9. Legend Of Sam Hill (4:18)
10. Silent Thunder (2:06)
11. Horseless Carriage (1:55)
12. Fury In Old Mexico (3:54)
13. Bonanza (1:52)
vocal by Lorne Greene
Total Time is 35:16
November 20, 2006
In my mind the name Mark Snow immediately conjures up the wildly successful television show “X-Files” and the 200+ episodes he scored. Then television shows like “Smallville”, “Millenium”, “Starsky and Hutch” and so many others that you think of him as the best of the ‘A’ list composers for television. The John Williams of television comes to mind and I don’t mean he sounds like him is just at the top of the list. So when this demo recording came across the desk for a film by Alain “Hiroshima Mon Amour” Resnais called “Hearts”, a story about six lonely people and how they are connected, the intrigue becomes even more mysterious. Originally written as a play by Sir Alan Ayckbourn (Private Fears In Public Places), it stars Sabine Azema and Lambert Wilson. Why is Mark Snow doing a french film? Does he have a connection to Resnais? I think the answer to the question lies in the fact that Resnais has been a fan of Snow and approached him on doing the film which Mark accepted.
The material on the demo is a scant 21 minutes but the main theme is one of the very best from this year! It is written for piano with a small string section providing the harmony for the very french sounding composition, highly amorous in nature. To add to the setting there is a short but effective accordian solo enhancing the melody. It is approximately a 3 1/2 minute theme which is the first and the final track. Since there is no track listing provided I can only guess that it is the main theme and the end titles. But the theme itself instantly conjures up the outdoor cafe in Paris with two people gazing into each others eyes, obviously in love.
The remaining (9) tracks are pretty much all underscore with more emphasis on the use of the synthesizer almost as a special effects device. One of the tracks sounds like it is some sort of bad dream sequence. Their is a despair and sadness in a couple of the tracks as Mark uses the violins and accordians to achieve the desired effect. The main theme is repeated in another track but this time with an uptempo beat giving it a feeling of happiness being on the way. There is a bit of Thomas Newman sounding material (the style he developed and is known for).
Overall, it is a french sounding score for a french film with enough of that Mark Snow style in some of the underscore tracks to make it a very interesting twist. As stated earlier the main theme is one of the best ones I have heard in 2006. The question to ponder at this point is an official release of the material. At the time of this writing there are no plans to produce a CD. It’s a shame because this is worthy of a release.
November 17, 2006
In 1947, the year of the release of “The Ghost And Mrs. Muir”, Herrmann’s fine score failed to receive even a nomination as again the competition was quite fierce that year with nominations being given to “The Bishop’s Wife” (Friedhofer), “Captain From Castile” (Newman), “A Double Life” (Rosza), “Life With Father” (Steiner), and “Forever Amber” (Raksin). The eventual winner, “A Double Life” has still yet to be given a complete release, but that is another story, a long one. Herrmann was more or less still getting started in Hollywood having only done (5) credited pictures from 1941-1947, along with at least two where he was uncredited. The film scores he did do were quite well received and extremely varied ranging from “Citizen Kane” to “Devil and Daniel Webster” to “Jane Eyre” to “Hangover Square” and “Anna and the King of Siam”. Joseph Mankiewicz, the fine director, had yet to achieve his Oscars for “Letters To Three Wives” and “All About Eve” but this picture proved to be a success vaulting Joseph onward and upward. The film is a warm sentimental story about a ghost, a cottage and falling in love as a result. It stars Rex Harrison, Gene Tierney, and George Sanders.
Let’s set the record straight on something and that is this is one of if not the most romantic score from the pen of Bernard Herrmann. But don’t expect to hear something romantic sounding like Alfred Newman, Max Steiner, or Dimitri Tiomkin would have written. This isn’t the same kind of romantic theme like a “Wuthering Heights”, “Now, Voyager”, or a lush sentimental playing of “The Green Leaves of Summer”. On the otherhand, Bernard used a fairly typical orchestra (no 9 flutes or harps) and it has a traditional sound with the exception of a contrabass clarinet and two bass clarinets which are used throughout the score. The “Prelude” gives you the three main themes which are used. The sea, the haunted cottage, and Mrs. Muir’s (Gene Tierney) theme. “Bedtime” gives us a wonderful sea chanty which is associated with Captain Gregg (Rex Harrison) and is also used in “Poetry”. “Romance” and “Love” written as an adagio is likely as romantic as Herrmann ever got. This is one time where there is a little bit of swelling up inside, a lump in your throat, a tear to your eye. But you don’t have to wait too long before the romance with Miles (George Sanders) is broken and the music changes to one of more despair in “Sorrow” and then the ever relentless sea comes back in an almost dissonant disturbing form in “The Passing Years”. The final track “Forever” is a track that reunites the couple after Mrs. Muir has passed on. A nice use of her theme again. Herrmann repeats himself as he always has but not nearly as much as in other scores. And yes it sounds like Herrmann in many parts but in other parts he has pulled himself in and he is a lot more traditional than he had ever been before. It was like he caved in to the demands of the hollywood scene!
Overall this reviewer was quite impressed with the woodwind playing and performance in particular. Nice sounding clarinet and bassoon solos, along with some nice harp in a couple of sections. The 42 minute out of a possible 52 minutes is close enough to being complete. This CD is one in the set that has been released on Varese Sarabande and though it is out of print there are still copies to be found if one searches around a bit. Even so this is an entry in the Box that is a step above some of the others and comes highly recommended.
Golden Score Rating is (****)
1. Prelude/Local Train/The Sea (03:59)
2. The Ghost/The Storm/The Apparition (04:43)
3. The Lights/Bedtime (02:51)
4. Poetry (02:20)
5. Lucia/Dictation/Boyhood’s End/Pastoral (03:53)
6. Nocturne (02:52)
7. London/The Reading/Local Train (02:34)
8. The Spring Sea (04:51)
9. Romance/Love/Farewell (05:15)
10. The Home/Sorrow (03:17)
11. The Passing Years/The Late Sea (02:53)
12. Forever (02:40)
Total Duration: 00:42:08
Engineered by Richard Lewzey
Original Release is in 1975
November 15, 2006
The story of a monastery cook deciding to become a wrestler to win money to purchase better ingredients for the food he prepares for orphans so they can eat better and at the same time impress a sister is in a word silly. However, given the popularity of Jack Black, the Jared “Napolean Dynamite” Hess directed film has done over 80 million at the box-office and that doesn’t include dvd sales! When all the figures are in the film will have done three times the budget, something which few are complaining about.
The film score was not without a bit of controversy as there ended up being a cooperative effort between Beck and Danny Elfman. Danny, at one point, wanted his name removed from the credits when he found out Beck was sharing the billing with him. Apparently Danny wanted all of the billing because he did most of the soundtrack at the request of Paramount and against the wishes of the director Hess who really wanted Beck to do the score. Sounds more of a he said she said scenario which eventually resulted in a song cd consisting of one Elfman track along with two Beck selections. Both got billing in the credits. As of this writing there is no score CD and no plans that this reviewer is aware of to release one.
“Move, Move, Move” is an organ sounding keyboard instrumental track from Alan Parker and Alan Hawkshaw and is quite reminiscent of a Jimmy Smith jazz track from the 60’s. In addition to the keyboard it features some nice harmony from the guitar, bass, and drums. “10,000 Pesos” is a nice acoustic guitar strumming track with assistance from some humming, another guitar and percussion. “Tender Beasts Of The Spangled Night” is a flamenco style guitar piece, also from Beck, with some vibraphone assistance. It is complete with the castanets to give it a very nice spanish flavor. “Ramses Suite” is the lonely entry from Elfman but quite a nice spanish flavor with far superior orchestration to any of the other compositions on the CD. It features nice percussion, brass, accordian, and sax. “Black is Black”, originally recorded by Los Bravos in 1966, and sung on this recording by Eddie Santiago had the flavor of the film, but just lacked that spark of the Gene Pitney sounding platter. While listening to it my brain kept remembering the original song which reached #4 on the charts in 66. Many of you, not necessarily soundtrack enthusiasts, will enjoy “Religious Man” from Mr. Loco, and “Forbidden Nectar” sung by none other than Jack Black himself! Also included on the soundtrack is dialogue from the movie itself so beware if all of a sudden someone starts talking. There is nothing wrong with your CD player!
“Nacho Libre” is one of those films that will never win an Oscar or even a hint of a nomination. The same holds true for the soundtrack. On the otherhand, while doing the research for it, the amount of interest is incredible! This mostly song/soundtrack is going to fall into the category of if you enjoy the film you will really like the soundtrack, in fact you have been waiting for it to come out and were surprised when Paramount/Lakeshore failed to release it with the film in June. Since this soundtrack is available on iTunes it is possible to just download the Elfman piece only if you are a serious fan of Danny.
November 13, 2006
One of the more forgotten composers of the golden age was Herbert Stothart and this reviewer is quick to point out he is just as guilty as most of you are! Yet for a long period of time Herbert was MGM music amassing 11 Oscar nominations in an (8) year period of time with one Oscar for “The Wizard Of Oz”. Put Herbert in the same category as Leigh Harline who wrote the famous “When You Wish Upon A Star”. If people remember him at all it is for that song. And yet Herbert did so much more than just the music to one of the top movies of all time. Put Herbert in the same category as Roy Webb basically ignored until Lukas (owner of Film Score Monthly who released this) took a chance and brought out two of his more famous films “Random Harvest” and “The Yearling”. While “Random Harvest” (1942) was nominated for music that year for an Oscar (6 others too) it had to compete against “Jungle Book” (Rozsa), “The Black Swan”, (Newman) and the winner “Now, Voyager” (Steiner).
“Random Harvest” was written by James Hilton who was one of the writers of the time having done “Lost Horizon”, “Mrs. Miniver”, and “Goodbye Mr Chips” among others. It was an interesting story but still of the soap opera variety starring Ronald Coleman and Greer Garson, being directed by Mervin LeRoy (an ‘A’ list director). Herbert approached the score in a somewhat different fashion, especially for the day, and that was most of his soundtrack was underscore and not the kind that Steiner or Korngold might have created. Stothart, in addition to original material, used a series of marches, hymns, and songs such as O Perfect Love (used several times), music from Ninotchka, and the Robert Burns song Coming Through the Rye incorporating them into his score. The love theme in the “Finale” and the “Opening Title”, again according to his strategy of not interfering with the drama, is still more than enough to enhance the glorious happy ending of the film as well as being used throughout the film as a leitmotif of sorts for Smithy and Paula. Herbert also created an interesting theme for this key (referred to in the score as key theme), the main character carries in his vest, but is unsure what it fits. There is a nice mysterious track “Asylum”, full of mystery and intrigue, a piano player sounding “Addenda to her Decision”, which actually comes from a Kaper film “The Captain is a Lady”. In the bonus section of the CD is a Harry Lauder song She’s Ma Daisy performed by Greer Garson in the film and done quite well.
“The Yearling” is another very interesting score in that Stothart takes a wonderful theme from the classical composer Frederick Delius called Appalachia: Variations on an Old Slave Song and orchestrates and arranges it to become the main theme of the film. The tribute to Herbert is how he was able to take the Delius theme and yet incorporate his original material into the underscore and also keep the music secondary to the drama that was unfolding on the screen and at the same time make all of the material sound similiar! Credit to Delius was given in the showing of the main titles, although the particular work was not recognized that the theme was taken from. The film starred Gregory Peck, Jane Wyman, and a 10 year old Claude Jarman Jr. (his only picture of any note) and was directed by the veteran Clarence Brown. Peck, Wyman, Brown and the picture were nominated for Oscars but 46 was the year of “The Best Years of our Lives” which ran away with everything. The Pulitzer prize winning Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings novel is also a book that can come highly recommended and along with the film are lessons that young adults can certainly benefit from by reading and watching.
Many of the underscore tracks such as “A Farmer Comes to Town” (traveling in a cart), “Birds And Angels” (somewhat celestial), “The Sun” (music after a hard hard rain), and “Material For A New Dress” (sentimental) all show the diversity of the different scenes in the film and how they were properly scored. The bonus material is a nice addition for both scores especially “The Yearling”. It is really interesting to be able to compare the differences in the opening title versions and its really evident as to why one is chosen over the long/alternate version.
This score overall needs to be considered as a preservation project as well as an opportunity to listen to Stothart for many of you for the very first time. In the liner notes is a detailed explanation as to the overall condition of the material (let’s just say it is a miracle they recovered what they did) and what to expect. If you think your expensive surround system is going to fix the material please don’t waste your time or money on this release. You need to listen through the flaws and enjoy the music for what it is. The liner notes from Marilee Bradford (Mrs. Jon Burlingame) are not only informative but much easier to read and understand than some previous detailed notes which really make you feel like you should be a musician in order to be able to purchase the cd! The 3000 limited pressing is one that you should keep in the back of your mind because likely one day they will run out of it. The printing on the cd itself of my copy looks like an old polaroid black and white print which has been in the light for too long. Part of it can no longer be read! Nothing to worry about because it has no effect on the CD itself as it has been listened to at least 20 times already. Give a hand to Kendall, Schwartz, and Bradford for a job well done and support this by ordering it! Recommended.
Golden Scores Rating (***1/2)
Produced by Lukas Kendall
Released in October 2006
Remix by Michael McDonald
Mastered by Doug Schwartz
CD# is FSM Vol. 9 No. 13
1. Opening Title & Asylum (03:05)
2. Addenda to Her Decision (02:01)
3. Little Marriage (01:03)
4. Kitty Continued/Kitty Grows Up (03:28)
5. At the Savoy/Dreams at the Savoy (04:32)
6. Voice That Breathed O’er Eden/Wedding Remembrance (O Perfect Love)/Someone You Once Knew (05:38)
7. Prime Minister Reception (01:28)
8. Try to Remember/Finale (07:31)
RANDOM HARVEST (1942) tracks 1-8 (total time 29’07)
9. Opening Title/Foreword/April 1878 (06:31)
10. Addenda to Feelin’ the Sun (00:39)
11. Crippled Boy (01:07)
12. Birds and Angels (01:35)
13. A Farmer Comes to Town (01:32)
14. What Happened to You (01:15)
15. Material for a New Dress (00:34)
16. Obliged to Make It (02:26)
17. It’s Me! Jody! (08:15)
18. To Find a Name (04:33)
19. Thy Will Be Done (01:13)
20. The Sun (01:00)
21. Little Farmer (02:08)
22. Ma, I’m Hungry (02:28)
23. Mother & End Title (alternate version)/Addendum (02:47)
THE YEARLING (1946) tracks 9-23 (total time 33’41)
24. Title Fanfare/Opening Title (instrumental)/Foreword (long version) (02:19)
25. Fawn Ballet Chorus Addenda (01:43)
26. Thy Will Be Done (alternate mix) (01:15)
27. Hungry (insert — revised vocal) (00:44)
28. Mother & End Title (alternate fragments) (00:49)
24-28 The Yearling bonus tracks
29. Opening Title & Asylum (instrumental) (03:05)
30. Tobacco Shop Meeting/Medley/Leaving Biffers (incomplete mixes) (02:57)
31. She Is Ma Daisy (source music) (02:19)
29-31 Random Harvest bonus track
Total Duration: 01:22:00
November 10, 2006
“Nativity Story” follows the lives of the Virgin Mary and Joseph two years prior to the birth of Jesus and for a period of time afterwards. It stars Keisha “Whale Rider” Castle-Hughes, Shohreh “House of Sand and Fog” Aghdashloo, and Oscar Isaac. Screenplay is by Mike Rich who worked on “Radio” and “The Rookie” and it is directed by a relative newcomer Catherine Hardwicke. Great pains are being taken so that christian families will be able to watch and enjoy this film over the holiday season. While likely no one group will ever be 100% satisfied Protestant, Jewish, and Catholic theologians have been consulted by Rich nearly every step of the way.
Mychael, was offered the opportunity to score based on his “ethnic soup” image he has established over the years for films such as “Little Miss Sunshine”, “8MM”, “Ride With The Devil”, and “The Sweet Hereafter”. Danna approached the project in a different way than Gabriel (“The Last Temptation of Christ”), Debney (“The Passion of Christ”), and brother Jeff who did (“The Gospel of John”) by looking at how the Nativity changed Europe through the growing of Christianity. Since he decided that it wasn’t going to have the middle eastern flavor but more of the renaissance period and middle ages of Europe he uses recorders and viols along with Gregorian chants. Because the Romans destroyed what material there was in 70AD we really don’t know what the music sounded like.
One of the really cool things about this score is how cleverly Mychael makes use of some of the traditional Christmas carols. An excellent example of this is in the track I’ve Broken No Vow a soft tranquil adagio theme which hints at “What Child Is This”. Silens Nox offers a nice version of “Silent Night” sung in Latin by a full choir. The featured “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” is sung using the original 12th century Latin words. Words of the Prophet is a chant by a male group, Nazareth is a female solo, The Annunciation is female chanting. All are referenced from many melodies hundreds and even thousands of years ago. A track like Why Is It Me is quite moderning sounding (I’m reminded of a golden age composer)-most assuredly thought provoking and moving. Rosa Aeterna Floret, which ends the CD, is also a very nice thought provoking female sung song/chant. Veni, Veni Emanuel which begins with two church bells followed by a short statement of the Emmanuel sung by a male choir and then shifts into some more traditional sounding Danna underscore.
A word of caution! There are two different CD’s for this film, one song and one soundtrack which you can very easily confuse if you are not careful. Both to my knowledge are distributed by New Line and the song CD has already been released. The soundtrack or score CD from Danna is set for December 5, 2006 and the one that has been talked about in this article. As something which is really a fresh new view, yet still working with some of the traditional material it is a nice holiday addition to your collection. This is likely not a CD which is going to get a lot of plays during the year but come the Christmas season it is certainly recommended.