Bonanza/David Rose

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

Track listing

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

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