July 29, 2007
Books or at least chapters of ones on horror films always talk about Hammer Film Productions as having produced some of the finest horror movies for the cinema. Having the advantage over Universal of higher budgets as well as color photography they were able to achieve the cult status they have today. This Silva Screen 1989 release has chosen Horror of Dracula, Hands of the Ripper, Dracula Has Risen From The Grave, Vampire Circus, and Taste The Blood of Dracula. The three Dracula films are composed by James Bernard, a master of the terror soundtrack. Like his American counterpoint, Universal horror specialist Hans Salter, James created his sense of terror and suspense without the use of shrieking violins, blaring distorted brass, and any of the newer styles one might hear in a film today. And yes there is a real honest to goodness motif for Dracula that is carried from film to film just like Hans did with the Mummy and Frankenstein monster.
“The Dracula Suite”, taken from one of the first Hammer Productions Horror of Dracula (1958), a story based on the Stoker novel, has enough good music in the 12+ minute suite to be worth more than the price of the CD. Bernard uses a clever combination with the strings and brass to create the “Main Title”, switching the melody back and forth between the two sections. “Funeral In Carpathia” is written in a similiar fashion to a Russian funeral march from Glazunov. “Finale: Confrontation and Climax/The Fall of Dracula” as well as “Dracula’s Rage” has some of the best chase music ever written for the cinema. Bernard inserts the theme into the racing violins as they go faster and faster definitely building up tension! This film is one that is made better by the outstanding soundtrack and is one that should be looked up to as a standard for all horror music.
Christopher Gunning scored Hands of the Ripper (1971) very early on in his career and used a subtle approach for the majority of the score. The “Anna” theme is quite a warm and moving one, almost seeming out of place in this yet another story about the infamous Jack the Ripper.
The David Whitaker score to Vampire Circus (1972) starts with a classical approach but quickly shifts into a more disturbing dissonant style of composing and orchestrating. There is a theme but it is really quite a simple one stated by the brass section and repeated in this “Prologue” track.
Taste The Blood of Dracula (1970) features the theme again but it is in the form of a variation of the theme. The “Romance The Young Lovers/Shadow Of The Tomb” has a beautiful love them which again seems out of place until the very end of the track when that ominous motif yet again appears. “Romance at Dusk” is the love theme again with the flute answering the theme as a bird would before the romance of the strings enters. “The Victory of Love” portrays the theme as a good over evil track ending the 17+ minute suite.
The thing that one needs to be careful with as far as any Silva releases are concerned is there constant use of recycling the material in other compilation releases with other material. It is very easy to get exactly the same material on another compilation so check carefully especially with the 12+ minute “Dracula Suite”. Well worth looking into as part of your collection. Recommended!
Golden Scores Rating (***)
Silva CD # FILMCD 066
Produced by Eric Tomlinson
Engineered by Mike Ross-Trevor
1. The Dracula Suite MAIN THEME (02:15)
2. INSIDE CASTLE DRACULA/THE LURE OF THE VAMPIRE WOMAN/DRACULA’S RAGE (03:05)
3. THE KISS OF LIVING DEATH (02:08)
4. FUNERAL IN CARPATHIA (02:25)
5. FINALE: CONFRONTATION AND CLIMAX/ THE FALL OF DRACULA (02:31)
6. Hands Of The Ripper MAIN TITLES/TRANCE/MRS. GOLDING’S MURDER/ANNA’S THEME (10:33)
7. Dracula Has Risen From The Grave FINALE: DRACULA AND THE CRUCIFIX (05:24)
8. Vampire Circus PROLOGUE (09:15)
9. Taste The Blood Of Dracula THE BLOOD OF DRACULA (02:11)
10. ROMANCE: THE YOUNG LOVERS/SHADOW OF THE TOMB (03:21)
11. RIDE TO THE RUINED CHURCH (02:56)
12. ROMANCE AT DUSK (02:30)
13. DRACULA TRIUMPHANT/PURSUIT/THE DEATH OF LUCY (03:39)
14. THE VICTORY OF LOVE (02:20)
Total Duration: 00:54:33
July 24, 2007
Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops continue to amaze me after listening to them for over 20 years! You would think that after 83 CD’s in genre I couldn’t begin to count, they might be lacking a bit on obtaining fresh and exciting material. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! This 84th release of seafaring film classics called Masters and Commanders offers everything from Captain Blood to Windjammer to selections from the Pirates of the Caribbean films.
It is only fitting and appropriate that the CD begins with “Conquest” from the Alfred Newman composed film Captain from Castile. So popular is this melody, it has gone on to become the fight song for the University of Southern California. While some people don’t realize the name of the movie much less the famous Hollywood composer there are many many who are familiar with the tune. The two Korngold selections from Captain Blood and Sea Hawk are both rip roaring standards we have come to know and appreciate. Above others, Korngold set the bar for the way pirate music should sound. Debney with Cutthroat Island gives us a rousing yet romantic score that is one of those cases where the soundtrack is far superior to the film! The Pirates of the Caribbean series of films starring Johnny Depp, are fast becoming one of the more popular series of all time and they are not forgotten in this compilation with 5 selections from “Dead Man’s Chest” and “The Curse of the Black Pearl” written by Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer two of the new wave of film composers. Especially noteworthy is the track “Jack Sparrow” which starts with a quirky but outstanding cello concerto which is just the prelude to a bombastic track quite typical of Zimmer and his musical style. One of the more underappreciated themes done by Henry Mancini and performed nicely by Kunzel and the Pops is “Arctic Whale Hunt” from The White Dawn. While Henry will always be remembered for Breakfast At Tiffany’s and Days of Wine and Roses he wrote so much more material that is finally being released from smaller companies such as Intrada and Film Score Monthly. The brass section of the Cincinnati Orchestra got quite a workout and seemed to really enjoy playing it! This selection is a fine example of the versatility and unique approach Mancini use to give to every film he worked on. Rarely if ever performances of The Buccaneer, Captains Courageous, and Windjammer are included something likely new for the soundtrack listener. Other than the omission of one of my personal favorites Moby Dick, there is a nice selection of material and no stone was left unturned. The title of the CD is included with a selection by Boccherini performed by the concertmaster Timothy Lees.
Given the rarity of some of the selections and the genre of the material this is one very nice little gem in a compilation release. The hardened soundtrack collector will raise his eyebrows in disgust but it is not for that person anyway. It is nicely recorded in DSD (Direct Stream Digital), engineered, and available as a SACD recording. I wonder what they have up there sleeve for #85?
July 22, 2007
Take a woman master chef, a man chef directly below her, a nine year old niece, and a Manhattan restaurant and you have all the ingredients for a good recipe of fun and laughter in the new Warner Brothers film No Reservations set for nationwide release on July 27th. Directed by Scott Hicks (Shine) and starring Catherine Zeta-Jones (Chicago), Aaron Echkart (Thank You For Smoking), and Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine), the Decca soundtrack is set for release on July 24th.
The soundtrack consists of 14 tracks of which only 3 are original material for the film. “Truffles And Quail” is a quiet upbeat quirky melody performed by a small ensemble. The Conrad Pope composition is primarily turned over to the woodwinds who perform this cartoon material (I’m reminded of a cat) very nicely. “Zoe & Kate Watch Video” and “Zoe Goes To The Restaurant” are Phillip Glass compositions, performed by a small ensemble, conducted by Michael Riesman. They are quite somber in nature, with the piano performing most of the melody and leading the orchestra. If one is familiar with Glass and his style you won’t hear anything new here other than a simple new melody from his pen as it is the same material on both tracks. There are two mambo selections in “Sway” and “Mambo Gelato”, 7 various opera selections including material from Pavarotti and Sutherland. Finally there is an Italian romantic song “Via con me” and a fairly modern song “Count On My Love” from Liz Phair.
Fans of the film and there should be many who will want to relive the film through the music. The soundtrack afficionado might be a bit pressed to get this one as there are only the three original tracks albiet they are good ones.
July 18, 2007
Disturbia in its very first week returned 3 million more than it cost to make and has gone on to gross nearly 95 million dollars at this writing, a nice return from the original 20 million dollar budget. It has done so well that there is already a sequel in the works. Directed by D.J. “Salton Sea” Caruso, the film stars Shia LaBeouf, Sarah Roemer, and David Morse and is essentially a teenage version of Hitchcock’s Rear Window starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly from the 50’s. Even the poster is remotely similiar with both featuring the main star holding binoculars.
Part of the Hans Zimmer Remote Control Group Geoff spent many years being an additional orchestrator, conductor,arranger, and programmer for quite a large number of films before being given this solo assignment as the composer for a moderate budget film. Some of the films he has been associated with include Antz, Chicken Run, K*19 The Widowmaker,The Last Samurai, and Pearl Harbor.
The score is quite typical for the teenage horror/terror film. As far as the film is concerned Geoff did more than an adequate job in keeping you on your seat during the tense times of the film. There is the dissonant horns, swarming, droning, and shrieking all associated with this type of genre. Mixed in with the score material are 12 songs ranging from Lou Rawls to Nada Surf which are not included in the score release but have been given their own separate CD (Lakeshore LKS 33911). Included in the tracks is “Fishing” a wonderful melody featuring the clarinet and later the cello, a romantic departure from much of the score. This one over any others really seems to be totally out of place. In addition there are tracks such as “PooFoot”, and “I Like to Play” which are rock driven instrumentals featuring good guitar playing and strong rhythm. Included in the liner notes is a complete listing of the orchestra as well as the soloists, and additional orchestration.
This is a score that fans of the film (this is a considerable amount) will enjoy, in fact both the song and score releases. Horror fans will likely have little interest in the song CD but will have some interest in the score one. While there is nothing groundbreaking in the score, it is a notch above the norm and there will be more than enough interest to keep the horror fan satisfied.
Lakeshore LKS 339352
1. Disturbia (07:02)2. Fishing (03:52)
3. Poofoot (01:15)
4. Voyeurism (02:35)
5. Every Killer Lives Next Door To Someone (03:35)
6. I Like To Play (01:46)
7. Stealth Ronnie (05:10)
8. Walking Ashley Home (02:01)
9. The Club Girl (02:47)
10. Stalking A Killer (07:15)
11. The Basement Graveyard (08:50)
Total Duration: 00:46:08
July 17, 2007
John Addison will forever be remembered at least in the United States for his memorable theme to the long running television series Murder She Wrote starring Angela Lansbury in a Agatha Christie/Miss Marple style character set in the Northeastern part of the United States. Others who are more familiar with the world of soundtracks will forever remember him as the composer who replaced Bernard Herrmann on the film Torn Curtain. There are a small number who are aware that John won an Oscar for best original score for the film Tom Jones in 1963, a suite which is included in this compilation CD.
Chandos in their continuing movie series, has released a nice compilation of his music performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Rumon Gamba. Addison worked on nearly 100 films or television programs in a
40+ year period of time. This compilation includes 17 different films/ television series ranging from A Bridge Too Far to the obscure science fiction film Strange Invaders and yes his version of Torn Curtain is included albiet a little schmaltzy for my taste. Strange Invaders is quite a suite to say the least taking on a sound one could liken to Frankel or Holst and yet it still has the dissonant disturbing sound of an American score from the 50’s even though it was filmed in 1983. There is a premiere recording of the wonderful theme from the 26 hour special Centennial arranged by Patrick Russ and not very British sounding at all, in fact quite American. I say that only because much of his material is quite the stiff upper lip variety such as A Bridge Too Far, Tom Jones,Touch and Go, and Sleuth. John’s material would fit in quite well on an album of light British music. Light and airy, easy to the ear, and orchestrated exactly like what one would expect to hear for a British film. To this reviewer Addison is the very soul and style of British music. Nothing groundbreaking, but you know what to expect from him, just like Steiner and a Warner Bros. film from the 40’s. Also included are premiere recordings of I Was Monty’s Double, Brandy for the Parson, Touch and Go, and Carlton-Browne of the F.O.
The recording is done concert hall style not the way a soundtrack would be recorded so don’t expect that tight miked sound. Don’t necessarily expect the same tempo that appears in the film either, although as memory serves me Murder She Wrote sounded just like the theme on television. If you have a nice system the 24 bit recordings can give you even greater dynamic range and presence. They have a slighter full sound and this recording is no exception.
Chandos over the years has done the soundtrack collector a huge favor in making available so much material that had never been released before. Chagrin, Black, Parker, and now Addison the list seems to be never ending and this reviewer is already looking forward to the next release. This Addison is a perfect introduction to likely a new composer to your collection you have yet to explore. Recommended!
Golden Scores Rating is ***1/2
Produced by Neil Varley and Ralph Couzens
CD# is CHAN 10418
Total Time is 70:50
Engineered by Ralph Couzens
1. I Was Monty’s Double (02:58)
2. Centennial (main theme) (04:09)
3. Swashbuckler (05:46)
4. A Bridge Too Far (10:24)
5. The Maggie (02:31)
6. Reach For The Sky (04:07)
7. Strange Invaders (09:28)
8. The Man Between (02:10)
9. Tom Jones (04:45)
10. The Charge Of The Light Brigade (07:19)
11. Brandy For The Parson (opening titles) (01:20)
12. Brandy For the Parson (end titles) (01:43)
13. Torn Curtain (main titles) (02:22)
14. Touch And Go (02:41)
15. Sleuth (03:08)
16. Carlton-Browne Of The F.O (01:49)
17. Murder, She Wrote (main theme) (02:10)
Total Duration: 01:08:50
July 12, 2007
This reviewer is not known for being sentimental, someone who will cry at the drop of a hat. Far from it. However, when I first began listening to the new MovieScore Media release of Rocket Post, the second track “The Islands” really got to me and a tear came to my eye. This is one of the more beautiful melodies (“Distant Shores”) I have heard from any release of newer material in quite a long time. Starting with a beautiful introduction complete with oboe, piano, harp and strings it seques into this breathtaking melody played by first the clarinet and then Celtic Flutes and strings. It is also heard in several other tracks as well as a solo piano performed by co-composer Michael Csanyi-Wills. It is also sung by Mae McKenna in an authentic Scottish accent on the opening and ending tracks. Also included is a bagpipe selection ” From Across the Sea”, some 78 RPM sounding source style music “Sir Ramsay’s Party”, and an authentic sounding Irish jig “Paint Dance”.
Based on a true story about two German scientists who go to a Scottish Isle and work on a project of delivering mail via a rocket. Starring Ulrich Thomsen, Danish film star in the role of Zucher the german scientist and Shauna Macdonald as the love interest, the film has met with delays due to production, the death of the director Stephen Whittaker and who knows what else. The film was given a release in Britain but alas the format is Pal and of this writing there doesn’t seem to be any sort of US release. The scenery from what I read in the IMDB comments is superb, as the film was shot on location in Scotland and the whole pre World War II idea of two german scientists developing a rocket to send mail seemed quite intriguing to me.
Mikael, owner of MovieScore Media, has yet again come up with new composers and film for us to explore. The duo of Clarke and Csanyi-Wills seem to work together as a team. While I have yet to see any other film they have scored there are others including The Thief Lord, and The Little Vampire. It is performed quite nicely by The Royal Philharmonic of Scotland. In the past Mikael’s releases were only available as a download but now they are available through SAE (link below to order) and other speciality dealers. This is one to check out!
1. Distant Shores (04:47)
vocal – Mae McKenna
2. The Islands (02:09)
3. Catherine’s Visit (02:11)
4. Betrayal (03:55)
5. Impressions (01:55)
6. Betrothed (01:52)
7. Heart Broken (02:23)
8. Building The Rocket (01:44)
9. First Love (01:32)
10. Kiss (02:46)
11. From Across The Sea (01:37)
12. Whales Rescue (04:09)
13. Sir Ramsay’s Party (01:13)
14. Failure (01:40)
15. First Flight (02:55)
16. Heinz’s Threat (02:08)
17. Paint Dance (01:01)
18. Zucker’s Death (03:31)
19. Together & Distant Shores (05:20)
Total Duration: 00:48:48
July 6, 2007
Very well known for his outstanding work on the television series The Outer Limits, Dominic Frontiere has quite a cult following both with science fiction lovers as well as soundtrack collectors. Among the huge fans are MV Gerhard, owner of La-La Land Records who has seen to the releases of Brannigan, A Name For Evil, and now Hang ‘Em High coupled with The Aviator and Barquero.
Hang ‘Em High was the first of the Hollywood westerns to pattern itself after the Italian “spaghetti” westerns as well as being the first film of the now famous Malpaso production company run by Clint Eastwood. The main theme has the flavor of a Morricone tune, complete with harmonica, but still has the sound of a Frontiere composition. The love theme (“Rachel”) is a lush wonderful “Younger Than Springtime” style melody, almost out of place in this violent western tale. This is a remaster of the United Artist LP UAS-5179 without any additional material, roughly 29 minutes in length.
Aviator, was previously released on Varese Sarabande STV 81240 (LP), and again seems to be a good transfer to the CD format. The main theme (“Here We Go”) will surprise you as a wonderful “Superman” like theme with a beginning that sounds like a fanfare to a new studio! There is plenty of great underscore including tense action, rag piano music, and fantasy adventure, all with the Frontiere touch.
Barquero, gets its first material release albiet two tracks one of which is in mono. The Lee Van Cleef film is yet another variation of the Italian spaghetti western from Hollywood. It is a good theme and worthy to be added to a soundtrack collection especially if your into the western genre.
#53 in the La-La Land collection is a good one and a nice addition to your collection and very special if you are a fan of Dominic Frontiere.