Son of Kong/Steiner

February 23, 2008

son_of_kong_8570183.gifThe other film reconstruction on Naxos 8.570183 was the quickly put together sequel Son of Kong with Robert Armstrong, and Frank Reicher returning in the roles of Carl Denham and Captain Englehorn. “Kiko” was much smaller than pop, albino, and quite funny in some scenes. Also starring were John Marston and Victor Wong along with Helen Mack in the role of Hilda a stow-away girl. It was directed by Ernest B. Schoedsack and written by Ruth Rose (Mrs. Schoedsack), both of who worked on the original King Kong. Willis H. O’Brien did the animation and special effects as he did on the original. Willis went on to teach Ray Harryhausen who took animation to a much higher level in films such as 20 Million Miles to Earth, Clash of the Titans, and many many others.

While not being able to verify the information it could very likely be that The Son of Kong was the first sound sequel and it like most sequels not nearly as good. It was rushed to cash in on the original, had 1/3 the budget, and even the orchestra was cut in half forcing the doubling technique and some musicians were required to play more than one instrument. The doubling is a technique where two notes are played simultaneously giving a fuller sound to the orchestra.

While not quite to the level of King Kong, Son of Kong, still has that wonderful Steiner music including “Runaway Blues” a great theme that is weaved throughout the entire score and is every bit as good as anything from King Kong. The “Runaway Blues” track begins with the solo violin followed by the clarinet all with Louise Fletcher (Mrs. Steiner) providing rhythm on the harp in the background. While Mack sung the lyrics in the film, strumming a banjo, this reconstruction doesn’t include the words. Other tracks of interest are “The Styracosaur” which has some really fast paced and difficult brass writing, one to challenge even an accomplished player. It quickly seques into “The Black Bear” without break and Steiner using the Wagner leitmotif method incorporates a fine (4) note one on the soprano sax for “Kiko”. “In Dakang”, featuring oboe and always present percussion, conjures up an oriental mystery of things to come. Due to budget and time restraints there is some material that was carried over from King Kong. Part of “Forgotten Island” as an example, are taken from “Boat in the Fog” and “The Island”. Another example is “Finale” has material taken from “Bronte” as Skull Island disappears forever with “Kiko”. While some of this recycled material will be annoying to some this score certainly has it share of new material to offer, especially “Runaway Blues”.

The Marco Polo original release 8.225166, issued in 2001 is exactly the same CD. Both the Naxos, released in 2006, and the Marco Polo log in at 77:19. The difference is in the liner notes. The Marco Polo has a 36 page booklet and the Naxos only 12 pages. There is more track by track analysis, more pictures and information in the Marco Polo CD. The larger booklet is nice, but? If one could get the Marco Polo for close to the same price used it might be nicer. Coupled with The Most Dangerous Game this is an excellent early example of the genius of Max Steiner.

John Morgan has done a fine fine job in the reconstructions of these scores and made them available to us, as the only way that you’re going to be able to listen to this material. He is quite meticulous in his orchestrations to the point that he doesn’t use a 110 piece orchestra when Max was limited to 28 members for the Son of Kong score. He tries to make it sound as authentic as possible! Many of you who don’t approve of reconstructioned scores are truly missing the boat. Keep in mind there is a huge difference in quality between a 78RPM and a digitally recorded CD even if all the surface noise etc. is removed from the acetate material. Take advantage of this release sooner not later.

Golden Score Rating is *** 1/2

Track listing

1. Main Title (01:50)

Son Of Kong

2. Ship At Sea (00:57)

Son Of Kong

3. In Dakang (01:25)

Son Of Kong

4. Runaway Blues (01:39)

Son Of Kong

5. Fire! (02:34)

Son Of Kong

6. An Offer Of Help (04:16)

Son Of Kong

7. Memories (02:11)

Son Of Kong

8. Chinese Chatter (04:05)

Son Of Kong

9. Forgotten Island (04:14)

Son Of Kong

10. Quicksand – Little Kong (03:57)

Son Of Kong

11. The Styracosaur (00:46)

Son Of Kong

12. The Black Bear (02:41)

Son Of Kong

13. Finger Fixings (03:31)

Son Of Kong

14. Campfire At Night (03:24)

Son Of Kong

15. The Old Temple (02:21)

Son Of Kong

16. Johhny Get Your Gun (00:34)

Son Of Kong

17. Finale (04:59)

Son Of Kong

 

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