Wall.E/Thomas Newman

June 19, 2008

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What if mankind had to leave Earth, and somebody forgot to turn the last robot off?” This is the latest wild and wacky scenario Academy Award winner writer/director Andrew Stanton has come up with in the Pixar/Walt Disney animation film Wall.E (Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class). When EVE, a search robot, discovers that Wall.E has stumbled upon a cure for the future of the planet, (abandoned 100’s of years ago) EVE rushes back to tell humans that it will be safe to return to Earth. By this time Wall.E has fallen in love with EVE and chases her across the galaxy in this romantic/action comedy. Featuring the song “Down To Earth” (sure to be an Oscar nomination), sung by Peter Gabriel, two songs from Hello Dolly performed by Michael Crawford, a Louis Armstrong standard “La Vie En Rose” and the Thomas Newman score add up to an entertaining hour of listening pleasure. Stanton, who also worked with Newman on Finding Nemo, had approached Thomas with the idea of this picture being a combination of Hello Dolly and science fiction in 2004. While many would have scratched the hair on their head, Thomas agreed.

Known for his use of quirky instruments, Thomas Newman doesn’t disappoint in this score with an impressive array, many of which have never been heard of by this reviewer before. The result is a score that has a sound and a unique style that is a complete departure from the typical generic/landscape music so prevalent in much of the soundtracks from the 21st Century. Thomas brewed a mixture of science fiction, comedy, broadway, romantic, his own style and sound, and a generous portion of overdubs and mixing from his staff to create a one of a kind signature score, one that won’t be forgotten easily. The opening orchestral track “2815 AD” with its opening of strings and harp offer mysticism and suspense as you would expect any science fiction score to sound like but it segues into the romantic Newman, one is accustomed to hearing from Thomas. Also on the romantic side are the two cues “EVE” and “Define Dancing” co-composed with Peter Gabriel. Thoughts from Meet Joe Black were conjured up in my head as I listened to the soft easy listening tracks. “BNL” is a short parody on Wal-Mart Superstores with lyrics by Bill Bernstein. “72 Degrees and Sunny” has that quirky style that many of us are accustomed to with a melody that is sure to put a smile on your face as you look at Wall.E, tractor parts with binoculars as eyes rotating on a ball head. Keeping in mind that Newman like Herrmann writes a lot of shorter cues (38 over 62 minutes for Wall.E) a 3 minute track from Thomas is a long one and very nice to listen to! “Rogue Robots”, “Tilt” and “Hyperjump” are just fun action/comedy tracks to listen and enjoy. The fun tribute he offers on these and other tracks are ones you’ll want to listen to over and over.

Something of a genetic nature must be in the blood of the Newman’s when it comes to melodies, especially from the heart. This reviewer often ponders what Alfred would have come up with had he been given the technology of the mixing and overdubs his son has had available to him. Just take a moment and consider Alfred, Lionel, David, Randy, and Thomas, all from the same family, and the wonderful music they have contributed to Hollywood over the past 70+ years. It is quite astounding! Add one more excellent soundtrack to the list and don’t be surprised if the score receives an Oscar nomination as well as the song (its a lock). Highly recommended!

Maintitles/Golden Scores Rating is ****1/2

Composed and Conducted by Thomas Newman

Recorded by Armin Steiner

Produced by Thomas Newman and Bill Bernstein

Track Listing

1. Put On Your Sunday Clothes (01:17)

Performed by Michael Crawford & Company

2. 2815 A.D. (03:28)

 

3. Wall-E (02:00)

 

4. The Spaceship (01:41)

 

5. EVE* (01:02)

*Composed by Thomas Newman and Peter Gabriel

6. Thrust (00:41)

 

7. Bubble Wrap (00:50)

 

8. La Vie En Rose (03:24)

Performed by Louis Armstrong

9. Eye Surgery (00:40)

 

10. Worry Wait (01:19)

 

11. First Date (01:19)

 

12. Eve Retrieve (02:19)

 

13. The Axiom (02:24)

 

14. BNL** (00:20)

**Written by Bill Bernstein and Thomas Newman

15. Foreign Contaminant (02:06)

 

16. Repair Ward (02:20)

 

17. 72 Degrees and Sunny (03:12)

 

18. Typing Bot (00:47)

 

19. Septuacentennial (00:15)

 

20. Gopher (00:40)

 

21. Wall-E’s Pod Adventure (01:13)

 

22. Define Dancing* (02:23)

*Composed by Thomas Newman and Peter Gabriel

23. No Splashing No Diving (00:47)

 

24. All That Love’s About (00:37)

 

25. M-O (00:46)

 

26. Directive A-113 (02:05)

 

27. Mutiny! (01:29)

 

28. Fixing Wall-E (02:08)

 

29. Rogue Robots (02:02)

 

30. March of the Gels (00:54)

 

31. Tilt (02:00)

 

32. The Holo-Detector (01:07)

 

33. Hyperjump (01:04)

 

34. Desperate Eve (00:56)

 

35. Static (01:43)

 

36. It Only Takes a Moment (01:07)

Performed by Michael Crawford

37. Down to Earth*** (05:58)

***Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman, Lyrics by Peter Gabriel, Performed by Peter Gabriel

38. Horizon 12.2 (01:27)

 

Total Duration: 01:01:50

 

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Picnic, by George Duning, was one of the very first soundtracks in my collection. I remember the picture on the cover of the Decca LP of Kim Novak and William Holden. It was a mono recording and it had a gray cover. My favorite track was the combo of “Moonglow” and the “Picnic Love Theme”, which I listened to over and over as a young lad and not only on lp but also on a 45RPM. Until FSM decided to unvault some of his other material, the Decca LP of From Here To Eternity, and the Warner Brothers LP of Any Wednesday was the extent of my collection. Recently FSM has released Any Wednesday, Toys in the Attic, Devil at 4 O’Clock, 1001 Arabian Nights, and Bell Book and Candle. George spent a lot of his composing career at Columbia and has worked on over 200 pictures, many of them uncredited. In spite of the Oscar nominations for the Eddie Duchin Story, Picnic, and From Here To Eternity he is unknown to many people and only considered an ‘A’ list composer by a few.

The Wreck of the Mary Deare, a best selling novel by Hammond Innes, was once considered by Hitchcock but soon was abandoned in favor of North by Northwest. A fine novelist Eric Ambler did the screenplay and Michael Anderson the directing. Featuring Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston, it tells the story of the freighter Mary Deare, abandoned except for Patch (Cooper), found by Sands (Heston) with his salvage ship, the resulting trial, and finally the uncovering of the sabotage. George primarily wrote a monothematic score without any violins to add to the dark depressing scenes of the freighter sequences. He cleverly chose the use of the Novachord (a hammond predecessor to the synthesizer) for the underwater scenes, as well as selectively through the score to add tension to the film. While the brass does introduce the theme in “Main Title” many of the cues feature the oboe carrying the motif. Recorded with a fairly small orchestra this dark score works quite well with the film itself and is a good listen away from the picture if one likes material on the serious side.

Johnny Green, like George Duning, is a relative unknown to some in the soundtrack hobby. His output for serious scores was rather small and he was primarily known for his leadership of MGM in the 50’s along with his adaption of broadway musicals to the silver screen for which he was honored with 5 Oscars.

Twilight of Honor, was tagged as the first feature film starring Richard Chamberlin, who was a #1 box-office television hit in Dr. Kildare. It also featured Claude Rains (the only reason to really watch it), Nick “The Rebel” Adams (nominated for an Oscar), Joey Heatherton, and Pat Buttram. The film was directed by TV veteran Boris Sagal (some felt it viewed as a made for TV movie). If you’ve seen Anatomy for a Murder then you’ve seen the film and as remakes usually go it is not as good.

The score features Ronnie Lang, flute and sax player, who once appeared in Staccato, on several Mancini soundtracks, as well as 100’s of recordings on reeds. His style gave some of the cues a nice improvisational west coast jazz style. One could easily mistake some of this music from a TV series such as The Fugitive. Perhaps the Sagal direction along with the lack of strings contributed to this. This reviewer feels no strings is really lacking on “I Knew It Then: I Know It Now.” The main theme “Twilight of Honor” is a strong big band jazz number over 4 minutes in length with riveting rhythm, percussion, and driving brass. Its a strong track in that it is allowed to develop and was miked to deliver a biting sound (turned my normal volume down slightly). Other tracks of interest are “Juke Jezebel” and “Phoenix Fire” featuring some excellent reed work.

Overall, this is a good way to introduce you to the music of Green and Duning and the type of music from the late 50’s and early 60’s. While this is not a CD that will ever make a top 100 list it is an excellent one and one that this reviewer will pull off the shelf and relisten to from time to time.

Golden Scores Rating is ****

Produced by Lukas Kendall

CD# is FSM Vol. 11 No. 3

 Track listing

1. Main Title (01:50)

 

2. Sands Curious (04:04)

 

3. Doubting Sands (01:23)

 

4. Captain Patch (03:17)

 

5. Wrecker Patch (01:21)

 

6. Patch Begs/The Sea Witch (01:25)

 

7. Patch’s Quest/Patch Discovered (01:59)

 

8. Trial Prelude (01:00)

 

9. Patch Desperate (01:28)

 

10. Operation Salvage (01:40)

 

11. Villain Higgins/Patch Vindicated/Trapped Divers (06:18)

 

12. Bulls Eye (02:04)

 

13. Higgins Has It/End Title (03:12)

(1-13 from “The Wreck Of The Mary Deare” (1959) by George Duning, total time 31’25)

14. Twilight of Honor/Reception/Filthy Mob/Into Town (Twilight of Honor Prelude) (04:29)

 

15. Swift or Sure?/In Trouble (01:33)

 

16. Vicarious Blast/Only One Answer/A Little Rusty (03:17)

 

17. God Help Ben/Laura Lies/Nice Hands (03:27)

 

18. Loved You Then and Now (01:28)

 

19. Juke Jezebel (Juke Box) (01:56)

 

20. Confrontation/You Told Me Things (01:38)

 

21. I Like Deep Blue/Desperation (01:54)

 

22. Phoenix Fire Alto Saxophone Soloist: Ronny Lang (02:22)

 

23. Hitch-Hike (01:11)

 

24. The Emmis (01:44)

 

25. Suspenseville (00:43)

 

26. Don’t Lock Me Out—Finale (01:45)

 

27. The Durango Drip (01:39)

 

28. Young Is My Lover (02:13)

(Bronislau Kaper & Mack David)

29. Motel Mumble (01:02)

 

30. Dead Duck (00:34)

 

31. Ruby Duby Du (00:49)

(Charles Wolcott)

32. Hats and Dogs Stomp (01:40)

(Lyn Murray)

33. Whiskey Sour (00:49)

 

34. Juke Jezebel (Juke Box) (02:12)

 

35. Last Dance (Motel Radio) (01:35)

(Charles Wolcott)

36. Georgia Slop (00:46)

(Lyn Murray)

37. Love Theme From Twilight of Honor (I Knew It Then; I Know It Now) (03:09)

(14-37 from “Twilight Of Honor” (1963) by John Green, total time 44’47)

Total Duration: 01:14:56