Marco Polo/Les Baxter

June 29, 2011

The output of Les Baxter releases continues to grow in fine fashion with this latest release from Kritzerland (20019-1). This is the fourth release I’ve reviewed this year and the tenth in a little over two years. At this rate given another couple of years and I’ll be devoting one shelf in my CD case to nothing but Baxter! Les was truly an ‘A’ composer working for a ‘B’ movie studio.

One of the things that American International would do in the 60’s is release Italian films in the United States. Rather than retain the music from the Italian composer they would have Baxter write a new soundtrack giving it the kind of sound Americans expected to hear and Les delivered the goods time and time again. If you click on the following link Marco Polo Main Title you’ll hear an opening title introduction that leads our ear into a lush romantic main title tinged with a touch of an oriental phrase setting our mood for the story of our action packed hero meeting a woman of his dreams, falling in love, defending her honor, and living happily ever after. Monastery of 100 Buddhists is an Oriental/Penatonic Scale track with a short revisiting of the main title theme. It has that air of mystery and intrigue about it.

. “Treacherous Companions” away from the film with its brass line sounds like it could very easily have come from a completely different picture. “Princess in Danger” is definitely in the Baxter underscore library that could have come from several different genres of film. The growling brass, dissonant chords, harp, and ever present use of the percussion highlight this track. This is an excellent example of how Baxter effectively writes underscore and puts his signature on it. He can create moods of tension without having to resort to loudness. It is fun to listen to the music away from the film a few times allowing you to digest it and then watch it in the film.

The 15 tracks are really 36 but put together in longer cues to make it easier to listen to and it’s a mono recording. This release is a limited edition of only 1000 so act sooner rather than later as Baxter material sells out.

Catalog number is Kritzerland 20019-1

Track Listing:

1…. Main Title/The Beginning (3:39)

2…. Marco Polo Takes A Hike/Ciu-Lin/The Great Wall of China (2:17)

3…. Rescuing A Damsel In Distress/The Princess (2:40)

4…. The Monastery of 100 Buddhists/Cuday the Rebel/To Peking (3:20)

5…. The Ceremony/Food Fight/Marco in Jail (2:35)

6…. Released/Meeting Khan (3:19)

7…. Take a Wife, Please/ The Private Confessional (2:58)

8…. Marco and the Princess (3:47)

9…. The Princess’ Chamber/The Amulet/The Kiss (3:50)

10.. Treacherous Companions/Follow the Green Lanterns (5:36)

11.. Brief Encounter/Marco in Hiding/Mongka Seizes the Throne (4:02)

12.. Marco’s Plan/Inventing Fireworks/ Ciu-Lin Finds Marco (3:47)

13.. Princess in Danger/Blades of Death (4:41)

14.. End of Mongka/I Did It All For Her/Marco and the Princess Reunited (4:47)

15.. The Princess Bride and End Credits (3:30)

Total Time for CD is 54:56

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