April 23, 2012
Has there ever been a character with the popularity of Sherlock Holmes in the last 100 years; I think not. I couldn’t begin to name the number of movies, books, television shows, board and video games, and radio programs devoted to the Doyle character. The #221B instantly conjures up something to do with Holmes and Watson. This latest offering from the British company Hartswood Films certainly presents the characters in a way we’ve never seen before. It is a young computer age genius “a new sleuth for the 21st Century” who uses incredible deductive powers to solve extremely complex crimes. You’ll get an idea of what it is about if you think of Batman and Harry Potter. An expensive microscope, I phone, and computers are standard tools.
As modern as the character has become the same can be said of the David Arnold and Michael Price score. This newly released Silva CD #SILCD1377 features music from the first season. The opening title is the main theme for the series and the 40 second theme sets the mood for the series. The drums, percussion, electronics and strings give it a very modern sound. “The Game Is On” is another theme that you’ll hear throughout the series offering a mandolin in a very memorable melody. The second part of the track is underscore. “War” is a combination of themes offering the game is on theme, soft piano chords introduce a third theme, dreamy and sad, which is used throughout the soundtrack. “Pink” is another track where we hear the game is on theme in a quiet fashion. The piano chords appear yet again in a dreamy like fashion with a distorted dissonant violin ending the track. One of the more unique tracks is “Number Systems” which begins with a Spanish style flavor followed by an electronic version of the main theme. Much of the material is pleasant enough to listen to offering a lot of fun especially if you’re into watching the series. At the time of this writing season two is also available (SILCD1383). Considering my golden ears this was a fun experience.
1. Opening Titles (00:40)
2. The Game Is On (03:40)
3. War (03:19)
4. Pink (03:47)
5. Security Cameras (03:02)
6. Pursuit (01:49)
7. Which Bottle? (02:11)
8. Targets (02:26)
9. Library Books (03:19)
10. Number Systems (03:01)
11. Light-fingered (03:41)
12. Elegy (03:13)
13. Crates Of Books (03:03)
14. Sandbag (04:42)
15. On The Move (02:43)
16. Back To Work (03:50)
17. Woman On The Slab (02:51)
18. A Man Who Can (03:13)
19. Final Act (03:08)
Total Time is 57:38
When one thinks of Rubinstein the first thing that comes to this reviewer’s mind is the world famous concert pianist Arturo who gave us 100’s of hours of listening pleasure. Did you know that there was another Rubinstein who was compared with Franz Liszt? Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894) was the composer of 120 works including six symphonies, five piano concertos, ten operas, and numerous chamber, tone poems, and solo piano works. Although he was Russian born his sound could never be confused for anything done by the ‘Mighty Five’ and perhaps as a result he suffered a fate of obscurity. Yet Tchaikovsky was his student and he started the Saint Petersburg Conservatory. If you were to make the comment that Anton was a student of Felix Mendelssohn few would argue with you. In fact he was belittled by his contemporaries in Russia as fluff, no substance, and the list could go on. Cui wrote of him as “merely a Russian who composes his music allied rather to that of Germany.” Lizst described Rubinstein “as a fountain of bad music.” Music critic Gerald Abraham referred to him as “a highly competent imitation of Mendelssohn or Schumann.
His second symphony which is called ‘Ocean’ was written in 1851 and what you’ll hear on this Delos recording is the first original version. As time passed Anton came up with additional ideas and the work has been revised and re-revised. There is a Naxos recording 8.555392 which was the final revision of 1880 and includes seven movements (nicknamed the seven seas). For your information there was another revision with six movements that to the best of my knowledge is not available to listen to. Listed below is a chart which shows the difference between the Naxos and the Delos recordings.
Naxos Track Listing
1… Moderato assai (#1 on Delos)
2… Lento assai (new)
3… Andante (new)
4… Allegro (#3 on Delos)
5… Andante (#2 on Delos)
6… Scherzo (new)
7… Andante (#4 on Delos)
The first movement sets the mood as the sea is depicted with its power, calm, and beauty. It begins with tremolo from the strings as the flutes offer a theme which sets the mood for this major passage. The entire orchestra comes to a rousing crescendo with majestic fanfare from the horns. A second romantic melody is offered by the strings with harmony from the rest of the string section and while this is an upbeat section of the movement one can hear the impending conflict brewing in the background depicting the turbulence of the sea. The adagio second movement offers a yearning melody with excellent counterpoint from the orchestra. The tempo is quite slow but one can feel that it deliberately moves ever forward. The third movement, an allegro, is quite proud and majestic with horns complementing the string work. It begins with the strings offering a very Germanic melody. This is a happy time for the sea. Tchaikovsky quotes “… reproduces the rough gaiety and the dances of sailors in a very elastic way.” The fourth movement is another adagio and gives one last storm before a rousing conclusion. Again the sound is very Germanic. If you accept this work for what it is then you’ll have another ocean/water concept in your collection, a well subject that many of the great composers have written about.
Feramors (1862), written ten years after the ‘Ocean’ symphony, is an opera that first premiered in 1863 and is based on a story of Lalla a princess who is engaged to marry a king but falls in love with the minstrel Feramors who is the king in disguise. What is offered on this CD is the ballet music from the three act opera.
“Dance of the Bayaderes” begins the suite with a nice melody filled with gaiety, well developed as the composer returns to the melody for the entire dance. “Dance of the Kashmiri Brides” offers a hint of the orient but somewhat subtle in nature if your familiar with the mystic sound of Rimsky-Korsakov and others. Two minutes into the movement the style changes and you hear a more traditional waltz. “Dance of the Bayaderes II is one that begins with a sense of urgency evolving into something quite lively and frantic. “Wedding Procession,” the final selection is a march filled with splendor and grandeur offering a happy ending.
The digital recording is a nice clean transfer with nice balance between the treble, bass, and individual clarity of the solo instruments when called for. The liner notes are excellent except for one minor point. His third symphony hasn’t been lost and is available from Naxos. If you accept Rubinstein as a Russian who wrote Germanic style material this CD will give you the opportunity to listen to some interesting melodic material from a composer that many of you are not familiar with. Recommended!
Symphony No.2 in C Major ‘Ocean’, Op.42 (original version, 1851)
1… Allegro maestoso (15:56)
2… Adagio non tanto (10:51)
3… Allegro (6:10)
4… Adagio Allegro con fuoco (14:37)
Ballet Music from Feramors, Opera in 3 Acts (1862)
5… Dance of the Bayaderes I (5:02)
6… Dance of the Kashmiri Brides (5:03)
7… Dance of the Bayaderes II (4:33)
8… Wedding Procession (3:52)
Total Playing Time is 66:11
DELOS DRD 2010
April 13, 2012
Neal Hefti, known for his Batman and Odd Couple themes, was a successful conductor, composer, and arranger long before the release of these timeless hits. Working for Reprise Records, a relatively new company created for Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and others Hefti came up with an unusual combination of instruments to feature the twelve top television themes for 1962. Quoting Hal Humphrey, L.A. Times writer, “Well, you’ll find out when you put the tone arm down on this album.” Strings, brass, and woodwinds are given a holiday with 40 guitars, percussion, and 8 pianos providing the unusual orchestration. This release is not your typical ‘Hefti Sound’ which is jazz well filled with biting brass and edgy sax work but a sound that you’re going to have to hear. Hefti was a trumpet player and his roots are from Count Basie and Woody Herman where he learned the craft of composing/arranging.
Wagon Train begins with a cowboy shouting wagons ho with a cracking whip. The theme is offered by a simple piano line with the guitars providing the orchestral accompaniment. Part way through a guitar picks up the melody and it ends as it begins with the cowboy shouting California here we come with the whip cracking. The theme was composed and conducted by Jerome Moross who adapted a melody that appeared in his score The Jayhawkers.
The Flintstones (Rise and Shine), while a theme we remember well is not the vocal that was composed from a theme that appeared in Beethoven’s Piano Sonata #17 called “Meet The Flintstones.” There is speculation that this theme was replaced due to the strong similarity with the Bugs Bunny theme. The composer of “Rise and Shine” could have been Hoyt Curtin who did the underscore for the first few seasons. It begins with a tom-tom beat from the drums and the guitars offer the theme with harmony from the pianos.
The Danny Thomas Show “Danny Boy” is a traditional Irish love song that the program used for the main title of the show. The multiple guitars start the theme off with the piano also offering the melody as there is a fluttering of guitar chords. It is pretty much a straight arrangement that doesn’t stand out, elevator music at best.
Perry Mason, composed by Fred Steiner, comes across as something very special in terms of an arrangement. While brass was featured in the original the piano offers a bluesy beat while the guitars are higher register and have a hint of harp sound to them. This was my first experience at hearing this theme without the brass and I liked what I heard.
Ben Casey, composed by David Raksin, begins with the guitars performing the theme alongside the piano as well as dual harmony and a bit of strumming from the other guitars.
My Three Sons, composed by Frank DeVol, is a somewhat complex arrangement starting off with a Latin beat as the guitars perform multiple tasks with the piano offering harmony. Part way through the piano offers the melody all to the steady beat of the sound of rumba percussion.
The Real McCoys offers a little country western twang in this arrangement that is little more than elevator music.
The Andy Griffith Show (The Fishin’ Hole) offers a swaying version of the popular theme with the guitars offering the melody well backed with harmony from other guitars and piano.
Gunsmoke makes it clear from the very beginning that this a western theme with the percussion clacks in the background with rhythm also provided by the piano. The guitars take it nice and slow as the theme unfolds.
Route 66, composed by Nelson Riddle is the highlight of the release! Guitars offer the melody in the beginning with two different harmonies coming from other guitars and piano. Gone is the piano offering on the original that offered the great harmony to begin this timeless classic and guitars provide both melody and harmony. This is a very well done unusual arrangement well worth having in your collection.
The Dick Powell Show is a melodramatic theme played very slowly in an arrangement where both the piano and guitars offer solos.
Bonanza concludes the very brief CD (29 minutes) with the staccato piano first offering the theme with other pianos giving harmony with guitars assisting. The cymbals add a nice touch.
The stereo (over accentuated) is a nice clean recording with nothing to complain about. Apparently it was well recorded by Reprise when released in 1962. Included are the original liner notes as well as updated ones from 2007 where Hefti is quoted providing interesting information. At the time of this writing the cost of the CD is under $6.00 so any Hefti fan will want to own this release for their collection.
1… Wagon Train (2:21)
2… The Flintstones (2:17)
3… Danny Thomas Show (3:35)
4… Perry Mason (2:01)
5… Ben Casey (1:54)
6… My Three Sons (1:59)
7… The Real McCoys (2:29)
8… The Andy Griffith Show (2:08)
9… Gunsmoke (2:19)
10… Route 66 (3:08)
11… The Dick Powell Show (2:29)
12… Bonanza (1:35)
Total Time is 29 minutes
CD # is CCM837
Originally from LP Reprise 6018
April 10, 2012
Did you know that William Alwyn (1905-1985) contributed to nearly 200 film scores? He could be considered the Max Steiner of Britain. In addition he taught composition for thirty years at the Royal Academy of Music. He also has a long list of classical compositions and I suspect that many of you reading this review are unfamiliar with this fine composer. In addition to all of that his hobby included painting. I first became aware of William Alwyn through a series of Chandos Film Music CD’s which are still available. The CD numbers are Chandos 9243, 9959, and 10349 and all come highly recommended. The Alwyn works are arranged and re-constructed by Philip Lane and Christopher Palmer as little of his material exists in original soundtrack format. Written full scores no longer exist due to the stupidity of film studios which destroyed them during a clear out! This release is made possible by the William Alwyn Foundation along with superb arrangements from Martin Ellerby who created a sound that is unlike other wind arrangements. I felt like I was listening to a symphonic interpretation of his work!
The Crimson Pirate (1952) directed by Robert Siodmak, starred Burt Lancaster and Eva Bartok and was a fun swashbuckling adventure that could have served as a template for the Pirates of the Caribbean series. The suite captures four of the major themes which includes the main title, a courtly march, a comical selection, and love theme. The fine playing makes one want to see the film! The recording brings out a distinct separation in individual instruments which further enhances the listening experience.
The History of Mr. Polly (1949) a novel by H.G. Wells starring Sir John Mills follows the somewhat unusual life of Mr. Polly. The suite is a highlight, approximately one half of the Philip Lane re-construction that includes five of the six cues. It has the feel of a silent film score featuring comical, serious, romantic, march, and waltz material.
The Way Ahead (1944) starring David Niven and directed by Carol Reed offers an upbeat military march with some excellent work being done by the brass section. It is a catchy tune that you’ll want to re-visit and listen to over and over.
State Secret (1950) is a spy thriller starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and the soundtrack is presented as a four part suite. A thematic military march very stoic begins the suite. Following the “Main Title,” a shortened version from the Chandos recording is “Grand Ball” a sprightly upbeat tune. “Theatre Music,” perfectly suited for the wind band is a frantic circus underscore cue that will conjure up magic in your head. The mood dramatically shifts in “On the Barge” to a soft quiet offering with a nice interchange between flute and saxophone. “Finale” concludes the suite with a re-statement of the “Main Title”
The Million Pound Note (1953) was based on a story by Mark Twain that starred Gregory Peck and dealt with a million pound note. Alwyn wrote a slower paced waltz that sets the mood for the film.
Swiss Family Robinson (1960), one of three films Alwyn did for Disney. A lot of the melodic content comes from the song “My Heart Was an Island” written for this film by Terry Gilkyson. Alwyn was very creative in the disguises he used to incorporate the wonder theme.
True Glory (1944-1945) an award winning documentary is a solid example of what a British victory march should sound like when they overcame the German troops and Berlin falling to the Allies.
Geordie (1955) a film which takes place in Scotland stars Bill Travers and deals with the taking of a physical correspondence course which results in an Olympic hammer-throwing champion. Alwyn makes use of the Scottish melodies “Hearken My Love,” and “Highland Laddie” which gives it that very special flavor. Never over the top this is a well rounded suite which tells the story of love, tragedy, and victory.
In Search of the Castaways (1962) another Disney film starring Hayley Mills with story by Jules Verne with the often used plot of a message in a bottle offers a special rumba with the brass and percussion performing quite nicely.
Desert Victory (1943) is another of the many documentaries that Alwyn did for the British Army film unit. This film dealt with Montgomery pursuing the Axis forces through Tripoli. It is a series of nicely crafted marches, a style Alwyn was quite comfortable with.
This Naxos release offers distinct separation between the instruments along with good dynamic range which makes for a nice listening experience. It is a nice introduction to wind band arranging and performing as well as the music of William Alwyn.
1… The Crimson Pirate (7:59)
The History of Mr. Polly Suite
2… The Wedding and Funeral (2:27)
3… Fire (2:13)
4… Christabel (2:46)
5… Punting Scene (1:32)
6… Utopian Sunset (2:26)
7… The Way Ahead-March (1:46)
State Secret Suite
8… Main Titles and Grand Ball (1:59)
9… Theater Music (2:16)
10… On The Barge (2:09)
11… Finale (1:10)
12… The Million Pound Note (3:08)
Swiss Family Robinson
13… Main Titles (3:05)
14… At Home (2:46)
15… Ostriches and Waterslides (3:42)
16… The True Glory (2:44)
17… Main Titles (1:59)
18… The Samson Way (2:47)
19… Father and Son (2:39)
20… Geordie and Jean (2:00)
21… The Hammer Reel (1:34)
In Search of the Castaways
22… Ship’s Waltz (3:03)
23… Rumba (2:40)
24… Desert Victory (8:56)
Total Time: 69:46
April 5, 2012
When Monstrous Movie Music known as the source for 50’s science fiction music released the music for The McCulloghs, a story inspired by The Quiet Man and Giant, this reviewer had to ask the question why the departure from the name of your company? David Schecter, founder of the company, quickly pointed out to me that The Intruder, a Herman Stein score, really had nothing to do with science fiction but anti-racism, and other material from Tarzan really had nothing to do with monster music. He further went on to explain that Ernest Gold taught his wife privately and he knew and advised other family members. Having the tapes in his possession, being good friends with Julie Adams, co-star of the picture, and finding Max Baer Jr. producer accessible sealed the deal.
Distributed by American International sealed the fate of the picture as their marketing strategy turned a melodrama dealing with family relationships into an attraction for young people. Renamed The Wild McCullochs and emphasizing cute chicks, hot rods, and other teenage topics the film didn’t fare well at the box office. Max Baer Jr., Jethro from The Beverly Hillbillies, shortened an already brief attempt at producing, directing, and writing. He was typecast. The film co-starred a who’s who of television stars such as Forrest Tucker, Julie Adams, Harold Stone, William Demarest, Don Grady, and Mike Mazurki. The excellent liner notes go into great detail explaining the film.
Ernest Gold approached this assignment like any other and offers the standard Big Country main title which offers a great Americana melody, repeated selectively throughout the soundtrack. The 62 piece orchestra conveyed a bigness of life in Texas complete with romance, patriotism, and an intimate feeling with a banjo and sax offering solos in “The McCullochs Main Title Theme.” The theme is repeated in “Keep on Truckin’which further expands on the main title. This theme stands right beside many of the western themes you’ve heard such as Bonanza, Magnificent Seven, Big Valley, and others. You can also hear the theme in “Montage I” as it is mixed with clever underscore. “’40’s Plus 1-Radio Source” is a swing band arrangement of original Gold material with the brass offering the melody with fine harmony from the woodwinds. “Blues 1” offers a similar sound with a sax starting the music with a solo followed by a trumpet getting his licks. It switches back to the sax getting center stage, a trombone getting his solo time, and ending with true stereo as you hear the wailing sax left channel and the trumpet and trombone contributing solos in the right channel. “Blues 2” has modern sound with electric guitar being featured along with the big band. Since the film takes place in 1949 it is a bridge between the older swing and on the horizon rock and roll. “One Last Beer” gives you a standard sounding country western crying time cue, “Holy Communion” a religious track from the organ, and “Mendelssohn’s Wedding March” needs no explanation. The soundtrack offers intimacy with banjo and harmonica along with expansive sound from the main title, a little something for everyone.
Look for more Gold unreleased material from MMM in the future. This release is limited to 1000 units so I’d purchase sooner rather than later or you might be disappointed.
1… The McCullochs Main Title Theme (2:20)
2… ’40’s Plus 1-Radio Source (1:53)
3… Keep On Truckin’ (1:49)
4… Get Out (0:35)
5… Goodbye R.J. (0:54)
6… Montage 1 (3:05)
7… Drag Race (1:31)
8… Hay Ride (0:27)
9… I Love You (1:12)
10.. Organ Postlude (0:20)
11.. Holy Communion (0:37)
12.. It’s Your Life (2:10)
13.. Arrest (1:07)
14.. Sentencing (0:50)
15.. Montage 2 (2:07)
16.. Culver & Ali (0:20)
17.. R.J.’s Dead (0:45)
18.. Goodnight Hannah (1:26)
19.. One Last Beer (1:35)
20.. They’re Fighting (0:09)
21.. See A Good One (0:25)
22.. Becky-Becky (0:15)
23.. Let’s Go (0:12)
24.. Beer Break (0:28)
25.. Mendelssohn’s Wedding March (1:52)
26.. Blues 1 (4:31)
27.. Blues 2 (4:29)
28.. The Eyes of Texas (1:30)
29.. Taps (0:38)
Total Time is 39:47
Do you think that John Wayne and John Huston got along during the filming of The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958)? Do oil and water mix? The 20th Century Fox release starring John Wayne relates the story of relations between Japan and the United States in the 1850’s. It was not well received upon release but has aged well and offers one of the better efforts of Hugo Friedhofer who approached this story as one of Madama Butterfly. The result is a classic golden age score which is a showcase for his forte that being orchestration and arranging. It was recorded in Germany with Kurt Granke conducting his own orchestra due to the union strike. It is a stereo recording and is certainly representative for its time in terms of dynamic range and sound quality. It was previously released by Intrada in 2001 as part of their Special Collection Series Volume 4. It sold out a long time ago. The re-issue is exactly the same without any new additional material or significant change in the audio quality.
The Foreword/Main Title sets the overall mood for the entire soundtrack with a distorted percussion statement followed by a pentatonic oriental phrase to identify the country. What comes afterward is one of the finer melodies written by Friedhofer. It is an upbeat major key that sums up the entire story in less than two minutes. Both the theme and the oriental motif are repeated often and while this is certainly not a monothematic score it will get stuck in your brain by the time you finish listening to it as it is repeated several times. The Intruders repeats part of the main theme and then if you listen carefully you’ll be treated to Friedhofer forte, orchestration with classical variations, harmony, and counterpoint. Orchestration is the thing that Friedhofer did best and the highlight of many of his scores. David Raksin, another film composer in the same era, commented that Hugo was classically trained better than any other composer. This is a good example of why Friedhofer is a favorite of mine. The orchestration lesson continues in The Consulate which restates the opening of the main title again making another pentatonic reference and continues the oriental reference in a tonal arrangement. The Palace is a track that offers oriental flavor complete with some nifty flute work at the beginning of the track.
One of my favorite Friedhofer scores, only behind The Best Years of Our Lives, Broken Arrow, and Above and Beyond, if you missed this one the first time around don’t hesitate to get this score.
Directed by Richard Fleischer, whose father was Max Fleischer, producer of over 600 animated films including the Popeye series, the 20th Century Fox film starred Victor Mature, Richard Egan, J. Carroll Naish, Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine and Sylvia Sidney in a tale of bank robbery mixed with individual issues from the main characters. It was filmed on location in Bisbee Arizona in Cinemascope and four track stereo. It did well at the box office but quickly disappeared and it has only been a year ago that Twilight Time (Screen Archive Entertainment) has made it available on DVD. A limited edition release of 3000 units it is still available from them. Bruce Kimmel considers it a must-have for your collection. http://www.screenarchives.com/title_detail.cfm?ID=15085
The soundtrack release first appeared in 2005 from Intrada volume 27 coupled with Warlock (1959), a Leigh Harline work. The 1200 piece limited edition has sold out. To the best of my knowledge there are no differences between the Intrada and Kritzerland except the 1000 piece Kritzerland is still available with low stock already. Acting sooner rather than later seems to be a good idea. The Friedhofer score is quite brief at eighteen plus minutes and if you compare this one to others he’s written it has no major melody and standout orchestration. The theme less Prologue sets a definite mood for the picture which is tension and violence. The Main Title has its melodic moments offering a dissonant brass statement which is a prelude for a melodramatic theme by the string section with excellent harmony/counterpoint from the brass section. If I’m Lucky is likely the most melodic cue a sweet dance band number which features a muted trumpet solo followed by an accordion mimicking what a clarinet might have played. Harper is a short brass dissonant prelude which quiets down to a brief softer underscore. It continues changing to a bluesy beat with the clarinet offering a solo. It ends with a sense of urgency. Mr. Reeves begins with a low register offering from the clarinet but changes to a major key offering from the string section.
Overall this is a nice ‘B’ side to complete the all Friedhofer release. Will never get too many votes as a favorite soundtrack it is still a Friedhofer score and worth having in your collection.
The Barbarian and the Geisha
1. Foreword/Main Title (02:05)
2. The Intruders (02:11)
3. The Consulate (01:47)
4. Flag Raising (00:57)
5. Orders from Edo (00:47)
6. An Invitation (00:55)
7. Homecoming (01:00)
8. The Strange House (04:20)
9. Awareness (00:22)
10. The Tormentors (00:53)
11. Outcast (00:53)
12. The Plague (08:14)
13. Narration and Scene (02:46)
14. The Road to Edo (03:15)
15. The Palace (02:45)
16. Advice and Questions (01:45)
17. Assassination (01:03)
18. Celebration and Plot (02:16)
19. Tamura Commands (01:47)
20. Declaration (02:02)
21. Finale (07:02)
22. Prologue (00:56)
23. Violent Saturday – Main Title (01:46)
24. If I’m Lucky (01:42)
25. Harper (00:57)
26. Dill and Library (02:34)
27. Emily (00:57)
28. Harper Takes a Walk (01:26)
29. Shelly and Steve (02:36)
30. Linda Comes Home (01:38)
31. Insomnia (01:37)
32. Mr. Reeves (01:37)
33. Stalemate (00:39)
34. Kidnapping (03:00)
35. God Forgive Me (00:44)
36. End Title (00:34)
Total Duration: 01:11:48
April 2, 2012
One of the latest trends in CD re-issues has been including when possible the rejected material along with the original soundtrack so the listener can compare composer interpretations. This reviewer recently had the opportunity to compare the scores of Henry Mancini and Charles Strouse for the film Molly Maguires, released by Kritzerland. It was quite an eye opener to hear the difference and the same can be said about Jennifer 8. Written and directed by Bruce Robinson, the film starred Andy Garcia, Lance Henricksen, and Uma Thurman in a suspense/thriller dealing with an unsolved serial killer case involving blind girls. The film didn’t do well at the box office resulting in a twenty year hiatus of directing for Robinson who recently returned in Rum Diaries last year, also offering a Chris Young score.
Christopher Young approached the thriller with a somewhat subdued score featuring the piano(s) backed by an orchestra featuring harp, strings, and percussion. The little brass that was used only included French horns in the orchestration from Pete Anthony and Young. Also absent are woodwinds which contribute to the unique sound that Young was able to offer. Highlighting the soundtrack were selective uses of the synthesizer. Young never felt the need to use loud dissonance to terrify and get the attention of the audience. He used a dissonant but delicate background on several of the tracks that achieved the same result. The “Jennifer 8” theme is a strong memorable one introduced by the piano and part or all of it is repeated on other tracks. It is a theme that I like to say is one that gets stuck in the brain and you can’t get it out. “Cello for Helena” certainly doesn’t sound like it is from a terror movie. While the piano beginning is somewhat creepy the cello solo is very quiet, simply played, and very somber. No razzle/dazzle on this one. The track ends with the piano as it began. “I Remember Red” is music that puts to rest the terror we’ve seen on the screen with delicate piano, a statement from the horns and shimmering strings. “Up On a Star” is a nice re-statement of the main title as the concluding material in the score. The original RCA release combines both of these tracks in “I Remember Red.” “Brain Vanish” is an excellent example of the underscore Young can create. He uses strings only as the main focal point and carefully places celesta, piano, double bass, and harp to bring out the suspense even further. This score is one that often gets overlooked as top 100 material. It was a breaking out score for Chris who went on to get more lucrative assignments as a result of this soundtrack. It should not be overlooked.
The other CD in the set is the unused/rejected score from Oscar winning composer Maurice Jarre. Your first listen will reveal the addition of a woodwind section resulting in a typical sounding orchestral arrangement, again with French horn for brass and a greater dependence upon the use of synthesizers to achieve the creepiness necessary. Like the Young material it doesn’t resort to loud brash dissonant chords but subtle means to achieve the desired effect. The “Main Title” is also an excellent offering which offers a good melody that changes ½ way through and also introduces the killer melody, dark and brooding. My favorite track from Jarre is “On Your Own/Cello Solo/Breathless/Café Chat” which begins with low register woodwinds, a brief Cello voice, and then the disturbing killer melody with swirling strings. It is followed by the Cello solo with the Double Bass offering a response. Overall, the Cello melody is a bit stronger than Young’s. What follows is a nice violin exchange between piano and cello with some nice piano work in a major key concluding the track. Another nice track is “.22 Bullet” which features the killer theme with woodwinds and low register strings. Keep in mind that the Jarre material is not complete as the change to Young was made part way through. His underscore is very heavily synthesized material.
I found the transfer from a digital master to be excellent offering nice tonal range with distinct separation between the instruments. I was a little disappointed that the two source cues “Humming Chorus” and “Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht” were not included in the Young CD. I’ve included them as audio clips for a little bonus in addition to the original track listing so you might compare. If you don’t have this fine soundtrack why haven’t you picked up the phone and ordered it? It will be a welcome addition in your collection. If you have the original release I feel there is enough difference for you to re-invest in this release as you’ll be getting close to an hour of additional material.
1. Jennifer 8 (02:06)
2. What You See (01:50)
3. Eight To Nine (02:02)
4. Still Life (05:15)
5. Black Winter (02:27)
6. Eyes of A Child (01:36)
7. Cello for Helena (02:40)
8. See No Evil (06:44)
9. Retrograde (01:27)
10. Blind Faith (02:42)
11. Talking Elevator (02:13)
12. Outfoxed (02:17)
13. Malice Aforethought (03:15)
14. Brain Vanish (05:18)
15. See How They Run (01:27)
16. I Remember Red (01:55)
17. Up on A Star (02:15)
1. Main Title (02:14)
2. To the Dump / One Hand (01:39)
3. Frozen Hand / Dig Jennifer (01:36)
4. Braille Reader /Tea Time / Elevator Man / Hello Helena (01:45)
5. 22 Bullet (01:29)
6. On Your Own / Cello Solo / Breathless / Cafe Chat (02:59)
7. VW Van / Van Search / Picking Lock (03:36)
8. No Braille (02:34)
9. X-mas Threat / Not Wrong / Up the Ladder / Flashlight (Part I) (02:48)
10. Flashlight (Part II) (02:02)
11. Flashlight (Part III) / Ross Shot / Deviate Calls (03:37)
12. First Degree / Taxi Ride / Needed Friend (01:46)
13. No Lies / Ashtray (03:17)
14. Main Title (Alternate Version) (02:12)
15. Hello Helena (Pad Stem) (00:43)
16. Van Search (Alternate Version) (01:20)
17. Ross Shot / Deviate Calls (Alternate Mix) (02:49)
18. Taxi Ride (Alternate Version) (00:50)
Total Duration: 01:26:45
Track listing: RCA/Milan #66120-2
1. Jennifer 8, Main Title (02:06)
2. Retrograde (01:27)
3. Eight to Nine (02:58)
4. Cello for Helena (02:29)
5. What You See (01:18)
6. Humming Chorus (03:07) 06 – Puccini Madama Butterfly – Humming Chorus
(From Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly”)
7. Eye to Eye (02:18)
8. Still Life (02:56)
9. Brain Vanish (05:16)
10. Black Winter (02:24)
11. Palmist (01:23)
12. Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (02:45) 12 – Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht
Written by F. Gruber and J. Mohr; Performed by Thomanerchor Leipzig
13. Malice Aforethought (03:13)
14. Talking Elevator (02:37)
15. Outfoxed (02:14)
16. I Remember Red (04:00)
Total Duration: 00:42:31