genius of film music 001

LPO-0086

Did you realize that the London Philharmonic has recorded over 25 film music albums? I for one was quite surprised as I always considered it to be the orchestra that Sir Adrian Boult conducted because one of my very first albums purchased was a recording of Tchaikovsky’s HAMLET FANTASY OVERTURE, a recording I still own today although I must admit that I’ve worn it out and I have replaced it with many other recordings of this fine work.

The Battle of Neretva 1969-70 (SCCD1005)

Before and After 1995 (HR62039.2)

The Cell 2000 (FILMCD346)

Cliffhanger 1993 (514 455.2)

Cop Land 1997 (73138 35827.2)

Dead Ringers 1988 (FILMCD115)

Dogma 1999 (9362 47597.2)

East is East 1999 (7243 5 23361.2)

Ed Wood 1994 (012002.2HWR)

Existenz 1998 (09026 63478.2)

The Fellowship of the Ring 2001 (9362 48110.2)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Decca)

The Two Towers 2002 (9362 48421.2)

The Return of the King 2003 (9362 48609.2)

The Fly 1986 (VCD47272)

In the Name of the Father 1993 (518 841.2)

Iron Man 3 2013 (Hollywood Records B00B9JDAYO)

Lawrence of Arabia 1962 (CINCD 008)

Looking for Richard 1996 (CDQ7243 5 56139.2)

Madame Butterfly 1993 (VSD5435)

The Mission 1986 (CDV2402)

Naked Lunch 1991 (73138 35614.2)

Nobody’s Fool 1994 (73138 35689.2)

Now You See Me 2013 (Glassnote Records)

Philadelphia 1993 (EPC475800.2)

Thor: The Dark World 2013 (Hollywood Records B00G3Q5VT0)

The Yards 2000 (SK89442)

There are many compilation releases of movie music released every year in different forms but this release has the advantage of having John Mauceri re-arrange/orchestrate the material so you’ll hear it like you’ve never experienced before. Anna North, widow of Alex North, commissioned John to do a suite of material from the film Cleopatra( 1963)and the result is a spectacular 25 minute work that captures the music in a way you’ve never heard before and is the highlight of this 2 CD set released on the London Philharmonic’s label. It is delicate, romantic, majestic, brash, and dissonant all part of the package. It has a sound of the ancient as well as modern jazz. This suite alone is worth the price of the CD’s but there is more a lot more. The Godfather, a symphonic portrait, was also given the Mauceri touch and plays out like an operatic overture. It comes complete with romance, samba, early 20th century jazz, and excellent orchestrations. The 15 minute suite plays out quite nicely. Completing the first CD is the famous “The Ride of the Cossacks” from Taras Bulba,” a tune that Waxman found in a book of historic Russian folk sounds. It plays out like the style of Ravel’s Bolero, becoming quite frantic by the end. Both Shostakovich and Waxman had used this previously in other works each teasingly saying they stole the idea. Bronislaw Kaper wrote one of his last scores Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) and it is nicely presented here in a 12 minute suite that not only features the love song, Oscar nominated along with the score, but all of the exotic material that he wrote for the Marlon Brando film. Kaper like Waxman and Korngold escaped to America and found a new home in Hollywood where they contributed unforgettable material. It is presented in a way that I had never heard before, again playing out more like a symphonic suite. Similar things can also be said of Psycho, a narrative for string orchestra, which Herrmann composed and recorded in 1968 while living in London. Norma Herrmann was kind enough to share this wealth of material with Mauceri who created a performing edition. Written somewhat like Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in short cell like melodies they performed a pattern that the moviegoer has never quite heard before. Rounding out the CD’s are themes from Star Trek, Once Upon A Time in America, and Lawrence of Arabia. The 90 minutes goes by rather quickly as the sound quality and mixing enhance the superior playing of the London Philharmonic even more.

Track Listing:

CD1

  1. Alfred Newman 20th Century Fox Fanfare 0:24
  2. Alex North Cleopatra Symphony 25:43
  3. Nino Rota The Godfather 15:20
  4. Franz Waxman Taras Bulba

CD2

  1. Bernard Herrmann Psycho 14:49
  2. Bronislaw Kaper Mutiny on the Bounty 12:17
  3. Jerry Goldsmith Star Trek 5:43
  4. Ennio Morricone Once Upon A Time In America 5:43
  5. Maurice Jarre Lawrence of Arabia 2:16

Total Time is 89:15

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invasion of the body snatchers

LIMITED EDITION OF 2000 UNITS

I’m old enough to remember this film as a nine year old, going to a local theater on my bicycle with my cousin and seeing this. I was afraid to go to sleep that night for fear of turning into one of those robots. Along with Psycho, which came a few years later, these were the two films that really scared me. It wasn’t about some sort of monster running around swallowing people whole but something in my mind that could have been real. It starred Kevin McCarthy, Dana Wynter, Carolyn Jones, and King Donovan. All would end up in the new media, television and have long successful careers. Director Don Siegel went on to work with Clint Eastwood on several pictures and Walter Wanger, former CEO of Paramount, did much to help Allied Artists, formerly Monogram Pictures, to establish themselves as a B+ picture company. The film had a budget of $300,000 putting it well under a typical Hollywood A film but considerably over what Monogram, PRC, or Republic would have allotted.

For those who are reading this and haven’t seen the film it involves an invisible outer space invasion of earth in the form of giant plant pods growing and eventually taking over human bodies turning them into what we might call drones today. The term in the 50’s was known as pod people. The two stars, McCarthy and Wynter fight to the very end to convince people that this changeover is taking place.

Carmen Dragon, the composer, arranger, and conductor of the score, was the last one he did for Hollywood as he turned his attention completely to doing pop classics with the Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra and became an international celebrity. The “Main Title,” (clip enclosed) which begins with a long prelude consisting of edgy brass motifs and long timpani rolls settles into a tense moment with the strings. This goes into the second track immediately without pause “No Bananas Today,” a somber one with the strings dictating that this is going to be a serious film. The third track is the love theme “Here Comes My Love” which is heard throughout the film as the relationship develops between Miles and Becky. The fifth track “Where Are You… Don’t Worry About Me” opens with a recurring motif, a chord from the lower keys on the piano. It is repeated two more times on the track and you’ll hear it on other tracks. It is quite prevalent on “Shadows in the Night/Hysteria.” “If I Should Die” sounds like other 50’s type science fiction soundtracks with the dissonant chords and loud attention getting brass motifs. While you’ll hear some similar sounding material as you’ve heard before the overall material is a lot more polished. Yes the music is still non tonal except for the love theme with unusual cords mixed with brass chords that sound jagged and distorted but the arrangements and playing have an overall smoothness about them. The orchestra seems well rehearsed and if a suite of tracks were created for symphony orchestra I would want to listen to it. The additional source tracks show the versatility of styles of music that Dragon is capable of producing: big band, sweet music, and vocals.

As explained in the finely written liner notes it is rare that a copy of the music only existed on a reel to reel tape which allowed this recording to happen. It must have been stored in a good environment as the mono quality of the material is quite acceptable. That also goes for the liner notes by Jeff Bond who is as knowledgeable as Tom Weaver. Add this to your collection if you’re a fan of the film (you probably already have) or you want a fine example of science fiction music. It will likely be the only example of Carmen Dragon that you have in your collection.

TRACK LISTING:

  1. Main Title 1:57
  2. No Bananas Today 0:55
  3. Here Comes My Love 1:50
  4. Somebody Stole My Man 2:12
  5. Where Are You?/Don’t Worry About Me 4:15
  6. Tell Me Who: 3:17
  7. If I Should Die 2:09
  8. Shadows in the Night/Hysteria 1:40
  9. The Voices 1:29
  10. I’m Taking You to My House/They Won’t Believe Me 4:17
  11. Suddenly 2:51
  12. Wilma/The Devils Workshop/Get Help/Yell for Help 7:24
  13. No More Tears/Waiting For You 5:44
  14. Out of the Sky/No Choice
  15. Open the Door 1:38
  16. They’re Over There 3:10
  17. No! Never! 2:26 Source Music
  18. Crazy Rhythm 2:07
  19. Shall We Dance (I’m in Love With Kathy) 2:12
  20. I’m in Love With the World 2:27
  21. Total Album Time: 58:20