July 2, 2014
PERSEVERANCE PRD 072
In many cases remakes of films aren’t as good as the original or the story it was taken from and this is definitely the case with Pit and Pendulum (1991), a Full Moon Entertainment production starring Lance Henriksen and directed by Stuart Gordon, best known for his film Re-Animator (1985). To get you started I’m providing a link to the original Edgar Allen Poe story that in a single word excellent. http://www.ibiblio.org/ebooks/Poe/Pit_Pendulum.pdf. The film at best is a stretch in calling it based on an Edgar Allen Poe story. When they reintroduced it in 2000 they renamed it The Inquisitor, a title which I think is far more appropriate. One reviewer called it a timeless Gordon classic which put a smile on my face. The main appeal to this film is blood, gore and nudity/sex. If you’re into that kind of film it will definitely appeal to you.
The music from Richard Band is another story. For those not aware Full Moon Entertainment is a family affair of the Band family and while Richard was chosen to do the music for obvious reasons they couldn’t have selected a better composer. In my opinion his music was far better than the film and the bright spot along with the liner notes divided into three different sections; the director, making of the film, and the making of the music all put together by Gergely Hubai. There are notes from both the director and the composer Richard Band. While watching the film I didn’t get the feeling that I hearing an electronic score but actually one from recorded by an orchestra. Listening away from the film I could definitely hear the difference but the bottom line is that it was very well done.
The opening cue “The Crypt” is a perfect setup for the rest of the CD as it offers an eerie feeling along with a choir singing/chanting in Latin, something that you’ll hear through the CD. The wind chime or whatever was used in addition to the mix. “Main Title” gives you a full four minutes of the choir a little complex in that it offers two vocal lines a melody and a harmony. The first part of “The Chase” seems out of place as we hear a brief street festival statement followed by what else a chase sequence which seems quite modern sounding. My favorite track on this CD is the final one “Finale and End Titles” which begins with a redemption sequence and ends with a re-statement of the beginning singing that you hear in “Main Titles.” Other tracks that might be of interest are the flute driven “The Meadow,” another break from the creepy music. The extended track “Pit and the Pendulum” makes excellent use of the brass as it guides you along the path. The end of the track offers an instrumental version of the main title.
This is an expanded version of the soundtrack as it offers sixty four minutes while the original Full Moon release had forty eight minutes. It is a limited edition but I couldn’t find the pressed number of CD’s. While I’m sure that this will interest the horror collector it also offers a takeoff on Orff’s Carmina Burana likely the temp track they used for the film.
June 25, 2014
PERSEVERANCE # 059
Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries
I think that all of the younger generation should be made to sit and listen to this soundtrack just like I’ve listened to some of the newer material that I must listen to as a reviewer and indirectly their music when I venture out in public at a restaurant as an example. This is the thirties and the depression era when Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were the thing and musicals made one forget the hard times. The lyrics were a contrast to the hopelessness of the era. My father who is 88 and very much alive has given me his experiences growing up in North Dakota at the time.
MGM took a very bold move in 1981 by deciding to revive the musical and going a step further cast Steve “The Jerk,” Martin, the new Jerry Lewis in the lead role. Martin wanted to shed his comedy side and show to the public that he could act. They invested fifteen million dollars in the project and the response from the public was lukewarm at best. Having said that Bernadette Peters, the female star in the film, won a Golden Globe for her performance and it was nominated also for two Academy Awards. As a bit of trivia for your friends Christopher Walken played a role as a tap dancer.
The soundtrack was mainly music of the time with additional material provided by Marvin Hamlisch and some very fine arranging by Billy May who is known for his skills as a composer/ orchestrator for Capitol Records in the fifties. Billy played trumpet with the Glenn Miller band in the early forties. I best remember May for his television work on Batman, Naked City, and Green Hornet. Because of the period music this is a mono soundtrack that features from very nice restoration work. You’ll hear very little noise in the background on this one. Yes the material is compressed but keep in mind some of this material is eighty years old.
Liner notes are provided by Daniel Schweiger a long standing writer in our soundtrack community. They provide a nice blend of the period, the making of the film, and the soundtrack itself. Give this one a spin or download and take yourself back to the time when the original King Kong ruled. I give Robin Esterhammer an A for taking a chance and making a good effort.
Total Duration: 00:58:21
December 16, 2012
Limited edition of 1000 units perseverance prd 060
The first thing that I noticed about the Lambro score to CHINATOWN (1974) was no mention of the name of the film (legal issue I’m sure) but there was no doubt what it was for. If you’re interested in learning more about what happened I urge you to read the book Lambro wrote “Close Encounters of the Worst Kind.” The second thing I noticed was the word unused instead of rejected, a much better way to phrase it. Rejected seems so negative compared to unused.
The liner notes by Gergely Hubai give a nice overview of all the problems that were encountered during the making of the film such as Jack Nicholson wanting time off during shooting to watch the Lakers, diva Dunaway, and the obsession that the producer Evans had with the Bunny Berigan chartbuster I Can’t Get Started. There is no track by track analysis of the score but there is a nice written comparison between the Lambro and the Goldsmith versions. Both themes I would put in the category of an easy jazz listening style. In fact they are somewhat similar with the trumpet being substituted for the sax in the Goldsmith version.
Main Title features a swaggering sax that you’ll not likely forget with able support from the piano all of which is somewhat haunting due to the creepy percussive/brass background. A dissonant trombone completes the orchestration. Tailing Hollis has no melody only dissonant sound from the percussion. An interesting underscore track that would likely be a synthesizer cue today. The Boy on a Horse is more underscore this time with a long note from the strings followed by a statement from the flute, clarinet, piano, and brass with percussion. A creepy track that I could see as underscore on a Twilight Zone episode. Mariachi Source offers a basic theme which is played by the winds/brass and strings. Effective underscore. Orchid Case is a pulsating track with the ever present percussion and strings sounding like a bee swarm. One Night with Evelyn is a repeat of the main title in a lush romantic setting. I’ve included this track as an audio clip. One Night With Evelyn (main title theme) Welcome to Chinatown and End Titles are pentatonic Chinese underscore.
This reviewer had no problem listening to the first fourteen tracks. They are mono recordings but the tape noise at least for me was minimal. As explained in the liner notes the two classical works were recorded separately at an earlier time and are stereo with fuller sound and a greater dynamic range. It was because of these works that Lambro was given the assignment to score CHINATOWN. The styles are quite modern sounding classical and are works that require many listens to understand.
This score like many of Lambro’s is dependent upon percussion which makes it highly effective as underscore. Owning both the Goldsmith and the Lambro is fun to compare. Recommended.
Total Duration: 00:44:39
November 11, 2012
Benjamin Frankel (1906-1973) like many other British composers is right at home in classical compositions as he is in composing for the silver screen. In either type of music he hasn’t received the recognition he deserves. His style of composing is quite unique and should definitely be explored. What better way to start than listening to his last and best score “Battle of the Bulge” (1965) for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe award? While this release is a direct reissue of the Warner Brothers LP #WS1617 and there have been other releases of it they are all forgotten and very expensive to obtain. It offers a retail selling price from Perseverance of $12.98 and sales are limited to 3000 units. Better to act sooner than later on this golden age material. If you wish a reconstructed score that is longer (78 minutes) it is still available on the CPO label #999 696-2. It is performed by the Queensland Symphony conducted by Werner Andreas Albert. The Queensland ensemble also recorded his symphonies and a recording of Music from the Movies.
The film was one of many war films of the 60’s era featuring all star casts and large budgets. This one featured Robert Shaw, Henry Fonda, Dana Andrews, Telly Savalas, James MacArthur, Robert Ryan, Ty Hardin, Charles Bronson and others. It was the last gasp fight that Germany had to offer before their supplies were depleted. If you want to see the film get ready for a full evening as the running time is approximately 160 minutes.
The 40 minute score uses the somewhat traditional leitmotif style where the Americans and Germans have their own theme and there are descriptive melodies for some of the actors and actresses. “The Prelude” which I include as an audio track (remember these are low quality) Prelude to the Battle of the Bulge – 01 – Track 1 features a new military march which is dissonant (war isn’t?) but also tonal in nature making one think it could have been a Sousa march. If you listen to the 4th movement of the 5th Symphony of Shostakovich you’ll hear some of the same ideas. I’ve also included the entire 4th movement so that you can compare. 04 – 4th Movement Symphony #5 Shostakovich Also included in the track is the first offering of the traditional German Tank men’s Song, with lyrics and melody from Kurt Wiehle. The tune has international acceptance as it is also used by South Korea, Chile, and South Africa. The song is performed by the tuba and it is this instrument that makes it comical and pretentious. It is a striking contrast to the main title and makes for an interesting listen. “Interlude with a Courtesan Ist Class” begins as a pentatonic oriental flavor which is light and airy and again a radical change from some of the heavy Wagnerian material you’ll hear. “Panzerlied” is a male chorus singing the patriotic tankmen composition. “Kiley’s Plane Chases Hessler’s Car” gives us a theme for Kiley in the form of a proud majestic horn in addition to grumbling brass giving off dissonant phrases where there seems to be no structure (there is I just can’t hear it). The final track “Victory and Prelude” restate the tankmen theme, again on the tuba in a grave tempo and the main title proud and majestic bringing this soundtrack to a finale.
If this is an OST that you’ve neglected purchasing now is the opportunity to take advantage of the low price that Perseverance has to offer. It will introduce you to a composer that you’re not familiar with. I urge the listener to give this one repeated listens as some of the inner layers of the score will be revealed to you. The remastering is a typical sound from the 60’s. I found myself adjusting my equalizer to take the edge off of the high end. The brass was a little distorted so I had to turn the volume down a bit from my normal listening levels. None of this is any reason not to purchase the CD. New liner notes were written by Dimitri Kennaway stepson of Frankel and provide an excellent explanation as to how it was put together. Recommended. Total time for the CD is 40 minutes
June 3, 2012
Ralph Nelson (1916-1987),director of Lilies of the Field, has directed some of my favorite pictures which include Charly, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Fate is a Hunter, Soldier in the Rain, and Duel at Diablo. Liner notes from Jeff Bond explain how Nelson had to use his home as collateral to get a loan to get this film made. I’m glad he did because it is a great picture and if you’ve not seen it you’re in for a real treat. Starring Sidney Poiter in an academy award winning performance, the film was also nominated for four other Oscars including Nelson who indirectly had the last laugh over United Artists. The film made a lot of money.
The Jerry Goldsmith score is based the theme “Amen” music and
words by Jester Hairston, who also sings the inspiring lyrics for the soundtrack. It is a straight digital remastering of the Epic LP BN26094 with the only real difference (other than improved sound) being the combining of some tracks (15-12). It is limited to 3000 units but this is more the norm than the exception. The majority of the release is mono but the transfer is clean. The real star of the soundtrack is harmonica soloist Tommy Morgan who had worked with Goldsmith before on Twilight Zone episodes performing some very similar sounding work. He was more often than not given the call when harmonica was called for and he performed so many times he could no longer remember he told me when I did liner notes for an album he did with Gregg Nestor, an arranger and fine classical guitarist. The orchestra is small but effective with Goldsmith creating the right sound for religion and Arizona with some down to earth Americana sound.
A clap and harmonica open the ”Main Title” to the “Amen” theme with a twangy bass, guitar, banjo, and small string ensemble. The bass line created by Goldsmith for this track gives it a special feeling. “Homer Returns” offers chamber strings, a distant sounding Copland style trumpet, and a new theme slow to develop but the banjo offers bars opening the door for the trumpet and harmonica. This second theme which I’ll call the lilies theme continues in “The Roof” with a happy upbeat harmonica continuing. “Homer Awakes/Breakfast” offers a swaying strings prelude which lead to the “Amen” theme in a soft rendition. More clarinet and harmonica are featured. “Feed the Slaves/Drive to Mass” features a bluesy humorous track which includes the lilies theme. “Amen/Sunday Morning/Amen” features the first Jester Hairston vocal with a female chorus singing the single word amen. “Sunday Morning” is excellent well thought out underscore. “The Contractor” offers a combination of the lilies and amen themes. “Out of Bricks” begins as a sad statement followed by a train track rhythm from the harmonica. “No Hammer/Return of the Prodigal” is sad underscore which changes to a horn and banjo solo featuring “Amen.” Jerry also uses the lilies theme as a prologue to the “Amen” theme. A nice track! “Lots of Bricks/Aid Given/Aid Rejected,” the longest track at nearly seven minutes restates the “Amen” theme in yet another way with some nice rhythm from the bass and percussion and able support from the clarinet. “Amen” (second version) is the second vocal of the main theme from Jester Hairston. The final track “End Title/End Cast” reprises the main theme beginning with the lonely trumpet followed by the harmonica with some well written string work as harmony.
This is an excellent example of early Goldsmith showing how effective he can be working on a low budget with a small orchestra. At $12.98 this is a real bargain and can be ordered from Perseverance http://store.fortytwotradingco.com/liliesoffield.html as well as other dealers.
Total Duration: 00:32:01
March 7, 2012
I can remember first seeing The Gauntlet at the theaters in 1978 and after the movie was over I felt exhausted! I had never seen so many bullets fired at this bus in my entire life. There was enough ammunition fired for L.A. Confidential, Heat, and enough left over for the Korean War. This was a Clint Eastwood directed picture which also starred his girlfriend at the time Sondra Locke and Pat Hingle in a story that dealt with transporting a witness to federal court in Phoenix, Arizona. This film was made for the action crowd and further enhanced the macho image of Clint. It did little for the career of Sondra Locke who did her best film in 1969 The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.
This is a straight reissue of the original material found on the Warner Brothers LP (BSK3144), an album I own and wore out over time as the type of jazz played was of great interest to me especially the playing of Jon Faddis who I’ve had the opportunity of hearing live. The majority of the material is standard type jazz that you might have heard in the 70’s. The solos of Pepper and Faddis are enhanced with good biting arrangements from Fielding. The 3000 limited edition release Perseverance PRR 043 is priced at $12.98 more than compensating for the rather short 31 minute timing (this is how LP’s were). The mastering is fine. I particularly noticed that some of the very high trumpet passages produced clear concise notes without the shrill you can sometimes hear. The bass solo passages are clear without muddiness as you sometimes might hear. Background noise was at a minimum and it offers good dynamic range.
1… Bleak Bad Big City Dawn (3:23) offers the main title instrumental version of “Just A Closer Walk With Thee,” an older gospel composition in public domain. While the arrangement features Faddis it also offers bass, drums, piano, and orchestra backing.
2… The Pickup (2:36) is a showcase for the alto sax of Art Pepper although it begins with a bluesy conversation between Pepper and Faddis. Backed by the orchestra Pepper doesn’t miss a lick.
3… Exit Tunnel, Roaring (3:06) gives you great brass arranging with a solo from Faddis that will certainly loosen any ear wax you might have. There is good brass harmony backed by some nice drum work.
4… The Gauntlet (4:38) there is a synthesizer introduction before you hear a strong orchestral arrangement enhanced by the upper register performance from Faddis.
5… The Box Car Incident (3:36) tension underscore gives way to a slow building climax with creepy woodwinds along the way. It ends with a sound of a train in the background.
6… Closer Look At A Closer Walk (3:15) is a repeat of the main title theme “Just A Closer Walk With Thee” in a bluesy arrangement.
7… The Black Sedan (2:29) is improvisational with little melody but strong rhythm and a nice Pepper solo which slowly fades into nothing.
8… Manipulation/The Center Divider (2:45) a dissonant Pepper sax gives a feeling of urgency. This is the Fielding sound we’ve grown accustom to.
9… The Delivery (2:49) a tension track featuring growling brass, creepy oboe and bassoon, and lower strings in a twelve tone sound dissonant track.
10… Postlude (2:02) a final offering of the main title bordering on the romantic side with major key strings and an organ.
|Total Duration: 00:31:07|
January 17, 2012
Did you know that David Newman was nominated for an Oscar for the film Anastasia in 1997? That growing up he intended to become a classical conductor and did lead such orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic, New Japan Philharmonic, National Orchestra of Belgium, and L.A. Philharmonic? He has composed soundtracks for over a 100 films? His father was Alfred Newman, brother is Thomas Newman, and cousin is Randy Newman? While some of us might feel that he has taken a back seat to Randy and Thomas that is really not true at all. He is carrying on the outstanding Newman tradition as well as other family members.
This is the second release of David Newman that Perseverance Records has offered with their first being Runestone PRD 029 that has sold out.
Konferenz der Tiere (Animals United)– (2010) is an animated story about animals who unite against humans who have caused disasters such as a dam preventing water, oil spills, and forest fires. Based on the childrens novel The Animals’ Conference by Erich Kastner (1899-1974) who is also known for Parent Trap and Emil and the Detectives, originally wrote this as a pacifist satire using animals with world peace as a solution for the Cold War after World War II. The adapted satire was turned into an animated comedy with a message, aimed at the children’s market. This Constantin Film was made in Germany and produced and directed by Reinhard Kloos and Holger Tappe. The success of the film allowed US voices and a run at the theaters in the U.S. market. Some of the more prominent voices in the cast are Jim Broadbent, Stephen Fry, Joanna Lumley, and Vanessa Redgrave.
David Newman composed a classical score that gets off the path for the emotional and comical scenes when called for but always returns to the classical umbrella. It is rich in harmony, counterpoint, and extremely well orchestrated. It has a minimum amount of electronics. Within the score you’ll find themes David created for the cast of characters such as Angie, Socrates, Charles, and Billy. Charles is especially clever being a variation of the French Marseilles. The main title “Animal Paradise” offers a full rich theme that takes advantage of the entire orchestra. It will pull your emotional strings without going too far and becoming syrupy. This theme is also prominent on the “Animals in New York track. As the theme unfolds you’ll hear other motifs and an ever present African rhythm which are prominent on many of the cues. “The Great Horn” while very brief is actually a very clever two note horn motif with properly placed notes coming from the other brass. “Monkey Jazz” is a brief jazz quartet cue that is dying to be expanded into a much longer improvisational piece. “Toby Meets Smiley” has quite a modern sound with the electric guitar and reminded me of the quirky style that Thomas Newman uses. “Russian Ship” will take you on a very brief Slavic dance journey. “Animals Techno,” a bonus track is the one track that is very synth sounding with twangy guitar and full of special percussion effects. I’ve included 4 audio clips in the track listing.
This was certainly a score that required many listens to maximize my enjoyment. On first listen I was quite annoyed with the huge number of tracks and the brevity of many as there are several under a minute. My ear would settle into one style of music and there would be an abrupt change to a completely different orchestration. That changed for me as I grew to appreciate and realize the complexity of what Newman weaved into this soundtrack. It is without a doubt a big step above what many of the modern scores are all about. It is well recorded and it was quite evident that the Berlin Score Orchestra enjoyed performing this material. It offers nice ambiance and clarity. It is available for $15.95 directly from www.perseverance.com
Total Duration: 01:07:12