CD Review Archives

A Bridge Too Far

Military marches originally served to set the pace for the advancing ranks, but as time passed they grew from being a mere time-keeping measure to a technique used for raising the esprit de corps. In the album’s meticulous and thoroughgoing sleeve notes (by Richard Ashton), Addison comments, “Earlier in the film the march music was … Continue reading A Bridge Too Far

A Perfect Murder

A PERFECT MURDER is the late 1990s remake of the 1954 Warner Bros film DIAL ‘M’ FOR MURDER, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring the lovely Grace Kelly, Ray Milland and Robert Cummings with music by Dimitri Tiomkin. Sadly the only soundtrack CD available of that Tiomkin score (Silva Screen FILMCD137, a compilation album) has … Continue reading A Perfect Murder

Abandon

Clint Mansell has composed a likable score for this domestic thriller from director Stephen Gaghan. Opening with an atmospheric vocal theme, with a soprano female voice sounding not unlike Christopher Komeda’s theme from ROSEMARY’S BABY, Mansell develops his score into a moody experience that is musically beautiful yet laced with disturbing elements, such as the … Continue reading Abandon

Alien Resurrection

Like John Debney’s masterful horror music for THE RELIC, John Frizzell’s ALIEN RESURRECTION is a similar musical onslaught that propels the listener quickly into otherworldly realms of terror. The music is spooky and frantic. Cues like ‘The Aliens Escape’ ripple with thick orchestration, synths and samples creating a compelling musical sound design. Cues like ‘Ripley … Continue reading Alien Resurrection

An Everlasting Piece

For this comic tale of a friendship between two wig salesmen on differing sides of the Irish troubles, Hans Zimmer has fashioned a delightful if slight jamboree of Celtic frivolity and melancholy. To this end, Zimmer drops the orchestra, favoring instead a small folk rock-styled ensemble, The Jigs, to perform the score. The Jigs themselves … Continue reading An Everlasting Piece

Andromeda

The original Main Title music from Gene Roddenberry’s latest posthumous series ANDROMEDA, is a harsh and cacophonic march of bagpipes and drums (composed by former Rush member, Alex Lifeson) and seems about as out of place as the Russell Watson song on the new STAR TREK series, ENTERPRISE. Fortunately, with the second season, Matthew McCauley’s … Continue reading Andromeda

Arachnophobia

Trevor Jones inexplicably seemed to abandon the orchestra in favor of the synthesizer in the mid-8Os. The effervescent flair of his orchestral works such as THE SENDER, THE LAST PLACE ON EARTH, SAVAGE ISLANDS, and one of the 8O’s best, THE DARK CRYSTAL, gave way to the blandness of such awful electronic pop scores as … Continue reading Arachnophobia

Ararat

World Music specialist Mychael Danna (see last issue’s interview) rejoins director Atom Egoyan for this provocative motion picture about cultural clashes in two generations. ARARAT is both a contemporary story of the making of a historical epic about the Armenian holocaust of 1915-18 and a look at that event itself. Danna’s music is centered in … Continue reading Ararat

Autumn in New York

Gabriel Yared’s score to the new Richard Gere / Winona Ryder film, AUTUMN IN NEW YORK, seems to be the result of a little afternoon cookery. It seems as if Yared took a hefty helping of his own CITY OF ANGELS, added a dash of ethereal female non English vocalizing from GLADIATOR, and pulled everything … Continue reading Autumn in New York

Back To The Future

Doug Fake and his team at Intrada have done a marvelous job on providing Alan Silvestri’s epic 1985 sci-fi action score, Back To The Future on CD for the first time.  While the second two films in the trilogy received adequate treatment on CD, the original film score, a strikingly powerful and influential composition, has … Continue reading Back To The Future

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Shirley Walker’s music for the animated Batman feature film is well in the style of Danny Elfman’s feature film scores for Tim Burton. Emphasizing choir and full-blooded symphonies and embellished by nicely-integrated synthesizers, MASK OF THE PHANTASM is a powerful, striking score. Its main theme is heroic, yet subdued; powerful yet held in restraint. The … Continue reading Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Ben-Hur

One of my favorite scores is Miklos Rozsa’s BEN-HUR; it’s unforgettable for so many reasons: its color, energy, humanity, spectacle, and sheer beauty. So even when I was preparing to listen to Carl Davis’ massive new score for the 1925 “silent” version, what music was on my mind but ‘The Burning Desert’ or ‘A Mother’s … Continue reading Ben-Hur

Black Hawk Down

Hans Zimmer’s music for this unforgettably compelling story of a US military action in war-town Somalia gone horribly awry is one part action music – the kind of percussive action material we’ve come to expect from Zimmer and his Media Ventures protégés – but three parts very persuasive and evocative ethnically-based material. Collaborating for the … Continue reading Black Hawk Down

Black Sabbath

I’ve found it irritating that Les Baxter’s American rescores of BLACK SABBATH (I Tre Volti Della Paura) / BLACK SUNDAY (Nicolosi), and BARON BLOOD (Stelvio Cipriani) have been released as soundtrack recordings, while the superior original scores languish in relative obscurity. I have nothing against Baxter. He was a fine musician. His score for Corman’s … Continue reading Black Sabbath

Black Widow

The late Michael Small remains one of the most unsung composers within the film music pantheon of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. Partly due to the type of films he chose, partly due to the understatedness of the music he wrote, Small never achieved the kind of popular recognition many of his colleagues did. For … Continue reading Black Widow

Bless the Child

Having passed the turn of the millennium without so much as a hint of Armageddon, it may seem a little odd for a film dealing with the end of the world on 31 December 1999 to make an appearance now – but BLESS THE CHILD has suffered such a turbulent post-production, with re-shoots, re-editing and … Continue reading Bless the Child

Bound

Don Davis’s music for this quirkily provocative romantic thriller is a fine composition, a potent mix of modern percussive suspense music and rhythmic jazz. In the film, Davis’s score built an effective undercurrent of danger for this compelling thriller. It is not a melodic or a thematic score, but more a collection of brooding figures … Continue reading Bound

Boy on a Dolphin

BOY ON A DOLPHIN (1957) is one of those great 20th Century-Fox “dramalogues” of the 1950s, i.e., escapist narrative films emphasizing international locations lushly shot in Fox’s new wide screen/stereophonic sound process, CinemaScope. DOLPHIN showcases Greece and deals with the search for a priceless antiquity, the shipwrecked golden statue of the title that is accidentally … Continue reading Boy on a Dolphin

Brotherhood of the Wolf

Joseph LoDuca’s second collaboration with French director Christophe Gans (he scores NECRONOMICON for him in 1994) results in an excellent and diverse composition. LoDuca, known for his musical efforts for Sam Raimi’s engagingly over–the-top horrorshows, EVIL DEAD, EVIL DEAD II, and ARMY OF DARKNESS, as well as his eclectic and compelling music for XENA: WARRIOR … Continue reading Brotherhood of the Wolf

Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

At last Laurie Johnson’s vibrant and powerful music for this classic Hammer horror is available on disc for collectors to savour over and over. The soundtrack release was announced some two years back by GDI records in the UK, but after repeated announcements it never saw the light of day and GDI seemed to vanish … Continue reading Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter

Carrie

On the one hand, Ryko has done film music a service by providing Pino Donaggio’s masterful score for CARRIE on CD for the first time. After DON’T LOOK NOW, this was the film that really catapulted Donaggio to the momentary forefront as something of a successor to Bernard Herrmann as a suspense-thriller composer. On the … Continue reading Carrie

Carried Away

This quiet drama is a pleasant diversion from Broughton’s more familiar action scores, affording him the opportunity to compose an intimate score for an unlikely romance. Opening with furtive woodwinds over harp, Broughton develops his score hesitatingly, introducing figures and ideas which will return later, but won’t reach fruition until the conclusion. As producer Doug … Continue reading Carried Away

Casablanca

CASABLANCA is unarguably one of the best movies ever made. In terms of story, dialog, nobility of character, performances, lighting, direction, music, every aspect the film seems to be perfect. Max Steiner’s musical underscore was one of his best: heartfelt, brooding and tuneful. Featuring his characteristic quoting from external sources (the French National Anthem, for … Continue reading Casablanca

Charlotte Gray

This quiet score is for a film starring Cate Blanchett, directed by Gillian Armstrong. Stephen Warbeck is known especially for his lighter music, such as his Oscar-winning SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE and CAPTAIN CORELLI’S MANDOLIN. For CHARLOTTE GRAY, he has taken a decidedly different approach. It’s a much more somber score, like what John Williams did … Continue reading Charlotte Gray

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes / Battle for the Planet of the Apes

The percussive acousticality of the PLANET OF THE APES series may have never matched, musically, the originally and impact of Jerry Goldsmith’s score for the original 1968 feature. That said, though, the succeeding quartet of sequels nonetheless sustained an interesting development of the primitive nuances that Goldsmith launched. Rosenman’s score for BENEATH THE PLANET OF … Continue reading Conquest of the Planet of the Apes / Battle for the Planet of the Apes

Cool Hand Luke

Expanding the original MCA CD soundtrack (released only in Japan in 1996, from the 1967 Warner Bros LP) by 7 tracks and some 30 minutes, Schifrin’s Aleph label releases the complete original soundtrack recording in very fine form. For this story about survival on a chain gang in a Southern prison, Schifrin merged elements of … Continue reading Cool Hand Luke

Cromwell

I first became aware that Frank Cordell was involved in scoring the film CROMWELL (1970) on reading article in “Films and Filming” in 1969 reporting that the composer was having more than a few problems completing the score. I vaguely recall that there were even rumours at one point saying he had been replaced. Thankfully … Continue reading Cromwell

Cross Fire

Composer Otani has shared a long history of collaboration with director Shunsuke Kaneko that has resulted in several popular films, most notably the recent trilogy of GAMERA films and, currently, the highly anticipated GODZILLA, MOTHRA, KING GHIDORAH: DAIKAIJU SOUKOUGEKI. Somewhat related at times to his GAMERA 3 score, Otani uses mostly electronics for this story … Continue reading Cross Fire

David Copperfield / The Roots of Heaven

This disc was released to celebrate Sir Malcolm Arnold’s 80th birthday. He has composed over 100 film and TV scores, receiving an Oscar for David Lean’s epic film, THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI from 1957. One year later he received an Ivor Novello award for THE INN OF THE SIXTH HAPPINESS. The Moscow Symphony … Continue reading David Copperfield / The Roots of Heaven

Dellamorte Dellamore

Based on a novel by Tiziano Sclavi, also the author of “Dylan Dog”, DELLAMORTE DELLAMORE (Love and death), is a horror film directed by Micheie Soavi and starring Rupert Everett. There lies all the information one can get from the booklet inserted in this soundtrack release. Quite frankly, it is a shame that so many … Continue reading Dellamorte Dellamore

Doctor Faustus / Francis of Assisi

A 1967 box office disaster, DOCTOR FAUSTUS starred the then news making team of Richard Burton (who directed) and Elizabeth Taylor (in a silent walk-on cameo as Helen of Tiny) in a fancy retelling of the age-old Faustian legend, based on Christopher Marlowe’s 16th century morality play. For a while, the soundtrack album by Mario … Continue reading Doctor Faustus / Francis of Assisi

Don Quixote

Of course we all knew that Lalo Schifrin, given the right project could write some great music. But it had been quite some time since he last treated us to a score as wonderful as DON QUIXOTE. From the first bars of the “Main Title,” the listener becomes keenly aware that this is no ordinary, … Continue reading Don Quixote

Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde

This isn’t the first film to depict a gender-crossing Jekyll & Hyde story – Hammer did it very successfully almost a quarter century ago in DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE, a film that featured a dynamic and compelling David Whitaker score. Mark McKenzie’s music for this new, modernized version is cut from similar but broader … Continue reading Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde

Dragon Seed

The big budget DRAGON SEED was a box office success for M-G-M in 1944, securing a place in the top ten grossing films of that year, helped no doubt by virtue of its wartime propaganda theme. In the lead, Katherine Hepburn was possibly not the most obvious choice for the role of a Chinese peasant … Continue reading Dragon Seed

Dragonheart: A New Beginning

I’m going to start my review of DRAGONHEART “with the old chestnut why doesn’t this composer get more work?” It pains me to see talentless hacks rise to the top of the scoring ladder while imaginative, artistic composers like Mark McKenzie are stuck doing orchestrations for other people and scoring straight-to-video sequels like this movie. … Continue reading Dragonheart: A New Beginning

Dressed to Kill

This must be Pino Donaggio’s most important film score to date, given the critical and box-office success of this stylish Hitchcockian thriller. Not only has the movie put Brian De Palma back on form but it seems to have given Donaggio inspiration as well. DRESSED TO KILL can be seen as a reworking of PSYCHO … Continue reading Dressed to Kill

Edward Scissorhands

Danny Elfman has been the victim of some rather spiteful jibes in the recent past, all of which have created the enduring image of the composer as a jumped up pop muso, writing scores by whistling fragments of melody to his brood of overworked orchestrators. Critics pointed to the likes of MIDNIGHT RUN and WISDOM … Continue reading Edward Scissorhands

Exodus

Following on from Tadlow’s epic recording of EL CID, the same team – Nic Raine conducting and James Fitzpatrick producing – have turned their attention to a completely different type of epic film for the definitive recording of Ernest Gold’s Academy Award winning score for Otto Preminger’s EXODUS (1960). The score is something of a … Continue reading Exodus

Faccia a Faccia

We are currently going through an unprecedented phase of expanded reissues of older scores. Titles like STAR WARS and BEN-HUR set the ball rolling, with the releases consisting by-and-large of acknowledged classics for which collectors have longed for many years. In recent times, all manner of scores have been released in expanded form – the … Continue reading Faccia a Faccia

Far from the Madding Crowd

A score well-deserving of reissue on CD, FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD is one of the Richard Rodney Bennett’s finest efforts and its appearance is most welcome. “Overture and Storm” provides the CD with a dramatic opening, beginning with strings playing a sweeping arrangement of the main theme. This soon crescendos into the music for … Continue reading Far from the Madding Crowd

Film Music

What a treat! Two hours and 26 minutes of the music from one of the most underrated film composers. Bay Cities’ two-CD set has just rescued the late Jerry Fielding from a journey into oblivion. Until now, Fielding has had minimal representation on compact disc. In fact, only suites from THE TROUBLE WITH TRIBBLES and … Continue reading Film Music

Film Music 2

It is so rare that the first thing I would want to talk about in a compact disc review is the liner notes, but that is the first thing that made an impression on me with this CD. When it comes to liner notes, the quality, relevance, and interest is unpredictable. With Jerry Fielding: Volume … Continue reading Film Music 2

Film Music 3

In Bay Cities’ third and final compilation of Jerry Fielding’s film music, a retrospective trilogy on the music of a remarkable composer is brought to a close. Rounding out the first two volumes with music from BRING ME THE HEAD OF ALFREDO GARCIA, THE GAMBLER and his rejected score to the GETAWAY, the three volumes … Continue reading Film Music 3

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Ever since the 1980s, Elliot Goldenthal has been producing outstanding soundtracks. They include the Oscar and Golden Globe nominated scores for INTERVIEW WITH A VAMPIRE and MICHAEL COLLlNS, and the Grammy nominated A TIME TO KILL. This soundtrack is somewhat like another of his fantasy scores, SPHERE. The music is full and robust with swelling … Continue reading Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

First Men in the Moon

This is a very impressive album comprising some highly contrasting music from four Laurie Johnson scores. FIRST MEN IN THE MOON fills almost one side of the record with magnificent Herrmannesque music for Ray Harryhausen’s fantasy. The “Main Title” in particular is a grand audio experience with the deep notes of a concert hall organ … Continue reading First Men in the Moon

For Your Eyes Only

I love John Barry. I was raised on his Bond scores. But when George Martin SCORED LIVE AND LET DIE, to me it was just a wonderful new approach. And I loved Marvin Hamlisch’s THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. And when Bill Conti tackled FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, I saw stars. I taped it and … Continue reading For Your Eyes Only

Forbidden Planet

In 1956, Louis & Bebe Barron’s “electronic tonalities” of FORBIDDEN PLANET were strikingly unique, providing an eerie and otherworldly evocation of space and alien landscape. These were the days before synthesizers, and in truth, this isn’t really “music” in the strict sense, but an effective amalgamation of patches and circuits which create electronic sound effects … Continue reading Forbidden Planet

Frailty

Imagine: Bill Paxton as an axe-murderer. Imagine: Matthew McConaughey as the unsuspecting traveler who falls into his snare. Imagine: Pulling this off without making the whole film look really, really dumb. Through effective direction by star Paxton and thanks to an evocative and moody score by Brian Tyler, the film succeeds as a compelling thriller. … Continue reading Frailty

Full Circle

Colin Towns’ evocative synth score for FULL CIRCLE (THE HAUNTING OF JULIA in the USA) comes to compact disc after almost 20 years. Towns provided an extraordinary melodic tonality for this oblique ghost story. Composed prior to filming, Town’s paradoxical score imbued the film with an unhappy joy. Alternately melancholy and exhilarating, the music – … Continue reading Full Circle

G.I. Jane

In keeping with their recent trend, this soundtrack is top heavy with obligatory rock songs, although the two Pretenders cuts are so good I can’t really complain about them; they offer a notable bit of poignancy to the film and its music (the other five songs are negligible, window-dressing). And rather than a mere couple … Continue reading G.I. Jane

Gladiator

For a film that promised such great potential for a truly killer score, instead Zimmer and Liza Gerrard produced one along the lines of Zimmer’s signature noise-for-music efforts. GLADIATOR is all texture and sound that’s meant to make us feel something — but doesn’t. It’s all empty and disappointing. There’s melody, but it’s never developed … Continue reading Gladiator

Hammer, The Studio That Dripped Blood

This latest compilation from Silva Screen is a mix of the old and the new. In addition to new recordings of DRACULA, THE DEVIL RIDES OUT, CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. and HANDS OF THE RIPPER, there are various Dracula film scores, and music for Hammer’s pre-historic romps, assorted Frankenstein, Werewolf, Ripper, … Continue reading Hammer, The Studio That Dripped Blood

Hellraiser: Bloodline

Daniel Licht serves up a likable score that follows the efforts of Christopher Young and Randy Miller on the horror series’ first three outings. Like them, Licht has composed a dynamic, ascending main theme. Full-blooded (blood-soaked might be a better designation, considering the graphic excesses taken by the series) orchestration enlivens the musical drama, mixing … Continue reading Hellraiser: Bloodline

Home Movies

Pino Donaggio’s score for Brian de Palma’s largely unseen comedy is something of a curiosity piece with some classical pastiche, lush romanticism, solo piano, a touch of rock, disco and more. Scores for comedies do not make for particularly noteworthy listening when divorced from their visuals, relying as they do on heavy effects with much … Continue reading Home Movies

Il conte di Melissa

Former CINEMASCORE magazine alumni Marco Werba continues to make a name for himself in Italian film music with his score for this 17th-Century drama, which is ripe with appropriate period classicism. Flutes, drums, harps, and choir abound both in Werba’s underscore and in his source cues. The score’s main thematic texture is found in “Il … Continue reading Il conte di Melissa

In Search of Lewis and Clark

Alan Williams’ gift for dramatic melody is well in evidence in his latest documentary film score, broadcast on TV’s The Discovery Channel earlier this year. Unlike Ken Burns’ 1997 documentary, which told the original story of the intrepid American surveyors, TDC’s 2002 show retraced their route across what would become Montana, the Dakotas and Oregon … Continue reading In Search of Lewis and Clark

Intolerance

Carl Davis delivers another in his long line of scores for classic silent films. As in previous efforts, the score is essentially reminiscent of actual silent films accompaniment. That is to say, it is not a “modern” sounding score; rather, it is painted in the broad, usually unsubtle strokes so common to the neo-classical silent … Continue reading Intolerance

Jazz Goes To Hollywood

This is simply a wonderful album for jazz music enthusiasts. The album features music from the vast film music career of Lalo Schifrin, from JOY HOUSE (1964) to THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND (1983). This isn’t a “studio compilation” instead it was recorded live at the Philharmonic Hall Cologne in Germany (October 1999). I’ve always fancied these … Continue reading Jazz Goes To Hollywood

Jovanka e le altre

I confess to being largely unfamiliar with the work of Francesco Angelo Lavagnino, although I recall him having a big success in the U.K. in 1962 with a single from THE LEGION’S LAST PATROL (a.k.a. MARCIAO CREPA in Italy and COMMANDO in U.S.A.). However, if this score is typical I shall certainly be searching out … Continue reading Jovanka e le altre

King Kong

Max Steiner’s glorious music for KING KONG remains one of the most important and best film scores in Hollywood history. As one of the first films to receive a full-length score, KING KONG was a milestone in the development of music as a dramatic element of motion pictures. Steiner’s passionate, atmospheric, and exciting music remains … Continue reading King Kong

King Kong Lives

The best thing about this film is that it should give its predecessor, the shamefully underrated 1976 remake, a better reputation by comparison. There are just 2 more things going for it: eye-popping (if unbelievable) special effects and John Scott’s incredibly lush score. John Barry’s KING KONG score has become one of my very favorites … Continue reading King Kong Lives

Klute / All The President’s Men

The late Michael Small was one of the best composers for 1970s era thrillers, and 1971’s KLUTE was one of his best scores. Never given an official soundtrack release, it generated only a 500-copy bootleg LP in 1977, a CD bootleg a couple of years ago and transfer of that released by England’s Harkit label … Continue reading Klute / All The President’s Men

L’Enfant des loups

It is somewhat sad to say that composer Serge Franklin is one of those very talented film music maestros that has for the past twenty odd years been stuck in the medium of composing for television, sad because we all know just how much of a competent and original composer he is, and his style … Continue reading L’Enfant des loups

Lamerica

Another GDM Music release and, I’m sorry to say, another deserving soundtrack with no information about the film and/or composer, though collectors might recall Franeo Piersanti as the man responsible for IL LADRO DI BAMBINI, recently released on RCA in ltaly. The first thing I personally like about this eloquent new effort is the fact … Continue reading Lamerica

Last Orders

Paul Grabowsky’s music for Fred Schepisi’s melancholy and tenderhearted drama is subdued and moody. Dominated by piano and strings, the music is endearing but softhearted and understated. The story is drawn from the recollections of an aging London butcher whose remembrances of the past people the story with a number of characters and situations; rather … Continue reading Last Orders

Last Stand at Saber River

Shire’s past scores – at least those most often linked with his name – have tended to be quiet, understated works which, in this day of Big Budget Blockbusters With Bombastic Bands, have left Shire undeservedly underrated. This new Western score is an energetic and melodic work in the genre’s best style. Ripely Americana, full … Continue reading Last Stand at Saber River

Le Roi et l’Oiseau

Most fans of film music will readily identify Wojciech Kilar with DRACULA and THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY, both written in recent years for two highly visible productions. But this delightful score, from 1979, provides a different, albeit equally mesmerizing glance into the creative mind of the Polish composer. An animated feature, LE ROI ET … Continue reading Le Roi et l’Oiseau

Left Behind

This speculative of a post-rapture Earth, based on the best-selling book series, was one of the biggest evangelical films to come to public attention, and it’s to the credit of the production company that it looks and sounds so good. Many evangelical films tend to put their often heavy-handed message first; the message of LEFT … Continue reading Left Behind

Lethal Weapon

Got on the heels of the Varese Sarabande CD Club release of DIE HARD, another of Michael Kamen’s elusive early action scores comes to CD – LETHAL WEAPON, courtesy of a limited edition release of 3000 copies on Kamen’ own personal label (manufactured by Rhino). The recording preserves Kamen’s full score in all its energetic … Continue reading Lethal Weapon

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

This is a pleasing CD with plenty of variety and a good, solid main theme. “The Mothership” reprises the main theme proudly after a delicate violin and piano soliloquy while “The Final Battle” uses the heraldic motif in the midst of an exciting arrangement of action figures, really splendid militaristic battle music. At 7:27, “The … Continue reading Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

Manchurian Candidate

It took 35 years, but David Amram’s masterful jazz-based score for John Frankenheimer’s elusive political thriller is available in complete form, including several elements not fully heard in the film. While jazz-based, the score is more than just a jazz score. Amram reaches the film’s psychological underpinnings and accentuates what’s going on behind the scenes. … Continue reading Manchurian Candidate

Maverick

It only took about six months, but Randy Newman’s orchestral score for MAVERICK is finally available on CD, usurping the country music album that masqueraded as the “soundtrack” since the film’s release. It’s a welcome recording. Newman’s score is expansive, grandly American in style, as jaunty and spry as the film’s easygoing charm. The CD, … Continue reading Maverick

Mikis Theodorakis on the Screen

The unique film music of Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis has been conspicuously absent on compact disc for the last half dozen or so years. One of the most striking sporadic purveyors of film music during the 1970’s, Theodorakis’ work is finally available on CD now thanks to this splendid collection from DRG records, which eagerly … Continue reading Mikis Theodorakis on the Screen

Mountains of the Moon

Among the subtlest and most underrated of modern film composers is Michael Small, whose delicate melodies and atmospheres have added immeasurably to the internal psychologies of films like KLUTE, THE PARALLAX VIEW, THE MARATHAN MAN and BLACK WIDOW. Regrettably, the only soundtrack of his music is a bootleg of KLUTE; the body of Small’s most … Continue reading Mountains of the Moon

Mulholland Drive

Our first question may be: does MULHOLLAND DRIVE lead up to (or perhaps, more accurately, lead from) TWIN PEAKS? The answer is yes, and no. Certainly, this new score, aided and abetted over some tracks by David Lynch himself, inhabits that same sound world, and has that same dark enigmatic ambience. This time, though, the … Continue reading Mulholland Drive

Music from the Hammer Films

The horror films of England’s Hammer Films owed a great deal of their distinction to the powerful, thunderous musical scores of composers like James Bernard, Don Banks, David Whitaker, Harry Robinson and others, and much of the best horror film music of the last 30-odd years has been found in their movies. Regrettably, little of … Continue reading Music from the Hammer Films

Narrow Escape

Composer David Michael Frank makes a splash with this touching, lush orchestral score. The fairly soppy story goes something like this: a half-bred infant is found by the crew of an aircraft carrier on a tour of duty in Korea. The Korean War is drawing to a close and the orphanage’s nurses refuse to take … Continue reading Narrow Escape

Nosferatu

The return of James Bernard to film scoring after a hiatus of 25 years is cause enough for celebration. The fact that it’s a horror film is cause for genuine excitement. And when the horror film is one of the great silent classics – one of the earliest cinematic incarnations of “Dracula”, the eerily hypnotic … Continue reading Nosferatu

O

Continuing the recent trend of contemporary styled Shakespearean adaptations, “O” sees the jealousy and paranoia of Othello relocated to high school, in low-key but dramatic fashion. This is reflected in Jeff Danna’s evocative score, one that, in terms of recent adaptations, is more the brooding Burwell of HAMLET than the post-modern potpourri of Craig Armstrong’s … Continue reading O

Objective Burma

OBJECTIVE BURMA is another complete Franz Waxman score from William Stromberg and John Morgan who gave us the equally impressive MR. SKEFFINGTON in 1999. Like SKEFFINGTON, OBJECTIVE BURMA (1945) is another opus from Waxman’s great Warner Bros. period which produced some of his (and Hollywood’s) greatest scores of the 1940s. This completely restored version clocks … Continue reading Objective Burma

October Sky

Like his orchestrally lyrical scores to A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT and FLY AWAY HOME, Mark Isham’s plaintive, gently wistful music for OCTOBER SKY is beautifully emotive music, both in its sentimental simplicity as well as its tonalities of hope. Emerging from a solo, folklike fiddle and cello motif, Isham’s full orchestra captures both the … Continue reading October Sky

Old Gringo

OLD GRINGO, based on Carlos Fuentes’ historical novel, was a major box office and critical flop when it was released. Perhaps its greatest liability was in its producer Jane Fonda’s taking on the lead role of the spinster heroine. Fonda’s stiff performance made her seem too anachronistic a centerpiece for this odd, colorful drama of … Continue reading Old Gringo

Oliver Twist / Malta G. C.

Sir Arnold Bax’s film music career was certainly brief. He only scored three films and two of those were documentaries. Obviously he did not find the film medium to his liking, as Graham Parlett’s excellent liner notes for this handsomely presented album make clear. After viewing MALTA G.C. Bax complained that the music “is largely … Continue reading Oliver Twist / Malta G. C.

On the Beach

Though the 1950s spawned a variety of (often ridiculous) Hollywood mutations, the first film to deal seriously with nuclear issues was Stanley Kramer’s ON THE BEACH in 1959, the restrained screenplay of which documents the last days of a varied group of survivors who await the end as fallout from the ultimate nuclear conflict slowly … Continue reading On the Beach

Orchestral Film Music

If you aren’t already familiar with the music of Michael J. Lewis it may be because he hasn’t been as prolific as other film composers (scoring 18 movies and 7 TV shows over the last 25 years) or it may be because the films he scored haven’t been monumental blockbusters achieving widespread recognition. Or it … Continue reading Orchestral Film Music

Paper Tiger

England’s Cinephile Records has just released a number of Roy Budd’s scores onto CD, some of which have not been available before. The composer’s gift for melody and thematic invention has left its mark on a number of film scores for a variety of movie types, from gangster dramas to war films to magical fantasies. … Continue reading Paper Tiger

Pavilion of Women

Former orchestrator (he counts SLEEPY HOLLOW, AMISTAD, LOST WORLD, PATRIOT GAMES, among others, to his credit) Conrad Pope emerges with a fully symphonic, large scaled score. Willem Dafoe starred in this adaptation of the Pearl S. Buck novel, a historical romance taking place during the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1938. Covering much of the … Continue reading Pavilion of Women

Pearl Harbor

Hans Zimmer’s score for Jerry Bruckheimer’s lavish and poetic retelling of the Japanese invasion of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, is poignant, melancholy, and passionate, characterized by an introspective mood that plays against the vivid action shown in the visuals. Opening in “Tennessee” with slow, deliberate piano notes under violins and low synth tones, … Continue reading Pearl Harbor

Peter Pan

PETER PAN is the latest in a welcome series of original soundtracks released on CD some years ago by Walt Disney Records, all of which present these oft-released scores in their most complete recorded editions yet. PETER PAN premiered in 1953, a key film in Disney’s early ‘50s “Anglophile” period which included the British-made live-action … Continue reading Peter Pan

Peyton Place

Back in those very innocent days of the ‘50s, filmgoers wondered how 20th Century Fox could possibly film that notorious book, PEYTON PLACE, with its very frank sexual language. In order to get the film made, the book written by Grace Metalious was changed quite a bit. The film became one of the biggest hits … Continue reading Peyton Place

Planet of the Apes

Comparing Danny Elfman’s score for Tim Burton’s new take on PLANET OF THE APES with the Jerry Goldsmith 1968 original – one of the most inventive scores in all science fiction cinema – is inappropriate yet inevitable. Any attempt to compare the films or their music is bound to lead to unfair and unnecessary comparisons; … Continue reading Planet of the Apes

Promise at Dawn

Georges Delerue’s PROMISE AT DAWN has always held a special place in my filmmusical heart. It was my first encounter with Delerue’s sublimely delicate music, and touched off a lifelong love of his work. Unavailable on CD until now, the long out of print American LP has finally found life in a very nice CD … Continue reading Promise at Dawn

Raintree County

As impressive as FSM’s monumental restoration of Kaper’s Mutiny on the Bounty is this equally impressive reconstruction of John (aka Johnny) Green’s classic score for MGM’s Civil War epic, RAINTREE COUNTY. Green’s score was the first to be issued in two commercial releases, a single LP version, and an expanded two-disc set that still did … Continue reading Raintree County

Robocop 2

I regret to inform that many high expectations will be foiled with this one, because after perusing the rather nifty pic of Robo on the cover artwork, it’s downhill all the way thereafter for the unfortunate listener. Despite much unintentional hilarity along the way, I have to report that the highlight of this score occurs … Continue reading Robocop 2

Rosemary’s Baby

I have vivid memories of seeing ROSEMARY’S BABY. It was a classy movie as far as I was concerned; it dealt with the occult but was an intelligent and informed take on the subject of Satanism and devil worship. Polanski’s direction, as always, was good and the script etc all stepped right up to the … Continue reading Rosemary’s Baby

Sally Hemings: An American Scandal

During the mid-1990s, Joel McNeely established for himself a reputation as one of the finest young composers of film music. Inevitably for an emerging talent, he owed some of his sound to others, in particular John Williams. Towards the end of the decade, he “graduated” (if that is the right word) to higher-profile projects, culminating … Continue reading Sally Hemings: An American Scandal

Senza Pelle

Collectors with some understanding of Italian might be able to pick up some information from the liner notes in this language provided here, but others will have to try and appreciate the music on its own merits. The soundtrack to a new film released last year, SENZA PELLE, as far as I could determine, is … Continue reading Senza Pelle

She Demons / The Astounding She-Monster

Monstrous Movie Music continues to explore (very) strange retro worlds, and boldly go where no record company has gone before with the joint release of two more scores from the outer limits of sub-B-moviedom. One of their latest issues is a cleverly paired double bill from the 1950s, She Demons and The Astonishing She-Monster. With … Continue reading She Demons / The Astounding She-Monster

Silkwood

One of Georges Delerue’s most intriguing American scores comes to CD, some ten years after its initial LP appearance. For this true story of cover-up and murder in the nuclear world, Delerue provides his characteristic light-classical lyricism. ‘Drew’s Theme’ and ‘Love Theme’ (actually the same theme in only a slightly different variation) are slow and … Continue reading Silkwood

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger

England’s Cinephile Records has just released a number of Roy Budd’s scores onto CD, some of which have not been available before. The composer’s gift for melody and thematic invention has left its mark on a number of film scores for a variety of movie types, from gangster dramas to war films to magical fantasies. … Continue reading Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger

Skeleton Coast Safari

Long time television composer Neil Argo (PBS’s WILD AMERICA) has released this compelling World Beat flavored soundtrack, compiling music from the 1993 National Geography documentary, SURVIVORS OF THE SKELETON COAST along with cues from the PBS series it inspired, SKELETON COAST SAFARI (five cues each). Argo has supplemented these tracks with two original compositions in … Continue reading Skeleton Coast Safari

Space 3: Beyond the Final Frontier

Over the years, I have come to appreciate these Silva compilations. The music isn’t always performed perfectly – or even well – but more often than not, there are many cues worth having. Sometimes this is because the music isn’t available anywhere else, and sometimes it’s because it’s just fun to have many great cues … Continue reading Space 3: Beyond the Final Frontier

Spy Game

Re-teaming with ENEMY OF THE STATE director Tony Scott, it comes as no surprise to find Harry Gregson-Willams’ contribution is but the latest addition to that long line of Hans Zimmer styled ‘blockbuster’ scores. A style that incorporates an almost cut & paste aesthetic, with its omnipresent sound-design of orchestra and electronics, be it the … Continue reading Spy Game

Star Trek: Enterprise

Whatever you feel about the use of Diane Warren’s song, “Faith of the Heart,” as a title theme for the new STAR TREK series (my own view is that it is horribly out of place), it remains a pretty good song. On Decca’s soundtrack album of Dennis McCarthy’s music from ENTERPRISE’s first season, the orchestral … Continue reading Star Trek: Enterprise

Stargate

With this epic science fiction score British composer David Arnold demonstrates an expert control of large orchestral forms in this, his second feature film score. Arnold’s orchestral background serves him well for this massive, sweeping score, which effectively captures the textural nuances of the alien civilization as well as the heroic scope of the story. … Continue reading Stargate

Stargate SG-1

There’s a story behind the fact that no composer credit appears on the outside of the new soundtrack to the STARGATE television series. In order to maintain consistency between the series and the original feature film, David Arnold’s score from the feature was licensed for use in the series as a main title and recurring … Continue reading Stargate SG-1

Taras Bulba

TARAS BULBA is a prime example of a music score which completely transcends the film for which it was composed. Almost everything about the film was hopelessly inept, from the risible script to the uninspired photography and direction – and why did anyone ever think that Tony Curtis would be the slightest bit convincing as … Continue reading Taras Bulba

Taras Bulba

As a film about 16th century Cossack warriors, TARAS BULBA (1962) was totally unconvincing in almost every way! Fortuitously however, it resulted in Franz Waxman producing his most popular, and arguably, his finest score. Prior to writing the score whilst visiting Russia on a conducting assignment, Waxman studied Ukrainian folk music which he used as … Continue reading Taras Bulba

Terminal Velocity

Joel McNeely’s TERMINAL VELOCITY features a complement of synths and electric guitar, with plenty of horn and brass added in, the music is powerful, driving, and very likable. A main melody taken by strings over horns gives the score its dramatic center, while the quick-paced action figures give it its drive. Even the roaring rock … Continue reading Terminal Velocity

The Ballad of Little Jo

David Mansfield composed and performed the acoustic score for this revisionist western, an intriguing merging of Irish folk stylisms with American bluegrass – and a departure for Mansfield, whose previously orchestral/synth scores did well in films like YEAR OF THE DRAGON and THE SICILIAN. The 25 cues are fairly short – a minute and a … Continue reading The Ballad of Little Jo

The Banquet

This Chinese movie is a powerful and interesting adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The musical score for the production is the work of acclaimed composer Tan Dun who came to prominence and to the notice of audiences outside of China and Japan via his powerful and atmospheric score for CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON. The music … Continue reading The Banquet

The Barbarian And The Geisha

This latest effort in Intrada’s limited edition Special Collection is a lush, romantic score from Hollywood’s Golden Age.  While the film, telling of a visit of American diplomats to Japan in 1856 and a subsequent romance between one of them (John Wayne) and a geisha girl, takes place in Japan (and originally director John Huston … Continue reading The Barbarian And The Geisha

The Black Stallion / The Black Stallion Returns

This release will go some way to appeasing fans of both Carmine Coppola and Georges Delerue, presenting as it does for the first time on CD two of their most fondly remembered scores. Both produced fine works that fully captured the innocence, excitement and angst of their child protagonist and his redemptive relationship with THE … Continue reading The Black Stallion / The Black Stallion Returns

The Boy Who Could Fly

In September of 1986, 1 went to the sneak preview of a new Nick Castle film. I was walking on air for days after seeing it. It is a touching story of a girl (Millie) who has recently lost her father to cancer. She and her younger brother and her mother live with a dark … Continue reading The Boy Who Could Fly

The Charge of the Light Brigade

Max Steiner’s ambitious, epic score for THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE (1936) has been captured with extraordinary skill and verve by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra, conducted by William Stromberg, in this spectacular 2 CD recording on the Tribute label. Hearing the music utilising modern recording techniques enables the music to be heard anew compared … Continue reading The Charge of the Light Brigade

The Cincinnati Kid

Latest release from Aleph, composer Lalo Schifrin’s personal CD label, is this re-recorded complete score from one of his first feature film scores, the jazzy and evocatively compelling CINCINNATI KID. The film, Norman Jewison’s 1965 drama starring Steve McQueen as an up-and-coming poker player taking on a long-time master of the game. As Douglas Payne … Continue reading The Cincinnati Kid

The Creature from the Black Lagoon

Along with the German Marco Polo CD of his Frankenstein film music, Hans Salter’s archetypal honor music of the 1940’s and 50’s is finally preserved on compact disc. This Intrada disc includes lengthy suites (15-19 mins each) from four of Salter’s best scores: CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON, THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH, HITLER and … Continue reading The Creature from the Black Lagoon

The Curse of the Cat People

Obscured by the fame of such Hollywood legends as Steiner, Korngold, Tiomkin and Newman, RKO’s main composer Roy Webb has been unfairly neglected by film music history. His music easily rivaled that of Steiner and company, scoring such memorable films as THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS, CAT PEOPLE, STRANGER ON THE THIRD FLOOR, MY FAVORITE … Continue reading The Curse of the Cat People

The Devil’s Advocate

James Newton Howard provided a rich, darkly hued composition for DEVIL’S ADVOCATE, combining a powerful orchestral and choir motif to represent the devil with a sad, melancholy tune for flute over reverbed harp. The score is somber and atmospheric, plenty of ominous, slowly drifting chords accentuated by piano, harp, and electronics. Howard paints an evocative … Continue reading The Devil’s Advocate

The Final Countdown

It’s time to dump that Tarantula bootleg recording of John Scott’s masterful and magnificent  score to THE FINAL COUNTDOWN – we finally have a splendid and legitimate recording of the complete score, produced on Scott’s own label.  This compelling 1980 film told the thrilling and compelling story about a modern-day nuclear aircraft carrier that, through … Continue reading The Final Countdown

The Gift

The moody and melancholy soundtrack of Sam Raimi’s THE GIFT contains one of Chris Young’s most melodic and tonally resonant compositions. The composer’s main theme is an eloquent and lyrical one for violins, folk/Americana in style, building a tender lyricism to the main character. Introduced in “Friend to me,” the theme is one of Young’s … Continue reading The Gift

The Golden Seal

Instead of one of those terrible, tiny-budget nature films where a bland family gets trapped in rock slides, attacked by wolves and makes friends with a huge, lumbering bear that drools all over their new cabin, THE GOLDEN SEAL is actually a very good film, sporting stunning photography, likeable characters and an honestly emotional ending, … Continue reading The Golden Seal

The Hunley

Randy Edelman returns to GETTYSBURG country with this tragic and moving story of the confederate submarine C.S.S. Hunley, the first submarine vessel to ever sink an enemy ship. The TBS TV-movie, recently released on home video, captured as much of the political machinations as the automated machinations of the underwater vessel. While Edelman’s theme is … Continue reading The Hunley

The Importance of Being Earnest

Oliver Parker’s THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST follows 1999’s THE IDEAL HUSBAND as composer Charlie Mole’s second foray into the world of novelist Oscar Wilde. Previously, Mole also scored Parker’s OTHELLO (1995), an adaptation of the work of another famous English playwright. While Mole’s approach to THE IDEAL HUSBAND was one of classical Victorian fragility, … Continue reading The Importance of Being Earnest

The Leopard

Three cheers for Varese Sarabande! Frequently the choices of this film music label are questionable (i.e., do we really need yet another version of John Williams’ tired STAR WARS themes, or scores to pictures like REVENGE OF THE NINJA?), but these can be easily overlooked when they bless us with TWILIGHT ZONE albums and reissues … Continue reading The Leopard

The London Sessions: Volume One

Latest film scoring news: Georges Delerue is headed for London to write the score for RAMBO IV. Can you envision this? Well, I suppose I can’t either. And I don’t mean to let on that it’s a detraction for a particular composer when one cannot imagine him or her scoring a knee-jerk Sylvester Stallone epic. … Continue reading The London Sessions: Volume One

The Long Way Home

Lee Holdridge’s sensitive and effective score for this documentary about the Jewish people between the time of the Holocaust and the establishment of the State of Israel is poignant and powerful. His Main Title is a stirring, triumphant summation of the people who are central to this film, their nobility and spirit. “The Diary” is … Continue reading The Long Way Home

The Matrix

It’s the end of the world as we know it. Michael Stipe’s ironically apt lyrics for the classic song by REM ring true throughout THE MATRIX, the latest in a long line of reality-shifting science fiction stories to hit the silver screen. Directed by brothers Andy and Larry Wachowski, the film stars Keanu Reeves as … Continue reading The Matrix

The Mole

A varied and pleasingly diverse score for this reality TV series imported from Belgium. Originally scored in Belgium, David Michael Frank was brought on board to provide a new score for the American television import. Part TV action music, part AUSTIN POWERS, part PINK PANTHER, part John Barry, Frank’s composition is an eclectic mix of … Continue reading The Mole

The Mummy Returns

Alan Silvestri has created a vibrant and massive score for this sequel to the first major MUMMY remake in decades. Complementing Jerry Goldsmith’s expansive score for the 1999 film, Silvestri’s music is large in scope and poignant in melody, superbly capturing the new film’s elements of excitement, danger, romance, adventure, and fun. His opening cue, … Continue reading The Mummy Returns

The Ninth Gate

To the majority of film music fans, Wojciech Kilar is famous for just three scores: BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA in 1992, DEATH AND THE MAIDEN in 1995 and THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY in 1997. He is, in fact, a prolific writer for films and the theatre in Poland and across Europe, and it comes as … Continue reading The Ninth Gate

The Omega Man

Ron Grainer was an extremely prolific composer for British television programmes and his music for “Maigret”, “Man in a Suitcase”, “The Prisoner”, Dr Who, “Tales of the Unexpected” and many others, demonstrated his skill in composing an inventive, catchy theme tune. Although he scored the occasional feature film, he never made the transition from major … Continue reading The Omega Man

The Pledge

Sean Penn’s drama-cum-thriller THE PLEDGE receives an evocative and richly textured ambient score from Hans Zimmer and Klaus Badelt; a score more concerned with the fragility of its characters and the memories that drive and haunt them than it is in providing the pyrotechnics of your typical Zimmer effort. This is a score stripped to … Continue reading The Pledge

The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

Bay Cities presents their latest and probably most prestigious release: a new recording of Korngold’ score THE PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX. Although I enjoyed ANTHONY ADVERSE (admittedly, I don’t play it often – it’s very long), I was pleased, but not ecstatic, to hear that there was another Korngold album on the way. … Continue reading The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex

The Right Stuff / North and South

Even a performance by the London Symphony can’t save these scores from coming across as the dreary, uninvolving works they are. Bill Conti’s long been a difficult composer to figure out. On the one hand, he can write something like the obnoxious ROCKY theme (I’ll never forgive him for that), and then on the other, … Continue reading The Right Stuff / North and South

The Santa Clause

Another soundtrack CD to appear months after the main release. Michael Convertino plays this unlikely comedy rather straight, opening with a variety of highly classical cues – much of which (as in “Elves with Attitude”) associated with Santa Claus’s diminutive helpers. In fact the CD’s first six cues are comprised of nothing but these classical … Continue reading The Santa Clause

The Score

THE SCORE sees Howard Shore paying one last trip to that familiar world of the urban under-belly before departing for its antithesis and that most anticipated of events: THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Much like the film, this score is a slight and breezy concoction that hints at crime capers of the past with its … Continue reading The Score

The Sea Hawk / Deception

There are not enough superlatives to describe this recording triumph by John Morgan and William Stromberg. Nearly two hours of the complete score from Korngold’s wall to wall music for THE SEA HAWK played brilliantly and impeccably true to the original by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra. This is romanticism personified, with gloriously rich melodies and … Continue reading The Sea Hawk / Deception

The Shape of Life

Latest Michael Whalen documentary score is a lavishly scored musical exploration of undersea life written for an 8-part PBS nature series. Emmy-Award winning composer Whalen uses elements of New Age, World Music, rock, and electronica to create an elegant atmosphere for underwater filmmaking. On CD, the music opens up a wondrous world for the listener … Continue reading The Shape of Life

The Son of Kong / The Most Dangerous Game

As a movie, SON OF KONG was a pale shadow of its forbearer, a hastily put-together sequel to the greatest fantasy adventure of the 1930s, and an endearing classic to this day. SON was not without its charm, however, as it strove to be more comically cute than its predecessor, although in so doing eschewed … Continue reading The Son of Kong / The Most Dangerous Game

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

David Shire’s urban jazzy music for this 1974 subway-hijack thriller has been nicely rescued from oblivion by Lukas Kendall of Film Score Monthly who, in his first CD release, serves up a dizzying assemblage of nicely orchestrated jazz and symphonics. Supported by a 12-page booklet which includes a cue-by-cue analysis of the music, Shire’s dark … Continue reading The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

The team of conductor William T. Stromberg and score restorer John Morgan have already given film score collectors a wealth of great Golden Age soundtracks on Marco Polo Records. The Stromberg-Morgan duo have already recorded several memorable Steiner soundtracks, notably KING KONG and THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON. Max Steiner (1888-1971) was such a … Continue reading The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

The Trip To Bountiful

Among the most underrated of today’s composers, J.A.C. Redford is going on 20 years as a composer for films and (mostly) television. A handful of CDs exist but his music is, unfortunately, little known. This new CD ought to be a wake-up call – it’s one of the nicest drama scores of the year. Redford’s … Continue reading The Trip To Bountiful

The Vagrant

A bizarre and uncategorical psychological horror score employing Chris Young’s preferred use of musigue concrete to provide an otherworldly (and sometimes maddening) musical accompaniment to Chris Walas’ black comedy about a young executive who finally moves into his dream house only to find he’s not alone. The music is wacky and strange, quirky yet impossible. … Continue reading The Vagrant

The Vampire Lovers

VAMPIRE LOVERS marked the first time that Scottish born composer Harry Robinson had worked for the House of Horror for a cinema release, he had already completed the score for THE OBLONG BOX for American International Pictures in the States, who I suppose were the American equivalent of Hammer in those days. In fact VAMPIRE … Continue reading The Vampire Lovers

The Warner Bros. Years

One of the finest and yet one of the most frustrating historic compilations ever released, this 2-CD set contains 61 selections culled from every one of Korngold’s seventeen Warner Bros. film scores, with the exception of ANOTHER DAWN, taken from the original recording sessions. As an historic overview, the set is superb, with surprisingly full, … Continue reading The Warner Bros. Years

The Way West

Ric Burns’ 6-hour epic documentary chronicles the way the American West was won – and lost; a poignant and frequently tragic story of the victimization of the Native American people during the settling of the continent from 1845-1893. The PBS mini-series, now available on a4-video boxed set also from Shanachie, featured a versatile and moving … Continue reading The Way West

This is Cinerama

Mostly a curiosity, but an enjoyable one, and a great document of a long gone era in movie-making. THIS IS CINERAMA was basically a glorified travelogue; a film in which the content played second fiddle to the process in which it was shown, the extra-wide vista and six track stereophonic splendor of Cinerama. The music … Continue reading This is Cinerama

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Some might think this 40 year-old score hardly worth releasing. On film, it’s often trampled over by sound effects and dialogue to the point of mediocrity. Hardly any sign of the kinetic energy of KRONOS. But in that assumption you’d be wrong. Sawtell and Shefter were two of the best collaborators working in Hollywood at … Continue reading Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Walking With Dinosaurs

WALKING WITH DINOSAURS was a TV event in England last year and in the US on The Discovery Channel a few months ago. It scooped Disney’s upcoming DINOSAUR movie in the “What Will CG Dinosaurs Look Like After JURASSIC PARK” Department, and they looked wonderful. Even more amazing, they looked real. The whole idea behind … Continue reading Walking With Dinosaurs

Warriors of Virtue

The ancient “Manuscript of the Legends” takes 13-year old Ryan Jeffers to Tao, a parallel world with spectacular qualities. The Manuscript is a critical element in a mythical struggle between Good, portrayed by the five kangaroo-like Warriors of Virtue, and Evil, represented by the villain Komodo. Outrageous kung-fu-style action ensues. The music score was the … Continue reading Warriors of Virtue

Waterloo

Composed in 1970 for an overblown historical epic about Napoleon’s ultimate defeat, WATERLOO gave composer Nino Rota an elegant opportunity to revisit a period he had so brilliantly explored with WAR AND PEACE in 1956. There is indeed an air of similarity between the two, and though no tune here can hope to compete with … Continue reading Waterloo

What Lies Beneath

Despite being best known for the feel-good drama FORREST GUMP and the time-traveling adventures BACK TO THE FUTURE, director Robert Zemeckis has always been a fan of classic horror. He served as executive producer for the ghoulishly gruesome TV series TALES FROM THE CRYPT and its spin-off movies, as well as making his own mark … Continue reading What Lies Beneath

What The Deaf Man Heard

Available as a private label release from composer Redford’s web site, the score for this 1997 Hallmark Hall of Fame TV-movie is sublimely Americana. Built around a gentle melody for piano and violins, the music is affecting and intimate. The story takes place in 1945, when a young boy returns to the Georgia town from … Continue reading What The Deaf Man Heard

Wild Africa

Recently there have been a number of television series that could be referred to as super-documentaries or natural history epics, BLUE PLANET for example, and WALKING WITH BEASTS or the new series PLANET EARTH on the BBC. WILD AFRICA was screened some time ago on BBC 2, why I do not know because it was … Continue reading Wild Africa

Wild America

Now here’s a composer who deserves a break. Joel McNeely is one of the leading players in the new generation of film composers, producing well-oiled scores that rank with the very best in nineties Hollywood film scoring. Like John Debney, Joel McNeely overtly acknowledges such influential and / or successful composers as John Williams, Jerry … Continue reading Wild America

Wilder Westen – Heisser Orient

On first impression, the packaging of this 8-CD set is impressive. It comes in a big cardboard box, the kind formerly used for deluxe multidisc laserdisc sets, and includes not only four double-CD cases containing hours and hours of music from German-made Western films, but also includes a thick, 192-page hardback book documenting the history … Continue reading Wilder Westen – Heisser Orient

Xena: Warrior Princess – The Bitter Suite

When this musical episode first aired, I was unprepared for its impact. I certainly thought the concept sounded strange when the composer told me a year earlier that it was being considered. Although an adventure show, XENA occasionally crossed into “Three Stooges” territory, but an all-singing, all-dancing episode? And after an intense multi-episode story arc, … Continue reading Xena: Warrior Princess – The Bitter Suite

Young Sherlock Holmes

Bruce Brougton can now say he’s written two of the year’s best scores: SILVERADO and YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES. Probably he won the SILVERADO assignment on the strength of his work on TV’s THE BLUE AND THE GRAY, which in turn was won after fifteen-odd years’ thankless work on shows like HAWAII FIVE-O and DALLAS. The … Continue reading Young Sherlock Holmes