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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

CD REVIEWS - Four Brothers & Chicken Little

Four Brothers
Music by David Arnold
Varese Sarabande VSD-6679 (EU)
13 Tracks 37:22 mins

David Arnold's latest score for director John Singleton's urban revenge thriller, really hits the mark, as did his scores to their previous outings on Baby Boy and Shaft. The film music fan in him comes out in a score that gives a considerable nod towards the blaxploitation and urban thrillers of the '70s. His main theme is an easy, jazzy mover, with sax and trumpet sharing the lead, and this theme and variations thereon makes welcome re-appearances throughout the score, with Thanksgiving a nice laid-back variation, featuring a soulful wordless vocal by Bobette Jamison-Harrison. Plenty of percussion moves the music along, with light keyboard touches, reminiscent of Lalo Schifrin's urban scores of the period.
The score is mainly performed by a select bunch of musicians, but orchestra is effectively added to the mix now and then, particularly when the composer uses a John Barryish string sound.
By contrast to all this retro-style scoring, the full-on action sequences are more in the vein of John Powell's Bourne scores, with electronics much in evidence.
For those of you who mourn the fact that Shaft remains sadly unavailable on disc, you might just find something similar to enjoy here.

Chicken Little
Various Artists plus score by John Debney
Walt Disney 61372-7 (U.S.A.)
15 Tracks (6 score) 39:16 mins.

For this the first computer-generated animation from Disney, John Debney has come up with a rousing, highly enjoyable, if not terribly original, romp of a score, which is sadly only represented by a scant 15 minutes or so, spread over 6 tracks at the end of the album. The remainder of the tracks feature numbers by artist such as Patti LaBelle, Joss Stone, Barenaked Ladies, Diana Ross and R.E.M., with three additional vocal excerpts from the film's voice cast.
But what of Debney's score, well, other reviewers have pointed out references to other scores
like Independence Day, and I would also venture the Back to the Future films but, as I said before it is all highly enjoyable, whether it be the scary and furious choral action of The Sky is Falling and Chase to Cornfield, or the largely Western-styled The Big Game, or the lighthearted Dad Apologizes and Dodgeball, the first of which also introduces some warm Americana, heard again in the final track Driving With Dad. It's all good stuff, and would that we had more of it on the album.


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