Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Thursday, February 02, 2006

CD REVIEW - Lost in Space - 40th Anniversary Edition and news of forthcoming London film music concerts + James Michael Dooley news.

Lost in Space - 40th Anniversary Edition
Music by John Williams & others
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1042 (U.S.)
Disc 1 - 22 Tracks 78:55 mins Disc 2 - 19 Tracks 76:41 mins

As a child of the '60s I was raised on the fantasy TV shows of Irwin Allen. I particularly enjoyed Lost in Space, though also watched Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Land of the Giants, not really caring for Time Tunnel (not enough monsters probably!).
To mark Lost in Space's 40th Anniversary, La-La Land Records have now brought out an excellent two-disc set of music from the show, accompanied by a splendid 16-page booklet, featuring Randall Larson's detailed notes on the show and its music.
John Williams wrote two different themes for the show, both excellent, but the second, debuting in Season Three, perhaps more propulsive and adventurous. He also composed the scores for four of the First Season's shows, including the first episode proper (the score for the pilot having been assembled by Lionel Newman using Bernard Herrmann's music for various Fox features). His music is still the best known from the show, although a number of composers made important and memorable contributions throughout its run. This is largely because his music was often tracked into subsequent shows and certain themes became synonymous with certain characters and situations. Although electronics were used, like his later music for the Star Wars series, his approach was largely orchestral, though very different in style from these later efforts, being more akin to the likes of The Towering Inferno. Limited orchestral forces lead him to be inventive, much of the time having to do without strings for instance, which accounts for the brass and woodwind-heavy music featured. There is much dark and threatening music, sometimes very dissonant, and some genuinely exciting moments, as well as delightful cues like the flute-lead Weightless Waltz. He also composed the familiar, lumbering theme for the robot and the comical one for Penny's pet (played by a chimpanzee with a domed headpiece and long, pointed ears, if I recall rightly). For the episode "My Friend Mr. Nobody" he came up with a truly magical theme, again for flute; and then there was also the adventurous travel music for the chariot, the Robinson family's overland transportation.
The first disc is devoted solely to Williams' contributions for all four episodes, much of which was previously released on two discs a few years back by GNP Crescendo, but it's nice to have this music readily available again, with the addition of new cues dotted amongst the familiar selections.
Disc Two, save for Williams' Third Season theme, is devoted to music created by other composers, as well as some tracked in library cues, some composed with the show in mind, others from the vaults. Much of these selections are released for the first time.
"The Derelict" by Herman Stein and Hans J. Salter features Stein's Family Theme, which became popular throughout the show's run - a warm and tender melody. There is also what I remember as a kind of semi-comic, pompous march for the Dr. Smith character. Stein also scored the menacing selection from "There Were Giants in the Earth." "Welcome Stranger," scored by Stein and Frank Comstock, was treated as a western, with a memorable theme, which could easily have come from an oater they might have worked on, played sometimes low-key and at other times, spirited. Leith Stevens had experience of sci-fi with features like The War of the Worlds and so was an easy choice to compose for LIS. His episode music for "Blast Off Into Space" features its share of menace and exciting action, as well as an alternate Family Theme. As the show got more zany and "hip" veteran Man From U.N.C.L.E. composers Robert Drasnin and Gerald Fried also worked on episodes, the former's score for "Curse of Cousin Smith" featuring a catchy comical western theme and some slinky jazz; whilst the latter's efforts for "Collision of Planets" feastured a comic march and some very U.N.C.L.E.ish sounds. Drasnin also contributed a comic promenade for "Forbidden World." Even Star Trek's own Alexander Courage contributed music for "Girl from the Green Dimension," for which he provided some slapsticky chase music and comical jousting material; and "Cave of the Wizards," for which he produced some overwordly suspense music and some regal sounds. And The Fugitive's Pete Rugolo wrote a typical '60s pop instrumental for "The Promised Planet.
Even if you aren't a child of the '60s, I am confident you will find something to enjoy amongst the over two-and-a-half hours of varied musical delights on offer here. A wonderful release, which deserves a place in any serious screen music fan's collection.

Concert News

The BBC Concert Orchestra have notified me of a couple of film music concerts they will feature in during March. Both are to be staged in London, the first, at 7:30 p.m. on 2nd March at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank, is a 70th Birthday Concert for Richard Rodeny Bennett, which "celebrates his skill as a film music composer," and which is sure to feature music from the likes of Far From The Madding Crowd, Yanks, Muder on the Orient Express and Gormenghast. And again at 7:30 p.m. on 17th March, as part of The Barbican's "Only Connect" series, Joel McNeely will conduct the Orchestra in "Nightmare Romance," a concert which celebrates the music Bernard Herrmann wrote for the films of Alfred Hitchciock, but will also include other Herrmann scores like Citizen Kane and Taxi Driver. It also features "rarely seen images and footage of the masters at work."

News from Costa Communications


Composer scores retelling of classic horror film

"The music is coming from inside the theatre!"
Having previously collaborated on the blockbuster, "The Ring," composer James Dooley re-teams with Hans Zimmer to score "When a Stranger Calls" for Screen Gems and director Simon West ("Lara Croft: Tomb Raider," "Con Air"). Starring Camilla Belle, Katie Cassidy and Tommy Flanagan, the film opens February 3. "When a Stranger Calls" is a retelling of the 1979 horror film that tells the story of a young high school student's nightmarish babysitting gig where she receives mysterious phone calls at the house to check on the children, only to find them dead. Dooley is well versed in the thriller genre, having previously collaborated with Hans Zimmer on the DreamWorks blockbuster "The Ring."

Dooley's recent credits include DreamWorks' animated short "A Christmas Caper" starring the penguins from the hit film "Madagascar," on which he previously teamed with Zimmer. This short was seen in theatres this past fall before the claymation feature "Wallace and Grommit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit" for which Dooley provides additional music. Dooley also mixed and scored the new animated film, Urmel Aus Dem Eis, or Impy's Island, as it will be known in the US. The film is based on a German children's book about a dinosaur that hatches in modern times on an island where animals learn to speak. Additionally, Dooley has scored some of the industry's most successful videogames including "Socom 3, US Navy SEALs," which he recorded at London's Air Lyndhurst Hall with a 70-piece orchestra.

James Dooley is a graduate of New York University where he majored in Music Composition. After graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to study film composition with such composers as Christopher Young and Elmer Bernstein. He joined Media Ventures in 1999 and collaborated with Zimmer both as his Chief Technical Engineer and as a composer. In addition, Dooley has partnered with to donate the proceeds from sales of his "The Mars Underground" soundtrack to the Red Cross national disaster relief effort. "The Mars Underground" is a landmark documentary about renowned aerospace scientist and visionary, Dr. Robert Zubrin quest for Mars exploration.


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