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Monday, April 10, 2006

CD REVIEW - Klute plus DVD ramblings

The main purpose of my blog today is to review Harkit's CD release of Michael Small's music to 1971's Klute, but before I get to this I would just like to spend a few moments on a couple of DVD releases I have recently viewed.
I don't get to the cinema these days, which is not ideal when one is trying to review music for films. I have to approach new scores from a CD listening point of view and of course the music is primarily intended to support the images it accompanies. At least there is always a chance to view a film on DVD, but unfortunately one usually has to wait a few months for a film to make it to this medium. So it was that I had to wait to view Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit and Peter Jackson's King Kong.
I haven't a lot to say about the former, save that I found it entertaining and thankfully still very English. I still prefer W & G 's short adventures more entertaining, but there are some very nice touches in Were-Rabbit and Julian Nott & co.'s music is even better than on the entertaining CD release - very effective film scoring indeed.
As for the new King Kong, well, I've read mixed reviews about the film, but always had faith in Jackson's vision as a director - after all, how could he go that wrong after the triumph of his Lord of the Rings Trilogy? And I don't care what some cynics had to say; I found it a thoroughly magical and involving adventure. I didn't find the opening scenes and voyage to the island dragged in the least. It was perhaps a little short on character development, but not so as one couldn't get involved in their subsequent plight. The various fights with Kong and the prehistoric cast were brilliantly realised and I thought Naomi Watts, who was really put through the mill and must have earned more than her fair share of bruises, was excellent. Jackson laid on the emotion more in this version than previous outings, making it a real beauty and the beast romance, which worked well enough to leave me suitably teary-eyed at the film's conclusion. Finally, he might have been a last-minute replacement, surviving on adrenalin alone to get the huge amount of music required completed in so little time, but James Newton Howard deserves all the praise in the world. His music drives the film and is the very heart and soul of things - a truly remarkable achievement. I'd still like to hear Howard Shore's music for the film one day, but now can't imagine any approach better than Howard's; and credit again to Jackson for keeping the music turned up when it would have been easy to allow sound effects to drown it out, as is often the way these days. I suppose many, Jackson included, will always have a soft spot for the original 1933 Kong, but this is now the definitive version for me. Bravo, to all concerned, I haven't been so thoroughly entertained since, well, Lord of the Rings.

Music by Michael Small
Harkit Records HRKCD 8007
18 tracks 37:27 mins

What with this release and Intrada's Black Widow CD, at last the record companies are beginning to take notice of the music of Michael Small - and not before time. Small, who died in 2003, wrote some very fine scores in his career and there are many more out there that deserve to be preserved on disc, so support these releases well and maybe, just maybe, they will be.
This cult thriller from 1971 starred Donald Sutherland and a marvellous Jane Fonda at the height of her powers. The film and it's score is highly thought of, but the latter, despite it's love theme being available on compilations, remained officially unreleased until now (a bootleg recording of the score has been circulating for years). Small was expert at scoring thrillers and this is certainly no exception, with its eerie percussion runs and persistent piano figures, coupled with erotic female vocals of the kind Edda was producing for Ennio Morricone's Italian scores of the time. But it is indeed the love theme that one most remembers, a smoky, trumpet-lead number that receives a number of quite brief workouts before concluding the disc in an extended, slightly popped-up version. I suppose the next most melodious cue is "Goldfarb's Fantasy," an ethnic-styled waltz for violin and cymbalom, and of course there are the four source cues Small composed, the piano-lead, slow jazz of "Lounge Music;" the go-go-styled "Bree's Abandon;" the psychedelic rocker "Club Scene;" and the piano-lead pop of "Righteous."
Accompanying the disc is a colourful 16-page booklet, featuring notes on the film, its stars and composer, plus principal cast and credits.


Blogger kathryn49 said...

It's such an amazing soundtrack and I've been looking EVERYWHERE for a disc of it and I've been unsuccessful. Is it possible that you could send me the song files or mp3's or SOMETHING so I could at least have the songs at my disposal? I'd be eternally indebted:)
you can reach me or send anything to

3:52 PM  

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