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

Monday, July 31, 2006

CD REVIEW - Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Music by Alex Wurman
Promo (U.S.)
14 Tracks 13:31 mins

This short promotional disc presents the best of Alex Wurman's score for the Will Ferrell comedy Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, which sees him team up with John C. Reilly as a legendary NASCAR stock car racing team, and reunites him with director Adam McKay, for whom he starred in the hit comedy Anchorman - The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
The film doesn't actually open until 4th August but, thanks to Costa Communications, I've had this opportunity to sample the score which, though most tracks are very brief, is still an entertaining effort, anchored by Wurman's versatile "Ricky Bobby Theme," which is first heard in guitar-lead, South-of-the-Border style, but receives subsequent swampy, sensitive and downright heroic treatments throughout subsequent tracks.
There's plenty of variety to the score, which features an 80-piece orchestra, as well as solo performances from piano, slide guitar, harmonica, and even a boy soprano. As befits the subject matter, there is plenty of movement to the score, along with tension and conflict, all culminating in the heroic "Mustering Up the Courage!" and triumphant "Victory Lane."
Whether there is more to the score than is presented here I do not know, but suspect songs will likely play a big part. Whatever, I'm sure the film will provide its fair share of laughs.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

News from Costa Communications

From Costa Communications

World Premiere at the Beverly Hills International Music Festival August 11th
Zigman scores 3 films opening in next 3 months

(Beverly Hills, CA) Film composer Aaron Zigman premieres his original concert work, entitled "Vis Vitae," at the Third Annual Beverly Hills International Music Festival. The festival offers young musicians the opportunity to study with and hear performances by world-renowned musicians.
Featured during the weeklong concert series will be "Voices of Hollywood" on
August 11th at 8 pm, at which works by notable film composers including
Zigman, John Williams, Andre Previn and the late Erich W. Korngold will be performed. The concert is at the Beverly Hills Presbyterian Church, located at 505 North Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Tickets can be purchased for
$25.00 by calling 310.779.7622 or emailing

Zigman has three films opening in theatres in the next three months. The musically charged dance film "Step Up" opens August 11th, "10th and Wolf," the gangster themed film starring Giovanni Ribisi, James Marsden, and Brad
Renfro, opens on August 18th, and the family western "Flicka," starring country music star Tim McGraw and Alison Lohman, opens October 20th.

Zigman's strong classical background allows him to successfully work in several different musical areas, from popular music to film scores to orchestral concert works. He began his musical career as a producer and arranger for popular music stars including Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Tina Turner, Carly Simon, Christina Aguilera and Seal. His numerous symphonic pieces include a 35 minute-long tone poem divided into five movements, written as a tribute to former Israeli Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin, and "Impressions," a suite for a wind ensemble.

Zigman began to work in film as the arranger and orchestrator for feature films such as "Mulan," "The Birdcage," "Licensed to Kill" and "Pocahontas."
He first feature film score was "John Q.," starring Denzel Washington and directed by Nick Cassavetes, whom he soon collaborated with again on the box-office hit "The Notebook." His recent film credits include scores for
"ATL," "Take the Lead," the music-intensive dance drama starring Antonio
Banderas, and "Akeelah and the Bee," the critically-acclaimed film with
Laurence Fishburne and Angela Bassett.

Friday, July 28, 2006

CD REVIEW - Uno Dopo L'Altro

Uno Dopo L'Altro
Music by Fred Bongusto and Berto Pisano
GDM 2067 (Italy)
26 Tracks 57:52 mins

Following hard on the heels of yesterday's review is another welcome premiere release of the score for yet another 1968 Italian Western, this time with music by Fred Bongusto, better known for his distinctive vocals on a number of genre scores, and of course utilising them here also, and Berto Pisano. I don't know, but I suspect that the former's contribution to the score is the song "May Be One, May Be Nine," which he of course sings a few times, but which is also incorporated prominently instrumentally in the score, whilst Pisano probably undertook the rest of the honours, including composing the main theme, a propulsive, trumpet-lead theme, which is also given its head a number of times throughout.
Really, with the exception of the aforesaid compositions, plus a low-key, fateful guitar theme, this is a largely suspenseful score, and not nearly as consistently entertaining as yesterday's offering, but the main themes are notable and enjoyable, and do make numerous fragmented or fuller appearances throughout.
Amongst the four bonus tracks are a very good, whistled version of the song, with guitar accompaniment and the original single version of the song. Bongusto's vocals are, incidentally, in English.
Just when I think we must be getting to the bottom of the barrel in terms of unreleased Italian Western scores, I am again delighted to be proven wrong by these two releases. Keep 'em coming!
Again, I would urge you to go to for all your Italian film music requirements.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

CD REVIEW - L'Ira di Dio

L'Ira di Dio
Music by Michele Lacerenza
GDM 2069 (Italy)
24 Tracks 62:34 mins

Michele Lacerenza is best known for his excellent trumpet work on countless scores in the Italian Western genre, but for this 1968 entry, starring Montgomery Ford and Fernando Sancho, he composed the score as well as performed the trumpet solos.
Although two of the main themes were originally issued in mono on a single (both sides are included here as bonus tracks), this is a premiere release of the score in very good stereo sound.
Lacerenza's main theme, the "Concerto per un Killer" starts off the disc in dramatic fashion, with his trumpet being accompanied by bold piano runs - very concerto-like. This theme is to crop up throughout the score, sometimes without trumpet, sometimes with the addition of organ, and/or choir. There is also a source variation for solo guitar, before the theme brings the score to a stirring conclusion, with trumpet, organ and choir.
The composer's secondary theme is a galloping motif, typical of the genre, which receives its best airings in "Inseguimento" and "Cavalieri Selvaggi." A third theme is introduced gently at the start of "Aggressione e Fuga," but this fine piece of nostalgia is best heard in "The Last Souvenir," where Lacerenza's trumpet is supported by choir.
These three themes dominate the score, though there are a few suspenseful cues along the way.
It's great to have this gem of a score finally available, and congratulations to all those who had a hand in its long-overdue release.
Remember, for all your Italian soundtrack requirements, visit

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Directors Cuts now on Audio DVD

Directors Cuts Production Music Library
Various Composers
Extreme Music DCDVD 001
722 Tracks 19:56:58

The 23rd volume in the fantastic Directors Cuts series makes its debut as part of an impressive audio DVD package featuring all the releases in the series, boxed in a handbag-sized representation of a clapperboard, as all previous CD releases had been packaged, albeit in a smaller size. And with it comes a 30-page booklet, detailing all the tracks.
I have already reviewed the first 21 releases in the series, either on this site or in Film Music Bulletin or Journal Into Melody, so I won't go back over them. Suffice to say that there is music of many styles to choose from and, if you're in the profession, you should find something suitable for your purposes. Early releases tended to be very much in the Media Ventures style, which was the intention, as Hans Zimmer and co. were very much dominating our cinema screens at the time, and the likes of John Powell, Harry Gregson-Williams, Klaus Badelt, Jeff Rona and Zimmer himself contributed tracks. The next generation then took up the mantle with the likes of James Dooley, Geoff Zanelli, Gavin Greenaway, James S. Levine and Steve Jablonsky featuring, all of whom have gone on to achieve some degree of fame in the industry. But a lot of new names have also provided some excellent music for the series, not least for Volume 23 Epic Adventure 2, which sees contributions from the likes of Ralph Weinrich, Stephen Rees, Doyle W. Donehoo, Matt Gates, John Deborde, Cody Westheimer and Joshua Goldberg.
As the title would suggest, this is mostly pretty upbeat and powerful stuff, with some of the tracks being orchestral/choral combinations, whilst others stick more closely to the Media Ventures style. John Williams fans will enjoy Weinrich's tracks, which show a marked influence, although the conclusion of his "Ready to Blow" is right out of James Horner's Aliens. There's much to impress in the music presented on this volume and I'm sure we'll be hearing more of these composers in the future.
Here is a rundown of all the titles in the series, just to show what's on offer:-
DCD002 Action
DCD003 Romance
DCD004 Drama
DCD005 Epic Themes
DCD006 Chiller
DCD007 Suspense
DCD008 Fantasy
DCD009 Comedy
DCD010 Ambience
DCD011 Drones
DCD012 Action 2
DCD014 Romance 2
DCD015 Underscores
DCD016 Light Drama
DCD017 Epic Adventure
DCD018 Drumscores
DCD019 Epic Choral
DCD020 Dark Drama
DCD021 Horror
DCD022 Light Drama 2
DCD023 Epic Adventure 2

If this Audio DVD set marks the end of the series I for one will be sorry to see it go, especially as, on the evidence of Volume 23, there's still plenty of good music to be had from the talented composers involved.

Monday, July 24, 2006

News from Costa Communications

From Costa Communications


John Ottman, the composer of the superhero scores for "X-Men United,"
"Fantastic Four" and this Summer's "Superman Returns" discusses the art of composing for comic book heroes at Film Music Radio's "On the Score" show this Tuesday at

In an insightful, no-holds-barred interview, Ottman tells us about the tricks of how film music makes you believe a man can fly, revealing his trick of how he was able to both edit and score "X-Men United" and "Superman

Ottman takes a look at his working relationship with "Superman Returns"' director Bryan Singer, as well as a sneak peak to his upcoming superhero score for "Fantastic Four 2."

"On the Score" is moderated by Daniel Schweiger, the soundtrack editor for
Venice Magazine on the internet show, and station that listens to the words and music of today's top composers. John Ottman's superhero show will be spotlighted for two weeks at as of Tuesday, July
25th, and then archived for a month afterwards. As an added bonus, listeners can also listen to an previous career retrospective show done on Ottman for On the Score.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

News from Costa Communications

From Costa Communications


(Los Angeles, CA) Los Angeles based composer and lyricist team Alan Zachary and Michael Weiner provide the song "Happy Morning" for the new Folgers Coffee national campaign, produced by Saatchi & Saatchi. With it, Folgers takes an innovative new approach to advertising, both by only showing the commercial online and possibly in theatres and through its unusual content.
The commercial can be seen on YouTube at

In the unique commercial, figures dressed in yellow represent morning sunbeams that prance around and wake sleeping people by singing Zachary and Weiner's song. For the song, the two combine an upbeat melody with quirky lyrics that include the repeated phrase "You can sleep when you are dead."
The result is a humorous, tongue-in-cheek, extremely catchy tune that subtly mocks the coffee drinker who has not yet had his caffeine boost. Paired with award-winning director Steve Ayson's unique visuals, it demonstrates a fresh approach to commercial making.

Zachary and Weiner's credits include several collaborative projects in both musical film and theatre and non-musical film. They have worked extensively with Disney, writing the score and original songs for the film "Cinderella
II: Dreams Come True," for which Zachary won Best Original Score at the DVD
Exclusive Awards, and the books, lyrics, and score for the stage production
"Twice Charmed: An Original Twist on the Cinderella Story," premiering on the Disney Cruise Line. Currently, they are finishing work on the film
"Cinderella III." In addition to their work with Disney, their family musical, "Mystery of the Dancing Princesses," was presented at the
Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera and the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Festival in New York. Non-musical credits include the films "Man of the
Century" and "The Time Machine."

For their upcoming projects, the two will work with Broadway producer Adam
Epstein on an animated musical film, and with writer Rupert Holmes on a
Broadway adaptation of the New Line Cinema film "Secondhand Lions."

Saturday, July 22, 2006

CD REVIEW - Arrivano I Titani

Arrivano I Titani
Music by Carlo Rustichelli
Digitmovies CDDM060 (Italy)
30 Tracks 73:35 mins

This 1971 comedy is notable for being one of the first starring roles for the young Giuliano Gemma, who was to become one of the more recognisable heroes of the Italian Western genre. The story concerns a young Titan sent by Zeus to restore order to Crete, where a tyrant has proclaimed himself a god.
The lengthy score is presented here complete and in very good mono sound, and features a somewhat pompous trombone-lead march; a versatile love theme, which sometimes sounds quite modern and jazzy in its presentation; a comic waltz for the "Acrobatic Hero;" a light-hearted, dance -like mover "My Son, The Hero;" a Spanish sounding "Chase;" plenty of mysterious and threatening moments, sometimes utilising Hammond organ and choir; and various other bits and pieces of marches and conflict, sometimes incorporating variations on well-known anthems and hymns. Unfortunately this latter approach does the score no favours and is the kind of thing that, in my experience, sometimes makes soundtrack fans look down their noses at Italian film music.
Whatever, it's a very tuneful and entertaining score, and includes a number of bonus variations on the love theme, possibly intended for a single release at the time, including an Italian language vocal by an uncredited female.
As always, a colourful booklet accompanies the disc, with stills and artwork, plus Claudio Fuiano's notes on the film and its music.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

CD REVIEW - Il Corsaro Nero

Il Corsaro Nero
Music by Gino Peguri
Digitmovies CDDM061 (Italy)
27 Tracks 57:45 mins

This 1971 Terence Hill/Bud Spencer starrer concerned the adventures of "Blackie the Pirate" and was, judging by the main theme, a typical comedy romp for the popular pair. The theme, a comical march, presented in Italian and English versions, with lead vocals by Paulo Ferrara, the track's co-writer, and choral support by the Nora Orlandi choir, is also featured in wordless variations throughout.
This album presents a reissue of the stereo tracks first issued on LP at the time of the film's release, plus bonus stereo tracks of alternate versions, and a further bonus section of mono alternates. Sound is of the label's usual high standards for all.
Just covering the main themes, as presented on the original LP tracks, excepting of course for the aforementioned comic march song, already covered; there are few tracks that aren't enjoyable to some degree, commencing with the lovely guitar and strings-lead theme "Nel Mar Dei Caraibi. This is followed by a beautiful love theme, "Gli Amori di Isabella," replete with mandolins. The catchy little tropical tune "Calipso dei Corsari" follows, then a Spanish dance, "Posada de Maria," typically with guitars and castanets. "All'Arrembaggioi" breaks up the light feel and is truly menacing. "Duello e Morte" is a typical western-styled trumpet-lead deguello. This is followed by a courtly variation on the love theme, then an adventurous Spanish-styled mover "Il Vicere di Spagna."
The bonus tracks reprise most if not all of the above themes, often in shorter versions, as the LP tracks are well rounded and obviously re-recorded for that format, as was the practice at the time. The end result is a thoroughly entertaining CD from a composer largely unfamiliar to me.
The accompanying booklet is, as always, packed with stills and poster artwork, and comes with Claudio Fuiano & Luca Di Silverio's notes on the film and its music.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

News from Costa Communications

From Costa Communications


(Hollywood, CA) -Alex Wurman reunited with director Adam McKay for Sony's
Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby starring Will Ferrell. The composer previously collaborated with the director on another Ferrell box-office hit, Anchorman - The Legend of Ron Burgundy. Wurman recently received critical acclaim as well as Oscar buzz for his evocative score for Warner Independent's March of the Penguins. The film opens August 4th. Alex
Wurman is recording with an 80-piece orchestra and will combine both orchestral motifs as well as jazz into his score.

Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby tells the story of NASCAR stock car racing sensation Ricky Bobby (Ferrell), a national hero because of his "win at all costs" approach. He and his loyal racing partner, childhood friend Cal Naughton Jr. (John C. Reilly), are a fearless duo -- "Shake" and"Bake" by their fans for their ability to finish so many races in the #1 and #2 positions, with Cal always in second place. When flamboyant French Formula One driver Jean Girard (Sacha Baron Cohen) challenges "Shake" and "Bake" for the supremacy of NASCAR, Ricky Bobby must face his own demons and fight Girard for the right to be known as racing's top driver.

After studying music at the American Conservatory of music in Chicago, Alex
Wurman moved to Los Angeles to pursue film music scoring. Independent films started coming his way, and soon he was working with directors such as John August, Doug Liman and Ron Shelton. Wurman's resume reflects the quality and diversity of his talent, boasting films such as Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, Thirteen Conversations About One Thing, Hollywood Homicide, Anchorman and Play It to the Bone.

Monday, July 17, 2006

CD REVIEW - Chi L'ha Vista Morire?

Chi L'ha Vista Morire?
Music by Ennio Morricone
Digitmovies CDDM059 (Italy)
10 Tracks 29:11 mins

This is unusually, for this enterprising label, a very brief CD, and is a reissue of the old Gemelli album, originally issued at the time of the film's release in 1972. It is however the premiere release of the score on CD and in fact consists of all the music that was actually used in the film.
To use the English title, Who Saw Her Die?, another entry in the Giallo genre, was directed by Aldo Lado and starred former James Bond George Lazenby.
Morricone here writes for children's choir (Coro di Voci Bianche di Paolo Lucci), with sparse instrumental backing, but featuring solos for violin and organ, and the great voice of Edda Dell'Orso features on "El Primo Baso."
Some of the chorals are wordless, but the majority feature songs, many of which feature traditional texts, but some are written by the composer's wife, Maria Travia.
The best track is undoubtedly the title track, a jolly, bouncy song, with the choir in excellent voice, but notable also are "No Ghe' Piu' Bel Cantar Della Sera," a slow, somewhat sad song, with violin solo; "Il Girotondo Delle Note," with its aggressive opening and flowing violin bridge; "La Mia Mama," a happy little mover; and the celebratory "Dindon Companon."
As always, there is a lavishly illustrated accompanying booklet, with stills and original poster artwork, plus Claudio Fuiano & Pierluigi Valentini's guide to the film and its music.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

CD REVIEW - Battlestar Galactica Season 2

Battlestar Galactica Season 2
Music by Bear McCreary
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1049 (U.S.)
23 Tracks 78:53 mins

This very lengthy compilation of cues from Season 2 of the SciFi Channel's popular show continues the approach composer McCreary adopted for the first season and extends it somewhat. One very welcome inclusion is an adaptation of the main theme from the Batlestar Galactica of the '70s, composed by Stu Phillips and Glen A. Larson, heard at the beginning of the album as "Colonial Anthem" - a proud rendition, which is easily the best music on the disc.
I'm only just seeing the first season on my Freeview box and am finding it hard to warm to, and I think the music is partly to blame, in that the approach taken, whilst all very unique and different, just doesn't seem to give much emotion to proceedings and is somewhat at odds with the high-tech world we see on screen. OK, so the ethnic stuff sits well with the spirit of the people and their ancient beliefs, but just doesn't fit for the most part. Surely an electronic or electronic/orchestral approach would have made more sense.
Oh well, what do I know? And what of the music on this disc? Well, I have to say that overall I'm liking it more than that for Season 1, with the highlights for me being "Escape from the Farm," a percussive, rhythmic mover; the classical-styled, flowing strings of "A Promise to Return" and "Allegro;" the determined "Martial Law;" the female chant with a beat of "Lords of Kobol;" the easy mover "Roslin and Adama;" "Prelude to War," with its martial build and fast-flowing strings, which eventually join with taiko drums for an action climax; and the folksy, warm and inspirational "Reuniting the Fleet." There are plenty more interesting moments throughout the album, but some of the tracks are quite lengthy, lessening their impact.
The accompanying booklet features plenty of colour stills, plus notes from the show's executive producer and of course composer McCreary.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

News from Costa Communications

From Costa Communications

Soundtrack release from Sony Classical August 8th

(Hollywood, CA) Golden Globe winning film composer Craig Armstrong delivers a haunting score to Paramount Pictures' "World Trade Center." Oliver Stone directs the true story of John McLoughlin and William Jimeno, two police officers who became trapped under the rubble of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Nicholas Cage and Michael Pena star as the two officers. The film opens August 11th, and Sony Classical releases the score
August 8th. Stone has won several Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards for his films, which include "Natural Born Killers," "JFK," "Born on the Fourth of July" and "Midnight Express." This is the first time Stone and Armstrong have worked together.

Craig Armstrong, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, has composed, arranged, produced, and performed a multitude of respected works. He began his professional music career with the group The Big Dish, performing on keyboard, writing, and arranging; this led to arranging assignments for artists including Massive Attack, U2, and Madonna. Later, Armstrong became composer in residence at Glasgow's Tron Theatre Company, writing commissioned pieces for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

In the last ten years, Armstrong has composed extensively for film. He won a
Golden Globe and was named AFI's Composer of the Year for his score to Baz
Luhrman's musical "Moulin Rouge," starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.
His work on the Ray Charles biographical film, "Ray," earned him a Grammy for Best Score Soundtrack Album. His other credits include "The Quiet
American," "Plunkett and Maclean," and "Love Actually."

In addition to his film scores, Armstrong has released three solo albums:
"The Space Between Us," "As If To Nothing," and "Piano Works." Most recently, his new musical trio "The Dolls" released its first self-titled album. Currently, his music can be heard as part of an exhibit at
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. He will perform with a full orchestra October 19th in Belgium at the 33rd Flanders International Film
Festival, incorporating several of his popular film scores.

Friday, July 14, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift

The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift
Music by Brian Tyler
Varese Sarabande VSD 6745 (EU)
30 Tracks 64:27 mins

This third adventure in the fast cars and guns series sees the action switch from American to Japan, although the "hero" is a good ole boy from the Southern States, portrayed by Lucas Black, whom I remember as a boy with tremendous presence in Sling Blade and the TV series American Gothic.
The music chores this time are undertaken by the versatile Brian Tyler and this album provides a lengthy listen to the results, which are mostly entertaining if you like your music loud and rock-based, with driving electric guitar, courtesy of Slash of Guns 'n' Roses I Presume - at least he is given a "featuring" credit on the cover. It actually reminds me somewhat of the kind of scores Trevor Rabin and Mark Mancina used to produce for Media Ventures projects and the like of some years ago.
The best example is the lengthy title track, which consists largely of pulse-pounding action music, though it does end quietly with a suggestion of the love theme, which is properly introduced in the easy-going acoustic guitar-lead "Neela Drifts." This title music is reprised for orchestra only in the concluding "Symphonic Touge."
Other tracks of this nature are the kick-ass, guitar-lead rock of "Mustang Nismo;" and the action of "DK vs. Han" and "Downtown Tokyo Chase;" plus the driving rocker "Megaton." Neela's theme comes and goes along the way, amidst expectant and scene-setting tracks.
All-in-all, the album is perhaps a shade too long for one sitting and a more condensed version might have been preferable, but it is nevertheless a good example of this kind of rock-based score, perfectly suitable for accompanying the on-screen mayhem, and with enough toe-tapping moments to keep one interested.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

News from Costa Communications

From Costa Communications

58th Primetime Emmy Awards live August 27th

(Hollywood, CA) Film and television composer Christopher Lennertz receives an Emmy nomination for his score for the WB series "Supernatural." The cult science fiction show, created by Eric Kripke, follows two brothers who repeatedly meet with the paranormal as they search for their missing father and the cause of their mother's mysterious death. Lennertz's eerie and rousing score for the pilot episode earned him his nomination for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series. The 58th Primetime Emmy Awards air live on August 27th. Lennertz and Kripke were students together in the
USC film program

Lennertz began his musical education at the early age of nine and quickly developed what director Joshua Butler ("Saint Sinner") calls "an incredible gift for melody." After learning to play the trumpet and guitar, he ventured out of performance to study composition, jazz arranging, and theory in high school. Soon, he made his way to the University of Southern California where his relationship with "Supernatural" creator and executive producer Kripke began. With Kripke directing and Lennertz composing, they collaborated on two short films, "Truly Committed," which won the Audience Award at the
Slamdance Film Festival, and "Battle of the Sexes," starring Sasha

Lennertz has since expanded his repertoire as a composer for all types of media, from film to television and even to videogames. Among his film scores are several notable independent films, including the jazz-based gangster drama "Baby Face Nelson" featuring Academy Award winner F. Murray Abraham, the seductive thriller "Lured Innocence" starring Dennis Hopper, and the film festival favourite, "Art House." His television credits include Fox's
"Brimstone," the WB's "The Strip," and the theme song for the MTV series
"Tough Enough," which appeared on the album for the show and put him on the
Billboard top 100 charts for weeks. His powerful, full orchestral score for the Stephen Spielberg-created videogame "Medal of Honor: Rising Sun" earned an award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and led him to score two more "Medal of Honor" games.

Most recently, Lennertz scored the thriller "The Deal," starring Christian
Slater and Selma Blair, "Sledge: The Untold Story," a mockumentary featuring
Angelina Jolie, and the latin comedy "Tortilla Heaven."

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

CD REVIEW - Superman Returns

Superman Returns
Music by John Ottman
Rhino R2 77654 (U.S.)
15 Tracks 55:08 mins

Like his director and long-time collaborator Bryan Singer, composer John Ottman has approached his score for this new incarnation of the Man of Steel with great respect for Richard Donner's 1978 Christopher Reeve starrer. So much so, that he has incorporated fragments of themes from John Williams' classic score for that film throughout his music for the film. That is not to say that Ottman hasn't composed plenty of new material of his own. He has, and it is probably fair to say that the result is undoubtedly one of the finest of his career thus far.
The album, which is a comfortable length, but which still leaves off enough material to warrant a special extended edition one day, gets off to a perfect start with a full blown rendition of Williams' classic march, with its love theme bridge, which remains one of the most exciting entries into a film ever composed. The march will return throughout when the tough get going, the love theme less so, giving way somewhat to new magical and romantic material composed by Ottman, especially strong in "How Could You Leave Us?" "I Wanted You to Know" and the concluding "Reprise." Other Williams themes to make their presence felt are his "leaving home" music, which Ottman treats to a wonderful arrangement with choir in "Memories;" and the "Krypton" theme also makes an appearance at the start of the aforementioned "How Could You Leave Us?"
Ottman's action material is very strong throughout, and mostly hints at Williams' march, just letting it flow on occasion. When the great man wrote his score in 1978, the use of choir was a rarity. It has now become somewhat of a cliché, but Ottman's use of it here is perfection itself and adds power and awe to proceedings.
So to conclude, whatever the success or otherwise of the film (and I've read mixed reviews thus far), at least from listening to this disc, Ottman seems to have provided the best possible accompaniment we could have hoped for.
Incidentally, this is an enhanced CD, with trailers and a short behind the scenes look at the making of the score, but is sadly not accessible on my outdated PC. I hope you have better luck.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Nightmare and Dreamscapes Debuts This Week

This week sees the start of the series Nightmares and Dreamscapes on TNT. The first episode in a run of eight hour-long adaptations of Stephen King short stories debuts on July 12th and plays uninterrupted. "Battleground" stars William Hurt as a hitman, who assassinates the head of a toy company and then finds himself menaced by a box of model soldiers bent on revenge. The episode plays very much as homage to the classic Twilight Zone episode "The Invaders" which saw an elderly woman do battle with tiny invading aliens. Like that episode, "Battleground" plays without dialogue, with composer Jeff Beal, who was recently Emmy nominated for his work on Rome, carrying the action with his music, which perfectly supplies the necessary tension throughout. I have been fortunate to be given the chance of an advance viewing of the episode and can only say that if this sets the standard for the other seven that follow, the series is well worth a look, and I can't wait for the opportunity to catch up with all of them.
Beal has scored all eight episodes, mixing orchestral with electronic sounds and writing in differing styles. "Umney's Last Case" partially uses a jazz approach, with sultry trumpet performances. "The End of the Whole Mess" moves from light and airy, to sad piano and elegiac trumpet, to downright eerie. "Crouch End" has an underlying ethnic feel, with menacing action moments, sometimes featuring choir, and more ethereal passages. "They've Got a Hell of a Band" has moments of breezy happiness, as well as mystery and tense action. "The Fifth Quarter" features a piano and voices lament, as well as more rock-based material. "The Road Virus Heads North" has moments for sad strings and bluesy trumpet, along with menacing action material. Finally, "Autopsy Room 4" is often nervy, sometimes with a percussive/electronic undercurrent.
No news as yet of an official soundtrack album for Beal's music, but if I hear anything I will of course let you know. In the meantime, if you're able to, tune into TNT on the 12th for "Battleground " - and enjoy a great ride!

Friday, July 07, 2006

News from Top Dollar PR


Inon Zur Scores "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow"
Video Game Soundtrack

Award-winning composer creates anthemic score for video game

Los Angeles - July 6th, 2006 - Celebrated orchestral composer Inon Zur has created the original musical score for the new video game Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow. Internationally recognised as one of the A-list composers in the video games industry, Zur was commissioned by Bethesda Softworks to produce an original score that would reflect the adventure and excitement of the Pirates of the Caribbean in an interactive experience.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow is available for the PlayStation®2 computer entertainment system and the PC. The game features a blend of fast-paced action and adventure that captures the entertaining characters, settings, and spirit of the original Pirates of the Caribbean film. Zur composed over 45 minutes of original orchestral music including the main theme, written specifically for the game, which was recorded with the Northwest Sinfonia orchestra at the Bastyr Chapel in Seattle.

Writing pulsating scores with the highest production values, Zur brings extensive experience composing for film, television and video games. His previous game titles include Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, Champions of Norrath: Realms of EverQuest, Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal and Men of Valor, for which he won the 2005 Game Audio Network Guild award for 'Best Original Instrumental Song.'

Zur's powerful orchestral scores have been featured in the promotional trailers for Hollywood movies such as Annapolis (Touchstone Pictures), The New World (New Line Cinema), Kingdom Of Heaven (Twentieth Century Fox), The Pacifier (Walt Disney Pictures), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Walt Disney Pictures), and Fantastic Four (Marvel/Twentieth Century Fox). Inon's music can also be heard in the hit television series Into The West from Executive Producer Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Television. Inon is a classically trained graduate of the Music Academy of Tel Aviv in Israel, and also studied at the Dick Grove School of Music and UCLA. For more information please visit

For more information on Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow, visit

About Bethesda Softworks

Headquartered in Rockville, MD, Bethesda Softworks LLC, a subsidiary of ZeniMax Media Inc., is a premier developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software and has produced numerous award-winning titles, most recently with The Elder Scrolls® IV: OblivionT and the 2002 PC and Xbox® Game of the Year and RPG of the Year, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrrowind®. Among Bethesda's more popular franchises are The Elder Scrolls® series and Fallout®, as well as its licensed properties, Pirates of the CaribbeanT and Star Trek®. Its product line spans the sports, racing, RPG, strategy, and action genres. For more information on Bethesda Softworks' products, visit

About Buena Vista Games
Buena Vista Games, Inc. (BVG) is the interactive entertainment arm of The Walt Disney Company. BVG publishes, markets and distributes a broad portfolio of multi-platform video games and interactive entertainment worldwide. The company also licenses properties and works directly with third-party interactive game publishers to bring products for all ages to market. For more information, please log on to

The Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow © 2006 Bethesda Softworks and ZeniMax are registered trademarks of ZeniMax Media Inc. Distribution under license from Buena Vista Games, Inc. Audio/Visual elements © Disney. Developed in association with California 7 Studios. "PlayStation" and the "PS" family logo are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. Other product and company names referenced herein may be trademarks of their respective owners. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

CD REVIEWS - Film Music Masterworks

Film Music Masterworks - James Horner
Silva Screen SILCD2004 (U.K.)
10 Tracks 56:18 mins

The first of two discs due for release in the U.K. on 24th July, which provide a very good introduction to the work of the spotlighted composer, and at an affordable price.
The ten tracks here feature the love theme from Titanic; "Remember" from Troy; the End Titles from Braveheart; the title track from Legends of the Fall; the End Titles from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; the title music from Cocoon, Apollo 13 and The Mask of Zorro; "The Wedding" from Deep Impact; and the theme from Willow; providing a good overview of Horner's music from the early years when he attracted criticism for seeming to rip off composers, to more recent years when is often accused of repeating himself. Whatever, it's all good music and the largely quite lengthy tracks give the music plenty of chance for development.

Film Music Masterworks - John Williams
Silva Screen SILCD2005 (U.K.)
13 Tracks 57:42 mins

This second release celebrates the work of the incomparable John Williams, with 13 tracks featuring "Hedwig's Theme" from Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone; "Sayuri's Theme & End Credits" from Memoirs of a Geisha; the Main Credits from Star Wars: A New Hope; "Battle of the Heroes" from Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith;" the themes from Jaws, Schindler's List and E.T.; a suite from War of the Worlds; "Where Dreams Are Born" from A.I.; the march from Raiders of the Lost Ark; "Duel of the Fates" from Star Wars: The Phantom Menace; the Superman theme; and "Prayer for Peace" from Munich.
The album is perhaps weighted a little towards the recent stuff, but there are a few old favourites, and with such a huge volume of excellent music to choose from, it can't have been easy to decide on the final programme.

Both albums are simply packaged in white, with the music performed by the label's usual resources, the City of Prague Philharmonic and Crouch End Festival Chorus.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

CD REVIEW - Ercole e La Regina di Lidia

Ercole e La Regina di Lidia
Music by Enzo Masetti
Digitmovies CDDM057 (Italy)
33 Tracks 53:51 mins

As promised, here is my review of the second score in this fine double disc set of music for the original Italian Peplum genre movies. Known widely as Hercules Unchained, this second outing for Steve Reeves as the mythical hero again features the lovely theme first composed for Le Fatiche di Ercole, the other score in the set. In fact it receives its best version yet in the second track, the title cue, a splendid 2 minutes-plus rendition, complete with female choir.
As for the remainder of the score, well, though it has its moments, and certainly more action cues, it's maybe not quite as engrossing as the original Hercules. I would pick out "La Culla," which starts out delicately, with plucked harp propelling it, before developing into the main theme, though ending abruptly. The following track, "Il Bosco Magico," is appropriately magical in feel, though has a sturdy mid-section. A couple of cues have a slightly exotic feel, with some nice, almost otherworldly flute work; and there is another ballet, delicate with female choir, as in the first score. "Entrata delle Ancelle" is quite carefree. The flutes duet in "In Visita alla Regina," a track with a distinctly romantic feel. "Chiusura delle Porte di Tebe," opens with a sturdy march, before changing to dramatic conflict. "Eteocle e Polinice Duellano" begins with more conflict, but turns mystical with female voices, then to a triumphal march, before threatening at its conclusion. Plenty of action follows, leading into the "Finale," where a solo violin takes up the main theme, before being joined by orchestra and choir to provide a suitably big finish, with a straight rendition of the theme playing out the credits.
Four bonus tracks again present alternate mixes of some of the key tracks without choir and there is an interesting demo of the ballet music, performed by piano, with drum kit accompaniment.
This completes my review of this historically important Italian film music release. If you missed it, check out yesterday's post for the review of Le Fatiche di Ercole and accompanying features of the set.

Monday, July 03, 2006

CD REVIEW - Le Fatiche di Ercole/Ercole e la Regina di Lidia

Le Fatiche di Ercole/Ercole e la Regina di Lidia
Music by Enzo Masetti
Digitmovies CDDM057 (Italy)
Disc 1 - 46 Tracks 73:51 mins Disc 2 - 33 Tracks 53:51 mins

As I am finding it difficult to schedule enough time for reviewing lengthy CDs at the moment, the only option with this double-CD set was to tackle each of the two scores presented separately. Hence, tonight I'll address 1957's Le Fatiche di Ercole (otherwise known as Hercules to U.K. and U.S. audiences), which comprises the lengthy first disc in this set. My review of Disc Two will follow, hopefully tomorrow or the next day.
Hercules was the first in a long line of the Italian Peplum genre (basically sword and sandal oaters) and starred the impressive frame of bodybuilder Steve Reeves. Music from the film was originally issued on LP in the States, but was a disappointing affair, carrying narration,dialogue and sound effects. However, in 1984 C.A.M. issued two LPs featuring selected tracks from both Hercules and its sequel. For this release, C.A.M. again kindly allowed Digitmovies access to their archives and the result is that both scores are featured here complete, save for missing organ takes and electronic effects, in amazingly good mono sound. Added to this, both feature alternate mixes of certain tracks, minus the accompanying choral performances.
Hercules gets under way with the opening titles commencing in some furious action, before the sweeping main theme, with its nautical feel, makes its first appearance.
This theme is to crop up in quite a few subsequent tracks, and in some lovely arrangements, highlighting woodwind solos and choir, the latter particularly outstanding in the finale.
Other highlights include a light and bouncy theme heard in "Racconton di Iole;" a sturdy march heard in "Atleti;" the mix of joy and sadness, with sensitive violin playing in "Verso Iolco;" another sturdy march, with macho male voices in "Coro dei Marinai;" the menacing conflict, with swirling strings and choir in "Uragano;" the light-hearted "Prigionieri delle Amazzoni;" the passionate and romantic "Amore fra Giasone e la Regina;" and variations thereon, featuring theremin and female choir in "Coro di Amazzoni & Orfeo e il Coro di Marianai;" the bold gallop of "Battaglia con gli Uomini-Mostro;" and of course the aforementioned finale, with its brief conflict, before the gorgeous main theme soars to a big finish.
As you will have noted, there are 46 tracks to this score, with only 5 of these being the alternate mixes, which means that quite a few of the tracks are quite brief, which makes for a slightly disjointed listening experience, but if you like good. Old-fashioned, meaty orchestral scoring, you'll probably enjoy this one.
The colourful accompanying booklet features stills and poster artwork from the films, as well as fascinating behind the scenes shots and notes by Claudio Fuiano, Enrico Celsi and Tim Lucas. Watch out for my review of Ercole e la Regina di Lidia (aka Hercules Unchained, which will complete my guide to this welcome release.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

CD REVIEW - I Vampiri/Caltiki - Il Mostro Immortale

I Vampiri/Caltiki - Il Mostro Immortale
Music by Roman Vlad/Music by Roberto Nicolosi
Digitmovies CDDM058 (Italy)
Disc 1 - 19 Tracks 46:12 mins Disc 2 - 18 Tracks 44:54 mins

This pairing of '50s horror films will be of particular interest to fans of the Hollywood style of scoring fantastical films of the '30s, '40s & '50s, with 1957's I Vampiri, scored by Roman Vlad most resembling the old Universal Dracula, Frankenstein, Wolfman etc. scores, and 1959's Caltiki more closely resembling the otherworldly sci-fi scores of the '50s.
Both scores are monothematic, that is they both boast a strong main theme, which runs through the whole score in variations. I Vampiri's is first heard as a propulsive, brassy and menacing affair, but is versatile enough to carry much of the mystery and suspense of the score as well. There are few light moments in this dread-filled score, although a romantic string quarter feature in "Pierre e Giselle," a theme that is reprised in the "Finale." There is also a nice waltz and something of a child-like innocence about the theme in "Rapimento & Appartamento Vuoto." But overall, this score is for those who like their music for horror in the old school menace and suspense style.
As a bonus, at the end of Disc 1, Carlo Savina, who conducted Disc 2's Caltiki, is featured in the form of his "To Mirna" from 1973's Lisa e il Diavolo, which starts delicately and then becomes an easy-going theme, with Edda Dell'Orso's wordless vocal.
Caltiki's monster most strongly reminds me of that from The Blob, the cult movie debut of Steve McQueen and the music is largely otherworldly and eerie, with again the main theme first appearing as a powerful, brassy affair, but then showing its versatility in many mysterious and suspenseful cues, as well as menacing moments when appropriate. Dark piano chords and eerie organ accompaniment make their presence felt, giving it that '50s sci-fi feel, and there is nothing really melodic to hang on to.
Both Il Diavolo and Caltiki's scores are presented in surprisingly good mono sound for their age, and are accompanied by the usual colourful booklet, featuring stills and poster artwork, plus notes by Claudio Fuiano and Tim Lucas.