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

Thursday, November 30, 2006

CD REVIEW - Destroy All Humans! 2

Destroy All Humans! 2
Music by Garry Schyman & various artists
Lakeshore LKS 338802 (U.S.)
23 Tracks 66:39 mins

Whilst I applaud Lakeshore Records for putting out this disc, I cannot help having reservations about it, in that though there's plenty of Garry Schyman's fine score on display, a) often the score tracks ends abruptly or are cut off, slightly ruining one's appreciation of them, and b) after each score track we have a rock/pop number by a multitude of artists I have never even heard of. OK, so mostly they are in a style which compliments the '60s feel of Schyman's score, but if only the score and song tracks could have been kept separately, it would have made for a much better listening experience for fans of both kinds of music.
Anyway, it's obviously the score I'm concentrating on with this review and, as previously mentioned, whereas Schyman's score for the original Destroy All Humans! game evoked Bernard Herrmann and '50s sci-fi scores in general, time has moved on slightly and now we're in the '60s, which means the composer now draws his inspiration from greats of that period, like John Barry, Lalo Schifrin and Jerry Goldsmith, among others, with a score that is more evocative of the '60s spy genre, because basically there wasn't much sci-fi around on the big screen in the '60s, when it had retreated to TV with the likes of Lost in Space and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.
So what we have here are a mix of sneaky, suspenseful sleuthing tracks and full-on action cues, often with Bond-like brassiness, but with almost ever-present bongos, more evocative of the Man from U.N.C.L.E. scores. It's largely an orchestral score, but electronics are mixed in and regrettably occasionally take over, as in the ominous Russian-styled theme for "Tunguska Disguised." But this is just a minor irritation in what is at times a very exciting score indeed, and in addition to the Russian feel of the "Tunguska" tracks, there are a couple of "Takoshima" cues, that are not full-on oriental in nature, but do draw successfully on far-eastern elements.
So, in conclusion, whilst it's great to have Schyman's music represented on CD this time, you may find it somewhat irritating having to programme all the songs out. When will the record labels ever learn that film score collectors generally don't want songs on their CDs, but if, for commercial reasons, they must be present, please keep them away from the score cues, and then everyone will be happy.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Liquidator

The Liquidator
Music by Lalo Schifrin
Film Score Monthly Vol.9 No.16 (U.S.)
24 Tracks 63:04 mins

That we even have this CD is down to engineer Doug Schwartz, whose heroic efforts are duly recognised in the notes accompanying this release, because it's somehow cobbled together from various scources, yet still manages to sound consistently good.
The Liquidator is a spy film spoof from 1966, one of several riding on the back of the successful James Bond series, and starred Rod Taylor and Jill St John (who ironically went on to become a Bond girl in Diamonds Are Forever). It was one of Lalo Schifrin's eary Hollywood assignments, and his experience playing jazz with Dizzy Gillespie was put to good use in coming up with a large number of source cues, which featured on the original LP release. This CD includes the content of the LP, but adds alternate versions and more importantly dramatic scoring from the film.
The source cues include military marches and gypsy violin, alongside the more familiar jazzy music, with "Boysie's Bossa," being the most utilised of the latter compositions.
The dramatic scoring is mostly of the suspenseful variety, but there is some action along the way, including the timpani-driven "767 2274 Tank Corp." And "The Killer" is something of a crossover between source and dramatic score, a fine jazzy mover in the best Man From U.N.C.L.E. traditions.
Framing the score is the corny but very Bond-like title song, which is belted out by several-time Bond songstress Shirley Bassey, who treats it as seriously as if she were performing the fabulous "Goldfinger" or "Diamond Are Forever."
Schifrin went on to write greater things for the spy and whole thriller-type genre in the decade or more that followed, but this is an interesting look at one of the composer's earliest forays.
As always, the disc is accompanied by a splendidly illustrated booklet, with liner notes by Lukas Kendall and interview excerpts with the composer conducted by Jeff Bond. And as a bonus the original LP liner notes are also included.
Go to for clips and to order your copy.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Alain Resnais teams with Mark Snow on Private Fears in Public Places

It may seem an unlikely pairing, legendary 83-year old French director Alain Resnais and composer Mark Snow, probably best known for his work on TV's The X-Files, but apparently Resnais has long been a fan of the composer and now finally gets to work with him on his latest film Coeurs (known internationally as Private Fears in Public Places). The film is Resnais' second collaboration with playwright Alan Ayckborn and is adapted from the award-winning play, which follows "six lonely characters and the strange circumstances that connect them."
I received an advance CD of the score, courtesy of Costa Communications, which is quite brief at just under 21 minutes, and opens and closes with Snow's main theme, which is tinged with loneliness to start with but develops into a pleasant, flowing piece for piano, orchestra (live or sampled, I find it difficult to tell) and synths.
Snow's subsequent score is very much in his familiar style, with some sensitive, intimate scoring, as well as more flowing pieces and almost dreamlike moments, coupled with more threatening, percussive pieces. It all leaves one begging for more. Whether there is more music in the film I cannot say, nor do I have any information as to whether the score will be released on CD, I'm afraid. I do know that the film opened in France on November 22nd and hope that it will receive some kind of international release, which is not always easy to achieve in these days where the blockbuster rules. It's certainly a fascinating pairing and gives Snow the chance to show his talents are not solely reserved for the small screen.

Monday, November 27, 2006

CD REVIEW - Random Harvest/The Yearling

Random Harvest/The Yearling
Music by Herbert Stothart
Film Score monthly Vol.9 No.13 (U.S.)
31 Tracks 78:31 mins

Herbert Stothart was one of the pioneers of original film composition in Hollywood, his distinctive combination of original scoring and adaptations of source tunes and songs gracing many a prestigious production in the '30s and '40s, including Camille, Mrs. Miniver, Queen Christina, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Three Musketeers and Northwest Passage. Two of my favourites, for the post-World War I drama Random Harvest, and the pioneering Florida-set The Yearling, are represented on this disc. Unfortunately, due to age and circumstances, neither one can be presented complete, and some may question to the sense of releasing two incomplete scores such as these, but the fact is, what remains is well worthy of release and this disc will be particularly pleasing to fans of the Hollywood Golden Age sound.
As previously mentioned, Stothart's work was generally a combination of original scoring and adaptation, but so skilful was he at it, that the music flows seemlessly from one to the other.
In the case of 1942's Random Harvest, the sensitive story of a British officer suffering from amnesia, Stothart wrote a fine love theme and provided suitable sympathetic scoring, but also adapted the wedding hymn "O Perfect Love" and included fragments of popular songs of the time and provided source cues as well. The 8 cues included here are a mix of all of these, and there are also a further 3 bonus cues at the end of the disc, including a music hall number. This mix of original and source music may not suit everyone, but your patience will be rewarded with some gorgeous scoring at times and the closing "Finale" is nothing short of glorious.
1946's The Yearling, an early Gregory Peck starrer, is a sentimental favourite, largely concerning a boy's transition to manhood through adversity. As one disaster follows another, Stothart perfectly captures the mood, with some poignant and downright tragic moments, but also some uplifting and lighthearted moments along the way, with the climax quite joyous. The score is largely based on Delius' Appalachia, and the Americana-styled main theme from this gets plenty of welcome workouts. It's a great score to an equally great film.
Both scores are presented in stereo and Random Harvest sounds especially good for its age. The Yearling didn't fare as well over the years, but is still more than acceptable. As always, the disc is accompanied by a splendidly illustrated booklet, with extensive notes and cue-by-cue guide by Marilee Bradford.
For sound clips and to order your copy go to

Sunday, November 26, 2006

CD REVIEW - John Il Bastardo

John Il Bastardo
Music by Nico Fidenco & Gianni Dell'Orso
GDM 2075 (Italy)
19 Tracks 44:38 mins

As with yesterday's disc, this is another expanded edition of a score previously released on vinyl, adding a further 8 tracks to the original album's content.
This western from 1968 starred John Richardson and Martine Beswick and, like yesterday's disc, features two very likeable themes, though there is more variation in this score, with religious chorals, source piano and guitar tracks, and some dark and dissonant material, featuring dramatic chorals courtesy of I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni
The main theme, "Ballata di John," is first heard as a vocal by S. Moriones. His vocal starts off a bit directionless but then guitar joins in and it eventually gains momentum when orchestra and choir join in. It's a catchy, Mexican-flavoured theme, with Italian lyrics. The theme returns in instrumental variations throughout the subsequent tracks, sometimes keyboard-lead, sometimes in galloping fashion, like in the impressive "Ballata di John (orchestra 2)."
The secondary theme is a jolly little mover, again Mexican-flavoured, often introduced by an irritating 5-note cello motif. The theme is quite versatile. It can be comical, or seductive' like in the guitar-lead "Antonia." "Seduzione di Antonia," a lengthy track, presents variations on the theme, with cello and flute at times taking the lead.
I can't say I find this score as consistently likeable as yesterday's, but it still has a lot going for it, particularly if you are partial to the lighter side of Italian Western scoring.
Again, you should go to for your copy.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

CD REVIEW - I Vigliacchi non Pregano

I Vigliacchi non Pregano
Music by Gianni Marchetti
GDM 2073 (Italy)
16 Tracks 35:25 mins

GDM have once again done Italian Western music fans proud, releasing three more titles, the first of which is this 1968 John Garko starrer. Only 7 tracks were previously available, coupled with music from Sette Baschi Rossi on a C.A.M. LP. This CD expands the score to 16 tracks and makes for a very enjoyable listening experience.
The score is basically two-themed, commencing with the laid-back, wide-open spaces, Mexican style "Western Panorama," featuring choir and orchestra, with twanging guitar accompaniment. This theme turns upbeat at the end, and subsequently appears on a number of tracks thereafter, sometimes galloping with electric guitar, sometimes more easy-going with guitar and harpsichord. Throughout the disc choir is more or less ever-present, with the odd solo vocal contribution.
The second theme is more confrontational and appears in the more weighty moments. It can appear in typical showdown style, with trumpet or whistle, or even with a martial beat. It can also do its share of galloping and is sometimes used in tandem with the first theme.
There's seldom a dull moment, with so many variations on both themes on display. It's a very welcome addition to anyone's Italian Western music collection, and you can of course order your copy from Italian film music specialists Hillside CD Productions at What are you waiting for?
Check back for my reviews of the other two new GDM Western releases, namely John Il Bastardo and Spara Gringo Spara - coming soon.

Friday, November 24, 2006

CD REVIEW - Happy Feet

Happy Feet
John Powell & Various Artists
Warner Sunset/Atlantic 83998-2 (U.S.)
13 Tracks 47:53 mins

Composer John Powell's involvement in this project apparently goes back four years when he got the call for two George Miller projects. The first, Mad Max 4 has so far failed to materialise, but the second, an animated musical involving Emperor Penguins, Happy Feet, went ahead, and Powell, as well as composing the score for the film, found himself heavily involved as musical producer/director, arranging many of the songs, familiar and not so, used in the film.
This album concentrates largely on the songs and they are a diverse mix of styles, from artists like Prince, Pink, Patti LaBelle, The Beach Boys, Chrissie Hynde, k.d. lang, and from the acting world, Brittany Murphy, Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Even the most familiar songs get quite different twists from Powell, but as songs are not really what I'm here to review, I'll concentrate on the one score track, which rounds off the album in some style, a near 6-minute compilation of moments that really whet the appetite to hear more.
It's a highly enjoyable track, which races through a variety of styles and features, at its height, an 80-piece Australian orchestra and no less than 600 piece choir. Surely that must be some kind of record? Anyway, I'm certainly glad to hear that there will be a score release on Atlantic next month, and hope that the good people at Costa Communications can arrange a review copy for me - so watch this space!
In the meantime, if you want to learn the full story of Powell's involvement in Happy Feet, plus hear his views on other recent work, go to, where there is quite an extensive interview with him.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

CD REVIEWS - The Page Turner & Children of Men

The Page Turner (La Tourneuse de Pages)
Music by Jerome Lemonnier
Colosseum CST 8114 (EU)
15 Tracks 62:26 mins

A young pianist fails her entrance exam to the Conservatory, and ten years later finds herself with the opportunity to gain her revenge on the woman she holds responsible. This is roughly the plot to this French film, which was an official Cannes Festival entry.
The score is written and performed by a new name to me, Jerome Lemonnier, whose efforts make up the shorter tracks on this album, the longer ones being given over to performances of pieces by Shostakovich and Schubert, with Bach also being represented.
Lemonnier's score is by and large suitably piano-lead, and covers many moods, the opening track "Le Mirror des Choses" reflecting this, starting out with purposeful piano, then tragic strings, then a mysterious passage for piano and violin, ending with lighter fare for piano and orchestra. It's singly the most enjoyable piece on the album. "Generique" introduces the strange and mysterious main theme, which returns to close affairs in "Diner D'Adieu." In between there is music of similar mystery and sadness, with some dissonance, but also the odd pleasant moment. Sometimes Lemonnier's piano plays unaccompanied, but at others it receives mostly stringed support. Yes, this is definitely one for fans of the piano, but its often classical nature didn't really involve me, I'm afraid.

Children of Men
Music by John Tavener
Varese Sarabande VSD 6769 (EU)
9 Tracks 70:32 mins

This bleak vision of the future, starring Clive Owen, a future where infertility threatens to wipe out the human race, is possibly the first film score proper by John Tavener, although his music has I believe featured in films before. At least I think its an original score, but the stand-alone nature of the tracks on the album do leave cause to wonder if they were written away from the film and then tracked in. I don't really know enough about Tavener's music to say.
Six of the nine tracks feature music by Tavener, the remainder are pieces by Handel, Ruckert and Penderecki. Most of the tracks are long and all of Tavener's are of the serious, religious inclination. "Fragments of a Prayer" opens and is something of an overlong requiem, featuring soprano and orchestra. Unfortunately, working from a promo copy of the disc, I am unable to give credit to the unnamed vocalist. "Eternity's Sunrise" follows, again with soprano, a sparse affair that promises much, but only delivers in short bursts towards the end. "Song of the Angel" is pretty much as it sounds, with soprano again featuring. "The Lamb" is a strings-only variation on the same theme, whilst "Mother and Child" largely features a capella choir, but with church organ making an occasional appearance. The final Tavener track, which also closes the album, "Mother of God, Here I Stand" is another religious, strings-only track.
If you like religious music, you'll probably go for this one, but I found the tone of the whole score somewhat depressing, which undoubtedly suits the bleakness of the film's premise.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

News from Costa Communications and notes on Andrew Gross' score for Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny

From Costa Communications

FILM COMPOSER MYCHAEL DANNA SCORES "THE NATIVITY STORY" Film Opens Dec. 1 Score release from New Line Records Dec. 6

(Los Angeles, CA) Well known for his expertise of combining non-Western sound sources with orchestral and electronic minimalism in film music, award-winning composer Mychael Danna scores "The Nativity Story" for New Line Cinema and director Catherine Hardwicke. Danna's score sets the tone for the drama that focuses on Mary and Joseph's life as they travel to Bethlehem for the birth of Jesus, one couple's journey that forever changed the world. Starring Keisha Castle-Hughes and Oscar Isaac, the film will be released this holiday season. New Line Cinema releases "The Nativity Story" December 1. New Line Records releases the score CD December 6.

Being recorded in Los Angeles, the score breaks recent tradition by employing European instruments of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. "My approach is not about a story set in the Middle East," says Danna. "It's about how The Nativity changed history when Europe really flowered under Christianity." To reach his timeless objective, Danna references ancient Christmas melodies written hundreds and thousands of years ago. Gregorian chants, recorders and viols give voice to carols such as "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel," originally written in Latin during the 12th century.

Danna began his film music career with the score for Atom Egoyan's "Family Viewing" in 1987, for which he Danna won a Canadian film award, an award for which he has now been nominated eleven times. He has earned a reputation for skillfully blending ethnic influences into the body of contemporary film scoring aesthetics, which led him to work with acclaimed directors such as Atom Egoyan, Ang Lee, Scott Hicks, Gilles MacKinnon, Mira Nair, James Mangold and Joel Schumacher.

Danna studied music composition at the University of Toronto, winning the Glenn Gould Composition Scholarship in 1985. He also served for five years as composer-in-residence at the McLaughlin Planetarium in Toronto from 1987 to 1992.

Danna has proven his versatility from scoring Moroccan music in "8MM" to American Civil War-era sounds in "Ride With the Devil," and he infused medieval European and Persian music into the score for "The Sweet Hereafter." He has scored each of the eight movies by director Atom Egoyan, including "Where The Truth Lies", "Arafat", "Felicia's Journey", "Exotica", "The Adjuster", and "Speaking Parts."

Most recently, Danna scored the Oscar-winning "Capote," "Black" for director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and "Tideland" for director Terry Gilliam. With Danna's score, "Little Miss Sunshine," starring Toni Colette, Greg Kinnear and Steve Carell, is in theaters.

Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny

Much hype has appeared in the press and on TV for Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, which I believe may actually have had its world premiere here in the U.K. Of course, Jack Black is best known as the popular American comic actor of such fare as School of Rock. But, on the side, he also makes up half, with Kyle Gass, of rockers Tenacious D. Now, I haven't heard any of their stuff, but from clips of the film, it seems pretty wild and crazy, rather like the guys themselves. There is a soundtrack album on Epic in the States but, from the track listing, it would seem to lack any score tracks, written by composer Andrew Gross, who has had a long assocation with Black, having been schoolmates at the Crossroads High School in Los Angeles. Gross in fact had done strings for several songs on the duo's platinum selling debut album.
Originally Gross and collaborator John King of the Dust Brothers were brought on to the movie to provide orchestral and choral arrangements for the songs used in the film, but it soon became clear that some dramatic orchestral scoring was also required, of the kind the late, great Elmer Bernstein, among others, have in modern times supplied for broad comedies. Their sometimes over-the-top, serious sounding music enhancing the comedy antics on screen.
From the nine-minute sampler Costa Communications have kindly provided, this is just the kind of scoring Gross supplied, with "Jack Attacked" filled with bombastic villainy; "History of KG" a mix of fairtytale wonder and menace;" the awe-filled choir of "Birth of the D;" the religious choral "Ignem Fervorum;" "Guitarway to Heaven," with its awe-filled choral giving way to a determined march; the mysterious "The Stranger Suite;" "Capturing the Pick," which commences with exciting action, before rocking out; and the triumphant and heroic "Compared to the Greats." It's all good stuff, just a little too brief to really latch on to away from the film, which is why it is unlikely to make it on to a score album. Of course, without hearing the soundtrack album, I can't be sure some of this music didn't make it on to there. If it did, I'm pleased, but if not, surely some room could have been found for something of a suite collecting all these moments together.
Whatever, go see the movie, as it looks like a fun ride.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

News from Costa Communications and Top Dollar PR

From Costa Communications


(Los Angeles, CA) Singing and dancing penguins beat out superspy James Bond this weekend, as Warner Bros. CG-animated "Happy Feet" took the #1 position with $42.3 million, helping to launch a strong holiday viewing season. Prolific film composer John Powell spent a weighty four years scoring, arranging and acting as musical director and musical producer for "Happy Feet," directed by George Miller. The film stars Robin Williams, Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman. Atlantic Records has the soundtrack in stores and will release Powell's score CD in mid-December. In addition to his work for the score, Powell also arranged songs for Pink, Yolanda Adams, Fantasia, and Patti LaBelle. Powell's talent for unusual instrumentation, combined with his mastery of diverse musical styles, made him perfect for "Happy Feet." Powell traveled eight times to Australia to record some of the singers, a full orchestra and a 600 voice choir. He also had numerous sessions in Los Angeles with the stars of the pictures as well as traveling to San Francisco to record Robin Williams. Besides "Happy Feet," this year alone Powell has contributed to an array of divergent projects, including the grand and powerful orchestration for "X-Men: The Last Stand" and the ambient score for "United 93" and the eclectic score for "Ice Age: The Meltdown."

In under 10 years, Powell has established himself as a leading composer with nearly fifty films to his credit. Powell has demonstrated his flair for melody, layers and sonic textures in virtually every genre from action, "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" and "The Bourne Identity," to comedies, including "Shrek," and "Robots"

John Powell is currently working on "Horton Hears a Who" for Fox/Bluesky Studios animation and will be continuing the "Bourne" series with "The Bourne Ultimatum" next year. Several of his film scores were highlighted at a special concert for the World Soundtrack Awards in Belgium last month.

From Top Dollar PR


Los Angeles, CA – November 21st, 2006 – Four-time Emmy award-winning composer Laura Karpman (EverQuest® II, Steven Spielberg’s TAKEN) has written the original music for UNTOLD LEGENDS™ DARK KINGDOM™, the action-RPG launch title for the PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system. The fantasy score was recorded in Prague with the FILMharmonic Orchestra and Choir, with Karpman conducting. The lyrics sung by the choir were adapted by Karpman from portions of the medieval poetry text “William Wallace” in Middle Scots - the literary source for the legend of “Braveheart” - and woven into the score to complement the game’s intriguing narrative and dramatic storyline.Glenn Stafford, Audio Director for UNTOLD LEGENDS DARK KINGDOM at Sony Online Entertainment, said, “The score for Untold Legends: Dark Kingdom was beautifully composed and recorded, including a full live orchestra and choir. The recording is exceptionally high quality and was recorded in one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in the world - the Rudolphinum in Prague, Czech Republic. The music enhances and highlights the dynamic and changing moods throughout the course of this intense action/adventure RPG game, and is wonderful to listen to on its own as well.”

After writing music for Sony’s smash hit EVERQUEST II, Karpman went on to become the resident orchestral composer of Sony Online Entertainment. In 2005 she received a Game Audio Network (G.A.N.G.) award for her video game music, which has been performed by orchestras internationally. Karpman is currently an active member of the faculty of the UCLA School of Film and Television and was recently a guest composer of The Juilliard School Composition Forum. She is represented by Four Bars Intertainment for video games and by International Creative Management (ICM) for film and television. For more information visit:

Developed and published by Sony Online Entertainment, UNTOLD LEGENDS DARK KINGDOM sets the standard for next-generation action-RPG’s by delivering an immersive fantasy experience through its high-definition graphics and action-packed battles filled with heart-pounding combat, magical spells and brilliant visual effects. DARK KINGDOM also combines in-depth character progression, online multiplayer gameplay and online game services through the PlayStation®3 online network. For more information visit:

About Sony Online EntertainmentSony Online Entertainment LLC (SOE) is a recognized worldwide leader in massively multiplayer online games, with hundreds of thousands of subscribers around the globe. SOE creates, develops and provides compelling entertainment for the personal computer, online, game console and wireless markets. Known for its blockbuster franchises and hit titles including EverQuest®, EverQuest® II, Champions of Norrath®, Untold Legends™, and PlanetSide®, as well as for developing Star Wars Galaxies™, SOE continues to redefine the business of online gaming and the creation of active player communities while introducing new genres on various entertainment platforms. Headquartered in San Diego, CA, with additional development studios in Austin, TX, Seattle, WA, Denver, CO, and Taiwan, SOE has an array of cutting-edge games in development. SOE is owned by Sony Pictures Digital and Sony Computer Entertainment America.© 2006 Sony Online Entertainment LLC. SOE and the SOE logo are registered trademarks and Untold Legends and Dark Kingdom are trademarks of Sony Online Entertainment LLC in the United States and/or other countries. "PlayStation" and the "PS" Family logo are registered trademarks of Sony Computer Entertainment Inc. The ratings icon is a registered trademark of the Entertainment Software Association. All other trademarks are properties of their respective owners. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 20, 2006

CD REVIEW - The Prestige

The Prestige
Music by David Julyan
Hollywood D000001402 (U.S.)
17 Tracks 48:21 mins

Although it's good to see director Christopher Nolan return to his collaboration with composer of choice David Julyan, following the Hans Zimmer/James Newton Howard-scored Batman Begins, I must confess to not being a fan of Julyan's music, which is normally of the atmospheri variety, with little in the way of melody, as is the case here. The fact that Batman begins turned out to be of similar ilk, makes me wonder why the powers that be couldn't have gone with Julyan in that instance, and, as someone who admires director/composer loyalty, I hope that Julyan gets the chance to score the Batman sequel.
So what of The Prestige? Well, the film stars Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson, plus other Nolan collaborators Christian Bale and Sir Michael Caine, in a story of two rival magicians in turn-of-the-century London.
Julyan's score is a mixture of orchestra and electronics, and although here only 48 minutes are presented, seems interminably long on disc, due to its atmsopheric, mysterious and largely dark and dissonant nature. Only a hint of melody emerges here and there, with delicate piano cutting through the dissonance in tracks like "Borden Meets Sarah" and "No, Not Today. " Obviously, not having seen the film, I cannot judge the score's true effectiveness, but on disc I'm afraid it just leaves me cold.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

James Bond's Greatest Hits

British viewers might like to tune in to the above show, a2-hour-plus celebration of music for the James Bond films. Of course the emphasis is expected to be on the songs, but some time is likely to be devoted to the scoring as well, with interview material featuring John Barry and David Arnold. Tune in to Channel 4 tonight at 21:25 GMT.

Arnold has been getting quite a bit of exposure with the release of the new reinvention of James Bond in Casino Royale, with appearance on Film 2006, Entertainment Today and the ITV film premiere special. Good to see the music being recognised for its importance for a change.

Friday, November 17, 2006

CD REVIEW - Common Places

Common Places
Piano Improvisations by Starr Parodi
Sonicdoppler (U.S.)
10 Tracks 50:44 mins

Now I have to admit that I just don't get time to listen to concert music, whether it be orchestral, chamber or solo instrument, as is the case with this album, so I'm not really used to listening to music that doesn't support an image. Therefore, I find an album like this difficult to come to grips with.
Common Places is a series of piano improvisations by Starr Parodi, who with her husband, Jeff Fair, has written music for many films over the years, predominently of the TV variety, although one of the most recent projects is the critically acclaimed film Conversations With Other Women, starring Helena Bonham Carter. But there is another side to Starr, in that she has accompanied many artists of the caliber of Celine Dion, BB King, Seal, Jimmy Cliff, Patti LaBelle and Phil Collins, over the years, and will be remembered by American audiences for her nightly appearances on the Arsenio Hall Show.
Common Places was recorded on a 1928 Steinway B piano with vintage microphones at Universe of Soul Studios in Los Angeles, with just a little bit of electronic tweaking here and there, and, whilst many of the tracks are Starr's own compositions, also included are her variations on a well-known classical piece by Albinoni and a piano-only take of Monty Norman's James Bond Theme, a piece she and Jeff had earlier arranged, produced and performed on the Capitol CD The Best of Bond...James Bond, and which subsequently was used in trailers for the most recent Pierce Brosnan Bond films.
So, how would I sum up the album? Well, my overall impression is that it would make for good chilling out music, something that if I ever got time to do so, I could imagine curling up to on the couch, drink in hand, comfy slippers on. Maybe not required listening for film music fans, though some of it seems influenced by her experience of TV scoring in particular, I would say.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


As I have been snowed under with other things, despite having a heap of CDs to review, I just haven't had the chance to get to them yet, but I will, so don't go away. In the meantime, I thought I would point out some great features you can access from other sites, starting with, where you can watch the Basil Poledouris tribute video, shown at the Film Music Festival in Spain this past summer. And you can read what is possibly the composer's last interview at, where you can also access recent interviews with John Scott and Christopher Gunning. Finally, go to for recent interviews with Roque Banos, James Dooley, Elia Cmiral and Christiopher Young.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

CD REVIEW - Little Miss Sunshine

Little Miss Sunshine
Music by Mychael Danna & Devotchka
Lakeshore LKS-338652 (U.S.)
14 Tracks 46:58 mins

The dynamics of this collaboration on the little comedy film that has received much critical praise, as well as riding high at the U.S. box office, are not very clear, but one can assume that Danna composed much of the score (6 tracks, some 13 minutes of which are presented here), though world music group Devotchka seem to have collaborated on composition as well. They certainly perform the music, with lead singer Nick Urata contributing his vocals on some tracks, whilst also displaying his considerable instrumental skills on such as guitar, theremin, bouzouki and trumpet.
As well as Devotchka's contributions, the album features a couple of tracks by Surfjan Stevens, one by Tony Tisdale and one by Rick James. With the instrumentals, it all adds up to a quirky, but quite enjoyable soundtrack with a particularly catchy main theme, first heard in "The Winner is" and reprised vocally in the concluding "How it Ends."
Along the way, some of the music gets a kind of Tex-Mex feel, with presumably Urata providing whistled contributions. Tuba is surprisingly to the fore in "Let's Go," and "No One Gets Left Behind" is a steady, guitars-driven mover. Some of the music achieves a certain airiness, a feel that combines magically with the main theme on "Do You Think There's A Heaven."
Danna has been trapped in the conventional score writing mode recently and it's nice that here he had the opportunity to break out and provide something that will be more to the liking of his fans.

Monday, November 13, 2006

CD REVIEW - Guns for San Sebastian

Guns for San Sebastian
Music by Ennio Morricone
Film Score Monthly Vol.9 No.14 (U.S.)
24 Tracks 59:56 mins

At last we have a proper representation of one of Ennio Morricone's classic western scores, expanded from the original 33 minute album release, and re-mastered for superior sound, which was the main gripe with the original.
The score abounds with fine Morricone themes, crowned of course by the heavenly love theme, often introduced by Edda Dell'Orso's haunting vocals and then taken up by orchestra and choir. But besides this, there is a versatile theme for the Mexican peasant villagers, often downtrodden and mournful, but occasionally triumphant with choir; a very spiritual religious theme, first off accompanying the ill-fated priest, whose mantle Anthony Quinn's likeable rogue takes on, and then accompanying the latter as he increasingly accepts responisbility for the villagers' cause; and a muscular, percussive action theme, sometimes enhanced by Gianna Spagnulo's distinctive vocals, for the bandits and Indians, lead by Charles Bronson, who at the time (1968) was still playing villains as well as his more familiar heroes.
Along the way there are typical Morricone suspense cues, some ethnic styled, percussive music for the Yaqui Indians, a few source cues and a quite brief, but inspirational accompaniment for "The White Stallion," featuring Edda and the orchestra, which is a real highlight.
It's great to have this score in its entirety, complete with a couple of bonus tracks, featuring an alternate version of the action theme and the album version of the initial full appearance of the love theme; together with the always well-produced accompanying booklet, featuring new notes and cue-by-cue guide by Lukas Kendall, as well as the original album notes, all enhanced by full colour stills and splendid artwork.
For samples and further details, go to, where you can also order your copy.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Basil Poledouris 1945 - 2006

From Costa Communications

"Conan the Barbarian," "Free Willy," "The Blue Lagoon," "Lonesome Dove" are among Poledouris's many film and TV scores

LOS ANGELES - November 8, 2006 - Basil Poledouris, the Emmy-winning composer of "Lonesome Dove" and composer for such films as "Conan the Barbarian," "Free Willy" and "The Blue Lagoon," died of cancer Wednesday, Nov. 8, in Los Angeles. He was 61.

Best-known for his powerful music for action-adventure films of the 1980s and '90s, Poledouris scored both of Arnold Schwarzenegger's appearances as the sword-and-sorcery hero in "Conan the Barbarian" (1982) and "Conan the Destroyer" (1984).
His orchestral-and-choral scores are today considered high points in the genre of music for fantasy films. Poledouris conducted a substantial portion of the reconstructed "Conan" score at a concert in Ubeda, Spain, in July.

The first Conan movie was one of several films the composer scored for director John Milius. Others included "Big Wednesday" (1978), "Red Dawn" (1984), "Farewell to the King" (1989) and "Flight of the Intruder" (1991).

He also enjoyed long professional relationships with directors Randal Kleiser ("The Blue Lagoon," 1980; "Summer Lovers," 1982; "White Fang," 1991; "It's My Party," 1996), Paul Verhoeven ("Flesh and Blood," 1985; "Robocop," 1987; "Starship Troopers," 1997); Simon Wincer ("Quigley Down Under," 1990; "Free Willy," 1993); and John Waters ("Serial Mom," 1994; "Cecil B. DeMented," 2000).

Among Poledouris' other popular scores were "The Hunt for Red October" (1990), "Wind" (1992), and "Les Miserables" (1998).

In stark contrast to his music for testosterone-driven big-screen thrillers was his music for two television miniseries: the gentle Americana of the controversial 14-hour "Amerika" (1987) and the folk-based Western score for the eight-hour "Lonesome Dove" (1989), which won the composer an Emmy.

Poledouris was born in Kansas City, Mo., Aug. 21, 1945. He began studying piano at the age of 9, became part of a folk group in high school and studied both film and music at USC. He scored a handful of television projects in the early 1970s, but his feature scores for "Big Wednesday" and "The Blue Lagoon" - both for former USC colleagues - catapulted him into larger-scale features.
In 1996, Poledouris was commissioned to write music for the opening of the Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. His six-minute piece, "The Tradition of the Games," drew on his study of ancient mythology and Greek philosophy and was performed by the Atlanta Symphony and a 300-voice choir.

In recent years, Poledouris - an avid surfer and sailor - moved to Vashon Island, Wash.

He is survived by his mother Helen Poledouris; former wife Bobbie Poledouris of Santa Monica; two daughters, Zoë and Alexis; his brother John Poledouris; and dear friend Suni Kim of Vashon Island, WA. There will be no services. In lieu of flowers, the family has requested donations in his name be made to the Catalina Conservancy or the Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation.

I would just like to add my personal regrets at the loss of one of my favourite composers, whose work had been sadly missed from our screens in recent years. His wonderful music for Big Wednesday, Conan the Barbarian and Lonesome Dove are particular favourites of mine, though I enjoyed all his collaborations with John Milius in particular - another man whose work I miss. From all accounts, Mr. Poledouris was a lovely man and I'm sure will be missed by all who knew him, and all, like I, who loved his music. Jeff Hall

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

CD REVIEW - Stargate - The Deluxe Edition

Stargate - The Deluxe Edition
Music by David Arnold
Varese Sarabande VSD 6743 (EU)
37 Tracks 72:55 mins

This newly re-mastered and expanded edition of the score that first made people sit up and take notice of David Arnold as a film composer to be reckoned with, adds some 8 minutes of music to the previous Milan CD release and a further 7 tracks.
All the favourite cues off the original album are of course here, conducted by Arnold's regular right-hand man Nicholas Dodd and featuring the Sinfonia of London and choir. The two themes that mostly do battle are the majestic main theme, which of course was later adapted for the long-running TV series, and the menacing choir-enhanced theme for Gaoald despot Ra.
The new tracks feature dissonant menace in "Wild Abduction;" dark expectancy in "Bomb Assembly;" brief darkness in "The Eye of Ra;" a powerful variation on the Ra theme in "Execution;" brief tragedy in "Against the Gods;" exciting action in "Transporter Horror" and a longer version of the scherzo on the main theme, first heard in "Mastadge Drag," in "Closing Titles (Intro)."
Only 8 more minutes of music might not seem much, but completists will no doubt want to get their hands on a copy and it's worth it if only for the great sound. And if you haven't got the original CD - why?!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

News from Costa Communications

From Costa Communications


Premiering November 22 (Paris, France) Film composer Mark Snow will score legendary French director Alain Resnais' second collaboration with playwright Alan Ayckbourn, "Petites Peurs Partagées" ("Private Fears in Public Places"). Resnais based the earlier film "Smoking/No Smoking" on a series of plays written by Ayckbourn. The new film, adapted from the award-winning play of the same name, offers a darkly comedic glimpse into the lives of six lonely characters and the strange circumstances that connect them. Mars Distribution will release the film in France on November 22.
The 83-year old Resnais, known for his unique and innovative style, has directed more than forty shorts and feature films. Among them are "Hiroshima Mon Amour," a quirky love story, and "Providence," an intellectually stimulating story about a dying man's thoughts. He has received several French César awards for his work. Although this will be his first time working with Mark Snow, he has been a fan of Snow's work for years.
Snow has received numerous Emmy nominations and ASCAP awards. Last year, he became the first composer to receive ASCAP's prestigious Golden Note Award for lifetime achievement and impact on music culture. Past Golden Note recipients include Elton John, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Stevie Wonder. He has enjoyed great popular success as well. Mark Snow's iconic "X-Files" theme remains a worldwide phenomenon.
Classically trained at Julliard, he continues to blend his orchestral style with electronica influences. His impressive list of over one hundred television and feature film credits includes "Starsky and Hutch," "Crazy in Alabama," "Disturbing Behavior," "Millenium" and "Ghost Whisperer."

Monday, November 06, 2006

CD REVIEW - Flyboys

Music by Trevor Rabin
Varese Sarabande VSD-6763 (EU)
16 Tracks 48:19 mins

After the disappointment of Gridiron Gang, Trevor Rabin bounces back with his fine orchestral score for this story of the legendary First World War fighter pilots known as the Lafayette Escadrille.
The heart of the score is the heroic and noble main theme, which first makes its presence felt in the "Main Title," after an opening which manages to combine Celtic elements with an underlying martial feel. The following track, "Training Montage," introduces the other main motifs, starting out with an elegiac trumpet and horn duet, followed by a stirring fife and drum march in the finest American traditions. This emerges less in the following tracks than the main theme and the elegiac motif, though it does make its presence felt in "The Last Battle."
Other tracks of note are the suitably emotional "Cassidy Funeral," and "Rawlings and Luciane Fly," which trips along lightly then builds excitedly before soaring away with choir. The following track "Rawlings and Luciane" featuers a tender, flute-lead variation on the main theme; then "The Planes Arrive" features a horn-only version of the elegiac theme, before ending triumphantly. "Heroes" is an excellent track, which builds to a triumphant variation of the elgiac theme before turning to exciting action; with the following "Battle Hymn," something of a mix of darkness and the ethereal, and very reminiscent of Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings material (curse of the temp track, maybe?). After some desperate conflict and triumph to follow, "Black Falcon" resolves the score sunnily, then reflectively, though there is one more track, "Briefing Room," which unfortunately ends the album somewhat anti-climactically. An "End Title," even if it were made up of edited together material, as is sometimes the practice these days, would have ended things so much more stasfactorily. But this is a minor quible, and this score remains one of the better ones I have heard emanating from Hollywood recently.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

CD REVIEW - 7 Faces of Dr. Lao

7 Faces of Dr. Lao
Music by Leigh Harline
Film Score Monthly Vol. 9 No.11 (U.S.)
33 Tracks 59:55 mins

George Pal's fantasy from 1964 starred the popular Tony Randall, principally as travelling circus showman Dr. Lao, but through various makeups he also played many of fantastical characters that populated the circus, including Marlin, Pan, Medusa and Greek sage Appolonius. It's a film I'd very much like to see, but one which just doesn't get any airings on U.K. TV for some strange reason.
Anyway, as for the music, because the film is set in the Old West, Lao's theme, which is really the heart and soul of the score, is initially heard over the "Main Title" as a mixture of typically western and oriental travel music. It's a very catchy theme indeed and one that is always welcome when it subsequently makes its many appearances, some of them as Mandolins-lead circusy cues.
Of course the many interesting characters populating the film gave composer Harline the opportunity to use his imagination in creating widely different themes, like the wistful oboe-lead Merlin's Theme; the mischievous, flute-lead dance for Pan; the exotic soprano sax-lead Medusa theme; and the wild bagpipe music for the Loch Ness Monster. These, allied to the always enjoyable circus source cues, all make for a thoroughly entertaining mix.
The score runs some 49 minutes, but the disc concludes with another 10 minutes of bonus cues, mostly demo versions of some of the themes, and there is of course the usual colourful accompanying booklet, with artwork and stills from the film, together with informative notes and cue-by-cue guide by Jeff Bond, Ross Care and Lukas Kendall.
For more information and sound clips, visit, and while you're at it, you might like to check out the other FSM releases and browse through Screen Archives' extensive catalogue of soundtrack releases from all over the world, taking in the sound clips to help guide you in your purchases.

Friday, November 03, 2006

News from Costa Communications

From Costa Communications


Stone and Armstrong will Take Part in a Keynote Q&A Session at this Must-Attend Industry Event--

(November 3, 2006 - Los Angeles, CA) Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone and Grammy-winning composer Craig Armstrong will participate in a keynote Q&A session that will open the 2006 Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film & TV MusicConference on November 14. This two-day event is taking place on November 14-15 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles. Stone and Armstrong will kick off this conference by sitting down with Tamara Conniff, Billboard's executive editor and associate publisher, to discuss their collaboration on the emotionally riveting film "World Trade Center," which just won the "Hollywood Movie of the Year Award" at the 10th Annual Hollywood Film Festival. This dynamic team will explain how music was used to underscore one of the 9/11 incidents, and will examine the increasingly important role of music in film.

Oliver Stone is one of the most celebrated directors in today's film industry. Born in New York, Stone has won Academy Awards and Golden Globes for directing "Born on the Fourth Of July" (1989) and "Platoon" (1989), and for writing "Midnight Express" (1978). He has also received a Golden Globe for directing "JFK" (1991), and an Emmy Award for producing the HBO film "Indictment: The McMartin Trial." Throughout his impressive career, Stone has directed and written or co-written numerous feature films such as "Any Given Sunday" (1999), "The Doors" (1991), "Wall Street" (1987), "Evita" (1996), and "Natural Born Killers" (1994). He has produced or co-produced movies including "The People vs. Larry Flynt" (1996) and "Blue Steel" (1990), directed three documentaries: "Persona Non Grata" (2003), "Comandante" (2003), and "Looking for Fidel" (2004), and wrote a novel in 1997 entitled "A Child's Night Dream" (St. Martin's Press), based on his experiences as a young man.

Craig Armstrong is one of the most sought after composers and arrangers in the world of popular music. Prior to scoring "World Trade Center," he studied piano, violin and musical composition at the Royal Academy, and then branched into theatre and became resident composer at the Tron Theatre in Glasgow. Since that time, he has enjoyed an incredibly diverse career, and his work in film has resulted in numerous awards. Armstrong recently picked up a Grammy Award for his score for Taylor Hackford's biopic "Ray" (2004). In addition, he won a BAFTA and an Ivor Novello for Baz Luhrmann's "Romeo + Juliet" (1996), collected a Golden Globe, a BAFTA and an American Film Institute Award for his work on "Moulin Rouge" (2001), and won a second Ivor Novello for his music for Phillip Noyce's "The Quiet American" (2002). > Armstrong is also known for his work with the likes of Madonna, U2, Massive Attack, and Pet Shop Boys. In 1998, he released his solo debut album "The Space Between Us," followed by "As If To Nothing," which included collaborations with Evan Dando, Liz Fraser, David McAlmont amongst others. Both releases arrived via Massive Attack's label, Melankolic. Armstrong has also released "Piano Works" via Sanctuary Records, and "Film Works" (a> compilation of his best film compositions) via Family Recordings.

"Oliver Stone's and Craig Armstrong's powerful film 'World Trade Center' showcases their incredible ability to connect film with music," says> Conniff. "These two creative individuals are the cream of the crop in their respective professions, and we're thrilled they're participating in this year's conference."

Now in its fifth year, The Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film & TV Music Conference focuses on the evolving role of music in film and television, and provides a dynamic forum for the exchange of ideas among the entertainment industry's most influential executives and creative talents including award-winning composers and directors, top-name music supervisors, key studio, network, record label and publishing professionals, and VIPs from> the advertising, gaming and commercial fields. This two-day industry event will feature Q&A sessions with Melissa Etheridge, Terence Blanchard and Danny Elfman, a compelling "Master Class: Women in Music" panel discussion with Olivia Newton-John, networking cocktail parties, roundtable sessions, and live artist performances.

Sponsors of this year's conference are ASCAP, APM, Berklee College of Music, Pump Audio, Elias Arts, BMI and SESAC.

For information about The 2006 Hollywood Reporter/Billboard Film & TV Music Conference, visit For information on registration and group discounts, contact Erin Parker at 646-654-4643. For sponsorship information, contact Karl Vontz at 415-738-0745. For hotel information, contact The Beverly Hilton Hotel at 310-274-7777.