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Thursday, February 08, 2007

CD REVIEW - Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World in 80 Days
Music by Victor Young
Hit Parade Records 13502 (Canada)
23 Tracks 71:59 mins

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the film's release, enterprising Canadian label Hit Parade Records has released a well-overdue expanded release of Victor Young's Oscar-winning score for Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days, which starred David Niven as Phileas Fogg, with Mexican comedian Cantinflas as the comic sidekick and Shirley MacLaine as the love interest, with Robert Newton as Fogg's pursuer, and a host of stars in brief cameos.
This deluxe edition CD, digitally remastered in excellent stereo sound, expands the previous album release by some 30 minutes, adding some excellent previously unreleased gems, like the bouncy, Spanish-styled "Passepartout Dances," and the western-styled themes of "Transcontinental Railway," and "Sioux Attack," including cliched drum-lead, powerful brass sounds for the Native Americans (of course Young was already a veteran scorer of western films, including the classic John Ford/John Wayne wesern Rio Grande, and he of course wrote one of the best-loved western themes ever for Shane).
But it is of course the wonderful main theme that Young wrote for the film that dominates the album, making many welcome appearances throughout , as does the catchy comical theme he wrote for Passepartout. He also wrote more splendid Spanish music for "Invitation to a Bull Fight/Entrance of the Bull March" and another lovely theme, which is almost as good as his main theme, for "India Countryside."
But Fogg's many travels take him to a whole range of countries, and the localities are appropriately represented in Young's musical stylings - and just so we are reminded that the film is overall a light-hearted affair, the composer also includes fragments of well-known tunes, like the French dance "Maxixe," "Yankee Doodle," "Rule Britannia," "La Cucaracha" and even the "William Tell Overture."
This really is a delightful score which every film music fan should have in their collection, and even if you already own the original album, I would highly recommend you replace it with a copy of this CD, as there is so much splendid new material on display, and the disc comes with a fine 20-page booklet, featuring colour stills from the film, together with Didier C. Deutsch's notes on the film, its music, its producer Mike Todd and of course composer Victor Young. The sad thing is that neither Todd or Young lived long enough to enjoy the great success the film brought to them. Todd perished in a plane crash just a year after the film took five Oscars at the 1957 Academy Awards, whilst Young died of a heart attack in 1956, prior to the Ceremony where he posthumously received his one and only Oscar, having been previously nominated on more than 20 occasions. The film however, and this CD, serve as fitting tributes to both of them.
The album should be available in U.K. outlets after 1st March, but in the meantime visit for further details of this, plus the label's other Victor Young album Cinema Rhapsodies: The Musical Genius of Victor Young, described as "the first-ever U.S. collection of Victory Young & His Orchestra performing 22 of his best-known compositions and cover versions." All the favourites by the great tunesmith are here: "The High And The Mighty," "The Call of the Far-Away Hills," "My Foolish Heart," "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "Stella By Starlight."


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