ScreenSounds

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

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

CD REVIEW - Raintree County + News from Perseverance Records


Raintree County
Music by Johnny Green
Film Score Monthly Vol.9 No.19 (USA)
Disc 1 - 17 Tracks 74:02 mins Disc 2 - 25 Tracks 70:25 mins

Johnny Green was head of M-G-M's music department from 1949 through many of the great years of the studio, working on many classic films, particularly musicals such as An American in Paris, Brigadoon and High Society, but his composing contributions were actually quite few, which is a great pity for when he did apply himself he showed he was a composer of no little talent. His masterpiece was 1956's Raintree County, a film based on a portion of Ross Lockridge Jr.'s huge 1000-page novel and set before and during the American Civil War.
The film concerns a young man's entanglement with a southern belle, her pregnany and his resulting marriage to her, despite his love for his childhood sweetheart, and his wife's gradual descent into madness. Montgomery Clift took the lead as Johnny, with Elizabeth Taylor as the doomed Susanna and Eva Marie Saint as childhood sweetheart Nell. Lee Marvin was also memorable as Johnny's friend Flash.
For the film's characters, Green wrote numerous excellent themes, including a gorgeous love theme and a melancholy one for Johnny and Susanna's relationship. Susanna also has three "madness" motives, the most memorable being a descending figure for alto sax. Johnny and Nell are characterised by another lovely and innocent theme, whilst Flash's theme is a catchy, folksky affair. But best of all is the film's main theme "The Song of Raintree County," a truly memorable tune, which is given countless renditions throughout the score, some quite beautiful, exotic and mystical, and sung in the film by the great Nat King Cole. Sadly, until now, Cole's vocal was not available on any of the album releases, where choir was substituted. So, if there's just one reason for you to upgrade to this recording it's that here we finally have Cole's vocals. All of the most attractive of these themes are introduced in the early cues, making up the first 8 tracks of Disc 1 of this double CD set. When you add them all up they make for some of the most gorgeous and memorable film music ever composed, both with the film and as a stand-alone album listening experience.
That's not to say the remainder of the score isn't equally memorable, as the various character themes re-surface on a regular basis. It's just that as war breaks out and Susanna's madness takes hold, the score understandably turns darker, and there is a good deal of tension and exciting action writing for the war, plus dissonant writing for Susanna's madness.
Various recordings of Green's music have been issued over the years, and I have long cherished the Entr'Acte double LP, in stereo, of 1976. Film Score Monthly has assembled this splendid latest incarnation of the the score, remixed and remastered from the original 35mm three-track scoring sessions, and aiming to provide the best of all possible worlds, both by taking tracks as they appear in the film and others from Green's album version, where changes were made, as often was the custom of the time. The result is the definitive version of the score, which runs for over 110 minutes over the two discs, plus a further 33 minutes of bonus tracks, featuring alternate film versions, where album versions have been used, together with unused cues and source tracks. Particularly fascinating is Carlos Noble's vocal rendition of the johnny & Susanna love theme, with lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, and there is an interesting demo version of the "Song of Raintree County" by Bill Lee.
As always, the music is accompanied by a splendid booklet, featuring many stills from the film, plus Ross Care's detailed note about the film, its score and composer, together with the customary cue-by-cue guide.
Long-time film music collectors don't need to be told that this is a fabulous score, but if you're new to appreciation of the art, this really is one you should have in your collection.
For more details, to listen to samples, and ultimately purchase the album, go to
www.screenarchives.com/title _detail.cfm?ID=6617


From Perseverance Records

Deadly Friend now available for ordering

Although the official word isn't out yet, the first sales have already happened. Deadly Friend will be out on Monday, and you can order it already from our Yahoo store.
We are particularly proud that we were able to get director Wes Craven to join Charles Bernstein and myself for a 35 minute interview for the CD, in which they both went into depth about the relationship between a composer and director, who have worked together on three pictures. (Although we didn't touch on the third movie.)
The album features all the orchestral cues for the movie along with a handful of remastered electronic cues that were available on the 1986 LP which we included for a more listenable flow of the music overall. The record that Varese Sarabande released when the film came out only contained the electronic mock-ups for the score. For cost reasons the orchestral music wasn't included. This CD features the world premiere release of Charles' complete symphonic score.
There are no sound samples on the Web site yet, but they will follow soon.
To order, click here: <http://www.perseverancerecords.com/newreleases.html#deadlyfriend>.
This title is limited to 1,000 pressings.

Bloodsport soundtrack to include songs by Michael Bishop and Stan Bush

Although no release date has been set yet, we are happy to announce that coming soon is a complete recording of Paul Hertzog's music to the Jean-Claude Van Damme cult hit "Bloodsport", which will include the songs "Fight to Survive", "On My Own - Alone" and Michael Bishop's "Steal the Night". The CD that was released in the early Nineties was only available in Germany and the UK and didn't contain the songs; the Stan Bush songs were performed by a different artist, and "Steal the Night" was missing altogether. We are proud to say that we have secured the rights to all three songs.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes is out of print now

We just sold the last copy of this marvelous Basil Kirchin score. There won't be a repressing of this CD, so treasure yours well.

Coming Soon:

The Film Music of Jim Manzie Volumes 1 & 2

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