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

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Latest from Christopher Young

Christopher Young has not been well served by the record labels when it comes to his latest scores. Firstly, Varese Sarabande cancelled their plans to release his music for Lucky You, a film which is apparently about a romance between a gambler and a singer, starring Eric Banna of Hulk and Troy fame and Drew Barrymore. It is a pity because, thanks to the composer's publicists Costa Communications, I got to hear a few tracks from the score and can report that it's a very nice effort indeed. The main theme is a guitars-driven easy mover, and there is also some light romance for piano and strings.
Young's second, and most keenly awaited, score is of course for the third in the Spider-Man francise. OK, so he was obliged to weave Danny Elfman's themes from the first two films into his score, and he did suffer having some of his more intimate cues re-written by Deborah Lurie but, judging from the few cues I have again gotten to hear, there is still plenty of original work to be heard and, in any case, one would have thought a score album release would be a given. But, I'm sorry to say, there is no news of this happening.
OK, so some of the cues I have listened to do incorporate Elfman's themes, such as the "Main Title," but there's some good action music therein and a fine dark march, which is reprised in variations in subsequent cues. Choir is used subtly throughout, though it does provide a crescendo in "Harry in Lab." "Web" introduces a light, violin-lead waltz; whilst "Harry Attacks Peter" features some exciting action writing. Some eerie, mysterious and yes, awed music accompanies scenes involving the Black Suite Spiderman, with some powerful horns signalling spidey's transformation into such. I guess, despite the villainy of The Sandman, he is seen as something of a tragic figure in that "Birth of Sandman" is rather a sad strings and piano affair, building fatefully to its climax. "Happy Ending" returns us to the romantic waltz theme to send us home happy.
If the record labels don't take the hint, we can only hope the composer, as he has often done in the past, makes his scores available promotionally. Then at least some of us may be able to get a hold of copies of both of these scores.

Just a quick footnote to warn you that I am about to change PCs and hope the transition may be fairly painless, but forgive me if you don't hear from me for a few days.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Film Music Vol.7 No.2

The latest colourful issue of Fim Music, the magazine aimed at professionals, but which also carries articles of interest to the film music fan, features music supervisor PJ Bloom on its cover, who is the chief interviewee this time out, though there are also interviews with conductor/orchestrator Pete Anthony, who gives his views on the hot topic of buy-out orchestras and the whole business of recording in or out of LA; and composer Dario Marianelli. There is also a conversation with attorney Neville Johnson, who is currently spearheading a class action lawsuit against the Writers Guild of America over foreign payments to members. All this and plenty of industry features, including a guide to music libraries, and composers Billy Martin, Rob Kral, Paul Thomson and Ian Livingstone on the gear they use in their studios.
Go to for subscription details.

Friday, June 22, 2007




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Thursday, June 21, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Dirty Dozen

The Dirty Dozen
Music by Frank De Vol
Film Score Monthly Vol.10 No.5 (US)
35 Tracks 79:58 mins

Having heard much hype about this war film as a kid, I remember being very disappointed in it when I finally got to see it on TV years later. I think mostly it was the lack of sympathetic characters that left me cold. Unlike the characters in the likes of The Magnificent Seven, one just didn't care when they met their various demises.
I'm not sure whether I purchased the soundtrack album before or after seeing the film, but I think it was before. Either way, I was disappointed with that too and it didn't linger long in my collection. This new release of the score is an improvement on that album, but it is still quite a downbeat effort, save for the often comical variations on the likes of "You're in the Army Now," "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree" and the "National Emblem March."
The main theme itself is quite good, a march, sometimes played low-key and just occasionally in more proud incarnations but, appropriately, it isn't the kind of heroic march, often featured in war films of the era.
The other key figure is a three-note "danger" motif, which comes into its own once the mission has began. Earlier, during the training exercises, things are kept much more light, utilising the pieces mentioned earlier. The mission is in fact, again appropriately, scored suspensefully, but there is some excitement generated as the survivors make their escape.
Within the body of the score are a couple of original songs, one sung by a popular artist of the time, Trini Lopez, who is cast in the film, but ends up as the first casualty of the mission. The 21 minutes of bonus tracks at the end of the dics are largely source cues, original or otherwise, though there are also album versions of the songs and the main theme.
Accompanying the disc is the usual high quality booklet, filled with colour stills from the film, with Daniel Champion's notes on the film and score, together with the customary cue-by-cue guide and original LP liner notes.
For further info, sound clips and to order your copy, go to

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

News from Costa Communications

Firstly, apologies for the shortage of reviews on the site these past few days. CDs have been rather thin on the ground and other work has been pressing in any case. But don't despair, I have had a pile of discs in this week and so I hope to bring you plenty of reviews in the coming days.

From Costa Communications


(Los Angeles, CA) Award-winning composer Danny Pelfrey wins Emmy for Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction And Composition For A Drama Series for "Guiding Light" at the 34th Annual Creative Arts & Entertainment Daytime Emmy® Awards.
Previously nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding MusicComposition for the show "Felicity," Pelfrey boasts a tremendous list of credits ranging from the critically acclaimed "American Dreams" to the late-night comedy "Saturday Night Live."While working on "Guiding Light," Pelfrey simultaneously composed the music for NBC's drama "American Dreams" and the Lifetime original series "Strong Medicine." Pelfrey produced and arranged the songs performed by "American Dreams" musical guests including Usher, Ashanti, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Issak and Nick Lachey and won three BMI TV Music awards for his work on "Strong Medicine." In addition, Pelfrey has contributed music to a number of primetime television shows including "Six Feet Under," "Jag," "Friends," and "Boston Public."A multi-instrumentalist musician, Pelfrey began his career performing as a soloist on such shows as "David Letterman" and "The Tonight Show." His talent then led him to record with music icons Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, David Crosby, Eric Clapton, and James Taylor.As a film composer, Pelfrey's credits include contributing compositions to popular features "High Fidelity," "Stir of Echoes," and "Enemy of the State."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

News from Screen Archives and from Costa Communications


For more detailed information, click on this URL (or copy and paste into your address window):

From Costa Communications

Film Music Agent to Attend Two Spanish Film Music Festivals FINDING KRAFTLAND to Screen in Madrid and Ubeda

Film music agent Richard Kraft be attending both the Soncinemad in Madrid and the BSPSpirt Film Music Conference in Ubeda, Spain.

Richard Kraft is the founder of Kraft-Engel Management, one of the world's leading agencies specializing in representing film and theatre composers. Together with his partner, Laura Engel, they represent such clients as Angelo Badalamenti, John Barry, Christophe Beck, Jon Brion, Alexandre Desplat, DeVotchKa, Danny Elfman, Philip Glass, David Kitay, Wojciech Kilar, Maurice Jarre, Jan Kaczmarek, Deborah Lurie, Alan Menken, Javaier Navarrete, John Ottman, Rachel Portman, John Powell, Trevor Rabin, Graeme Revell, Marc Shaiman, Ed Shearmur, Alex Wurman and Aaron Zigman.
Three of this year's five Oscar nominees for Best Score (THE QUEEN, NOTES ON A SCANDAL and PAN'S LABYRINTH) were composed by Kraft-Engel clients.
Kraft will be screening his award-winning feature documentary, FINDING KRAFTLAND at both festivals. This off-beat autobiographical film is about Kraft as he drags his son Nicky through an obsessive quest to recapture his own childhood through a globetrotting trek riding hundreds of roller coasters, collecting thousands of toys and transforming their home into "Kraftland," a shrine to Disneyland and American Consumer Culture. A love story between father and son emerges via an almost maniacal pursuit of happiness.
FINDING KRAFTLAND was written and directed by Richard Kraft and Adam Shell and features interviews with such composers as Christophe Beck, Jon Brion, Danny Elfman, Alan Menken, John Ottman, Trevor Rabin, Graeme Revell and Marc Shaiman. It is hosted by Stacey J. Aswad.
The film captures a life filled with huge and cartoonish contrasts. It delves into the psyche of collecting as an obsession. And ultimately, in its own strange way, it is about finding the real meaning of family. For more information:
Nicky Kraft, the co-star of FINDING KRAFTLAND will also be attending both festivals. 17 year-old Nicky Kraft is about to become a senior at Canby High School outside of Portland, Oregon. He lives with his mother and stepfather in a log cabin raising chickens 2/3rds of the year. He spends the rest of his time traveling around the world with his Hollywood agent father. He has ridden over 425 roller coasters in more than a dozen countries. He has experienced weightlessness in a Zero Gravity flight. An honor roll student, he also plays bass and piano, composes music for internet sites and is on his school's snowboard team.
FINDING KRAFTLAND screens with Spanish subtitles on at the Soncinemad festival on Sunday, July 1, 2007 following a concert by Alan Silvestri. Other guests of the festival include David Shire and Christopher Young, For more info:
KRAFTLAND will also screen with subtitles at the International Film Music Conference in Ubeda which runs from July 19-22, 2007. Other guests of the festival include David Arnold, Bruce Broughton, John Debney, Javier Navarrete, John Powell, Robert Townson and Kraft's business partner, Laura Engel. For more information:
Prior to starting his own company in 1991, Richard was an agent at ICM and started his career working with several of his musical heroes such as Jerry Goldsmith, Elmer Bernstein and Henry Mancini. Kraft has also has executive produced over 150 soundtrack albums, including ALIENS, BLUE VELVET, HEATHERS, PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED, WALL STREET, CROCODILE DUNDEE, and THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS. As a writer, Kraft wrote the unproduced screenplay to the animated musical PEPITA for Warner Bros.. He has also conceived and set up projects at Disney, Sony and MGM. Kraft is heavily involved in fundraising for Crohn's Disease. He was the honoree of the annual CCFA Foundation of America.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Satan Bug

The Satan Bug
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Film Score Monthly Vol.10 No.6 (US)
28 Tracks 61:21 mins

Goldsmith fans can now throw away that old tape dub of The Satan Bug, as we finally have this 1965 sci-fi thriller score on CD, albeit with sound effects on a number of the cues, but at least there's no dialogue.
In fact, better still, about 40% of the score has been recovered, effects free and in stereo, from a private individual, who didn't even know what he had, after the studio had dumped the masters long ago. Incidentally, the cues with effects are in mono, but blend well enough.
For those of you not familiar with the score, don't come here looking for melody. It's one of the composer's most intense and suspenseful scores, in which he also shows a glimmer of what is to come, particularly in the 1980s, by utilising early electronic instruments prominently in the score, joining forces with more conventional instruments, to achieve some pretty otherwordly sounds.
The "Main Title" gets the score off to a fascinating start. The music is described in the cue-by-cue guide as "slithering" and I can't think of a better description, with xylophone taking the lead. The Satan Bug theme itself is quite exotic and is introduced later in the track, cropping up throughout the score, mainly voiced by piccolo. The other main motif is for the villains of the piece and is a motion suspense piece, voiced by the solovox.
Much of the music is pretty tense and suspenseful, with just occasional bursts of action, some quite cacophanous, some exciting. Unfortunately, these cues are most often accompanied by the effects but, save for gunshots and helicopter blades, they are not too intrusive and, concentrating on the score, I found I hardly noticed them.
The disc is, as always, accompanied by a splendid illustrated booklet, with plenty of colour stills from the film, plus Jeff Bond's detailed notes.
For further info and sound samples, go to

Saturday, June 16, 2007

News from Costa Communications

From Costa Communications


(Hollywood, CA) Grammy Award nominated composer George S. Clinton features master Lakota flutist and recording artist John Two-Hawks on his score for the HBO original film "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." The film, starring Aidan Quinn and Anna Paquin, is directed by Yves Simoneau. Last Month, Clinton received the prestigious Richard Kirk Award for outstanding career achievement at the BMI Film & Television Awards.
Based on Dee Brown's best-selling novel of the same name, the film examines the overwhelming impact that the United States' westward expansion had on American Indian culture, focusing on the preceding events to the tragic Sioux massacre of 1890.
Composer George S. Clinton researched Native American music to create the score. By combining the sounds of Two-Hawks' Lakota flute, an 80-piece orchestra, and a 32-voice male choir, Clinton creates a score that accurately reflects the due respect for Native American culture conveyed through the film. "I had the choir sing Lakota text at times to further integrate the Native American and the traditional orchestral elements of the score," says Clinton. In order to portray the forced assimilation of Native Americans during the time period, Clinton intertwined the flute and the piano to thematically represent both the Native American and so-called "civilized" dispositions of main character Charles Eastman. Clinton wrote the complete 120-minute score within a mere four weeks.
Clinton's musical innovation and versatility has allowed him to create memorable scores for a variety of different genres including his most recent work, "The Cleaner." His other credits range from such diverse films as the hit comedy "Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery" and its blockbuster sequels to the hit martial arts fantasy "Mortal Kombat" and its sequel. Other noteworthy projects include Zalman King's "Red Shoe Diaries," John Waters's "A Dirty Shame"; Tim Allen's "Joe Somebody"; Kevin Costner's "3000 Miles to Graceland"; "The Astronaut's Wife", starring Charlize Theron and Johnny Depp; and the sexy thriller "Wild Things."
Along with his film projects, Clinton has also written several concert works, three musicals, and songs recorded by such artists as Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker, Smokey Robinson and Johnny Mathis. In addition, he has won six BMI Awards including the Richard Kirk Award. With past recipients such as Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams, the Richard Kirk Award is given annually to a composer who has made significant contributions to the realm of film and television music.

Friday, June 15, 2007

CD REVIEW - Best of the Best - A Tribute to Game Music, Volume 1

Best of the Best - A Tribute to Game Music, Volume 1
Music by Various Composers (US)
18 Tracks 63:46 mins

Presumably the title refers to the talent involved, as many of the finest specialist game music composers are represented, either as performers or composers or both. It certainly doesn't refer to the music, as this is far from the best that game music has to offer. All of it is realised with synths and samples, which is a little outdated now that more and more scores are being realised either by more authentic sounding samples or proper live orchestras and choirs. And what three pretty ordinary vocal tracks are doing here, I really don't know.
That's not to say I was totally disappointed with this collection, as there are indeed some excellent tracks, with my favourites being "Zanarkand" from Final Fantasy X, which starts out as another techno rocker (there are too many of these on this disc), but acquires orchestral elements to make it an enjoyable, flowing experience; the powerful and rhythmic "The vengeful Spartan" from God of War; the guitars-driven, Spaghetti-western styled "The Legend of Zelda" and the most authentically orchestral sounding track "The White Horse," inspired by The Lord of the Rings.
There are other worthwhile selections of course, like the muscular "The Hunt," inspired by Conan; "Go Mario!," from Super Mario Brothers, a typically offbeat offering from Winifred Phillips; and Chance Thomas' poignant piano improvisation on Michael Giacchino's Medal of Honor theme.
This collector's edition CD has a nice bonus, in that the folodut booklet has mini portraits of the composers involved, together with their autographs.
You can order your copy of the album by going to

Thursday, June 14, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Film Music of John Addison

The Film Music of John Addison
BBC Concert Orchestra, Conducted by Rumon Gamba
Chandos Movies CHAN 10418 (UK)
17 Tracks 70:50 mins

The latest entry in this splendid series of 24-bit digital recordings features music by the late John Addison, whom I had the great pleasure of witnessing conducting some of the music featured on this disc at Filmharmonic one year.
Addison enjoyed a long career, both in British films and, in later life, for American film and TV productions. Highlights from that career are presented in this generous collection of his music, performed concert-style by the BBC Concert Orchestra, under the baton of Rumon Gamba.
The album starts off with a premiere, Addison's march, which is by turns stirring and whimsical, from 1958's I Was Monty's Double. This is followed by a presentation of his main theme, winding up music and end title from the sprawling U.S. TV western series Centennial (oh how I wish this splendid production was available on DVD - and that someone would release an album of Addison's score). A suite from 1976's Swashbuckler follows, with its great main theme, passionate love theme and some slapsticky action; then a generous suite from 1977's A Bridge Too Far, encompassing all his fine thematic material from the score. A nice comic romp follows with his theme for 1953's The Maggie; then his theme for 1956's Reach for the Sky," which soars and stirs at the same time.
An unusual assignment for Addison was the 1983 sci-fi parody Strange Invaders, but the composer managed to come up with another fine, varied score, both menacing and heroic. The dramatic theme for 1953's The Man Between follows; then the overture from Addison's Oscar-winning Tom Jones, a mix of boisterous comedy music and romance. A lengthy suite from the 1968 version of The Charge of the Light Brigade follows, with its heroic finale.
Next up on the disc is another premiere, the Opening and End Titles from 1951's Brandy for the Parson, light and airy in style.
Of course the story of Addison's replacement of Bernard Herrmann on Hitchcock's Torn Curtain (1966) has been well documented and the collection would not have been complete without the composer's main theme from the film. Another premiere follows, the "Mirror Waltz" from 1955's Touch and Go; then the boisterous Oscar-nominated Sleuth overture.
The final premiere performance on the disc is of the comic march from 1958's Carlton-Browne of the F.O., the programme concluding with the quaint and catchy theme for popular American crime series Murder, She Wrote.
The CD comes with a 28-page booklet, in three languages, with Mervyn Cooke's notes on the composer and the films represented, along with some rare pictures of the composer, and stills from the film. Highly recommended!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

News from Costa Communication + two exciting new CD releases available from Screen Archives

From Costa Communications



(Los Angeles, CA) In addition to presenting his own extraordinary musical scores, award-winning film composer Christopher Young serves as Honorary President of this year's Madrid Film Music Festival, "SocineMad". Information on the June 29 through July 1 festival in Kinépolis Madrid can be found at
Golden Globe nominated Young, who recently released the soundtrack for "Ghostrider" and the hit summer blockbuster, "Spider-Man 3", will join other distinguished composers such as Gabriel Yared ("The English Patient" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley") and Alan Silvestri ("Back to the Future" and "Forest Gump"), in leading knowledge-based conferences and symphonic concerts over the course of the weekend.
SoncineMad is a three day inspirational event which unites people of various cultures from across the world under a collective passion for film music.
Young attended last year's celebration and after being welcomed and praised with tremendous popularity, he was asked to be this year's honorary president.
"The people at this festival are so warm and gracious. I'm honored to be back," Young responds in regards to the opportunity to join soundtrack lovers from across the world in appreciation of cinematic scores.
In addition to his work with SoncineMad, Young has imparted his wisdom on students at the University of Southern California for over ten years as the adjunct assistant professor of scoring for motion pictures and television.
Next month, southern Spain celebrates film music with other noted composers, including John Powell, Javier Navarrete, and John Debney, Honorary President, at the Third Annual International Film Music Conference in Ubeda.


For more detailed information, click on this URL

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

CD REVIEW - God of War II

God of War II
Music by Gerard K. Marino, Mike Reagan, Cris Velasco & Ron Fish
Sony System SYS 1128 (US)
27 Tracks 66:52 mins

After the good reception to the score for the original God of War videogame, a larger budget was made available to the scoring team, most of whom returned, for this second foray into epic Greek myths. The composers were therefore able to add live players to their synths and samples, including brass players, experienced in scoring for many big screen films, recorded at London's famed Abbey Road Studios, as well as the city's Angel Studios; and the Czech Film Orchestra String Players and Choir, recorded in Prague. The result, which I'm glad to say is available on CD this time, is a stirring mix of orchestral/choral music, with some powerful singing in Greek,
Obviously, I am referring to the many propulsive action cues, which start with the "Main Titles" and consist of the greater part of the album. Most of these are composed by Marino (who wrote the main theme - a new one for this game), Reagan and Velasco; with Fish being saddled with the less showy, atmospheric cues, most of which come as an anti-climax after the splendid action music on show.
But really the only black mark against the album is the inclusion of three bonus tracks (though thankfully, these are at the end of the disc) all modern rock and rap efforts, totally at odds with what has gone before, even if the first is a remix of material from the GofWII score.
The score for God of War II is as good if not better than most film scores being written today and is highly recommended if you like music that really stirs the blood.

Monday, June 11, 2007

News from Perseverance Records

Original Soundtrack
Music & Songs by Paul Hertzog
Featuring Songs Performed by Stan Bush and Michael Bishop

Perseverance Records is proud to release the soundtrack to the 1988 Jean-Claude Van Damme cult classic, Bloodsport. Starting with his debut in the 1986 cheapie, No Retreat, No Surrender, Jean-Claude Van Damme was well on his way to becoming the biggest action star of the 80s and 90s. When Bloodsport came out in 1988, his credentials as a kickboxing champion made for solid box office. The movie went on to gross over 11 million at the box office (the movie cost just under 2 million) and that is great for a small independent like Cannon. Bloodsport also starred Donald Gibb (Revenge Of The Nerds) and Forest Whitaker (yep, the same guy who just won a Best Actor Oscar).
Bloodsport was composer Paul Hertzog’s first action movie scoring assignment and second film overall (with the comedy My Chauffeur being his first). On this movie he showed he not only could compose a great action score but write pop songs, as well. Paul wrote the songs “Fight To Survive” and “On My Own – Alone” sung by AOR artist, Stan Bush. These songs were not included on the original Silva or Edel issues of the soundtrack, and neither was the Michael Bishop-written and -perfromed cult classic "Steal the Night". Due to popular demand, we were able to locate the songs and make sure that fans of the movie could own them.
This CD is limited to 3,000 units. We anticipate this great release will sell out quickly, so buy yours now. You can order your copy at <>.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

CD REVIEW - Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Music by Hans Zimmer
Walt Disney Records 395 7032 (EU)
13 Tracks 55:57 mins

The soundtrack album to the second film in this trilogy was somewhat of a disappointment, with too many dull moments and remixes, particularly compared with the consistently enjoyable album to the first Pirates film. The album for this third film, whilst still not as consistently brilliant as the first, comes pretty close and is certainly a great improvement on the second.
Zimmer and associates (all listed on the accompanying booklet, with the usual colourful pirate names) have pulled out all the stops with this one. We know we're in for a great ride from the very first track "Hoist the Colours," which starts out with a solo child's voice and is then taken up by male choir. This gives way to the Orientalisms of "Singapore, which bracket a fine action middle. "At World's End" goes through many moods in its eight-minute running time. There's mystery and suspense, followed by great passion, followed by music-box-like sadness, followed by a big instrumental variation on "Hoist the Colours," followed by some exciting action.
"Multiple Jacks" features kind of drunken comedy and some low-key percussion, leading to a powerful conclusion. "Up is Down" is an adventurous, spirited mover. "I See Dead People in Boats" is filled with sadness and mystery, with ghostly voices, swelling passionately and moving to a close. "The Brethren Court" features somewhat of a choral lament based on "Hoist," which is then taken up instrumentally. "Parlay" is a knowing nod towards the great showdown music composed by Ennio Morricone and many others for the Italian westerns of the '60s & '70s, and in particular "The Man with the Harmonica" from Once Upon a Time in the West. This is followed by the big, fateful choral "Calypso."
The remaining four tracks are played continuously and make for a tremendous ending to the album, starting with "What Shall We Die For," which builds to heroic heights, with a choral rendition of "Hoist." The following 10-minute track "I Don't Think Now is the Best Time" accompanies the huge battle in the maelstrom, and the first five minutes or so features some very powerful orchestral/choral writing, giving way to exciting action, where many of the themes from the series interplay. "One Day" brings a particularly heroic and proud conclusion to events, before the closing "Drink Up Me Hearties," ends things splendidly with stirring variations on the main themes.
The aforementioned booklet also features a personal memoir by Mark Wherry on the music for the trilogy, plus pages of colour stills from the film. It all makes for a nice package indeed.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Deborah Lurie and Spider-Man 3

Those of you who subscribe to the electronic magazine Film Music Weekly (and why woudn't you - it's excellent - and it's free!) will have read the lengthy interview with Christopher Young in a recent issue, regarding his work on the latest Spidey adventure. He could probably be excused for shuddering at the mention of Deborah Lurie's name for, having already replaced his score for Lasse Hallstrom's An Unfinished Life, Lurie also wrote replacement cues for Spider-Man 3.
Her publicists, Costa Communications, kindly allowed me to hear selected cues, written by Lurie, a talented composer, arranger and orchestrator who, in addition to her lovely Americana-flavoured music for the aforementioned An Unfinished Life (available on the Varese Sarabande label incidentally, and worth checking out), has also written fine music, albeit based on a John Ottman theme, for Imaginary Heroes (a surprisingly light and sunny score for a film reveolving around a suicide); some rip-roaring comedic action for Sleepover; fine, sentimental and of course festively-tinged music for The Year Without Santa Claus; Thomas Newman-influenced, as well as her own best emotional music for Mozart and the Whale; and varied and interesting music for Deep Sea: 3D. All this and she also provided string arrangements for the successful musical Dreamgirls, as well as additional underscore. She has also worked closely with Danny Elfman on the aforementioned Deep Sea: 3D, as well as Charlotte's Web and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory; and, in addition to Imaginary Heroes, she has also worked with Ottman on the likes of X-Men 2.
But what of her music for Spider-Man 3? Well, continuing her work with Danny Elfman (of sorts), she utilises thematic material composed by Elfman for the first two Spider-Man outings, which is particularly noticeable in the cue "Setting MJ Down." Much of her work for the film consists of quite brief, emotional cues, largely dealing with the ups and downs of the Peter and MJ romance. Much of the music is warm and sensitive, but there are tentative and troubled moments, but "Engagement Ring/Broadway Marquee generates some excitement and elation. Surprisingly at odds with the rest of the orchestral-based music is the electronic "Death of a Friend."
Frustratingly, I have yet to see the film, and there is sadly no sign of a score release, so I have yet to sample Young's efforts for the film, but I am sure Deborah Lurie does nothing to let the side down, and I look forward to hearing more of her music in the future when I hope she will start to gain more prestigious scoring projects of her own.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

BOOK REVIEW - Inside Film Music - Composers Speak

Inside Film Music - Composers Speak
by Christian DesJardins
Softback 360 Pages
Silman-James Press ISBN: 1-879505-88-6 (US)
Published 2006

This is a wonderful book in that it consists of a series of interviews, mainly with today's working composers, but also with some of the people who assist in the business of making music for film, editors, orchestrators, music contractors etc., as well as a few directors; and as such can be picked up whenever you have a spare moment to read a chapter here or there.
Christopher Young wrote the book's foreword and he is of course one of the interviewees. The composers make up the bulk of the book and are presented in alphabetical order, starting with Klaus Badelt and continuing through John Barry, Marco Beltrami, Bruce Broughton, Teddy Castellucci, Jeff Danna, Mychael Danna, Don Davis, John Debney, Cliff Eidelman, Robert Folk, John Frizzell, Philip Glass, Lee Holdridge, Mark Isham, Jan Kaczmarek, Rolfe Kent, Cliff Martinez, John Ottman, Basil Poledouris, Jocelyn Pook, Rachel Portman, John Poweel, David Raksin, Graeme Revell, Jeff Rona, Marc Shaiman, Ryan Shore, Alan Silvestri, Brian Tyler, Stephen warbeck, Gabriel Yared, and Young. Some of these composers are more regularly interviewed than others, but all have fascinating observations on their craft to make.
There are no illustrations, just solid reading all the way.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

CD REVIEW - Premonition

Music by Klaus Badelt
Varese arabande VSD 6008 (EU)
8 Tracks 48:39 mins

Premonition stars Sandra Bullock as a woman who each time she wakes either finds her husband alive or that he has been killed in an accident.
As regards the score, by Klaus Badelt, we know we are on pretty safe ground from the start with the opening title track presenting a typical pice of mysterioso for flowing piano and strings. This is followed by "Linda and Jim," a tender piano, synths and strings theme. Both these themes are to appear in variations throughout, the latter mostly in spare, sad piano renditions, though at times more hopeful. The former tends to accompany the more mysterious moments, sometimes played slower and sometimes allowed to flow.
The start of "Severed Severing" is quite a propulsive affair and this somewhat rhythmic approach is used a few times in the score, along with some alarming dissonances. There is almost a spiritual quality to some of Badelt's writing as well.
The album only has eight tracks, most of them quite lengthy, which gives the music much opportunity for development. "A New Life" brings proceedings to a satisfactory close, with a rather intimate reading of the "Linda and Jim" music.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

News from Top Dollar PR


18 Tracks Inspired by Some of the Greatest Games Ever Made,Performed by Award-Winning Celebrity Game Music Composers

San Jose, CA – June 4th, 2007 – Game Music Central today announced that the same composers who created the music for God of War, EverQuest, Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter, Hitman, Jade Empire, King Kong, Myst, Prince of Persia, Splinter Cell, Lord of the Rings, Outcast, Rayman, SOCOM and World of Warcraft have joined together to produce Best of the Best: A Tribute To Game Music –the world’s first compilation CD featuring music inspired by some of the greatest games ever, performed by award-winning celebrity game music composers. This Collector’s Edition CD includes a 6-page booklet with photographs and printed autographs from the 20 featured composers.The CD is available exclusively at, a brand new online music store and community dedicated to people with a passion for games and game music.

“Game Music Central is a great place for gamers and game music composers to connect,” said Tommy Tallarico, Composer and Co-executive producer of Video Games Live. “Game Music Central has videos of the composers in recording studios and message boards where gamers can interact with the composers themselves and actually ask their favorite composer a question.”

For Game Music Central’s first game soundtrack release, 20 award-winning video game composers recorded all new performances of music inspired by some of the most popular video games of all time, including: God of War, Super Mario Bros, World of Warcraft, Final Fantasy, Super Metroid, Earthworm Jim, Medal of Honor, Kingdom Hearts, and many more, all available on one Collector's Edition CD.

The full list of 18 music tracks and 20 artists featured on Best of the Best: A Tribute To Game Music follows:

1. “Invertebrate Retreat (Subterranean Remix)”Inspired by Earthworm Jim™ 2
Artist: Tommy Tallarico
Previous works: Advent Rising, Earthworm Jim, MDK.

2. “The Hunt”Inspired by Conan® The Barbarian®
Artist: Inon ZurPrevious works: EverQuest II: Echoes of Faydwer, Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, SOCOM II: U.S. Navy SEALS.

3. “Exile”Inspired by Myst® III Exile
Artist: Jack WallPrevious works: Jade Empire, Myst III & Myst IV.

4. “Around the World”
As featured in Crackdown™
Artist: Atlas Plug (aka Tom Salta)
Previous works: Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Advanced Warfighter I & II, Red Steel, Need for Speed: Underground 2.

5. “Silent Hill™ Theme”
Inspired by Silent Hill
Artists: Cris Velasco and Sascha Dikiciyan
Previous works: God of War, Dark Messiah of Might and Magic, Hellgate: London.

6. “Go Mario!”Inspired by Super Mario Brothers™
Artist: Winifred Phillips
Previous works: God of War, The Da Vinci Code, Shrek the Third.

7. “Beneath the Surface”Inspired by Alone in the Dark®
Artist: Jesper Kyd
Previous works: Hitman 1-4, Freedom Fighters, The Chronicles of SpellBorn.

8. “A Premonition” and “Chrono Trigger”
Inspired by Chrono Trigger™
Artist: Gerard Marino
Previous works: God of War I & II, Fantastic 4, The Punisher.

9. “Zanarkand”
Inspired by Final Fantasy™ X
Artists: Rod Abernethy and Jason Graves
Previous works: BlackSite: Area 51, Blazing Angels I & II, Star Trek: Legacy.

10. “That Was Then (This is Now)”
Inspired by Kingdom Hearts®
Artist: Billy Martin
Previous works: Chicken Little, Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, Tarzan Untamed.

11. “The Vengeful Spartan”Inspired by God of War™
Artist: Mark Griskey
Previous works: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, The Chronicles of Narnia, Rayman: Raving Rabbids.

12. “Medal of Honor Improvisation”
Inspired by Medal of Honor™
Artist: Chance Thomas
Previous works: Lord of the Rings Online: Shadows of Angmar, Marvel Ultimate Alliance, Peter Jackson’s King Kong.

13. “The Legend of Zelda”
Inspired by The Legend of Zelda®
Artist: David ArkenstonePrevious works: World of Warcraft: Burning Crusade, Emperor: Battle for Dune.

14. “Grabbag”Inspired by Duke Nukem®
Artist: Lennie MoorePrevious works: Dirty Harry, Outcast, The Lord of the Rings: War of the Ring.

15. “Super Metroid Theme”
Inspired by Super Metroid®
Artist: Will Loconto
Previous works: Rayman: Raving Rabbids, X-Men: The Official Game, Aliens vs Predator 2: Primal Hunt.

16. “A Call to Arms”Inspired by World of Warcraft®
Artist: Chris RickwoodPrevious works: Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Civil War: Bull Run.

17. “The White Horse”Inspired by The Lord of the Rings™
Artist: Colin O’Malley Previous works: Superman: Returns.

18. “Retro Bitz 2070”Inspired by RoboBlitz™
Artist: Daniel SadowskiPrevious works: RoboBlitz.

All names of products mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.Game Music Central is created and owned by Bob Rice. “Best of the Best: A Tribute to Game Music” and “Game Music Central” are trademarks of Bob Rice. All rights reserved.For more information, please visit

Monday, June 04, 2007


Music by Mark Isham
Lakeshore Records LKS 339192 (EU)
16 Tracks 46:43 mins

The great news is that Colosseum now are distributing Lakeshore Records releases in Europe and the first disc to come my way is for this sci-fi thriller starring Nicolas Cage, Julianne Moore and Jessica Biel, which has a score by Mark Isham that has been hated by some critics and absolutely loved by at least one. I fall somewhere in the middle. It's not the greatest of recent scores, but is certainly a lot better than some I have heard.
The action cues in particular stand out. They are strident and propulsive, with strong string writing and are often quite percussive. Supernatural elements are given an almost ethereal treatment, with piano prominent, and there are some brief moments of romance and tragedy. Along the way there is a good deal of tension and suspense, but often these develop into something more exciting.
All in all then, an accomplished effort by a composer who has developed into a more than capable all-rounder from his jazzy beginnings.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

CD REVIEW - Westender

Music by Rob Simonsen
M.O.B. Productions Promo (US)
24 Tracks 74:03 mins

The element of this 2003 medieval fantasy which apparently received most acclaim was Rob Simonsen's score, and thankfully this is now available for purchase on CD.
The film concerns a fallen knight on a quest to redeem himself, and the composer is actually credited in the cast, as well as having written the music. His score is achieved with a combination of live players, with violins and horns prominent, voices and subtle electronics.
The main thematic material is by turns quite spiritual and noble and heroic, with a propulsive variant, driven by the horns. The theme crops up in variations throughout the score and is always welcome.
Tracks of particular note are "Gypsy Song," a lovely a capella song for female vocal group; the first real substantial introduction of the main theme in "Sir Asbrey of Westender;" the increasingly powerful "Recognized," which then becomes somewhat of a folksy mover for fiddle and drum; "the highly spiritual "The Frozen Knight;" and the concluding tracks, the powerful, percussive "Battle Flashback;" the propulsive "Wrestling With Demons;" "Resurrection, "with its powerful, rhythmic development of the main theme; the percussive conflict of "Jarlishan Fight;" and "The Return of the westender/Final," which starts out quite mournful, but builds spiritually to a satisfying conclusion, before playing out with variations on the main themes from the score.
Simonsen is mostly known for his work with Mychael Danna on scores for the likes of Where The Truth Lies, The Nativity Story and the forthcoming Surf's Up, but on the strength of his music for Westender, now available for all to appreciate, it can surely be only a matter of time before he becomes a sought after composer in his own right.
For further details on the composer and to hear music samples from his projects, visit

Friday, June 01, 2007

Three items of news from Costa Communications

I have no less than three press releases from Costa Communications for you today.
Firstly, next month "Arsenio Hall Show" pianist Starr Parodi will play selections for invited guests from her new CD, 'Common Places,' at a private residence in London's Highgate Village. Here is the release regarding that album.

James Bond theme Featured on New Release Nov 14

"Parodi's pianistic sense and delivery go way beyond creative. Words that come to mind while listening to Common Places include imaginative, courageous, dynamic, passionate, gutsy, pensive, restrained, and euphoric. I'm thoroughly entranced by the whole experience."-- Mark Vail - Keyboard Magazine

(Hollywood, CA): Recognized as the talented, funky, multi-keyboardist who appeared nightly on the groundbreaking late night hit, "The Arsenio Hall Show," composer/pianist Starr Parodi returns to the spotlight with "Common Places." The album, which features a re-interpretation of the classic James Bond Theme, will debut November 14, contemporaneous with the release of "Casino Royale," the latest James Bond installment. Parodi draws inspiration from her 1928 Steinway grand piano that once adorned the legendary MGM sound stage in its most glorious era and was used on such classic films as "The Wizard of Oz." Her new CD "Common Places" echoes with cinematic, neoclassical, Americana and gospel themes, all played as "stream of conciousness" improvisations.
Parodi is also well-known in the television and film industries for her music scoring abilities as one half of the Parodi/Fair partnership with her husband Jeff Fair. She recently scored the 2006 critically acclaimed film "Conversations With Other Women," starring Helena Bonham Carter and Aaron Eckhart, "High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story," with Michael Imperioli and the hit Lifetime Show "The Division." Her music has been included in movie trailers for many of Hollywood's biggest films including "The Last Samurai," "X-Men 3," "The Last Holiday," "War of the Worlds," "Mission Impossible," "Failure to Launch," "Everyone's Hero," "Akeelah & The Bee," "A Good Year" and "Flight 93" among others.
While listening to "Common Places," it's easy to understand why Starr has accompanied such a stellar array of artists including Al Green, Mavis Staples, Celine Dion, BB King, Seal, Jimmy Cliff, Phil Keaggy, George Howard, Patti LaBelle, Carlos Santana, Phil Collins and Marilyn McCoo among many others. She played keyboards at the Kennedy Center for the inauguration of President Clinton, and performed as an artist at Keyboard Magazine's 20th Anniversary concert in which 20 of the world's top keyboardists were invited to play.
Continuing her multifaceted musical journey, Starr has returned to her touchstone and first love, the piano, for an intimate solo recording of spontaneous and uncommon improvisations on themes. Included in the collection of 10 songs is Starr's recording of a completely solo piano version of the classic James Bond Theme. This new version takes its inspiration from Parodi's earlier version of the theme arranged, produced and performed with her husband and production partner, featured on the gold-selling Capitol CD "The Best Of Bond ... James Bond" and heard in the trailers for "GoldenEye," "The World is Not Enough," "Tomorrow Never Dies" and "Die Another Day."
The new album grew out of a spontaneous recording of the title song "Common Places." "I had just finished recording another project and happened to have the microphones up and ready to go on the Steinway," Starr says. "I was doing some chordal improvisations while watching the poetic movement of the sycamore trees in the canyon outside my studio window. As the Santa Ana winds kicked up, I felt a well of inspirational emotion inside and just started to play." Over the next few months the other nine songs on her album followed in this spirit and fashion.
Though all the sounds on this CD were originally created on the piano, after recording the basic improvisations, Starr and Fair experimented with a new sonic palate. They continued to use only the piano but affected it with various filters and other devices. Sometimes the result was ambient, sometimes percussive & many times subliminal. Adding these textures to the improvisations broadened the musical voice of the piano and contributed another layer of emotion and interest to the performances.
"I recorded this music purely out of joy, purely out of sorrow, purely out of a longing and a searching, a peacefulness and a restlessness," she says. "These are the common places we all share."

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to New Ethan Hawke Film Includes Oscar Contender "Never See You" by Rocha
Soundtrack Release Aug. 7



(Hollywood, CA) On August 7, the soundtrack to the new Ethan Hawke film "the Hottest State" will be released. The soundtrack features sixteen songs, plus two score passages, all recorded exclusively for the film. Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Jesse Harris composed the score and wrote all the music for the soundtrack and serves as the album's co-executive producer along with Hawke. Together they assembled a peerless group of artists to record Harris' songs: Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Norah Jones, Cat Power, Bright Eyes, Feist, The Black Keys, M. Ward, Brad Mehldau, Tony Scherr and Argentinean newcomer, Rocha, whose song "Never See You" is performed in the film and soundtrack three times in both English and Spanish. Jesse Harris also appears in the film. The soundtrack will be released through Hickory Records.
"From our first conversation, I was overwhelmed by the quality of Jesse's songwriting and how perfectly matched it was to my aspirations for the tone and mood of the film," recalls Ethan Hawke. He continues, "An idea began to develop: What if we scored the film entirely with original songs written by Jesse and performed by contemporary artists hand-picked to match certain scenes? To my mind this would give the entire film a continuity of authorship while still providing massive shifts in energy."
Harris, who has known Hawke since the early 1990s, has released six albums as a solo artist. His songs have been recorded by Madeleine Peyroux, Pat Metheny, and Lizz Wright, and in 2003, he won a Song of the Year Grammy, for writing Norah Jones' smash hit "Don't Know Why."
Adapted by Ethan Hawke from his novel of the same name, 'The Hottest State' is a bittersweet romance that distills the joy, pain, erotic highs, and emotional lows of first love. Hawke directs and co-stars in the film along with Mark Webber (`Broken Flowers'); Oscar-nominees Catalina Sandino Moreno (`Maria Full Of Grace'), Laura Linney (`Mystic River,' `The Squid and the Whale'), and Michelle Williams (`Brokeback Mountain'); and Sonia Braga (`Kiss Of The Spider Woman').
Hickory Records is an imprint of Sony/ATV Music Publishing. 'The Hottest State' soundtrack follows the debut album from American Idol finalist Elliott Yamin, released on Hickory earlier this year.

01 Rocha - "Ya No Te Veria Mas (Never See You)"
02 Willie Nelson - "Always Seem to Get Things Wrong"
03 Feist - "Somewhere Down the Road"
04 Bright Eyes - "Big Old House"
05 Emmylou Harris - "The Speed of Sound"
06 Jesse Harris - "It Will Stay With Us"
07 The Black Keys - "If You Ever Slip"
08 M. Ward - "Crooked Lines"
09 Norah Jones - "World of Trouble"
10 Brad Mehldau - "Never See You"
11 Cat Power - "It's Alright to Fail"
12 Jesse Harris - "One Day the Dam Will Break"
13 Tony Scherr - "You, the Queen"
14 "Morning in a Strange City (Cafe)"
15 Rocha - "No More"
16 Jesse Harris - "Dear Dorothy"
17 Rocha - "Never See You"
18 "There Are No Second Chances"

U.S. Comedy Arts Festival Winner Opens June 29

(Los Angeles, CA) Award- winning British composer and playwright Murray Gold scores "Death at a Funeral." This Black comedy directed by Frank Oz won this year's U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. The film stars Matthew MacFayden, Rupert Graves, Ewen Bremner, and Peter Dinklage and tells the story of a dysfunctional British family attempt to bid a somber farewell to the family patriarch, only to find their mourning disrupted. "Death at a Funeral" opens in the U.S. on June 29.
Famed for his work on the legendary "Doctor Who" series, Gold is one of the most inspired and uncompromising composers in his field; the composer of choice when it comes to scoring the most innovative programs on television. He has been nominated for a BAFTA three times in the category Best Original Television Music, for "Vanity Fair," "Queer as Folk" and for "Casanova." His score for the BAFTA winning film "Kiss of Life" was awarded the 'Mozart Prize of the 7th Art' by a French jury at Aubagne in 2003. He has also been nominated four times by the Royal Television Society in categories relating to music for television.
Murray Gold also wrote the theme tunes for "Doctor Who" spin-offs "The Sarah Jane Adventures" and "Torchwood," and composes music for the latter series alongside Ben Foster. He arranged the theme tunes to "Totally Doctor Who" and "Doctor Who Confidential." He has appeared as himself in several episodes of the latter program.
In film, Gold composed an evocative jazz score to Jez Butterworth's acclaimed first feature, "Mojo," followed by providing the music for further UK film productions in "Heavenly Creatures," "Wild About Harry" and "Miranda." Recent film commissions include "Mischief Night," directed by Penny Woolcock.
As a playwright, Gold was awarded the Michael Imison award for best new play for "Electricity" after its broadcast on Radio 3 in 2001. It subsequently transferred to the West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2004 and was performed with Christopher Eccleston in the lead role. His other plays include "50 Revolutions" performed by the Oxford Stage Company at the Whitehall Theatre, London in 2000; and "Resolution" performed at Battersea Arts Centre in 1994.