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

Friday, July 27, 2007

CD REVIEW - Love Birds

Love Birds - Una Strana Voglia D'Amore
Music by Bruno Nicolai
GDM Hillside Series GDM 4106
34 Tracks 70:03 mins

When the GDM Hillside Series comes up with a new Italian Western score release, I am usually one of the first in line for a copy, but I've often passed on scores for other genres and I am sure I'm missing out on a lot of good music. That would certainly have been the case with this CD, had Lionel Woodman of Hillside not persuaded me to take a chance on it.
Now I won't re-open the old Morricone-Nicolai argument about who composed what during their time working together, but all I can say is that this 1969 effort is another Nicolai score that sounds a lot like others credited to Morricone, even down to the use of the wonderful voice of Edda Dell'Orso.
It's a great value-for-money release in that the opening ten tracks (just under 30 minutes) are taken from a C.A.M. promotional release, followed by a further 24 tracks of previously unreleased music taken from the score.
The album tracks are obviously put together to make for a pleasant listening experience, as was usually the case at the time, whereas the score tracks feature variations on themes presented in the album programme, often more brief versions, with different arrangements, and sometimes cut short. Whatever, the fact remains that the score features four very acceptable themes; the first, "Poema," a passionate, flowing piano and orchestra theme; the second, "La Contessa," a lovely, romantic piece, with wordless vocals by Edda; the third, first heard as "Canzone Disperata," a purposeful mover, sometimes light, at others more meaty; and the fourth, "Incantesimo," which features a repeating ethereal figure for celeste and piano, with Edda joining as the piece develops into something of a close relative of "La Contessa."
A couple of cues reveal a much different side to the score, with the composer providing some tense and quite desperate action music, and there is a degree of supsense at the start of "Due Uomini e Due Donnea, contrtasting with a typical '60s go-go number "Love Birds Shake."
A very enjoyable listening experience then, and thoroughly recommended. Get your copy at

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


HERCULES by Pino Donaggio

THE SEVEN-UPS by Don Ellis/THE VERDICT by Johnny Mandel

For more detailed information, click on this URL:

Monday, July 23, 2007

CD REVIEW - Joe! Cercati un Posto per Morire

Jpe! Cercati un Posto per Morire
Music by Gianni Ferrio
GDM Hillside Series GDM 4104
27 Tracks 64:34 mins

Unlike his score for the same year's El Desperado (reviewed yesterday), Gianni Ferrio's score for this 1968 western, starring Jeffrey Hunter, is a much more attractive and tuneful affair.
This disc not only reissues the old mono C.A.M. LP tracks, but, following these, also presents the full score in stereo, which makes for an interesting comparison. What it reveals is that the score tracks are made up of combinations of the pieces presented on the original album, so that some of them go through a variety of moods as would the action they support, whereas the LP tracks concentrate on making a more consistent listening experience, as was often the case at the time.
At the heart of the score are basically two principal themes, the first, heard initially in "Find a Place to Die" starts out with sad Spanish guitar before swelling to huge dramatic heights with orchestra and Nora Orlandi's choir, ending again with the guitar. The second theme, first heard in "El Chato (Prateria)," is a catchy, travelling harmonica theme (Franco De Gemini of course), which is then taken up by tumpet to close. Both these themes crop up in variations throughout the album and score tracks, the latter theme also being given voice in both Italian and English on the album by Jula De Palma. It also appears as a big and bold horns-lead, choir-enhanced galloper. A few tracks offer suspenseful music, some of it quite menacing, and there's another brief galloping, electric guitar-lead theme in "Galoppa Cavallo."
As if the album tracks weren't enjoyable enough, I found the score tracks to be even more engrossing, due to their variety and the longer playing time allowing for more development.
Plenty of colour stills and artwork from the film can be found in the accompanying 8-page booklet. To order your copy of this fine release, go to

Sunday, July 22, 2007

CD REVIEW - El Desperado

El Desperado
Music by Gianni Ferrio
GDM Hillside Series GDM 4105
31 Tracks 64:44 mins

This fine series continues to bring us gems of '60s and '70s Italian film music, and you know I'm just a little bit partial to the Italian Western genre, so I'm delighted to be able to bring you reviews of a couple more additions to the recorded catalogue, starting today with 1968's El Desperado, previously only available on a mono C.A.M. single, both sides of which open this disc, the typical overblown title ballad, with English vocal by John Balfour, and "Colt Contro La Luna," which presents one of the secondary theme, a catchy flute-lead effort, but ends up sadly with another piece for strings that also makes its presence felt in the score. Track three commences the complete film score in stereo with a rather mournful repeating guitar figure, which is yet another theme that features heavily in the score. The stereo version of the title song follows.
After these opening cues, it's pretty much variations on all the aforementioned themes from thereon, with many of the tracks being tense, suspenseful and occasionally mournful. Only rarely do we get anything to get the pulse racing, including a few reprises of the song and an odd upbeat instrumental variation. The disc closes with a stereo mix of the single's b-side and the backing track to the title song.
The colourful accompanying booklet features plenty of stills and artwork from the film, but unfortunately lacks any notes. Go to to order your copy.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

News from Film Score Monthly and Costa Communications

For more detailed information, click on this URL:

From Costa Communications


(Hollywood, CA) Grammy Award nominated composer George S. Clinton has just received an Emmy nomination for his score to the HBO original film, "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee." Clinton's score features master Lakota flutist and recording artist John Two-Hawks. The composer's nomination is in the category of Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special (Original Dramatic Score). The 59th Primetime Emmy Awards will be held Sept. 16. Last Month, Clinton received the prestigious Richard Kirk Award for outstanding career achievement at the BMI Film & Television Awards.

The film, starring Aidan Quinn and Anna Paquin, is directed by Yves Simoneau. 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, July 20, 2007

CD REVIEWS - Wait Until Dark + The Devil's Brigade

As other commitments prevented my from posting anything yesterday, I am covering two discs today to make up for things.

Wait Until Dark
Music by Henry Mancini
Film Score Monthly Vol.10 No.7 (US)
20 Tracks 50:33 mins

Henry Mancini was at his peak in the 1960s, when one great melodic score followed another. 1967's Wait Until Dark was one of his less melodic efforts, but even so carried a couple of memorable themes and, whilst practically everything he wrote those days found it's way to vinyl, this film was for some reason sadly neglected. Fans have had a long wait for its release, but finally those fine fellows at FSM have rewarded their patience.
The film starred Audrey Hepburn, giving a great performance as a blind woman menaced by three villains seeking a doll full of drugs in her New York apartment. It was to be her last role for nearly ten years when she returned to the screen alongside Sean Connery in Robin and Marian.
Much of the film's score is dark, anguished and menacing, based largely on an unsettling theme, first heard in the opening "Come On Loui," voiced by electric harpsichord over twin pianos, one of them playing out of tune. This theme is followed by "The Doll," a music box lullaby that is to play a lesser, but key, role in the score. The former is further developed in the "Main Title" where it is initially whistled before being carried by a number of instruments. In subsequent tracks the theme often makes its sinister presence felt.
A momentary interlude is provided by "Light Relief," which is just that, light and gay. The first of three source bossa novas follows, with "World's Champion Blind Lady" sandwiched in between, a warm guitar and strings introduction to the "Wait Until Dark" theme, later developed further in "Pick Up Sticks" and sung at the end of the score by Sue Raney, with lyrics provided by Jay Livingston and Ray Evans.
As regards the more dramatic moments in the score, these are provided by "Bulbus Terror," "Gassy!/Strum Along/The Doll" and "Cutting Roat a New One, which together make for some pretty intense writing.
Three bonus tracks complete the disc, the first a very nice strings and guitar rendition of "Wait Until Dark;" the second a slower version of the opening theme; and the third an interesting series of "Piano Tests," in which Mancini and engineer Dan Wallin can be heard trying out the opening theme prior to the writing of the score.
It's great to finally have this neglected Mancini gem available and, as always, a colourful and informative booklet accompanies the disc, with stills from the film, together with Lukas Kendall's notes and cue-by-cue guide.
Go to for more details, samples and of course to order your copy.

The Devil's Brigade
Music by Alex North
Intrada Special Collection Vol.42 (US)
24 Tracks 67:03 mins

Don't be put off by all the bonus tracks on this CD, featuring original source music, jazz standards and arrangements of Christmas carols, there is still nearly 43 minutes of Alex North's score for this World War II actioner, along with a couple of alternate cues at the end of the disc.
1968's The Devil's Brigade can be likened to The Dirty Dozen, also recently released on CD in its original form, not only in its premise and execution, but that it too received a disappointing LP release, this time of rearrangements by Leroy Holmes, that didn't do the score any kind of justice. This disc is therefore not only very welcome, but it's actually quite an eye-opener as, though I always thought the score effective enough on film, large portions of it were cut up or left out altogether and so we get to hear this music for the first time in its original form.
North's score is based almost entirely around his stirring main theme, which is a combination of original march theme and the traditional "Scotland the Brave." The "Main Title" gets things off to a rousing start with this material, which then turns somewhat balletic, with rhythms not unlike some of the composer's music for the likes of Spartacus.
Although a traditional military march version of the theme is heard in "Graduation Ceremony," nearly all the tracks before and after this present dramatic and suspenseful variations on the main theme, including some intense writing for the mountain assault scenes that make up the climax of the film. Along the way though there is an heroic lament for "Dunkirk Revisited."
The final track "Surrender Aftermath & End Title" presents a mix of warm and elegiac writing before reaching a proud crescendo and then signing off with a rousing version of the main theme.
The final two album tracks are the aforementioned alternate takes on the Main and End Titles, the first reprising the military band version of the main theme, before seguing into the balletic variations, with a rousing rendition of "Scotland the Brave" to close; the second reversing the themes.
Accompanying the disc is a colourful and informative booklet, with stills from the film and Douglass Fake's detailed notes.
Why not order your copy whilst picking up Wait Until Dark from Screen Archives, or you can go the source at

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

CD REVIEW - La Tigre E' Ancora Viva: Sandokan Alla Riscossa!

La Tigre E' Ancora Viva: Sandoka Alla Riscossa!
Music by Guido & Maurizio De Angelis
Digitmovies CDDM 086 (Italy)
23 Tracks 60:03 mins

Following on from the successful television adaptation of Sandokan in 1976, a year later Kabir Bedi gave life to the big screen incarnation in this Sergio Sollima-directed film. The music was provided by the ever-dependable De Angelis brothers, who came up with another catchy and adaptable main theme, first heard as the title track as a flute and strings-lead theme, with a pop beat. This theme crops up in variations in a good many of the tracks that follow, sometimes in slow, laid-back variations, often featuring flute; at others featuring reverberated harp; but there is a fine, strident strings variation in "Sweet Lady Blue."
Indian instrumentation is used throughout the score, backing up the main themes, the second of which is first heard over a driving piece of rhythmic action, which again crops up in variations in a number of tracks. The theme is also given mysterious treatments and is also hummed by a capella male choir on one track. The final score track mixes both the action and main themes, before seguing into a vocal versions of the main theme by Oliver Onions. As a bonus, this is reprised as just a backing track, without vocals in the final selection of the album.
As always, the disc is accompanied by a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the film, together with notes by Claudio Fuiano & Luca Di Silverio.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

CD REVIEW - Evan Almighty + News from Film Score Monthly and Top Dollar PR

Evan Almighty
Music by John Debney
Varese Sarabande VSD-6825 (EU)
16 Tracks 48:57 mins

Steve Carell made a brief but memorable appearance in the Jim Carrey comedy Bruce Almighty and so a sequel has now been made to showcase Carell's talents. In it, Morgan Freeman reprises the role of God, who instructs Carell to build na ark, which gradually transforms him into a modern-day Noah, complete with long white beard.
The score is again written by John Debney, who had a few tracks on the original Bruce Almighty CD, but here has a disc to himself, and it opens impressively with the suitably inspirational, chori-enahanced "Ark Theme." This theme is to appear in snatches throughout the subsequent score, making a final triumphant appearance in the closing "Acts of Random Kindness," along with the other main themes, those for Evan - a versatile theme that flows nicely with piano, woodwinds and choir in "Baxter't to Bed" and combines more sensitively throughout subsequent tracks with "God's Theme," also appearing a couple of times on solo piano, performed by Michael lang. The latter first appears in its most spiritual and weighty guise in the track of the same name, with wordless vocals by male and female soloists.
Apart from these themes, which pretty much dominate the score, there is a nice, bouncy scherzo in "Grooming Montage, and some fine action writing in "The Flood. For a comedy score a number of the tracks are quite lengthy, which comes as a nice change and makes for a pretty decent listening experience indeed.



For more detailed information, click on this URL:

From Top Dollar PR




Los Angeles, CA – July 17th, 2007 – Film, television and video game composer Garry Schyman ( has created the original score for the highly anticipated and innovative first person shooter BioShock developed by Irrational Games and published by 2K Games. Composed in various styles of early twentieth century writing, the music is at times chillingly ominous and at other times deeply beautiful and poignant. BioShock is developed for the Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PC and will be released in North America on August 21, 2007 and internationally on August 24, 2007.

“Garry Schyman’s work for us was incredible from the start in every possible aspect,” said Emily Ridgway, Audio Director at Irrational Games. “From his ability to produce and compose amazingly unique orchestral recordings, all the meanwhile perfectly accommodating the peaks and troughs of game development, Garry really deserves all the praise he gets for the BioShock soundtrack and then some.”

en Levine, Creative Director at Irrational Games, attested, “It’s kind of hard to imagine BioShock without Garry’s music. It just wouldn’t be the same game.”

BioShock is the "genetically enhanced" first person shooter that lets you do things never before possible in the genre: turn everything into a weapon, biologically mod your body with plasmids, hack devices and systems, upgrade your weapons and craft new ammo variants, and experiment with different battle techniques.

You are a cast-away in Rapture, an underwater Utopia torn apart by civil war. Caught between powerful forces, and hunted down by genetically modified “splicers” and deadly security systems, you have to come to grips with a deadly, mysterious world filled with powerful technology and fascinating characters. No encounter ever plays out the same, and no two gamers will play the game the same way.

To immerse players in this captivating and haunting world Schyman crafted a complex combination of aleatoric elements, early 20th century writing, musique concrete, traditional tonal and late romantic styles. The score, recorded with a live orchestra at historic Capitol Studios in Hollywood, features solo violin, cello, and piano performances.

BioShock is a composer’s dream project; I have never been offered such a unique palette to write for,” said Garry Schyman. “I really pushed myself to create a score that truly complements the extraordinary experience of BioShock and Irrational Games supported me all the way. I even had the opportunity to write a solo piano work in the style of late Rachmaninoff!”

Garry Schyman is represented by the Gorfaine/Schwartz Agency. For more information on the composer visit

For more information on BioShock visit

Monday, July 16, 2007

CD REVIEW - Infamous

Music by Rachel Portman & various artists
Milan 399 109 2 (EU)
18 Tracks 49:03 mins

The soundtrack to this alternate version of the story of Truman Capone's writing of his bestseller "In Cold Blood" is a mixture of songs and score. The songs include an on-screen performance of "What Is This Thing Calle Love" by Gwyneth Paltrow, and Daniel Craig and guitar performing "There's a Goldmine in the Sky." Both actors reveal they are capable of carrying a tune. There are also contributions by the Mark Rubin Band, Dusty Springfield and Hank Ballard, together with two previously unreleased songs by the late, great Harlan Howard, both peformed by Johnny Bond. All these numbers go to set the mood of the period, but it is Rachel Portman's score that adds the heart and soul. It's a hauntingly sad effort, often featuring woodwind solos, assisted by harp, cello and piano. Lighter fare is provided by three fairly brief, but catchy, shuffles for guitar and violin; whilst darker elements creep in for "Clutter Home" and "The Killings." In all, the composer's music accounts for ten of the album's eighteen tracks.
Portman is probably best known for her more light and fluffy fare, but here she proves she is equally capable of more restrained, powerful and serious work. It's just a shame that the other Capote movie beat this version of the tale to the crunch.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

CD REVIEW - Sei Iellato, Amico Hai Inctotrato Sacramento/I Due Volti Della Paura

Sei Iellato, Amico Hai Incontrato Sacramento/I Due Volti Della Paura#
Music by Franco Micalizzi
Digitmovies CDDM088 (Italy)
28 Tracks 63:44 mins

Bravo Digitmovies for reissuing these two very different scores for 1972 productions, originally only available on rare promotional LPs.
Sei Iellato, a western, starring Ty Hardin, features a score that includes just about every musical cliche known to the genre. The main theme is poppy, easy-mover for harmonica (Franco De Gemini) and choir (I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni), with a spiritual touch to it. This is first introduced in the opening title track. Following on from this is a happy little mover, "Il Cielo Negli Occhi," with wordless vocal by Edda Dell'Orso, whcih is then taken up by De Gemini. This is followed immediately the deguello "Senza Paura," then an easy-going banjo-lead theme "Masticando Tabacco." A light-hearted variation on the main theme for sax and banjo follows, the the first of two Mariachi-styled dances. "Salvezza" is a traditional galloper, but this is then followed by the gospel song "Jesus We Love You," sung by Annibale and choir. "Do You Remember the Moon?" is a fine harmonica-lead piece of romance, whilst "Senza via D'Uscita" is a traditional showdown. After another easy-going piece for banjo, harmonica and piano leads, a reprise of the main theme concludes this half of the disc. If you like your Italian Western music, you'll be very pleased to add this score to your collection.
By way of a complete contrast, "I Due Volti Della Paura," a Giallo entry, starring George Hilton and Luciana Paluzzi, features a very Morricone-like score for the genre, with a classical-pop main theme, beat-driven, yet laid-back with the voice of Edda again. This theme is heard in a number of variations throughout the subsequent tracks, including a dance version and a full-blown romantic version, again featuring Edda, who later features again in a more low-key variation. "Gimkana" is a fast, jazzy mover, whilst "Una Corsa Verso La Verita" also moves along, with Edda and bongos. There are a couple of dissonant suspense cues along the way, and a lengthy church organ solo. "Beat for Two" is a jazz-pop dance number, the album concluding with a strange, rhythmic mover, complete with flutes improvisations.
Two very listenable scores on one disc then, in fine stereo sound, and accompanied, as always, by a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the films, together with Claudio Fuiano's introductory notes.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

CD REVIEW - Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer = News from Costa Communications

Fantastic Four: Rise fo the Silver Surfer
Music by John Ottman
Sony Classical 88697-10888-2 (US)
19 Tracks 51:08 mins

Having scored the original FF feature, John Ottman returns for the sequel, which introduces the enigmatic Silver Surfer, who starts out a villain, but eventually is turned to the side of good. His theme opens the album and soars nobly before turning more powerful and darker in tone. This theme, along with that for Dr. Doom, who makes a perhaps surprise return, a menacing, choir-enhanced theme for the big villain of the piece, Galactacus, and of course the heroic Fantastic Four theme, all make appearances throughout the score; the latter at its best in the inspirational "Springing the Surfer."
A good deal of what's on offer here is of the low-key suspenseful and ominous variety, but there are bursts of brilliance here and there, and some good action moments in the likes of "Chasing the Surfer, "Four in One," and the lengthy final showdown "Silver Savior/Aftermath," where the former comes into climactic conflict with his master.
Some lighter fare intrudes on all the darkness and conflict, particularly in "Sibling Switch," which is quite comical.

From Costa Communications
(Los Angeles, CA) Award-winning reality TV composer Russ Landau is traveling through China in search of indigenous sounds to accompany the upcoming
season of the CBS hit series "Survivor: China." As he journeys deep into the heart of mainland China, Landau will act as a musical archaeologist, uncovering traditional Chinese music to incorporate into his original theme
and score for the show. The trip will include excursions to distinct cultural locations where Landau and his crew will interact with the locals, collect primitive Chinese music and explore the Chinese culture. In addition, he will also be performing two concerts with local musicians in
Fans can share the adventure as Landau is keeping a live blog. The blog will tell about his personal, first hand experience on his journey in search of ancient voices of China. Access his blog ( to stay current with Landau through daily updates.

Landau is no novice to this type of instrumental investigation as he previously tackled the Australian Outback to create the soundtrack for Survivor's second season, "Survivor: The Australian Outback."

Landau's obvious talent and creativity has made him one of the most successful television composers today. In addition to Survivor, he has themed and scored many other primetime series including "Fear Factor" (1, 2, 3 and 4), "Survivor UK," "America's Most Talented Kid," "Dog Eat Dog," "The Restaurant" (1 & 2), "Average Joe," "Three Wishes," "The Assistant," and more.

His feature film credits include titles such as the Jennifer Love Hewitt romance "Telling You," the thriller "Nowhere Land," and "Lost." He also collaborated with Brooke Langton and Doug Deep on the song "The Rumble Of Normal" for the movie, "Playing Mona Lisa."

Along with his film and television work, the twice Emmy nominated Landau ha also been honored with 12 ASCAP Film & Television Awards and shares a Grammy for Best New Age Album with Paul Winter for "Prayer For The Wild Things."

Landau's China excursion will not only serve as a tool in creating the music to the much anticipated "Survivor: China." but the footage taken during the trip will also be made into a show that is both a travelogue and a musical expedition. The travel show will follow Landau and his crew every step of the way from arrival in China to departure back to Los Angeles. This exclusive documentation of the music gathering process will provide a unique perspective of ancient Chinese civilization as well as a never before seen or heard view of China's society.

Friday, July 13, 2007

CD REVIEWS - Shrek the Third = Rapporto Fuller Base Stoccolma

Shrek the Third
Music by Harry Gregson-Williams
Varese Sarabande VSD 6826 (EU)
18 Tracks 40:41 mins

This third outing for the big green ogre, his princess and their sidekicks has not been particularly well received by the critics, so make the most of it, as it may be the last.
Harry Gregson-Williams is the regular composer for the series and he again steps up to the plate, writing another charming score, incorporating themes from the previous films, including the princess' delightful theme and the usual comic capers motif. Added to these are a new mystical, theremin-styled theme for Merlin, suitable nobility for King Arthur and silent movie-styled villainy for Captain Hook.
Typically for films of this kind, the cues are fairly short and cover many changes of mood in their brief existence, so it's hard to really latch on to anything, but all the tracks on this CD have something good to offer and it flows along very nicely - at times charming and magical, and at others adventurous and exciting.

Rapporto Fuller Base Stoccolma
Music by Armando Trovaioli
Beat Records CDCR 74 (Italy)
24 Tracks 45:04 mins

This is a fabulous score for a 1967 James Bond-styled adventure, starring Ken Clark and Beba Loncar. It mainly consists of two themes, with the opening track intoruducing the first, in vocal form as "The Touch of a Kiss," a very Bond-like ballad, featuring the talents of Lara Saint Paul.
The second theme first appears in the following track "She, Dangerous Stuff" and is a jazzy, rhythmic mover. Both themes appear repeatedly in variations throughout the subsequent score, with "The Touch of a Kiss" sometimes played lushly on the strings, on solo sax, or dreamily with wordless female vocals.
Another element of the score is the suspenseful bass flute, occasionally supplemented with bongos when allied to the jazzy secondary theme.
Two bonus tracks, an alternate instrumental finale, and a fine sax-lead instrumental version of "The Touch of a Kiss," close the album, which is accompanied by a colourful foldout, with notes on the music and a synopsis of the film's plot, in Italian and English, doublign as a poster.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

CD REVIEWS - Live Free or Die Hard + Italia a Mano Armata

Live Free or Die Hard (AKA Die Hard 4.0)
Music by Marco Beltrami
Varese Sarabande VSD 6824 (EU)
21 Tracks 63:17 mins

After a long gap, Bruce Willis returns to the role that first made him a big screen star in this the fourth Die Hard adventure, which many critics are hailing as the best since the original.
Michael Kamen was of course the regular composer for the series but, sadly, he is no longer with us and so Marco Beltrami steps into his shoes. In his score he pays homage to Kamen, whilst composing his own big orchestral score, a large slice of which is on this CD. Near enough every track is a mix of action and suspense, most of which have some very good moments, but there are only really two that excited me, those being "Copter Chase" and "The F-35," both are action-packed efforts, drawing on the late Jerry Goldsmith's style, something Beltrami, who studied under the great man, has done before in his recent efforts. It only makes one realise how much we miss the maestro. Still, this is a very capable effort by a composer who has largely been typecast in horror films over the years, and it's always interesting to hear something different. The concluding title track brings the album to a satisfying close, moving along purposefully and not unlike the kind of thing John Powell does for the Bourne series.

Italia a Mano Armata
Music by Franco Micalizzi
Beat Records CDCR 75 (Italy)
24 Tracks 49:03 mins

Following on the heels of Beat's release of Micalizzi's score for the crime thriller Napoli Violenta, which starred Maurizio Merli and John Saxon, comes another entry in the late '70s series, Italia a Mano Armata, with the same stars and characters. The composer here leaves the foksy elements of the first score behind to concentrate on a brass and synths approach, with a fine beat-driven main theme, with a repeating synth figure helping to drive it along. The theme is reprised throughout the 24 tracks, which present the score in film order, with the addition of a couple of bonus cues at the end. There is a good deal of equally brassy menace, and some tense and suspenseful moments along the way, as well as some romantic interludes, with "The Pleasant Visit" introducing a very nice guitar-lead theme. "The Child and the Sister," for piano and strings, is a powerful moment in the score. Tracks 11 to 13 present dance cues reminiscent of the time.
Accompanying the disc is a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the film, together with a brief synopsis and interview with the composer in both Italian and English.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

CD REVIEWS - Hang 'em High/The Aviator + La Ragazzina

Hang 'em High/ The Aviator
Music by Dominic Frontiere
La- la Land Records LLLCD 1053 (US)
31 Tracks 78:55 mins

La-La Land Records continue their celebration of the work of Dominic Frontiere with the CD reissue of two albums for very different filsm from different decades.
First up is Clint Eastwood's first Hollywood western following his triumph in the Sergio Leone "Dollars" trilogy, Hang 'em High. For the score the powers that be were looking for a similar approach to that taken by Ennio Morricone, so Frontiere duly came up with a galloping main theme, featuring harmonica, guitar and orchestra. This theme is reprised straight, or in dramatic or more low-key variations throughout the ten album tracks. There is also a gorgeous stringed love theme for "Rachel" that appears on a couple of occasions. It's great to have this enjoyable score available once more.
The second featured score is for the 1985 romantic adventure The Aviator, which starred Christopher Reeve and Rosanna Arquette, and which again boasts a couple of fine themes, the first giving a soaring treatment in the opening number of the 19 tracks presented here. It's a real old fashioned, overblown Hollywood theme that harks back to the Golden Age scoring styles. The love theme, which is actually given its best treatment in the bonus previously unreleased cue "The Cabin," appears derived from the main theme and is as goregeous as that composed for Hang 'em High. Much of the rest of the score features a deal of suspense and action, with a menacing motif for the wolf pack that threaten our stranded pair.
But these aren't the only two scores featured on this generous disc. As an extra bonus, two cues are included for the 1970 western Barquero which, like Hang 'em High was made in the style of the "spaghetti westerns." The "Main Title" theme is a splendid percussive theme, with a trumpet deguello interlude. The second cue is "The Big Chase," which is in very good mono sound, and again features the main theme in fine action style.
Accompanying the disc is a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the films, together with Randall D. Larson's splendid notes, which incorporate quotes from the composer.

La Ragazzina
Music by Nico Fidenco
Digitmovies CDDM087 (Italy)
15 Tracks 34:33 mins

A promotional LP of Nico Fidenco's score for this 1974 erotic drama was released by CAM at the time and is very, very hard to find, so we can be very pleased that Digitmovies has put out this CD, which features some very pleasant music, a lot of which is typical dance style of the period, often featuring the now dated sound of the moog synthesizer, but the composer's main theme also appears a few times, beginning with the opening title track, where it is revealed as a fast waltz with a strong Mediterranean feel, Alessandro Alessandroni finishing it up with his distinctive whistling. It next appears in "The Past" as a slow, organ-lead arrangement; then in the halting "Minica's Love," where it opens on the flute. There's a disco variation in "Monica's Dance," and Alessandroni returns with something of a whistled improv in "Monica's Mirror. Finally, "Monica's Beach" finds the theme in rhythmic mode.
Fidenco's secondary theme is first heard as a beat-driven piece of erotica in "Sandra's Dream" and then features in an uptempo arrangement, with erotic vocals by Edda Dell'Orso in "Sandra. It's third appearance is the seductive "Sandra in Love."
As always, a colourful booklet accompanies the disc, with stills and artwork from the film, plus Claudio Fuiano & Pierluigi Valentini's introductory notes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

CD REVIEWS - Hairspray, Spellbound & A Man Called Adam

Sorry I have been absent for a few days - pressure of work! In fact, I cannot promise to be quite so regular with my reviews in the future, as circumstances beyond my control have forced me to change my routines, but keep on visiting, because there are plenty of scores waiting for me to review and I will get to them, I assure you. Included are new scores for Die Hard 4.0, Shrek the Third and Evan Almighty, as well as older fare like Wait Until Dark, Hang 'em High and numerous Italian scores of the '60s and '70s. Anyway, in an effort to catch up a little, I'm covering three albums today.

Music & Lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman
Decca 475 934-8 (EU)
19 Tracks 66:14 mins

Once upon a time there was a typically kooky little John Walters film called Hairspray, which became a cult classic and later spawned a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical. Now that production has been adapted for the big screen with joyous results, at least musically (I fof course haven't seen the film yet).
The cast includes John Travolta in fat suit and drag, Michelle Pfeiffer (good to see her back), James Marsden, Queen Latifah and young stars Zac Efron, Amanda Bynes and newcomer Nikki Blonsky, taking the pivotal role first inhabited by talk show host Ricki Lake, who also makes an appearance in this film (at least she's credited with vocals in the final track, along with Marissa Jaret Winokur, who played the part on Broadway).
I've long been a fan of Marc Shaiman's film music, but he has also displayed a talent for songwriting in the past and is here responsible, with lyricist Scott Wittman, for the fabulous 50s/60s-styled numbers presented on this album and performed enthusiastically by the assembled cast. In fact it's a great listen from start to finish, filled with uplifiting showstoppers, happy love ballads, soulful numbers and out and out rockers.
The Hairspray album is out on 16th July in the UK and if you love uplifiting musical scores, and are a child of the 6os, you'll find great pleasure in this one.

Music by Miklos Rozsa
Intrada Excalibur Collection MAF 7100 (US)
21 Tracks 74:42 mins (US)

By complete contrast, and further celebrating the Miklos Rozsa centenary, Intrada's latest release in their Excalibur collection is the first complete recording of the composer's Oscar-winning score for the 1945 Gregory Peck/Ingrid Bergman thriller Spellbound, performed by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Allan Wilson.
Spellbound was the only collaboration between Rozsa and director Alfred Hitchcock, who didn't like the resulting score, despite its great acclaim, and of course went on to form a legendary partnership with Bernard Herrmann, until their sad falling out. In his score, Rozsa made use of the strange sound of the theremin, an early electronic instrument, named after its inventor, Russian scientist Professor Leon Theremin, its sound perfectly suggesting the paranoia of Peck's character. But, by contrast, he wrote a gorgeous love theme for the romantic encounters between Peck and Bergman. Both themes were later developed into the famous Spellbound Concerto, which remains popular to this day.
There have of course been recordings of the Concerto down the years, and excerpts from the score have also been released, the old Stanyan recording being the most complete. Here the complete score, including a bonus alternate end title, has been brought to disc for the first time, faithfully performed by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra, with theremin soloist Celia Sheen. It's a must-have recording, not only for the music, but for the 24-page accompanying booklet, which is filled with notes on the film and its score, a cue-by-cue guide, and introductions to the conductor, orchestra and soloist, with a final note from the composer's son Nick.
You can order your copy direct from Intrada, or from Screen Archives, where you can pick up a copy of the following at the same time, if you so choose.

A Man Called Adam
Music by Benny Carter
Retrograde FSM 80126-2 (US)
14 Tracks 45:53 mins

For its first release in almost ten years, FSM stablemate Retrograde has reissued the old Reprise Records LP soundtrack recording for the 1966 film A Man Called Adam, which starred Sammy Davis Jr. as a troubled jazz trumpet player. Davis can be heard on the two tracks on the album, which also features tracks by Louis Armstrong and Mel Torme, both of whom feature in the film. These vocal numbers are supplemented by a number of jazz instrumentals by jazz artist Benny Carter, with trumpet of course prominent, courtesy of Nat Adderley, who 'ghosted Davis' trumpet performances.
It's not an album for the film score enthusiast, but if you like classic American jazz, you'll find great pleasure in this recording, which has been remixed from the master tapes for excellent stereo sound.
Accompanying the disc is the usual quality booklet that always accompanies FSM's releases, featuring notes on the film and its music, as well as a guide to each track, and even the original LP liner notes and artwork.
Go to for sound samples and to order your copy.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

CD REVIEWS - La Tarantola dal Ventre Nero + May

La Tarantola dal Ventre Nero
Music by Ennio Morricone
Digitmovies CDDM085 (Italy)
15 Tracks 58:12 mins

Although selections from this 1971 Giallo thriller have been previously released on LP and CD, this is the most complete version yet, and was authorised by the composer himself.
The score is largely experimental and avant-garde, with many of the tracks virtually unlistenable, but there are a couple of melodies, the first light and sensuous with breathy vocals from the great Edda Dell'Orso, initially in English, but in its later incarnation seemingly nonsensical. The other, and possibly most attractive theme is heard three times and is an easy-goi9ng, somewhat melancholy theme for flugelhorn and Edda. These themes make for a very welcome break from all the tension and dissonance.
As always, the disc is accompanied by a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the film, together with introductory notes by Claudio Fuiano and Pierluigi Valentini.

Music by Jaye Barnes Luckett
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1056 (US)
32 Tracks 73:00 mins

This is a lengthy collection of selections from five scores written by a new name to me, Jaye Barnes Luckett, ranging from 2003 up until the present day. Her style is somewhat minimalistic, with most tracks presenting a repeating, often developed figure or groove, realised by a acoustic and electronic means, with much of the music performed by the composer. There are other musicians featured here and there and these are duly credited in the accompanying booklet, along with notes by filmmaker and collaborator Lucky McKee, and the composer herself. In addition to the often quite brief instrumental selections, there are also a few contemporary-styled songs.
The only score I have experienced to film was for the "Sick Girl" episode of Masters of Horror, which fit right in there with the rather trippy experience of the piece. The score for 2006's The Woods was apparently unused and so a few of the selections, featuring a capella performances by the Fallburn Academy Choir are listed as "sketch demos."
If you have an ear for contemporary, minimalist sounds then you might like to sample this limited edition release of 1000 units.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

CD REVIEW - The Sea Hawk/Deception

The Sea Hawk/Deception
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Naxos 8.570110-11 (EU)
Disc 1 - 78:00 mins Disc 2 - 66:48 mins

I can't tell you how wonderful it is to be able to review another great release from the Morgan/Stromberg team, who have in the past brought us many fine new recordings of classic film scores on the Marco Polo label. Now on the Naxos label, the quality of this release only makes me realise how much I've missed them.
Of course it helps that they have chosen to re-launch with my favourite Korngold score, 1940s The Sea Hawk, that great Errol Flynn swashbuckler.
There have of course been partial recordings released on various labels before, my favourite re-recordings being those by Charles Gerhard and co. on RCA, and there has even been a substantial release of the film's original tracks on a European label a few years back. This however is the first time the complete score, including the original theatrical trailer music, has been presented, in fine digital sound and in pretty faithful performances by the Moscow Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, conducted by William Stromberg.
Anyone who is a fan of golden age Hollywood music will of course be familiar with the score, so I won't go into great detail here. Suffice to say, from its energetic opening to its satisfying conclusion, taking in a gorgeous love theme, actually given voice by soprano Irina Romoshevskaya at one point, plenty of rousing action music, including a tour-de-force of a duel between Flynn and Rathbone, and some exotic sounds for the Panama scenes. But my favourite moment has always been when Flynn and his imprisoned crew escape the clutches of their Spanish captors, with choir bursting forth into a rousing song of freedom.
The Sea Hawk takes up all of disc one, plus 36 minutes of disc two, which is completed with the quite brief (for Korngold and the times) score for Deception, which clocks in at just over 30 minutes, including a performance of the Cello Concerto, which is heard in fragments throughout the film, and which draws upon music from previous Korngold scores for Elizabeth & Essex and Between Two Worlds. Cellist in this recording is Alexander Zagorinsky.
John Morgan has done his usual excellent job of reconstructing these scores, and his notes, along with those by Rudy Behlmer and Korngold authority Brendan G. Carroll, make for pretty exhaustive coverage of the two works presented.
This is definitely one for any self-respecting film music fan's collection.

Monday, July 02, 2007

CD REVIEW - Napoli Spara!

Napoli Spara!
Music by Francesco De Masi
Beat Records CDCR 83 (Italy)
21 Tracks 36:44 mins

This attractively packaged soundtrack from the 1977 crime thriller Napoli Spara! features music by Francesco De Masi, one of my favourite Italian composers, so I knew I would like it even before I gave the disc a spin.
The film starred Leonard Mann and that memorable villain of so many films of the '60s and '70s, Henry Silva; and was directed by Mario Caiano, who is interviewed as a bonus track on the disc, which can be accessed through your PC.
De Masi's score features a swinging jazz theme, whcih opens and closes the disc in fine style. A variation on this theme for menacing electric guitar also features in many of the more suspenseful and threatening moments in the score, sometimes followed by tense action.
Track two on the disc features a catchy vocal waltz by Peppino De Filippo, performed by an uncredited male singer. This is followed immediately with what will become the secondary theme of the movie, cropping up throughout the score, either (as first heard) as an easy-going harmonica and then guitar-lead affair, the former courtesy of the great Franco De Gemini; or as more uptempo or lush stringed versions. In whatever form, it is very catchy. Another highlight of the score is the trumpet-lead romance of "Elena."
The CD is accompanied by a colourful booklet, featuring numerous stills from the film, as well as original artwork, and the texts are in Italian and English, which include a synopsis of the plot, plus the composer's son Filippo's notes on the music.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

New scores from George S. Clinton & Murray Gold

I'm back, with a new PC and a stack of discs to catch up with, starting with a couple of promos of new scores worthy of your attention though, sadly, there is no news of a commercial release for either. Still, the films are quality productions, worth checking out in their own right, let alone for their excellent scores.

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee
Music by George S. Clinton

In May, HBO premiered their new film Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, based on Dee Brown's best seller of the same name. The film tells the events preceding the Sioux massacre of 1890 and stars Aidan Quinn and Anna Paquin, with music by Austin Powers composer George S. Clinton.
Clinton's music for the aforesaid spy spoofs was great fun, but here the composer is in most serious vein and spent time researching Native American music to weave it in and out of his orchestral/ choral score, calling upon master Lakota flutist John Two-Hawks to bring much of it to life. Clinton composed some two hours of music over a four-week period and, thanks to the composer's publicists I got to hear around 30 minutes of the score.
Of his approach Clinton says "I had the choir sing Lakota text at times to further integrate the Native American and the traditional orchestral elements of the score." The results are often proud, but poignant and increasingly tragic, as one would expect, with the final two cues on the CD a mix of mysticism and lamenting. Along the way there is a Native American dance, "Spotted Eagle Song,"by Darryl McDonald.
The score's "Main Title" starts out with Two-Hawks' flutes, before seguing to a powerful piece of action writing for orchestra and choir. More action can be found in the racing opening to "White Horse" much later on.
Clinton's main theme is introduced in the disc's third track "The Train - Civilized," a sweeping affair with piano and strings, becoming more subdued with subtle choir. The theme concludes the disc in "Cross and Feather."
Strangely at odds with the rest of the disc is a very catchy, Thomas Newmanesque piece "Assimilation." Could this be another case of "the curse of the temp score," I wonder?
Based on the thirty minutes on this promotional disc, this appears to be a worthy, serious work by a composer, largely known for much lighter fare. It is to be hoped we shall hear more of his serious side in the future.

Death at a Funeral
Music by Murray Gold

Opening on August 17th in the U.S. is Frank Oz's Death at a Funeral, winner of this year's U.S. Comedy Arts Festival. This story of a dysfunctional British family, starring Matthew MacFadyen, Rupert Graves, Ewen Brember and Peter Dinklage, features a score by Murrya Gold, currently riding high with his excellent music for the Doctor Who revival and its various spin-offs. The third series of the Doctor's adventures in time and space has just concluded on BBC television in the U.K. and again featured some wonderful music, which it is to be hoped might make it to disc, on a second volume of selections, following Silva Screen's successful first volume release.
Murray's music for this comedy is of course much different fare, but no less entertaining. It's a totally joyous affair, very continental in style, with bouncy Mediterranean sounds and even a Parisian-styled accordion waltz. The main theme opens the promo, again kindly supplied by the composer's publicists, Costa Communications, in a vocal rendition, by uncredited female singer. It's a breezy, guitar-based tune, which receives various instrumental treatments throughout the subsequent score, sometimes uptempo, at others more laid-back, with acoustic guitar or piano taking the lead. Besides this theme, there are plenty more similarly catchy pieces throughout, with also a strident, comic march and just a touch of poignancy here and there. Many of the tracks are very brief, and some end rather abruptly, which would perhaps make an album release difficult, but there is nearly 40 minutes of music on the disc and it all makes for a highly enjoyable listen.
If he's not careful, Murray Gold might well make a career for himself in the international market. Leave him be, you guys, the Doctor needs him!