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

Thursday, February 28, 2008


We Fight to be Free
Music by Trevor Jones
Contemporary Media Recordings CMR-2007-5
7 Tracks 20:47 mins

This latest release on the CMR label features Trevor Jones' symphonic score for the 24-minute documentary that introduces visitors to the tour of George Washington's Mount Vernon home. Basically, the film concentrates on a re-enactment of Washington's crossing of the Delaware.
Jones' score, performed by the London Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Geoffrey Alexander, with subtle support from Neil Stemp's synthesizers, alternates between dramatic cues, some grim and determined, others proud and noble, and lighter, period-sounding pieces for the more peaceful interludes, culminating in the lengthy, powerful "Frontier Battle" and the subsequent "Father of the Nation," which after Jones' own piano performance of Scarlatti's Sonata in B minor, brings the score to a suitably momentous finish, briefly referencing "The Water is Wide" along the way.
Order your copy from the Trevor Jones Online Shop at

Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Cinecocktail 4 - The Italian Horror Show
Music by Various Artists
Beat Records CDX 1005 (Italy)
CD - 22 Tracks 72:46 mins + Bonus DVD Documentary Approx. 60 mins

The fourth release in this excellent series concentrates on the scores written for the Italian horror movies of the '70s and '80s and presents music by many of the composers working in the genre at that time, including of course Ennio Morricone, whose pop-styled theme from The Link opens the disc. Other Morricone pieces include the drifting, part-vocal, part trumpet-lead "La Lucertola" and the choral "Veni Sancte Spiritus," which alternates between reverent female vocals and devilish male chanting, sometimes supplemented by childrens' choir. Another track, co-composed by Morricone and Bruno Nicolai, "La Luce II" from L'Anticristo, features dramatic church organ.
Nico Fidenco is represented by three pieces from Zombi Holocaust, the surprisingly easy-going choral main theme," the drum-lead dance of "Resurrection" and the action piece "Zombie Parade."
Two tracks from Lo Squartatore Di new York by Francesco De Masi are included, the bluesy, trumpet-lead "Fay" and the easy-going "New York...One More Day, which again features trumpet and jazz saxophone. Walter Rizzati also added his talents to this film in the form of the disco number "April Night," performed by Kriss Kream; and he has another track on the disc, the lovely, piano-lead "Tema Bambino."
Fabio Frizzi has a couple of tracks on the CD, his poppy mover "Baby Sequenza 2" and the lullaby-like "Suono Aperto," which appears to be based on "bye, baby bunting."
Other composers included are Simon Boswell, who of course began his film composing career in these movies, before spreading his wings; Piero Montanari, Carlo Maria Cordio, and Alessandro Blonksteiner. Their contributions range from foreboding electronics to beat-driven rock, including another (uncredited) vocal "The Sound of Fear."
As with Cinecocktail 3, another DVD is included, but will only be of interest to fans of the genre, as it presents the Paolo Fazzini documentary "Hanging Shadows," in which some of the leading movers and shakers like Dario Argento and Ruggero Deodato are interviewed. But be warned, there are some pretty gory scenes, so this one is definitely not one for the children. The film is of course in Italian, but English subtitles are available.
Visit for further details of all the label's releases.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Su Le Mani, Cadavere! Sei In Arresto
Music by Alessandroni Alessandroni
GDM Hillside Series GDM 4114
23 Tracks 57:12 mins

Don't be fooled, as I was, by the dramatic cover of this CD, or by the tense, suspenseful opening track. The score for this 1971 production, featuring Peter lee Lawrence, is a pretty lightweight affair; for once this track is out of the way, Alessandroni introduces his admittedly catchy main theme, initially as the vocal "Gray Skies, which was co-composed with G. De Mutiis, and voiced by Alessandroni's own I Cantori Moderni. A nice, easy, laid-back instrumental version follows, but thereafter, with a few exceptions, like the menacing "Bandidos,"the theme is done to death, often interrupting whatever dramatic moments there are, with the more electronic treatments being particularly irritating. It has its moments, principally when Alessandroni's whistle and the choir take part, but these are seldom sustained, and the out-and-out comic version presented in "Sando Kid Contro Tutti" is to be avoided at all cost.
It's really a shame about this score, because the theme isn't all that bad, it's just repeated far too often and not often shown in its best light.
Accompanying the disc is the usual colourful booklet, with stills, artwork and cast and crew credits. Visit

Monday, February 25, 2008


Been busy earning a crust today, so no time for reviewing, but I couldn't let the day pass without offering my congratulations to Dario Marianelli for his triumph at the Academy Awards. His Atonement score was a deserved winner, and it's not often I can say that when it comes to this event. A proper score won for once - hurrah!

Sunday, February 24, 2008


Il Suo Nome Gridava Vendetta
Music by Robby Poitevin
GDM Hillside Series GDM 4112
21 Tracks 51:17 Mins

Among the more well-known composers for the Italian Western genre of the '60s and early '70s, names like Ennio Morricone, Bruno Nicolai, Francesco De Masi, Carlo Rustichelli, Riz Ortolani and Carlo Savina, one name might have slipped your notice, that of Robby Poitevin, but although I know little of this composer, he wrote his share of genre scores and all of them (that I have thus far come across) have been of equal stature of works from many of his more famous contemporaries.
The latest releases in the GDM Hillside series are all westerns, and this Poitevin score is the pick of the bunch. To give the film its English-language title, A Name That cried Revenge, directed by Mario Caiano in 1968, and starring two staples of the genre, Anthony Steffen and William Berger, features a fine example of Italian Western music. All the ingredients are there, a flowing main theme, complete with I Cantori Moderni Di Alessandroni, which is versatile enough to appear in more leisurely arrangements, as well as the original uptempo form, throughout the subsequent score; a beautiful love theme for strings, a dramatic trumpet deguello, and the usual dissonant moments of suspense.
The disc runs a generous 51 minutes, is presented in fine stereo sound, and is accompanied by a colourful booklet, which features stills and artwork from the film, together with cast and crew credits.
My reviews of the other two new releases in the Hillside Series will appear shortly, but in the meantime, keep up with the best in retro Italian film music by visiting


For more detailed information, click on this URL:

Saturday, February 23, 2008


The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King - The Complete Recordings
Music by Howard Shore
Reprise 162044 - 2 (US)

Whilst the last instalment in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy was perhaps the weakest, with glaring plot holes and an interminable ending, it was still hugely entertaining. With his score, Howard Shore brought proceedings nicely to a close, with many of the themes established in the earlier films returning and even developing, like the Gondor theme, which reached heights only hinted at before.
Fans of the films and their music will probably have the first two "Complete Recordings" collections and if you haven't yet obtained this third set, you'd better grab one while you can, though a few more copies seem to be becoming available now, where once distribution was somewhat patchy. Like the first two, it's a pricey item - moreseo, because the sheer volume of music spans four discs this time (with the complete score, as customary, available on an extra DVD-Audio disc, so shop around, as I did. It would probably pay you to keep an eye on eBay or the Amazon Marketplace.
Packaged in a box set, disguised as a dog-eared volume of the book, as were the previous two releases, the usual detailed booklet by Doug Adams is also included in the package, which again begs the question are we ever going to see his mythical book on the music for the trilogy?

Friday, February 22, 2008


Thunder/Thunder 3
Music by Francesco De Masi
Beat Records CDCR 87 (Italy)
36 Tracks 78:12 mins

Cashing in on the success of the Rambo movies, a number of films began to appear, carrying the same theme of the war veteran pitted against the authorities and among these were the Thunder series, made by director Fabrizio De Angelis and starring Mark Gregory, who had first come to screen prominence with the Bronx trilogy.
Composer of the scores for the original Thunder (1983) and for Thunder 3 (1988) was Francesco De Masi, one of the best of the composers of music for the Italian Westerns in the '60s, and although set in the modern-day, De Masi applied many of the techniques used in that genre, composing a versatile main theme, first heard at the start of the 16 Thunder selections in a laid-back, county-pop arrangement for Franco De Gemini's harmonica. A suitably pseudo-Native American piece follows for "The Old Indian Man," before the main theme returns in bold, dramatic style for "Thunder Vengeance." The subsequent score features many great action and dramatic moments, combining the main theme, in a whole set of differing moods and variations, with Native American elements, but also incorporating a new sympathetic theme, again introduced by De Gemini's harmonica in "Thunder Escape." The Thunder programme is the same as the original LP release, but with the addition of two previously unreleased tracks, including another version of the exciting "Thunder Gymckana."
As the Rambo series progressed through the '80s, so composer Jerry Goldsmith added more electronics to the orchestra, as he did with many of his scores for that period, and when De Masi returned for Thunder 3, he followed suit, incorprating synthetic elements to his base orchestra. His great themes from the original film were still there, but given even more varied and interesting arrangements, whilst successfully capturing the more rhythmic, beat-driven style of the period, to provide yet another exciting score, which also features a charming love theme for "Thunder and Sheena," again voiced by Franco De Gemini's harmonica.
Accompanying the disc is a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the film, together with Filippo De Masi's notes on the films and his father's scores for them.
I have had both these fine scores in my collection for a long while now and it's great that Beat have resurrected them, presumably to tie in with the release of the new Rambo film, as they certainly deserve an audience. And despite the more modern feel to the music, if you are a collector of Italian Western scores, you won't be disappointed with this disc, as the music is very much along the same lines. Go to

From Costa Communications



Saturday, March 1st in Burbank, CA

WHAT: CD and book signing at leading macabre book store and memorabilia shop. Signings of “Dexter” CD, the 20th anniversary edition of “Hellbound Heart” novel and “The Hephaestus” novel.

WHO: Daniel Licht (composer) Dexter series and “Hellraiser: Bloodline”

Rolfe Kent (composer) theme for Dexter

Peter Atkins (screenwriter) virtually all “Hellraiser” films

Thomas Page (author) “The Hephaestus Plague”

WHEN: Saturday, March 1, 2008. Signing begins at 2:00 p.m.

WHERE: Dark Delicacies. (4213 W Burbank Blvd. Burbank, CA)

Phone: (818) 556-6660

WHY: The Milan CD release of the “Dexter” first season soundtrack; The Showtime series is now airing on CBS. The 20th Anniversary Edition of “The Hellbound Heart,” introduction written by Peter Atkins. The Irish reprint of Thomas Page’s “The Hephaestus Plague.”

OTHER INFORMATION: Composer Daniel Licht and writer Peter Atkins worked on “Hellraiser: Bloodline.”

Thursday, February 21, 2008


Una Magnum Special Per Tony Saitta
Music by Armando Trovaioli
Beat Records CDCR 78 (Italy)
12 Tracks 31:53 mins

This cop thriller from 1976 starred Stuart Whitman. No, not the yodelling slayer of Martians in Mars Attacks!, but the one-time '60s western TV star of Cimarron Strip.
The score was provided by Armando Trovaioli, who provided a flowing, funky theme for "Tony's Magnum," which reminds me somewhat of Dominic Frontiere's theme for the previous year's Hollywood offering Brannigan, incidentally starring Whitman's old Comancheros sparring partner John Wayne; as well as a nice, laid-back, trumpet-lead jazz theme for "Louise." The subsequent score is largely based on these two themes, and by the time the disc has run its course, you're pretty sure to be humming one or the other. If you are a fan of the distinctive '70s cop thriller sound, you'll love this.
Accompanying the disc is a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the film, together with notes in both Italian and English. Visit

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


The Film Music of Phillip Lambro
Perseverance PRD 021 (US)
25 Tracks 43:44 mins

Perseverance Records continues to champion the work of Phillip Lambro with the enterprising label's latest release of music written for the composer's first Hollywood outing, 1964's Git!, plus three documentaries from the early '70s.
The disc opens with 1971's Mineral King, a film which addressed the environmental damage that would be done should the Walt Disney Company, in cooperation with the US Forest Service, open a ski resort in California's beautiful Mineral King Valley. With a little over 12 musicians, Lambro paints "a sonic tribute to the glory of nature," opening the score with mournful trumpet, courtesy of LA Philharmonic trumpeter Thomas Stevens. The "down-home" and "old-time" elements of the score feature Geroge Fields' harmonica and a slightly out-of-tune banjo, played by Joe Pass. A strange interlude is the Nymanesque "Vanishing Wilderness," a quirky, march-like piece, representing the folly of man's destruction of the natural landscape. "The Wilderness Death Knell" ends the score on a doom-laden note. The score won for Lambro the National Board of Review's best music for a documentary film award.
Father Pat (1970) was a Catholic Family Theater production, that recounted the life of Father Patrick Peyton, a famous Catholic priest, known for his global ministry to families and for coining the slogan "the family that prays together, stays together." Though a devout Raelian atheist himself, Lambro nevertheless rose to the occasion, utilising a 60-piece orchestra to compose a suitably reverent, strings and brass-dominated score, with meaningful woodwind passages, and a charming Irish sounding melody in "The Lean years-Arrival in Scranton."
The final documentary represented on this disc is 1971's Celebration, a propoganda film for the United States Information Agency for overseas consumption, which set out to show the widely varied forms of celebration enjoyed by US citizens. The scope of the film allowed Lambro to compose in a variety of styles, encompassing Native American music and lively Italian accordion music. However, his main theme is quite modernistic in its use of tubular bells.
So, to the final score in this collection, written for Git!, a modern western about a runaway boy, a renegade hound and a widowed dog breeder's daughter. The film is by all accounts best forgotten, but the composer took his first assignment seriously enough to produce a fine score, which features the plaintive sound of Brazilian guitarist Laurindo Almeida on the main theme, as well as some aggressive action cues, typically high, wide and handsome scene-setting and the odd pizzicato comedy moment.
Accompanying the CD is an 12-page booklet, featuring portraits of the composer and Randall D. Larson's guide to the films and their music.
On the evidence of this collection and also of his truly frightening score for 1973's Crypt of the Living dead, also released by Perseverance, I find it rather sad that Phillip Lambro didn't become an established composer for the screen and can only imagine what gems he might have gone on to write.

Monday, February 18, 2008


From Top Dollar PR



ASSASSIN'S CREED Wins "Best Original Musical Score In a Video Game"
at Canadian Awards for the Electronic and the Animated Arts

Los Angeles Feburary 18th, 2008 – Jesper Kyd's original score for ASSASSIN'S CREED (Ubisoft) was awarded "Best Original Musical Score in a Video Game" at the 2nd Annual Elan Awards, the Canadian Awards for the Electronic and the Animated Arts. The awards show was hosted by Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy," "American Dad") at the Centre in Vancouver for the Performing Arts on February 15th.

This prestigious industry award follows a series of nominations for Jesper Kyd's ASSASSIN'S CREED score including "Best Original Music" in the GameSpot 2007 Special Achievement Awards and three nominations by the Game Audio Network Guild; "Music of the Year," "Best Original Vocal - Choral" (City of Jerusalem) and "Best Original Vocal - Pop" (Jerusalem Horse Ride). All G.A.N.G. awards nominees and winners are decided by the music and audio professionals of the video games industry. The winners will be announced on February 21st, 2008 at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

For more information on Jesper Kyd please

Saturday, February 16, 2008







“American Gangster” DVD and Varese Sarabande Score CD Release Feb. 19th

(Hollywood, CA) German-born film composer Marc Streitenfeld’s score to director Ridley Scott’s “American Gangster” will be released on Feb. 19 by Varese Sarabande. The DVD will be released simultaneously by Universal. The “American Gangster” score marks Streitenfeld’s seventh consecutive music collaboration and second film score with Scott. Recently Streitenfeld traveled to Morocco to collaborate on Ridley Scott’s post-9-11 spy thriller “Body of Lies.” “American Gangster” was the #1 drama in the theatres and received critical acclaim. Streitenfeld received a BAFTA nomination for his work on this film. A soundtrack album was previously released by Island Def Jam which contained a sample of the score.

Set in the Seventies, the crime drama follows a detective (Russell Crowe) who works to bring down the drug empire of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a Harlem kingpin who smuggles heroin into the country by hiding it in the coffins of American soldiers returning from the Vietnam War.

The dark subject matter required a score that could support the tension and add impact to the intense drama. Streitenfeld's approach was to utilize an 80-piece orchestra as well as numerous acoustic pre-records, mostly performed by Streitenfeld himself. "The orchestra is only one element of many," explained the composer at a scoring session at the Sony Scoring Stage in Culver City, CA.

Born in Munich, Germany, Streitenfeld relocated to Los Angeles at the age of 19, first working for composer Hans Zimmer as his assistant, then as a freelance music editor and music supervisor on high profile features. Streitenfeld was nominated for a Golden Reel Award for his work on Ridley Scott’s “Kingdom of Heaven.” It was Streitenfeld’s long creative relationship with Scott that led the award-winning film maker to offer the composer his first feature score “A Good Year.” Prior to his work as a composer, Streitenfeld had collaborated with Scott as music supervisor and music editor on several projects, including “Matchstick Men,” “Black Hawk Down” and “Gladiator."

Friday, February 15, 2008


Christopher Young is a master when it comes to scoring thrillers and horror movies, so presumably it wasn't a stretch for him to come up with the music for Gregory Hoblit's new thriller, Untraceable, which opened in the States on January 25th and sees Diane Lane star as an FBI cyber cop, trying to track down an internet predator, who actually does the killing live online.
Young's title theme flows quite nicely, carried principally by piano, and the theme recurrs throughout the score, presumably signifying Lane's character and her investigations, but much of the music is dark and menacing, as one would expect, a mix of high tension and suspense, including truly eerie string writing, and out and out thrills. A more developed version of the main theme provides a satisfying conclusion.
Working, as I am, from a promotional copy of the score, kindly furnished by Costa Communications, I have no word as yet as to whether a commercial release is planned.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


INVASION U.S.A. (1000 edition) and THE BLUE AND THE GRAY (2000 edition) limiteds from Intrada!

For more detailed information, click on this URL:

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


Cassandra's Dream
Music by Philip Glass
Orange Mountain Music 0038 (US)
12 Tracks 31:02 mins

For many years, Woody Allen was content to make films in his beloved New York. Now, after Match Point, Britain seems to be his choice of venue. His latest, like Match Point, another crime thriller, stars Ewan McGregor and Colin Farrell as two brothers pitted against each other.
In the past, Allen has also largely populated his films with source music, jazz classics and such, calling on the likes of Dick Hyman for any help in stringing it all together. Here, he has broken with tradition by emplying Philip Glass, who has come up with a fairly brief, but quite intense and dramatic score, recorded in New York, under the baton of Glass' regular conductor Michael Riesman.
Whilst recognisably Glass' music, there is a slight Herrmannesque feel to it - particularly with regards to Vertigo - strings, piano, brass and woodwind driven, with much intensity and few light moments. The opening title theme is by turns dramatic and more leisurely, with subsequent early cues being quite brief. The score really gets going and takes a very dark turn in "Howard's Request/In the Apt." continuing dramatically with the lengthy "The Pursuit & Murder in the Park," adding tension with the subsequent "Suspicion," before "The Plot Unravels" to punchy brass.
"Death on the Boat" starts off as powerful and dramatic as one can imagine, but then takes a more leisurely turn to close, with the title theme returning in the "Finale," to bring a satisfying end to proceedings.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Classic FM Movies
Various Composers
UCJ Classic FM 4800680 (EU)
Disc 1 - 12 Tracks 54:35 mins
Disc 2 - 13 Tracks 50:39 mins
Disc 3 - 12 Tracks 42:39 mins

This third compilation of film themes from Classic FM, following their Classic FM At The Movies and Classic FM At The Movies - The Sequel in 2006 and 2007 respectively, brings together largely faithful, well-performed versions of film themes old and new, from early fare like Walton's Henry V, Shostakovich's The Gadfly, the Warsaw Concerto from Dangerous Moonlight and Steiner's Gone With The Wind, to modern offerings likes Shore's Lord of the Rings, Warbeck's Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Badelt & co.'s Pirates of the Caribbean, Williams' Harry Potter, Hess' Ladies in Lavender and Marianelli's Pride and Prejudice, passing through classics like Moross' The Big Country, Bernstein's The Great Escape, Williams' E.T., Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Superman and Star Wars, Vangelis' Chariots of Fire and the James Bond Theme.
There are a few original versions scattered here and there, but it is mostly a collection of cover versions from the likes of the Royal Philharmonic, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, City of Prague Philharmonic and Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.
A bonus track on each disc feature performances of music from Braveheart by Myleene Klass, The Godfather by Jonathan Ansell and The Merchant of Venice by Hayley Westenra.
A nice compilation for the film fan, with a passing interest in the music, but die-hard soundtrack collectors will already have all the originals.

Music by Various Artists
Decca 4780441 (EU)
14 Tracks 57:29 mins

This latest Will Ferrell comedy sees him play a '70s one-hit wonder, who uses the profits from his "Love Me Sexy," (which incidentally opens the album) to buy a basketball team, which is in danger of folding and attempts to lead it to winning ways.
The soundtrack album disappointingly neglects Theodore Shapiro's underscore in favour of groovin' hits from the period and otherwise by the likes of Ronnie Laws, Chairman of the Board, War, Sly and the Family Stone and Curtis Mayfield. It's an undeniably cool and funky listening experience, but not for the likes of us film score fans.
The film reaches UK screens on 29th February, with the album being released on the 25th.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Congratulations go to Christopher Gunning, who triumphed at last night's Orange BAFTA Awards for his score to the surprising hit of the evening, La Vie En Rose.

And while we're at it... Michael Giacchino took home the Grammy for Best Score Album at the other big awards ceremony, winning for his music to Ratatouille.

I'm actually pleased with both results - for once!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


The Great Debaters
Music by James Newton Howard & Peter Golub
Varese Sarabande VSD-6869 (EU)
24 Tracks 57:03 mins

The busy James Newton Howard this time collaborates with Peter Golub, largely known for his theatre, ballet and concert music, on the score to this Denzel Washington/Forest Whitaker starrer, which is based on the true story of a college professor, who, in 1935, founds and inspires a debating team that go on to challenge mighty Harvard in the national championships; coming up with an Americana-styled accompaniment, featuring piano and orchestra, with acoustic guitar contributing, helping to provide regional colouring to this Texas-set tale.
The score has quite a few pleasant, upbeat and inspirational moments, with some typically noble horn playing, but there are quieter, more poignant passages, allowing woodwinds and piano to shine, as well as darker, more dramatic cues, like the doom-laden plodding of "Give Me The Check," the building menace of "Tolson Arrested" and "Lynching," and the powerful "Union Meeting." The debates themselves tend to start out tense and expectant, but end triumphantly when appropriate. "And The Winner Is...," as one would expect, brings proceedings to a satisfying close.

John Frizzell Scores Henry Poole Is Here

You may remember I recently ran a press release from Costa Communications on this John Frizzell score for the Sundance Film Festival premiere of Henry Poole Is Here, which stars Luke Wilson as a dying man, determined to spend his remaining days in seclusion, but who instead goes through a miracle transformation. Frizzell's score reflects this, utilising delicate piano and strings, along with subtle electronics and less conventional instruments like erhu and duduk, to add a suitably mystical quality at times, as well as underlying the sadder and more optimistic moments in the score. Working from a 21-minute promotional recording, kindly furnished by Costa Communications, I know not whether the score is longer; nor do I know as yet if a commercial recording will be made available. MGM releases the film on April 4th.

Friday, February 08, 2008


The Tudors
Music by Trevor Morris
Varese Sarabande VSD 6867 (EU)
25 Tracks 46:31 mins

I quite enjoyed the recent interpretation, brought to us by the BBC, of the early years of Henry VIII's reign, even if it maybe played a little fast and loose at times. Jonathan Rhys Meyers made a charismatic Henry and was well supported by the likes of Natalie Dormer, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Jeremy Northam and Sam Neill.
The music for the series was provided by Canadian-born Trevor Morris, mostly known for his work with Hans Zimmer and associates, and for a number of recent game scores. The style of his Tudors music, rather like the tone of the series, is largely conventional, though his catchy "Main Title Theme" does develop something of a rock beat. His subsequent score is suitably dramatic when it has to be, like "Jousting, "Buckingham Plots For Murder" and "The Sweating Sickness Arrives," and more delicate and even dreamy for the romantic moments, as in "Henry Meets Anne Boleyn and "The Passion of King Henry," whilst the religious conflicts at the heart of the story elicit suitable liturgical choral sounds, as in "Pathetic Fallacy." "An Historical Love" is one of my favourite tracks, moving to Celtic-styled violin and drums, and being very similar to a theme from Trevor Jones and Randy Edelman's Last of the Mohicans. It is further reprised and developed in the concluding "Wolsey Commits Suicide/Finale," bringing the disc to a satisfying close.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

CD REVIEW - THE BLOB (and other creepy sounds)

The Blob (and other creepy sounds)
Music by Ralph Carmichael and others
Monstrous Movie Music MMM-1955 (US)
57 Tracks 75:49 mins

The other recent release from Monstrous Movie Music is again an archival presentation of Ralph Carmichael's complete score for the 1958 cult sci-fi movie The Blob, most notable for introducing audiences to the then 27-year-old Steve McQueen as a leading man. The monster that was the Blob is less memorable and in fact quite laughable by today's standards, but maybe, although the film was presented in a serious nature, executives already considered it laughable then, as they replaced Carnichael's powerful Main Title, which is suitably violent, as it's "Violence" label suggests, with a catchy and comical little song by Burt Bacharach and Mack David, giving quite a misleading introductory message to those viewing the film. The song, as well as Carmichael's original composition, is included here.
What follows is certainly played straight by the composer, with much suspense and mystery, leading to violent and dramatic passages as the Blob devours everything in its path. There is little time for romance, though a tender love theme does make brief appearances.
Carmichael, whose best known screen work is probably composing and arranging for the popular I Love Lucy, is largely remembered for his work in the field of Christian Music, serving as music director for many Billy Graham films and also writing some of the earliest Christian youth musicals, but he also worked with many popular artists through the years, including Nat King Cole, Count Basie, Bing Crosby, Duke Ellington, Pat Boone and Ella Fitzgerald.
The score for The Blob accounts for some 36 minutes (including four bonus tracks) of the disc's 75-minute playing time, the remainder being taken up by cues written for the Valentino Production Music Library and then licensed, during the '50s and '60s, for use in all kinds of American productions; but, to compliment The Blob, this compilation, concentrates on music used in sci-fi/fantasy productions, from TV's Adventures of Superman to films like The Green Slime, Terror from the Year 5000 and The Brain That Wouldn't Die.
Composers represented include Roger Roger (perhaps best known for his light music), and famed Italian maestros Angelo Francesco Lavagnino and Mario Nacimbene. There's plenty of interesting stuff on display here, with suitably tense and occasionally otherwordly music, admirably suited to such productions though, for me, there is one standout track, that being Nascimbene's grand orchestral "Gateway to Glory." The programme ends on a light note with Lavagnino's bouncy "Holiday Excursion.
Another splendid foldout booklet accompanies the disc, featuring extensive notes and the usual cue-by-cue guide. Go to for further info, samples and to order your copy.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008


The Mist
Music by Mark Isham
Varese Sarabande VSD 6873
8 Tracks 32:06 mins

This latest adaptation of a Stephen King story sounds a little like The Fog in concept. It has been scored by ever-busy composer Mark Isham and features suitably mysterious and suspenseful moments, giving way to violent, percussive/electronic action. Performance of the music is credited to The Sodden Dog Electronic Arts Society, suggesting it is all achieved through synths and samples.
It is a brief score at a little over 20 minutes, plus the Perry/Gerrard composition "The Host of Seraphim," performed by Dead Can Dance, with additional material by Isham, which presumably must have been used in the film. As a filler, and quite out of character with what has gone before, is "The Vicious Blues," from Isham's score to Mrs. Parker and The Vicious Circle.


Music by Franco Micalizzi
Beat Records CDCR 81 (Italy)
13 Tracks 31:54 mins

This 1984 action comedy vehicle for the popular Terence Hill and Bud Spencer features a score by Franco Micalizzi, whose music is at last getting the overdue attention it deserves, with numerous recent CD releases, this being the latest.
The film finds Hill and Spencer as two lookalikes for wealthy Brazilian cousins under threat of death. Action and comedy of course ensue.
Micalizzi's score is of course reflective of the film's setting, the album commencing in fine samba style with the catchy song "What's Going On In Brazil," featuring lyrics by Albert Douglas Meakin. "The Mysterious Man," another, more suspenseful, variation of which appears later on the album, follows on in the same rhythmic style, giving way to the synthesized caliope waltz stylings of "Flying Carousel." This is followed by a bossanova instrumental version of the opening song, labeled the "Double Trouble Theme," which is also given jazz band and samba-styled instrumental treatments later in the disc. A kind of variation on the theme can also be heard in the easy source-like "Mississipi Dream," with its clarinet lead.
A change of pace and style arrives with the easy listening pop stylings, complete with subtle contributions from a wordless vocal group, of "A Guy With It's Pretty Girls." "Hear It Tonight" is a disco dance number, very much of its time, and again the vocal group subtly feature.
The album concludes with a sax-lead samba version of the "Double Trouble Theme."
Accompanying this tuneful and enjoyable disc is a colourful 8-page booklet, featuring stills and poster artwork from the film, together with notes (including a comment from the composer) in both Italian and English. Go to for information on all the label's fine releases.

Monday, February 04, 2008

CD REVIEW - THE INTRUDER (and other music by Herman Stein)

The Intruder (and other music by Herman Stein)
Monstrous Movie Music MMM-1956 (US)
45 Tracks 52:09 mins

The Monstrous Movie Music label has long been renowned for its fine re-recordings of music from the fantasy/horror genre of the '40s, '50s and '60s. Now, it has released its first two archival recordings, The Blob (and other creepy sounds) and The Intruder (and other music by Herman Stein). I'll be reviewing the former shortly but, in the meantime, I'm concentrating on the Herman Stein compilation, which features the complete score for 1961's The Intruder, starring a young William Shatner in a tale of rascism in a small town. Composed for an unusual orchestral combination, which omits violins and has high notes played by violas, trumpets and woodwinds, the kind of set-up Bernard Herrmann might have chosen, Stein's score, rather than echo that great composer, actually reminds me more of Mikos Rozsa in its dramatic moments, with a touch of the Star Trek original series music thrown in. Within the 28-minute score, is included three source jazz pieces, played by a small combo, including the likes of Benny Carter and Buddy Collette, with some of this jazz influence trickling into the score to give it a Rebel Without a Cause feel.
Also on this disc is Stein's complete score (of just under 7 minutes) for the 1951 industrial short Career for Two, a much lighter, breezy and whimsical score, which shows a completely different side to the composer.
Rounding out the CD are a few "miscellaneous pieces" including a new premiere recording, featuring pianist Brian Farrell, of Suite for Mario, written in 1949, whilst the composer was studying with Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco; as well as some unused score tracks, written in the '50s, and the Pumpernickel Polka, heard in 1954's Magnificent Obsession, which was of course otherwise scored by Frank Skinner.
As with all the label's releases, the illustrated accompanying foldout booklet is crammed with information on the films and their composer, together with an invaluable cue-by-cue guide. For further details, to listen to samples, and to ultimately order your copy, visit

Friday, February 01, 2008


Charlie Wilson's War
Music by James Newton Howard
Varese Sarabande VSD 6870 (EU)
10 Tracks 33:18 mins

A whole slew of James Newton Howard scores seems to be hitting the screens at the moment, which suggests he has been a very busy man these past months.
On UK screens currently is the Tom Hanks starrer Charlie Wilson's War, where he portrays a US senator who involves himself in the rebels' fight against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Howard's score on CD opens with the "Charlie Wilson" theme which, after an ethnic opening, becomes a lovely, noble Americana theme, first played on guitars, suggestive of the character's Texas roots, then on trumpet, before being taken up by full orchestra. The theme makes a couple of welcome returns throughout the score, concluding the album in fine style, after a rousing ethnic interlude.
In the score that follows, Howard duly tips his hat to the Texas settings with much use of twanging guitars and pedal steel, whilst the Afghanistan settings receive the obligatory ethnic stylings, with some mournful sounds for the opressed, plus more upbeat, percussive passages for their resistance, complete with ethnic vocals. The lengthy "Turning the Tide" is somewhat out of character, but interesting, with a classical-styled choral hymn bursting forth from ethnic rhythms - quite fascinating.
The other upcoming Howard score review I have for you, The Great Debaters, was co-composed with Peter Golub, which is not surprising perhaps, in view of the composer's recent workload.

The Bucket List
Music by Marc Shaiman
Varese Sarabande VSD 6877 (EU)
23 Tracks 50:08 mins

This Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman starrer, sees them play two dying men, who determine to work their way through a list of things to do before they die.
The film just cries out for a score from Marc Shaiman and, thankfully, it gets one, with a versatile main theme, at times poignant and heartfelt, at others lilting, with the composer on piano and Chris Botti adding bluesy trumpet to the mix. "Homecomings" offers a soft jazz variation as well. The theme dominates much of the score, though "Did You Hear It?" offers a more intimate interlude. "The Mountain" provides a suitably emotional ending to the score, which is continued in the subsequent "End Credits."
If, like me, you love film music that's melodic and moves you, you won't want to miss this latest effort from one of the masters of this art.
As it is only a short score of less than 25 minutes, the album rather uniquely offers Shaiman's piano interpretations of some of his best-remembered film scores, such as City Slickers, Simon Birch, The Addams Family and North. He also gives a spirited vocal performance of "Blame Canada" from the South Park movie and The Clurman Singers give a fine interpretation of "A Seed of Grain," the theme from The American President. A nice little present for Shaiman's fans. And, by the way, have you been over to YouTube yet? His "Yes" number from Finding Kraftland is hugely entertaining and not to be missed by anyone interested, and especially connected, with the business of film scoring.


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