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

Monday, March 31, 2008


Solamente Nero
Music by Stelvio Cipriani, performed by Goblin
Digitmovies CDDM099 (Italy)
35 Tracks 41:42 mins

Due to contractual reasons, director Antonio Bido could not get his first choice, the group Goblin, to score this 1978 thriller. However, although the score was eventually composed by Stelvio Cipriani, it is Goblin who actually perform the music. I can't say as I've ever previously heard a Goblin score throughout, but imagine this is pretty much what they sound like, a mixture of rock and electronica, with moments of grating experamentalism - not to my taste at all, but mercifully many of the more experimental tracks are quite brief. Cipriani is however a melodic composer and sets out his themes, as one would expect, bringing the occasional respite with "La Dolce Sandra,"a nice melody, heard in a number of differing arrangements; and the source cues, the piano solo "Il Giovane Professore" and the brief accordion of "L'Ospite di Campagna." And do stay until the end, as "La Fattucchiera" offers some dramatic and increasingly unhinged string writing, with "Gli Inganni" bringing things to a pacy and quite exciting close, with strings again to the fore.
As always, the colourful booklet accompanying the disc features stills and artwork from the film, together with a brief introduction by Pierluigi Valentini & Claudio Fuiano, with the director also giving an account of how the unusual musical collaboration on his film was forged. Visit

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Music by Christopher Young
Lakeshore Records Promo (US)
17 Tracks 53:01 mins

The new drama Sleepwalking stars Charlize Theron, whom I believe also had a hand in the production of the picture. The film opened in the States on March 14th, having premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival.
The soundtrack album, featuring Christopher Young's score, plus an opening song, has been released by Lakeshore Records and Costa Communications were kind enough to send me a promotional copy. The first score track on the album is the brooding title track, which is followed by the more optimistic piano, guitars and strings of "Heavens to be Had." The same combination continue the mood in "The Water Waltz," before things turn introspective with "Twisted Hearts, Broken Souls," featuring sad, spare piano. The mood continues somewhat over the next few tracks, before a little urgency is injected in "Three Angels Underground," but it doesn't last long and we're back to the gloom again in the following tracks.
"Ferris Wheel" sees a welcome reprise of the waltz, before sad piano returns in "Sparkle Road." Guitars move things along catchily in "She's a Dead Diamond Dancer," before "Mad Bad Dad,"injects an air of menace. "Shine On" brings matters to a quite sunny and satisfying close, with a development of the "Heavens to be Had" material.
Often typecast in the horror/thriller genre, it's always good to see Young break the chains and score something totally different, as is the case here.

Saturday, March 29, 2008


High Tide
Music by Alan Williams
Silverscreen (USA)
27 Tracks 66:07 mins

Here's another release from composer Alan Williams, this time of selections composed in 1996/7 for the TV series High Tide, which concerned a couple of surfer brothers, who had all kinds of adventures pursuing the cash to maintain their lifestyle.
The music featured on the album is split into two sections, with the more dramatic scoring, found in later episodes, contrasting with the electric guitar flavoured approach for earlier episodes. The first ten tracks are pretty much what one has come to expect from many contemporary shows, with quite a propulsive, percussive, feel to the action writing and suspenseful interludes; with synths and keyboards often taking the lead where melody is required for breezier and more emotional moments. This music accounts for the first ten tracks, with a further 16 representing the original guitar-dominated, often rhythmic and percussive approach, with Nick Nolan the featured player.
Both kinds of scoring have their plus points, but I cannot recall the show ever making it to terrestrial TV in the UK, so it's impossible for me to compare their effectiveness. What however the music does display is the versatility of its composer.
For further details of this and other Silverscreen releases, go to

North and South
Music by Bill Conti
Varese Sarabande VCL 0208 1072
Four Discs of over 260 minutes of music

Just time for a quick mention for one of Varese Sarabande's latest limited edition club releases. North and South was a 1985 mini-series, starring a then virtually unknown Patrick Swayze, James Read and Lesley-Ann Down. A number of big-name actors, like David Carradine, Hal Holbrook, Gene Kelly, Robert Mitchum, Jean Simmons and Elizabeth Taylor gave splendid support in this tale of two families caught up in the approaching American Civil War.
Bill Conti, at the height of his powers, and having not long received the Oscar for The Right Stuff, was given a punishing three weeks to write the score, but somehow came up with this monumental work and yet another great theme to add to his repertoire, equally compelling played sweepingly at the opening of each episode, or more propulsively at the end. But of course there is much more to the score than this theme, welcome though its is when reprised in variations throughout. All I know is that I loved the series and have wanted the score ever since. Now, what with this, and the Intrada release of The Blue and The Gray, I am highly delighted.
One slight complaint however is that the fourth disc is wasted on "music of the era," which is not what we, as film score fans, can really use. Better perhaps would have been to feature some of Conti's score for North and South Book II, but this is a minor quibble and, who knows, we may yet get to hear that score too at some point.
It's amazing the number of scores from my "wish list" that have appeared in recent times. In these days of sound-alike scores, many of which could use a good theme, it's often these gems from the past that keep my interest going.
I would recommend the always helpful if you're looking to pick up a copy of this splendid set, which also comes with a colourful, informative booklet.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Gattin in un Labirinto di Vetro
Music by Bruno Nicolai
Digitmovies CDDM097 (Italy)
32 Tracks 59:20 mins

For this gruesome 1974 Giallo, concerning a killer who leaves his victims with their eye torn out, Bruno Nicolai provided a score very much in the style employed by himself and his contemporaries for other genre films of this period, providing an easy listening pop-styled main theme, which is reprised several times in varying arrangements, some suspenseful. Oscar Valdambrini's flugelhorn features on another recurring theme "Barlington," providing some romantic elegance to proceedings. A somewhat mysterious promenade, first heard in "Prodromi" also appears a number of times, and there are even a couple of Flamenco tracks to denote the film's Barcelona setting.
All this melodic music might seem at odds with the film's subject, but the score also has its fair share of drama, mystery and suspense, with the kind of dissonances one would normally expect.
Nicolai's music was previously issued as one half of a CD in 199. Here, the full score is presented, with a further 21 tracks added.
Accompanying the disc is the usual colourful booklet, with stills and artwork from the film, together with introductory notes by Claudio Fuiano and Pierluigi Valentini. Visit www.

Blue Jeans
Music by Nico Fidenco
Digitmovies CDDM0104 (Italy)
18 Tracks 60:15 mins

The premiere release of Nico Fidenco's score for this 1975 mix of erotica and drama, starring the ever sexy Gloria Guida, commences with the title song, performed by the group Cyan, who also feature in "A Final Step," reprising "Blue Jeans" for the finale. In between, Fidenco presents a number of pleasant instrumental variations on the title song, some more romantic, others breezy and upbeat, featuring strings, with the likes of flute, harpsichord, harmonica and guitar taking the lead; whilst "A Final Step" also gets a couple of less interesting instrumental treatments.
A nice, pop-flavoured score, that makes for pretty undemanding listening, which is accompanied by the usual colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the film, together with Claudio Fuiano and Pierluigi Valentini's introductory notes.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Had hoped to bring you another review today, but have just got back from scrubbing and oiling the church hall floor and am well and truly knackered! So, in the meantime, here's at least news of a couple of new CD releases, courtesy of our good friends at Screen Archives Entertainment:-



For more detailed information, click on this URL:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Miss Lettie and Me
Music by Alan Williams
Silverscreen Music SMCD 023 (US)
24 Tracks 38:24 mins

Composer Alan Williams kindly sent me some recent releases on his Silverscreen Music label, including his very latest Miss Lettie and Me, a family drama from 2002, starring the formidable pairing of Mary Tyler Moore and Burt Reynolds. I've yet to see this screened on terrestrial TV in the UK and hope I'll have the opportunity soon, as not only are the star pairing an attraction, but I also happen to love Alan's score, which is filled with optimism and lovely homespun melodies, together with an element of poignancy, all delightfully performed by just three musicians, Tim May on guitars and mandolin; Joe Stone on flute, oboe and clarinet; and Alan Steinberger on piano.
If you like the kind of down home Americana scoring featured in the likes of The Waltons and other more contemporary rural family dramas, it's safe to say you'll enjoy this fine album.
Go to the composer's excellent website at to order your copy and to browse his catalogue. Reviews of his many fine scores are there to guide you, and there are other interesting features, like video clips and interviews.





“Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay”

In Theatres April 25

Soundtrack on Lakeshore Records

(Hollywood, CA) Award-winning composer George S. Clinton scores New Line’s “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay.” The sequel to “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle,” follows the cross-country adventures of the pot-smoking duo as they try to outrun authorities who suspect them of being terrorists. Joe Levdon from Variety said, “"Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay" is one of the ballsiest comedies to come out of Hollywood in a long time. No kidding.” “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” opens in theatres on April 25. The soundtrack will be available on Lakeshore Records.

Clinton’s method of writing for comedy is to not write the music literally. The composer explains, “In comedy, I write the music like a straight man, and let the characters make the film funny.” Clinton integrated a full orchestra as well as ensemble players into the score. He added, “In certain moments, the film may feature lighthearted but not ‘cartoony’ elements.” Clinton also incorporated middle-eastern elements into this score.

Currently, Clinton has reunited with Mike Myers, with whom he worked all the Austin Powers films, for Paramount’s comedy “The Love Guru” co-written by and starring Myers. Myers plays Guru Pitka, a Deepak Chopra wannabe who is given the task of helping the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team get their star player back on track before the Stanley Cup play-offs. “The Love Guru” opens in theatres on June 20. For this film the composer’s score ranges from classic orchestral to "Bollywood" tablas and sitars.

Clinton's musical innovation and versatility has allowed him to create memorable scores for various genres. Last year, Clinton received an Emmy nomination for Best Original Score to HBO Films’ “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.” His score varied from Americana to incorporating Native American elements. He also enlisted World-renowned Native American flutist John Two-Hawks to play on the score. Clinton’s other credits range from such diverse films as the romantic Zalman King's "Red Shoe Diaries," the martial arts fantasy "Mortal Kombat,” the suspense "The Astronaut's Wife," and the sexy thriller "Wild Things." Other projects include John Waters' "A Dirty Shame" and "3000 Miles to Graceland."

In addition to his film projects, Clinton has written several concert works, three musicals, and songs recorded by such artists as Michael Jackson, Joe Cocker, Smokey Robinson and Johnny Mathis. Last year, George S. Clinton received BMI’s highest honor bestowed on a composer, The Richard Kirk Award for Career Achievement. He joins the company of legendary recipients which include John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith and Danny Elfman. George S. Clinton believes in imparting his knowledge on a new generation of filmmakers. For the last ten years, he has volunteered his time and experience to filmmakers and composers at the Sundance Institute in Park City, Utah.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


From Top Dollar PR



Original Music by Final Fantasy Composer Nobuo Uematsu

New York March 25th, 2008 – Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc., through its licensing relationship with Mistwalker proudly presents Blue Dragon Original Soundtrack. The 2 disc soundtrack album is now available at US retail outlets through Nile Rodgers’ Sumthing Else Music Works label and digital download service and will also be released on iTunes.

Blue Dragon is created exclusively for the Xbox 360 by famed game producer Hironobu Sakaguchi of Mistwalker game studio. Featuring the character design of Akira Toriyama, who designed Dragon Ball Z, and music by Nobuo Uematsu, the composer for Final Fantasy, Blue Dragon is an epic role-playing game (RPG) centered on a young boy named Shu and several of his friends. These unlikely heroes possess the power to control phantom shadows that mirror the actions of their masters, giving Shu and his comrades miraculous strength and magical powers.

Taking full advantage of the power of Xbox 360, Blue Dragon engages players in a world and characters that are brought to life with vibrant colors and detail, from Shu's wild hair to his martial arts-style garb, conveying the beautiful simplicity and sense of adventure found in this truly next-generation RPG. For more information on the game, visit

About Mistwalker
Mistwalker is a creative company founded by Hironobu Sakaguchi, the original developer of Final Fantasy. Operated by a handful of experts, the direction of Mistwalker is influenced by Sakaguchi's extensive industry experience.

About Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc.
Since its creation in the late 1990’s by the world-renowned song writer, musician and record producer, Nile Rodgers, Sumthing Else Music Works has become the acknowledged industry leader in licensing and distributing video game soundtracks. Possessing full in-house services worldwide, from creation of original video game soundtracks through physical distribution, Sumthing is partnered with the world’s leading video game developers and publishers including BioWare, Bungie Studios, Capcom, Crytek, Eidos Interactive, Epic Games, Microsoft, Mistwalker, Rare, Sony Computer Entertainment and Ubisoft. Their catalogue of titles includes the best selling video game soundtrack of all time, Halo 2: Volume One, as well as award-winning titles Crysis, Advent Rising, Fable, Gears of War, Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 Volume Two, Halo 3, Hitman: Contracts, Hitman: Blood Money, Jade Empire, Kameo: Elements of Power, Mass Effect, Red Steel, Unreal Tournament 3 and many others.

For Sumthing’s full catalogue please visit and their digital download service at

Sumthing Else Music Works and Sumthing Distribution logos are copyright of their respective companies. All other names of companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Monday, March 24, 2008


La Poliziotta
Music by Gianni Ferrio
Digitmovies CDDM098 (Italy
20 Tracks 40:34 mins

This 1974 police comedy stars Mariangela Melato and features a score by Gianni Ferrio. Only previously available as a single and very rare promotional LP, this CD premiere in stereo sound is much expanded, having been taken from the original recording session tapes.
Ferrio's music for the film is a tuneful and diverse affair, with a very catchy main theme, principally beat-driven, with a somewhat jazzy brass lead. More jazz features in "Anonima Assassini," echoing somewhat the kind of approach taken by the likes of Lalo Schifrin and Jerry Fielding in Hollywood cop movies of the time. The main theme though dominates the score, at times more dreamily with piano and strings, though the fantastic voice of Edda also features in one of the more uptempo variations, and there's a nice harmonica-lead version in "Almost Love (#3)." The easy-going "Almost Love (#4) brings the original album material to a satisfying close.
But, before we get there, there's a very impressive, epic-sounding orchestral "Crescendo Trionfale," and Ferrio also provides a number of varied dance tracks like "Step by Step," the infectious "Il Veglione," "Rhythm & Sex" and the jazz piano track "Azucar." He also pays homage to Morricone's Sicilian Clan score, with his "Il Mongibello," which comes complete with Jaws Harp.
The previously unreleased material is featured at the end of the disc and includes four more versions of the main theme, together with a couple more variations on "Anonima Assassini," a dramatic Western-styled Deguello, and an alternate take of "Step by Step."
All in all, a very entertaining listen, which is accompanied by the usual colourful booklet, featuring stuills and artwork from the film, together with Claudio Fuiano's introductory notes.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


La Battaglia Di Maratona
Music by Roberto Nicolosi
Digitmovies CDDM0101 (Italy)
22 Tracks 58:27 mins

The Giant of Marathon, to use its English title, was a 1959 Peplum, starring Steve Reeves as Olympian Philippides battling against Persian invaders. The film was largely directed by Jacques Tourneur, though Bruno Vallati handled the underwater sequences.
The music was provided by the dependable Roberto Nicolosi, a veteran of the genre and commences with a suitably heroic main theme, ending in a brass fanfare, before continuing on strings in the following track. In the following track, "Giochi in Giardino," an initially flirtatious love theme is introduced, and then developed warmly over subseqent tracks. In between, we have plenty of suitably muscular action writing for some lengthy battle scenes, culminating in the 10-minute confrontation that takes its name from the film's title; a bombastic march for the invading Persians, not a little dark intrigue, and an exotic source cue "Danza al Palazzo." At the end if the disc, an alternate version of "Battaglia Navale" is included as a bonus.
The score, presented in very good mono sound for its age, is accompanied by the usual colourful booklet, featuring Claudio Fuiano's introductory notes, together with plenty of stills and artwork from the film. Visit

Friday, March 21, 2008


Matrimonio Con Vizietto (Il Vizietto 3)
Music by Ennio Morricone
Digitmovies CDDM0102 (Italy)
20 Tracks 54:01 mins

For the third in the trilogy of comedies, known in Italy as Il Vizietto, but more perhaps familiar worldwide as La Cage Aux Folles, regular series composer Ennio Morricone came up with a delightful, melodic score, commencing with the co-written pop ballad "Now It's Up To Me," sung by Tilda. This theme is reprised in a number of varied, but lovely instrumental versions throughout the subsequent score. There's another poppy Tilda vocal of the score's secondary theme "Ask Me," and a second version sung by Sam Jordan. The theme is again reprised in both gentle orchestral form and also a more straightforward, lush instrumental.
"Castelli di Scozia" presents a lovely flute-lead theme, something of a Morricone trademark over the years, whilst he comedy is represented by the busy "Il Piacere di Placere," which appers a couple of times. "Due Ragazzi Normall" is a brief, bluesy trumpet piece. An interesting track is a disco number, which takes its lead from Rimsky-Korsakov's "Flight of the Bumblebee."
This delightful CD is, always, accompanied by a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the film, together with Claudio Fuiano's introductory notes. Visit

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Femina Ridens
Music by Stelvio Cipriani
Digitmovies CDDMO103 (Italy)
19 Tracks 47:34 mins

The number of fine vintage Italian soundtrack releases from the enterprising Digitmovies label recently passed the 100 mark, a moment commemorated by the release of a 3 CD box set of previously unreleased Italian cop movie scores. This, amongst seven other releases just received from the label, will be covered here in the days to come, in no particular order, as is the case today, where I start with Stelvio Cipriani's surprisingly melodic score for the 1969 revenge thriller Femina Ridens (The laughing Woman).
The score was originally issued on LP by C.A.M. and is now a very rare item. Digitmovies have utilised these masters, combining them with the original score masters to produce this complete version of the music in fine stereo sound.
The album commences with a flowing pop-styled waltz, with a romantic piano interlude, in "Week-end with Mary," a theme that is reprised as an expressive violin/piano duet in "Rendez-vous in the Castle" and then as a dreamy version, with Edda's vocal in "Mary's Theme."
The second theme, introduced in "Love Symbol," is a somewhat quirky affair, given a harpsichord minuet treatment in "Hot Skin," before developing into an orgasmic Edda vocal.
Time prohibits further detailed analysis, but the rest of the score contines in pretty melodic vein, with some catchy poppy numbers, including a vocal by Olympia, which is also given a couple of very good instrumental treatments for sax and also I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni, who perform throughout; and just a touch of dissonant suspense here and there , and some pacy action music. The variety is continued with a religious organ solo, a waltz and a tango.
All-in-all, a very nice listening experience indeed, which is accompanied by the usual colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the film, together with Claudio Fuiano's introductory notes. Visit

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


27 Dresses
Music by Randy Edelman
Varese Sarabande VSD 6881 (EU)
25 Tracks 40:40 mins

It's been a good while since I had a Randy Edelman soundtrack to review. It's usually a pleasurable experience and his score for the new Katherine Heigl comedy 27 Dresses is no exception.
The album makes for light, pleasurable listening, bubbling along to largely pianistic music, though guitar adds to the sentimental moments, of which there are predictably quite a few. We are dealing with weddings and romance here, after all. Amongst these warm, and yes, sometimes poignant moments, there are of course upbeat and optimistic passages, where strings take the fore, and there's even a little funk-rock, which gets precariously close to Shaft territory at one point.
Many of the cues are quite brief, but the music flows well on disc. If you're a born romantic, you're sure to find plenty to enjoy here.

From: Michael Wiese

Dear Friends and Fellow Filmmakers -

My new film will be shown at the Acorn. It will probably be the only Cornwall showing so I hope very much to see you there.

Would you be so kind as to forward this to your friends?

Many thanks.

Michael Wiese


The Sacred Sites of the Dalai Lamas: A Pilgrimage to The Oracle Lake will be shown at The Acorn Theatre on Thursday, March 20th, 7pm, followed by a Q&A session with filmmaker Michael Wiese. Admission is 5 pounds. Profits to go to Tibetan causes.

The film is a remarkable pilgrimage visiting the sacred sites of the Dalai Lamas in Tibet and gives the viewer extraordinary access to the caves where the early Buddhist masters meditated, the monasteries where the Dalai Lamas and others taught, and - at an altitude of over 17,000 feet - looks down into the famous Oracle Lake of Lhamo Lhatso where every Dalai Lama has had prophetic visions.

The guides on the pilgrimage are:

Steve Dancz is a musician and a composer for National Geographic television specials. He has performed with his jazz band at the Dalai Lama's Sacred Music Festival in India among other international appearances.

Glenn Mullin studied Buddhism with the Tibetan refugees in India for over 12 years. His two most important teachers were Kyabje Ling Rinpoche and Trijang Dorjechang, the two spiritual masters of the Dalai Lama. He has written 25 books on Tibetan culture, including a dozen on the lives and works of the early Dalai Lamas. His latest is The Flying Mystics of Tibetan Buddhism.

Khenpo Tashi is a Bhutanese monk, international Buddhist teacher, curator of Bhutan's national museum, friend of the royal family and presenter of a daily radio program in Bhutan.


BACKGROUND STORY by filmmaker Michael Wiese

"My dear friend and composer Steve Dancz invited me to join him on a life-changing pilgrimage to the most sacred sites of the Dalai Lamas in Central Tibet. The pilgrimage was led by Steve's teacher Glenn Mullin who has written countless books on Buddhism and was an interpreter for the Dalai Lama. Glenn has lived in Tibet for 12 years and so we had extraordinary access to people and places that one would not normally see. We were also accompanied by Khenpo Tashi, a Bhutanese monk, and learned by his example.

It was an extraordinary once-in-a-life experience visiting the caves and monasteries where the early Buddhist masters taught, meditated and achieved enlightenment.

At the final moment before leaving the UK - I decided to take a camera with me and so we are able to share this journey with you in a feature length documentary with music by Steve Dancz.

The first person to see the film was His Holiness The Dalai Lama who requested a copy from Glenn when they met in Mongolia. He probably wanted to see his homeland and the sacred places he remembered as a young monk before he was forced into exile.

Since then the film has been shown at the Foundation for Tibet (London) to celebrate the Dalai Lama's birthday, at the Atlanta Film Festival, the Dallas Video Festival, Tibet House in New York, The Landmark Theater in Los Angeles and other venues. It will be in the Film Market at Cannes next month.


A DVD with many special features is available on The Acorn film showing will be a benefit for Tibetan causes.

Michael Wiese will be available for a Q&A session after the showing.

For further information contact
Michael Wiese
01736 810 001

2 St. Loy Cottage
St. Loy, St. Buryan
Penzance TR19 6DH England
+44 (0)1736 810 001 (phone/fax)

3940 Laurel Canyon Blvd., #1111
Studio City, CA 91604
(818) 379-8799
(818) 986-3408 fax


Tuesday, March 18, 2008


The Other Boleyn Girl
Music by Paul Cantelon
Varese Sarabande VSD-6884 (EU)
27 Tracks 62:32 mins

I recall a fairly recent BBC adaptation of this story of Henry VIII's involvement with the Boleyn girls, firstly Mary, played here by Scarlett Johansson and then of course Anne, played by Natalie Portman. Henry is played by Hulk star Eric Bana.
The film's music is provided by Paul Cantelon, who is best known for his work in the classical music field. His efforts here, admirably performed by the Czech Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of James Shearman, show great promise. The sound he achieves is entirely suited to the period and I am sure serves the film perfectly well. It does however do little to excite me on disc, the music being largely restrained, featuring much intrigue early on, before inveitably descending into tragedy. There are moments of tension and even passion, but there is little here that really stays with me, save for the somewhat bittersweet main theme, first delivered by woodwinds and piano in the "Opening Titles," and given a full orchestral treatment for the "Finale."
At least Cantelon displays a more original voice than many other composers dipping their toes into the shark infested waters of film scoring and I look forward to hearing more from him in the future.



Less than 250 of THE LEGEND OF BUTCH & SUNDANCE remaining!

For more detailed information, click on this URL:

Monday, March 17, 2008


Vantage Point
Music by Atli Orvarsson
Varese Sarabande VSD 6883 (EU)
15 Tracks 41:30 mins

Vantage Point is a conspiracy thriller, involving the assassination of the American President whilst making a speech in Spain, an event witnessed from a number of angles by differing characters. The film has been likened to the popular TV series 24.
The score for this action-packed film is written by a new name to me, Atli Orvarsson, whose only other credit I am familiar with is composing for a Lilo & Stitch sequel. His music for Vantage Point does not reveal an original voice, but then so many composers have started out copying the temp score, and so this is barely distinguishable from any number of contemporary thriller scores, being perhaps particularly influenced by the Bourne Trilogy. This is not to say that there isn't some exciting music on display here for, once the crime has been committed it moves pretty relentlessly along. Earlier on, ethnic woodwinds provide an eastern slant to the building threat, and there is some romantic Spanish guitar thrown into the mix.
It's probably fair to conclude that if you enjoyed the scores for the likes of the Bourne trilogy and Spy Game, then you'll find this album quite acceptable. As for me, here's hoping the composer will have more opportunities to find his own voice.

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Point Break
Music by Mark Isham
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1065 (US)
22 Tracks 65:16 mins

With the sad news that Patrick Swayze is facing a tough fight against the "Big C" (he was one of my late mother's favourites, so I obviously wish him well), this is a timely release of Mark Isham's much requested score for a film he made with Keanu Reeves, in one of his first dramatic roles, when he was at the height of his powers. Swayze plays something of a surfer god, who is also leader of a gang of bank robbers, who masquerade as the "Ex-Presidents," under investigation by Reeves' FBI agent.
The score was originally conceived as a mix of electronica and rock, but as the scoring process proceeded it became obvious that orchestral elements were required. I don't know what it is about surfing, never having tried it myself, but Big Wednesday remains one of my favourite films and scores (by Basil Poledouris) and the surfing scenes in Point Break similarly called for a more epic treatment. This presented a new challenge for Isham, who was yet to dabble in live orchestra work, with his first symphonic score for Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It yet to come.
The excellent results of this fusion of elements can be heard in the lengthier set-pieces like the exhilerating "Night Surfing" and "Skydive" is given a similar epic treatment. An almost militaristic approach is given to the largely propulsive "Bank Robbery"and subsequent "Shootout at Airport"and "No Parachute."The rock elements are more prevalent in tracks like "Car/Foot Chase," whilst much of the suspense and tension is provided by the electronics. The film's almost mythical ending brings it all together, starting out tense, giving way to martial action, before the epic surfing music brings "Freedom" for the Swayze character.
Accompanying this limited edition of 2000 units is an informative booklet, with Dan Goldwasser's extensive notes, supplemented by comments from director Kathryn Bigelow and the composer himself, together with many colour stills from the film. Visit

The Legend of Butch & Sundance + The Blue and the Gray

Just a brief mention for a couple of new, highly recommended soundtrack releases. Firstly, the much-missed Basil Poledouris' final score for the 2003 western The Legend of Butch & Sundance is available on CD (but be quick) or as a download from Moviescore Media. The 51-minute score is written for a smallish ensemble, including guitars, mandolin, fiddle, banjo and accordion, to provide a folksy sound, not unlike some passages in the composer's epic Lonesome Dove. It's a very fine score and a must-have for Poledouris's fans. You can read a review at

I don't normally cover Intrada's releases, not that they aren't fine, because they are; it's just that they choose not to send me review copies of their product and, as I am on a limited budget, I have to be choosy about my purchases. I couldn't however resist investing in a copy of their splendid 2-disc presentation of Bruce Broughton's fine score for the 1982 mini-series The Blue & the Gray. I miss the days of the mini-series. There were some fine productions and many of them boasted great scores, either by established composers, working in film and tv, or by up-and-comers like Broughton was at that time. I think it's fair to say that this was his first big break, after doing fine episodic work for the likes of Dallas and How the West Was Won (oh, when are we going to hear this splendid music on disc, with its wonderful main theme by Jerrold Immel, who also wrote the Dalls theme). Go to for details of all their releases.

The Blue & the Gray was of course set against the events of the American Civil War, but concentrated on the effects of war on ordinary folk and therefore the approach to the score was again largely a folksy one, with the same kind of elements employed by Poledouris for Butch & Sundance. The main theme however (one of the best composed for a mini-series) is a bolder affair, with an exciting martial call to arms leading into a sweeping, epic theme.
Broughton's score was deservedly Emmy-nominated and I have long hoped for a CD release, never dreaming that a double-disc presentation like this would one day appear. In fact, we are very fortunate to have the music at all, as it was long thought lost. However, eventually a brittle stereo copy of the tracks surfaced, which was transferred to digital, with only minor, almost unnoticeable, distortions remaining and now the full score makes it's debut in this limited edition of 2000 copies. Go to for details of their many fine releases.

Friday, March 14, 2008



Elmer Berinstein's HEAVY METAL and Gary McFarland's score to EYE OF THE DEVIL!

For more detailed information, click on this URL:

Heavy Metal is one of my all-time favourite scores, so I can't wait to replace my much-played LP with this complete score CD. We are indeed lucky to be alive in these exciting times, what with this, the fabulous Superman box, High Noon, Land of the Pharaohs, The Blue & the Gray, North & South, Comes a Horseman and The Legend of Butch & Sundance all appearing in recent weeks.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Music by Paul Englishby
Varese Sarabande VSD-6882 (EU)
18 Tracks 39:28 mins

This is a good, old-fashioned comedy of manners, set just before the outbreak of World War II, which stars Frances McDormand as the title character, a middle-aged London governess, whose life is transformed when she takes a job with Amy Adams' dizzy American actress/singer.
Paul Englishby's score alternates between fun, jazzy numbers, like "Delysia LaFosse" and "Edyth's Beauty Salon," and classy piano writing, like "Elegant Society" and "An Engagement." The title character has her own rather lonely theme, first heard on piano in "Miss Pettigrew;" then in a more bluesy, trombone-lead arrangement for "London Alone;" barely recognisable, in the raunchy "Miss Pettigrew's Waltz;" then romantic in "If You'll Have Me." The disc concludes with a gay little rendition of the title theme. If you like the music of the period, you'll find this a very pleasant listening experience indeed.



For more detailed information, click on this URL:

Monday, March 10, 2008


Dark of the Sun
Music by Jacques Loussier
Film Score Monthly Vol.10 No.18 (US)
27 Tracks 67:03 mins

Jack Cardiff's 1968 film is an action-adventure, set against the troubles in Congo in 1964, and stars Rod Taylor, Jim Brown and Yvette Mimieux. The film was apparently considered too violent in its original form and appeared in a much cut version. It is sad that, in these days of director's cut DVDs, the original version is yet to surface, as I imagine it would be considered rather tame by today's standards.
As a result of these cuts, obviously much of the music score, as originally conceived, was similarly lost, and originally score exercepts totalling less than 30 minutes were released, most recently by Chapter III Records, coupled with Ennio Morricone's LP program for Guns for San Sebastian (also now available in expanded form from FSM). This much expanded release more than doubles that playing time, featuring the complete score, less one lost track, and includes alternative cues, an album edit of the main theme and native source cues, all in improved sound.
Jacques Loussier is mostly known outside his native France for his jazz performances, but he in fact wrote many a score for French TV productions, work which brought him to the attention of the film's director. Loussier didn't work much in Hollywood subsequently, but continued to score French productions through the subsequent decades. His music for Dark of the Sun is jazz-influenced as one would expect, and very much of the '60s; moving often to a kind of "ticking" motif, presented in varying tempos, depending on the occasion, which can become a little irritating after a while, but propels the music well enough, and the questing "Main Theme," which starts quite low-key, opens out melodically on strings.
The subsequent score is anything but standard Hollywood fare, and is quite quirky at times. It features a morose theme for the Mimieux character, and a number of source cues. It is at its best in exciting action moments, like "The Mercenaries," as well as when the main theme is reprised, sometimes quite delicately on flute.
As always, the accompanying booklet is packed with stills and artwork from the film, together with detailed notes and cue-by cue guide, courtesy of Didier C. Deutsch, Alexander Kaplan and Lukas Kendall.
Go to for more details, sound samples and to purchase your copy.

Friday, March 07, 2008


American Gangster
Music by Marc Streitenfeld
Varese Sarabande 302 066 874 2 (US)
18 Tracks 38:54 mins

A score CD release by Varese Sarabande was announced long ago, and indeed I reviewed an advance disc of the score back on 15th November, but only now, to coincide with awards season, where the score earned a BAFTA nomination, and also the film's release on DVD, do we have it.
I would refer you to said review for my impressions on the score, but just to say that around 10 minutes have been added to that 22-minute sampling, plus three source tracks, two by Hank Shocklee and one by Harry Garfield, have been added to the disc, to make a nice, tuneful ending.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


From Costa Communications:-




“Sleepwalking” Opens Nationally March 14

(Los Angeles, CA) Award-winning composer Christopher Young adds to an impressive list of nearly 100 feature films in virtually every genre with the score to “Sleepwalking,” the drama stars Charlize Theron (who was also involved as a producer on the film), Nick Stahl, AnnaSophia Robb, Dennis Hopper and Woody Harrelson. This is the second time that Young has united on a film with Theron who in 2001 starred in “Sweet November” which Young scored. “Sleepwalking” premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and is scheduled to open nationally on March 14. Young’s music can currently be heard in Screen Gems/Lakeshore Entertainment release “Untraceable,” the latest thriller by director Gregory Hoblit starring Diane Lane.

“Sleepwalking” is the story of James Reedy (Stahl), a simple man who leads a less than ordinary existence. When his sister Joleen (Theron) seemingly abandons her daughter Tara (Robb) with him, Reedy steals away with the girl and takes to the road.

Composer Christopher Young created memorable action scores to two Marvel movies last year Spiderman 3 and Ghostrider. His spine-tingling score for The Grudge helped propel the film to a sleeper hit. His distinctive and imaginative approaches to several unusual projects have made him a highly sought-after commodity on films with unusual subject matter. He wrote an ingenious score incorporating breathing effects for the offbeat film "The Vagrant"; provided a darkly dramatic score to the Christian Slater/Kevin Bacon prison drama "Murder in the First"; and tuned in perfectly to the offbeat sensibility of the Bill Murray comedy "The Man Who Knew Too Little." His long list of works include the scores for "Hellraiser" "Runaway Jury," "The Shipping News," and "The Core"

Christopher Young has received numerous awards and nominations throughout a celebrated career. He was recently honored at the 13th Annual Temecula Valley International Film & Music Festival with the award for Outstanding Career Achievement in Film Composing. He has been nominated for two Emmys (“Norma Jean & Marilyn,” “Last Flight Out”) and received both Golden Globe and Broadcast Film Critics Association Award nominations for the “The Shipping News.” In addition to his busy film-composing schedule, Young is imparting his knowledge to a new generation of film composers. He has taught at USC since the early Nineties.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I have just learned of the sad passing of composer Leonard Rosenman, at the age of 83, following a heart attack. Rosenman wrote for both film and the concert hall, but it is for the former that he will probably be most remembered, and in particular for his attachment to the films of the legendary James Dean, scoring both East of Eden and Rebel Without a Cause. Indeed, it was a very impressive start to his film scoring career, as he also wrote the great serial score for Cobweb in that same year (1955). In the following decades, he wrote music for around 50 films, plus TV films and shows, and documentaries. Notable movie titles include Fantastic Voyage (1966), A Man Called Horse (1970), two Planet of the Apes sequels, the animated Lord of the Rings (1979), Cross Creek (1983) and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. TV titles include a series I remember with fondness, Marcus Welby, M.D., Murder in Texas and Sybil. I think it's fair to say that Rosenman had a style all of his own and one could always tell it was his music. His distinctive sound will be sorely missed.

Land of the Pharaohs
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Film Score Monthly Vol.10 No.17 (US)
Disc 1 - 8 Tracks 74:02 mins Disc 2 - 10 Tracks 44:08 mins

Fans of the late, great Dimitri Tiomkin have been well served recently, what with Screen Archives Entertainment's splendid premiere release of the composer's Oscar-winning score for High Noon, and now Film Score Monthly's two-disc presentation of his great music for 1955's Land of the Pharaohs.
Not a great film, by any standards, but entertaining enough, Howard Hawks' film sees Jack Hawkins as the most unlikely pharaoh you're ever likely to see, though he gives his usual dignified performance nonetheless; and a 21 year-old Joan Collins as his young queen, who plots his demise, so that she may get her hands on his horde of treasure, which he intends buried with him in the great pyramid James Robertson-Justice is building.
Tiomkin's mighty score features a huge orchestral-choral combination and is one of the old-fashioned wall-to-wall kind, starting off with an exotic vocal performance of his main theme, which is immediately followed by the first great set-piece, "Pharaoh's Procession." If you are a fan of this kind of epic movie, you will be familiar with the kind of thing presented here. Think "Pax Romana" from Tiomkin's later Fall of the Roman Empire or the similar procession, scored by Miklos Rozsa for Quo Vadis. Great, brassy, powerful stuff, which takes a sudden gentle turn with "Pharaoh Walks," voiced by a choir of sopranos. The track runs for over 10 minutes, and FSM sensibly chose not to try to split the music up too much, hence the small number of tracks.
The next big set-piece is more than 16 minutes long and starts with the surprising choral "Funeral Song of Joy," which is just that, and ends with the commencement of the pyramid building, accompanied by the muscular male choral "Song of the Builders," heard a capella on film, but here with the orchestra restored, as the composer originally intended. Another version of the song, sung by untrained voices, commences the following 13-minute track, which accompanies much pyramid building, to more muscular Tiomkin music.
Much more good music, not all of it full-on, though there are distinctive Tiomkin action moments, but some more subtle and conspiratorial, follows, before the final pay-off on disc two when Collins' queen, having disposed of the pharaoh, not knowing Egyptian law, finds herself sealed in the tomb with her dead husband, to another great, dramatic Tiomkin mix of orchestra and choir, with the main theme returning to play out the "End Titles."
The score, only preserved in mono, has been reconstructed for stereo in places, with a subtle stereo effect added to the remainder of the tracks, resulting in very good sound quality. It totals some 108 minutes, with a further 9 minutes of bonus material added on to disc two, including surprising pop arrangements of the main theme.
As always, a splendid booklet accompanies the discs, with producer Lukas Kendall's extensive notes on the film and its score, with the customary cue-by-cue guide, and a fascinating glimpse of Tiomkin-speak provided by an excerpt (written in the man's broken English) from a publicity spot of the time. Go to for more details, sound samples, and to order your copy of this unmissable item.

Monday, March 03, 2008


Bruno Nicolai - Movie Songs Book
Gemelli GG CD 2505 (Italy)
19 Tracks 54:32 mins

For all his dramatic scores for all genres of Italian cinema, his westerns being the most familiar to me, Bruno Nicolai co-wrote many a fine song for the screen during the '60s and '70s. Of course, the westerns gave him ample opportunity to write a good dramatic ballad, like "Ringo Came to Fight" from 100,000 Dollari per Ringo, with both English and Italian versions presented here; or even a catchy, if somewhat infantile number, like "Arizona Gun," the opening track on this fine compilation.
All manner of songs follow, most of them in English. There are strong, showy and emotional ballads like "Look Away," "I Want it All" (both English and Italian versions are again included), "Out of this World," "Voice in the Night"Diana" and "Shadows;" the jolly, banjo-driven "Go-Giddy-Go;" the free-flowing "Allora il Treno;" the galloping "Libertad;" the campy "Love Love Bang Bang;" the bouncy, pipe organ-driven "Gamba Gamba;" the dramatic, half-spoken "Sweet Love Song" and "Espanto en El Corazon, which starts similarly and then becomes hugely infectious;" the gentle pop of "La-Lu-Le" and the smooth, romantic sound of "Ciao Ciao."
Some of the vocals are uncredited, but familiar names from the time, like Bobby Solo, Laura Saint Paul, Edda dell'Orso, Nancy Cuomo and Fred Bongusto, plus of course I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni, feature, and there's even a contribution from actor Tomas Milian.
A splendid collection, which makes for a great easy listening experience. The CD is available via the Beat Records website at

Saturday, March 01, 2008


20,000 Dollari Sporchi Di Sangue
Music by Michele Lacerenza
GDM Hillside Series GDM 4113
23 Tracks 50:01 mins

This third recent Italian Western score release in the GDM Hillside Series is for a 1969 oater, starring Brett Halsey and Fernando Sancho. The music is by Michele Lacerenza, who is remembered mostly for his exellent trumpet playing in so many scores from this genre.
After a dramatic trumpet intro, the score gets off to a good start, with Joe Rivers peforming (in English) the main theme "Kidnapping." Track 2 presents a music box-like variation on the theme, heard a couple more times later in the score, which is followed by a sad violin track "Lontano Passato," with organ joining. A fine travelling instrumental version of "kidnapping" follows, and then a religious organ variation leads into a tense version of "Lontano Passato." Subsequent tracks offer numerous variations on these two themes, as well as the suspenseful and, at times, menacing "Imboscata," with Lacerenza's trumpet featuring on some of the "Kidnapping" tracks to great effect.
Sound, as with the other two releases previously reviewed, is really very good for its age, with the first 16 tracks being in stereo, and the remainder in mono.
The usual colourful booklet completes the package, with cast and crew credits, plus plenty of stills and artwork. Visit for all your Italian soundtrack requirements.

From Perseverance Records

The Film Music of Jim Manzie, Vol.2 Released
Perseverance Records PRP 023

The second volume of scores by this underrated composer is out today,
and I think I like it even better than the first one. This CD
features selections from Sleepstalker: The Sandman's Last Rites,
Bowling Balls - Insane Clown Posse, Scarecrow, Servants of Twilight,
Stepfather 2, Red Blooded American Girl, Night of the Demons 2, From
a Whisper to a Scream and Moonrise aka My Grandfather is a Vampire.
Like Volume 1, this compilation features notes by Jim and the
directors he has worked with on the various projects that give
insight into the scoring process and the collaboration between
director and composer. Filled with artwork, this promotional CD will
only be sold here to recoup production costs. We might send a few out
to the soundtrack specialty stores, where you can find all our other
titles, as well, such as Screen Archives Entertainment, our most
loyal customer. LIMITED TO 250 PRESSINGS.
Click to order: <>.

Big Soundrack Auction
We need money for new projects. That is why I am selling off some of
my collection on eBay. Look for an email in the next couple of weeks
with such goodies as the last Kickboxer CD (signed by composer Paul
Hertzog), Jerry Goldsmith's rejected score to Timeline, and Jim
Manzie's remaining Leatherface, as well as a bunch of other rare
scores and bargain deals.

New Projects
Coming in March: Mutant by Richard Band (expanded version with 7
bonus Main Titles from Richard Band movies)
Coming in April: The Interior by Edwin Wendler, our first
downloadable only score from the Internet show. For more information
go to .
Coming in May: Knightriders by Donald Rubinstein, this long sought-
after cult soundtrack to George A. Romero's classic finally sees the
light of day.
Coming in June: Hired Guns by The Sales Bros., our first Blues album.
Coming in July: The Runestone by David Newman, arguably the best
horror score by this fine composer.

As always, stay tuned to the Web site for current news, and thanks
for listening.

Robin Esterhammer
Perseverance Records