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

Monday, May 19, 2008


A couple of evenings ago I spent a very enjoyable hour plus listening to an interview with Lukas Kendall of Film Score Monthly and Robert Townson of Varese Sarabande. This only served to remind me of how much we, the soundtrack collectors, owe these fine gentlemen for the wonderful CDs they've released over the years, and prompted me to consider what my favourite items on each label might be - the ones I treasure the most, for whatever reason. Herewith the first part then, concentrating on Film Score Monthly, listing my top 20 releases on the label, in no particular order:-

Heavy Metal - Elmer Bernstein

Bernstein's score for this animated sci-fi simply blew me away from the first time I heard it, and the original LP has probably been played as much as any score in my collection, especially for the Taarna episode and also "Bomber and the Green Ball." It's great now to have the score on CD, with even more music than on the LP.

The Time Machine - Russell Garcia

I've always had a soft spot for the original Rod Taylor version of the classic sci-fi story and Garcia's score serves the film so well.

100 Rifles - Jerry Goldsmith

This is another instance of being "blown away" by a score or theme, and in this case it is Goldsmith's fabulous main theme, but there's plenty more on offer in the score. I waited for years to own this music.

Force Ten From Navarone - Ron Goodwin

Not one of Goodwin's greatest scores, but a tremendously catchy main theme.

Where Eagles Dare/Operation Crossbow - Ron Goodwin

Where Eagles Dare, with its amazing main theme is a Goodwin classic and it was great to have an expanded version to replace my much played LP. I always loved his main theme for Operation Crossbow too and only had a scratchy 45 to enjoy prior to this premiere presentation of the score.

The Omega Man - Ron Grainer

Another great sci-fi film adaptation, with a fine turn by Charlton Heston. The same can be said of Grainer's score as that of Garcia's for The Time Machine.

Raintree County - John Green

I already owned the great double LP release of Johnny Green's great music for this civil war epic, so FSM's fine CD presentation was most welcome and a fitting tribute to a man who should (on the evidence of this score alone) have written many more dramatic scores.

Guns for San Sebastian - Ennio Morricone

Again, a treasured and much played LP in my collection, with a great love theme.

Navajo Joe - Ennio Morricone

A very different score from Guns, but again a much played LP in my collection. There's some real savagery about this music, and a tremendously catchy main theme.

Big Wednesday - Basil Poledouris

I simply love this film and Basil's music is a big part of it, though actually used quite sparingly really. I miss the Milius/Poledouris teaming.

Plymouth Adventure - Miklos Rozsa

A fabulous, and perhaps underrated, score from the great Hungarian composer, coming slap bang in the middle of his historical period.

The Green Berets - Miklos Rozsa

I have always been a big John Wayne fan, whatever his politics. As a result, I still enjoy this Vietnam War-set film, which never fails to bring a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat at its conclusion; and I just love the title song and Rozsa's dramatic score.

Knights of the Round Table/The King's Thief - Miklos Rozsa

Yet another great Rozsa historical score. I loved the Varese Sarabande LP, and to have an expanded release from FSM was heaven - and having the inclusion of his the lesser known The King's Thief was a welcome bonus.

The Thing/Take The High Ground - Dimitri Tiomkin

I've been a fan of Tiomkin's music since repeated viewings of The Alamo as a kid. I even used to hum the music as I recreated the great battle with my toy soldiers. Whilst a proper representation of this score remains sadly unavailable, I was delighted to have these two scores. The Thing is tremendously creepy music and Take The High Ground has a title song that stays in the memory.

Land of the Pharaohs - Dimitri Tiomkin

Another great Tiomkin score, which elevates the picture no end. It's really great to finally have a proper representation of this wonderful music.

The Superman Box - John Williams et al

Although I was perfectly happy with the Rhino release of Williams' brilliant Superman score, the version included here is even better. I wasn't keen on the three films that followed in the series, and Ken Thorne's adapation of Williams' themes for Superman II always sounded a bit "cheap and nasty" on LP, whilst I can't comment too much on Superman III (or should I say Richard Prior I), as I wouldn't watch the film again if you paid me. Having these scores presented properly for the first time is a real eye( or ear)-opener, and Alexander Courage's efforts (with new Williams material) for Superman IV are as good as Thorne's, if not even better. Having the Ron Jones animated scores is also a very welcome bonus.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. - Various composers

I suppose I've slightly cheated here, as there are four separate releases, but the music really belongs to one production, albeit spread out over a number of series of the show. Having been brought up on '60s shows like U.N.C.L.E., the decade holds a special place in my memories and this series in particular captured my imagination. As with, The Alamo, I remember playing at Napoleon Solo, with Goldsmith's fabulous theme running through my head. But it wasn't so much the great composer's scores for the first series that stayed with me, but the adapatations and additions to the U.N.C.L.E. music library made by the likes of Lalo Schifrin and Richard Shores, but especially by Gerald Fried, who proved himself an absolute genius with the limited resources at his disposal.

The Bridge at Remagen/The Train - Elmer Bernstein/Maurice Jarre

The Bridge at Remagen is another of those films that I have enjoyed many times over the years. I always loved Bernstein's main theme and again waited a long time to own this score.

The Comancheros - Elmer Bernstein

Simply one of the composer's greatest western themes, which is as much on my mind as his acknowledged classic The Magnificent Seven. If only we had all Bernstein's original western scores properly represented on CD, as this is.

King's Row/The Sea Wolf - Erich Wolfgang Korngold

Anything by this great Austrian composer is always worth having, but King's Row is one of his finest and the original LP re-recording, whilst treasured, barely scratched the surface.

Tomorrow, my Varese Sarabande top 20. And if you want to listen to the interview go to


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