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

Thursday, July 31, 2008


The Incredible Hulk: Pilot/A Death in the Family
Music by Joe Harnell
JHCD 24 (US)
25 Tracks 68:16 mins

The late composer Joe Harnell was most closely associated with TV giant Kenneth Johnson, scoring his 1970s & 80s shows Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Cliffhanger, V, Alien Nation and of course The Incredible Hulk, which starred Bill Bixby as the tortured scientist David Banner and Lou Ferrigno as his rampaging alter ego, The Hulk.
Harnell may be with us no longer, but it's good to see that his website at is continuing to release his music, the latest disc being this pairing of both the pilot episode of The Incredible Hulk and the episode "A Death in the Family."
Undoubtedly Harnell's most famous composition was written for the show. His "Lonely Man" theme is instantly recognisable, a poignant piano solo, played by the composer himself, that closed each episode. Understandably then, this piece opens the album and the subsequent score tracks for the pilot, presented here. The show's "Main Title" theme first appears at the start of the "Death in the Family" selections, a typically poppy and rhythmic '70s affair, incorporating snippets of the composer's returning main themes.
To address the two episodes, much of the pilot's early scoring is rather on the dissonant side, tense and difficult to listen to. It's not until "Growing Anger" that the trudging, ever intensifying transformation theme, that is also to become a staple of the show, appears. The Hulk in action is accompanied by this theme, with punchy brass and timpani adding to it at its most powerful, as in "Chamber Hulk-Out." Typically sneaky music accompanies Banner's reporter stalker, McGee, throughout (played by Jack Colvin) and is introduced in "McGee Snoops, combining with the Hulk theme in "The Hulk to the Rescue," as the reporter first witnesses the power of the green giant. The final cue, "Graveside Farewell/The Lonely Man Theme" brings the score to an emotional close.
For "A Death in the Family," after the aforementioned "Main Title" theme, the music opens with variations on the "Lonely Man" theme, sad at first, then propulsive. Harnell introduces his "Love Theme," another attractive composition that is a staple of the show in "Girl Collapses," giving it urgency in the subsequent "David Sympathetic." A rhythmic action theme accompanies the bad guys in tracks like "Redneck Rumble," and of course the familiar Hulk theme and Lonely Man vie for attention in competition in subsequent battles. The "Love Theme" returns gloriously at the opening of "Hulk Saves the Day," but is eventually overwhelmed by the "Lonely Man" theme as Banner is, as always, forced to go on his lonely way. A reprise of Harnell's piano performance of the theme closes the fine slice of nostalgia that is this album.
The disc is accompanied by an informative booklet, featuring notes by Randall D. Larson on the show, the episodes featured and of course the composer and his music. Order your copy from

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


The Appearance of Things
Music by Vincent Gillioz
Spheris Records CD SR0704 (US)
22 Tracks 48:49 mins

To quote the booklet notes, "The Appearance of Things is an intricate ensemble drama, set in contemporary Los Angeles, revolving around an avant garde production of Oscar Wilde's Salome, where women exclusively play all the central roles," with Madeline Chereau, better known for her appearances in slasher pics, cast by director Jim Tassopulos as Salome.
Composer Vincent Gillios describes the music as his "most intimate and least mainstream score, and maybe the hardest to listen to," and I wouldn't argue with that. He goes on: "we'll find sometimes (like track 1) some English baroque resonance, some avant-garde classical writing, some reference to painting, like 'Collage,' where at the end of the piece we hear all the main themes of the movie one on each other in a chaotic manner as a collage; and other times, four double basses playing solo."
Once again, Gillioz utilises the Sofia Metropolitan Orchestra, with Paul Wiancko's cello representing the main character of Salome, featured strongly in many tracks, sometimes solo, sometimes accompanied, and very often quite mournful; and other soloists contributing, like mezzo-soprano Mashal Arman in "Salome"and "Why?;" and violinist Wes Precourt.
A little life is brought to the predominantly gloomy proceedings by the intense "Break Up," and some dramatic moments appear in "Tryptic" and "I Hate Myself"
If you've been reading my stuff for a while now, you will know I am a strong fan of melody or, failing that, at least music that can get the blood flowing. It won't therefore surprise you to find that this is not a score that I am often likely to return to. But, if you fancy something challenging, get along to and order your copy.


Buysoundtrax has just notified me of a new release from Joel Goldsmith's Freeclyde Records, his score for Stargate: Continuum, another spin-off movie from the popular series. Available from August 12th in a limited edition release of just 1500 units, with another impressive 24-page booklet accompanying the disc, you can pre-order your copy from, where the first 100 copies purchased will be personally autographed by the composer.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


A Time To Die
Music by Ennio Morricone
BSX Records BSXCD 8836 (US)
11 Tracks 31:48 mins

Managed to find time for a review after all, thanks to this disc being quite brief at just under 32 minutes. It represents Ennio Morricone's music for this 1983 revenge thriller, based on Mario Puzo's story, which starred Edward Albert Jr., Rex Harrison, Rod Taylor and Raf Vallone. Robert O. Ragland provided additional music, which is not featured on this disc, which I believe to be a straight reissue of the old Cerberus LP.
Morricone's main theme is yet another one of his memorable compositions, a sad affair for woodwind, piano, orchestra and harpsichord. The latter features, improvising on the following "Recitation on an Ancient Harpsichord."
"Tzigane Style" is a brief dramatic piece for gypsy violin, which is followed by the relentless march of "Invasion." Another memorable piece follows, the nostalgic "The Girl from Munich," which receives a second, more melancholy arrangement a couple of tracks later. Jaws Harp, an instrument the composer famously utilised in his earlier work for Italian Westerns, adds to the "Sicilian Tension" that follows. Next comes a typical piece of stark tension from the composer in "Tortures and Memories," which takes on a tragic air at its conclusion. More tension follows in "Seven Graves For Rogan," concluding with a variation on the march theme from before.
The main theme returns in "The Third Day At Dusk," with accordion-lead "Wedding Feast In The Fields" providing a final touch of nostalgia to close the album.
A welcome release then for one of the composer's lesser known scores, with the accompanying booklet featuring a brief synopsis of the plot, plus notes on the composer and his work.
Order your copy of this limited edition of 1500 units from

Monday, July 28, 2008


Quelques Jours Avant La Nuit
Music by Vincent Gillioz
Spheris Records CD SR0801 (US)
27 Tracks 36:47 mins

This is the shortest CD release received from Vincent Gillioz's Spheris Records, at just short of 37 minutes, so I thought I'd just squeeze a review in here, my second of the day, as I may not be around to post anything tomorrow.
The film, a bit of a mix between mystery, thrills and black comedy, is directed by Simon Edelstein and Vincent's score, performed by the Sofia Metropolitan Orchestra, is rather reminiscent of the late, great Bernard Herrmann's work for Alfred Hitchcock, especially his more dark humoured films like The Trouble With Harry, with characteristic woodwind sparring for the lighter, sneaky moments; mysterious and delicate harp runs; and terrifying horns for the more menacing moments. Herrmann's oft-used dreamy waltz style for the likes of Obsession and Vertigo, is also echoed. In fact it's hard to find any of the composer's familiar trademarks that aren't visited in the score.
Gillioz must certainly have done his homework for this obviously intentional homage. It's certainly effective, but whether Herrmann's many fans will welcome it as the tribute that it obviously is, is another matter. As for me, it just reminded me of how much we truly miss the great man's work.
If you fancy some fun and nostalgia, order your copy from


Stargate: The Ark of Truth
Music by Joel Goldsmith
Freeclyde Music FCM CD 003 (US)
23 Tracks 58:23 mins

This feature-length spin-off from the long-running sci-fi show reunites the regular cast and adds new faces like Julian Sands to the mix.
Another regular contributor is Joel Goldsmith, who has been composing great scores on a TV budget since the show began. Here, he is given a bigger budget and produces a grand orchestral/choral score that thankfully he has made available on his Freeclyde label.
The album opens with David Arnold's familiar Stargate theme, before choir enters, bringing "The Decision" to an exciting crescendo, before falling away. Arnold's theme was always utilised in the show and so returns here and there, as in the following "Dakarta Discovery." Goldsmith however makes good use of his larger resources of the Northwest Sinfonia to provide plenty of new material of his own, with standout moments throughout. There is exciting action in "Tomin," "The Battle Begins," "The Healing,"and "Marrick's Demise," with, naturally, a martial feel emerging at times, as well as a good deal of suspense in between.
Choral mysticism is displayed in "The Wrong Ark," "Replicator," "Maternal Moment, and "the opening of "Ori Fleet," with the choir turning menacing to drive the action that follows, leading into the dark power and further mysticism of "The Doci;" and there's a real sense of adventure in "Our Mission Begins" and "The Supergate," with a sturdy theme, which Joel's late lamented father, Jerry, could easily have come up with; leading into a cacophonous crescendo when the team presumably enters the gate.
There's obviously an Arthurian feel to the story, with tracks like "Merlin" and the noble, then mystical "Morgan Le Fay."
Matters are brought to a head with the 6-minute "The Ark of the Truth," which begins with both choral menace and mysticism, then develops strains of brassy nobility and choral majesty, reaching a dramatic crescendo, before a gentle choral concludes the cue in satisfactory fashion. The mood is continued into "See The Light," with "Carter's Cookies" bringing a somewhat wistful close to proceedings, before "A New Adventure" closes the album in adventurous style.
A couple of cues are credited to Goldsmith and Neal Acree, who worked on the show in later seasons, and who, like Goldsmith, has done wonders in many productions over the years on limited budgets. Check out his website at
The accompanying booklet is an impressive affair, filled with numerous colour stills and artwork, plus lengthy notes by Stargate Writer/Director/Producer Robert C. Cooper, Executive Producer Brad Wright, and of course the composer himself.
Order your copy of this fine score from, or direct from Joel Goldsmith's website at, where you can also find many other exciting features.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


HellboyII - The Golden Army
Music by Danny Elfman
Varese Sarabande VSD 6910 (EU)
20 Tracks 59:34 mins

Director Guillermo del Toro forsakes his past relationship with Marco Beltrami, who did an excellent job on his previous English-language pictures, including of course the original Hellboy film, to enlist the services of comic book film scorer extraordinaire Danny Elfman in this latest outing for the mean red demon demolisher, Hellboy, played again by really the only man for the part, Ron Perlman.
There's no doubting the results would be excellent, but then I would have expected the same from Beltrami. Anyway, whatever the reasons for the change, Elfman certainly gives it his all, producing a big orchestral/choral score, which gets off to a blustering start in "Introduction," with some dark and powerful moments leading to a final crescendo.
The main character receives a an equally powerful march theme of his own in "Hellboy II Titles," which is followed by the percussive "Training," which sounds initially like it could have come from any number of martial arts films.
Some lightness is provided in tracks like "Hallway Cruise," exhibiting the loungy style Elfman used for Mars Attacks!, complete with theremin; and there are comic touches throughout. But much of the music is a combination of dark and menacing and full-on powerful action, all in the familiar Elfman style that his many fans will appreciate.
Standout moments include the relentless dark marches of "Where Fairies Dwell,"and ""A Troll Market," with its wailing soprano accompaniment; the Germanic choral of "Mein Herring;" the soaring nobility of "The Last Elemental;" and the uplifting "A Choice."
Rare moments of sentiment come in "A Link," "A Big Decision," "A Dilemma"and "Father and Son," before the latter errupts in exciting action to race to its conclusion.
The penultimate track "In The Army Chamber" provides a suitably grand slam finish to the action, with "Finale" bringing the score to a soaring, satisfying close; only to be slightly spoilt by the weird little ethnic-styled dance that ends the album. That aside, this is the score we should have had for The Dark Knight; something you can really get your teeth into and enjoy away from the film as well as up there on the screen.



For more detailed information, click on this URL:


For more detailed information, click on this URL:

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Pray For Morning
Music by Vincent Gillioz
Spheris Records SR0701 (US)
24 Tracks 70:16 mins

I continue my coverage of the works of Swiss composer in Hollywood Vincent Gillioz with his score for Cartney Wearn's horror flick Pray For Morning, starring Udo Kier. Vincent received the Moondance Columbine Award for Best Score at the Moondance International Film Festival 2007 and I have to say it's pretty scary stuff, right from the opening track, "Abandoned Hotel," a mysterious, flowing harp, piano & strings piece with dark undertones. The piece is reprised on occasion, as in the opening of "The Puzzle" and in "Jealousy."
Much suspense and malevolence is to be found throughout the score, the composer on occasion employing similar inventive atmospheres as in The Irish Vampire Goes West, but these are often broken up by terrifying bursts of violent action, as in "Hide," "Topher" and the swirling wall of sound that concludes "Procter's Office," which also features a rather mournful cello solo, combining in "Procter" with a nostalgic waltz. The oboe and harp melody for the opening of "My Dad Was a Cop" is in fact one of the few moments of respite to be found.
The lengthy "Swirling" brings everything to a head to bring proceedings to a powerful close, with "Once Upon A Time..." ending the score and album again on a mysterious note, before a final intense and unsettling climax.
Order your copy from


A Raisin in the Sun
Music by Mervyn Warren
BSX Records BSXCD 8838 (US)
31 Tracks 59:45 mins

Normal service is resumed, and when I first picked up this CD I thought "Oh, a remake of the old Sidney Poitier film from 1961" but, whilst that version of Lorraine Hansberry's play was a filming of the 1959 Broadway production, this new tv film version is a filming of the award-winning Broadway revival and reunites a number of the cast, like The Cosby Show's Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald and Sanaa Lathan. The lead however is taken by Sean Combs, not known of course for his acting but for a successful career in music.
The music has been provided by Mervyn Warren, who first came to my attention with his fine action score to Steeel, but is apparently better known for his work in the music business as a record producer, songwriter/lyricist, arranger, pianist, vocalist and yes, composer, where he has won 5 Grammys, working with the likes of Whitney Houston, Boyz II Men, Barbra Streisand, Chicago and Queen Latifah.
The film's "Main Title" is a lyrical, optimistic piano-lead theme, the first of a number of attractive tracks, often featuring the theme, like "50 Cents," "Walter's Scheme," "Big Walter," "Ruth Rejoices," "Never Stopped Loving," "New House," "New Hat" and the final title track, where the theme begins a little off kilter, before warming up to provide a suitably satisfying ending.
There is however more melancholy and even troubled fare on offer in the likes of "Still a Little Girl," "Walter Needs a Chance," "Pregnant," the lengthy "Lena's Decision," "Walter Attacks George" "Somewhere We Lost It," the dramatic "Ruth Aborts," "Lindner's Offer," "Money's All Gone," and "Nigeria."
Warren's background in jazz, among many other forms of music, stands him in good stead in "George Asks for a Date," "The Green Hat," "The Check Arrives," "Walter's Inner Turmoil," "Walter Calls Bobo," "Night on the Town," and the bluesy sax of "Ambitious."
He also contributes two songs: "I Dream of Love and You" and "Cross My Heart."
The accompanying booklet features colour stills and notes about the history of the play, this current production, and of course about the composer, who also has a few words to impart.
A very nice, melodic score then, well worthy of preservation on this limited edition of 100 units. Grab a copy from

Friday, July 25, 2008


Cinemusic: The Film Music of Chuck Cirino
BSX Records BSXCD 8824 (US)
25 Tracks 76:42 mins

Regular visitors to the blog will perhaps remember that I have already reviewed this fine compilation of three scores from king of the B-movie composers, Chuck Cirino. It's just that, due to an unexpected bout of illness, I did not have time or energy today to devote to reviewing the title I had hoped to cover, A Raisin in the Sun, which I hope to review for you tomorrow instead.
Anyway, if you missed the review, it can be found by searching the blog for Cinemusic, or by going to the archive for January 2007, where you can find the review on the 12th.
If you haven't already done so, get your copy from

Thursday, July 24, 2008


The Irish Vampire Goes West
Music by Vincent Gillioz
Spheris Records CD SR0802 (US)
14 Tracks 43:46 mins

The name Vincent Gillioz first came to my attention when I read a review of this soundtrack in Randall D. Larson's Soundtrax column. What he had to say about it intrigued me and prompted me to check out the composer and his music. Fortunately, Vincent was only too happy to allow me to sample his scores, released on his own label Spheris records, and available to buy through his website at I will therefore be covering all the CDs he kindly sent me over the days to come, starting with the score that first attracted my attention, The Irish Vampire Goes West, the title of which is basically, as Randall pointed out in his review, what the film is all about: an Irish vampire who abducts a girl in LA and takes her back to Ireland, pursued by her twin sister.
Vincent's music for the film is, as one would expect, suitably Irish in feel, with fiddle and pipes, courtesy of Wes Precourt and Les Lannom, much in evidence; and soprano Mashal Arman adding to the mix, as well as flutes, harp and possibly even cimbalom.
There's often quite a lonely, mysterious feel to the music, with the fiddle solos being effective in this respect, but also some quite oppressive and more intense and menacing moments. "The Abduction" is quite a good example, starting out kind of dissonant, but almost ethereal, before building in intensity towards its conclusion. At times, I would almost compare Gillioz's interesting, experimental atmospheres with those created by the great Ennio Morricone for any number of Italian thrillers earlier on in his career.
Somewhat of a different feel is provided by the brief "Requiem for Aunt Margaret," with Ms Arman vocalising with church organ supporting; whilst the lengthy fiddle-lead "Running Through the Emerald Isle" provides some flowing action music to begin with, before turning oppressive and atmospheric again. "Ode to Immortality" is another standout track, with Precourt's violin expressively performing the vampire's theme. A brief, sad flute lament introduces and permeates the intense, powerful "Through the Heart," wherein the vampire finally gets staked (I presume); with Ms Arman's soaring vocals bringing the score to a peaceful resolution with "Pie Jesu."
Of course, no Irish flavoured score would be complete without a rendition of "The Derry Air" and here Lannom does the honours in a brief rendition.
The Irish Vampire Goes West is quite unlike any score I have heard of late, featuring, as Randall D. Larson notes, and I agree, "a rich sound design," which makes for a very interesting introduction to the music of Vincent Gillioz.
You can order your copy of The Irish Vampire Goes West, along with his other scores on the Spheris Label, by visiting, where you can also find out more about the composer and his work, view pictures, read what the press has to say and listen to music samples. Well worth a visit.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Private Fears in Public Places
Music by Mark Snow
BSX Records BSXCD 8839 (US)
23 Tracks 49:54 mins

I was staggered, but delighted to receive a big box of CDs from BSX Records recently. It contained all their latest releases, Private Fears in Public Places by Mark Snow; A Raisin in the Sun by Mervyn Warren and Scenes of the Crime/A Child's Game by Christopher Young; plus a number from their recent back catalogue, including Without a Clue by Henry Mancini, Captain Kronos, Vampire Hunter by Laurie Johnson, An Unfinished Life, again by Christopher Young, Cinemusic by Chuck Cirino, and a couple of William Ross scores. In addition, there are numerous exclusives, like Howard Blake's The Duellists/Riddle of the Sands, Joel Goldsmith's Stargate: the Ark of Truth and The Incredible Hulk by Joe Harnell; all available from the Buysoundtrax website. I shall be reviewing them all in the days to come, but start today with the very latest BSX release, Mark Snow's score for the award-winning Alain Resnais film Private Fears in Public Places, or Coeurs, as it was originally known. Indeed, not only did Resnais win the award for best director at the Venice Film Festival, but Snow's score also received recognition in the form of a Cesar Award nomination.
Back in November 2006, the composer's publicists, Costa Communications, kindly made me aware of his work on the film and also sent me an advance CD featuring selections from the score. This is what I had to say: " the disc opens with Snow's main theme, which is tinged with loneliness to start with, but develops into a pleasant, flowing piece for piano, orchestra (live or sampled, I find it difficult to tell) and synths. The subsequent score is very much in Snow's familiar style, with some sensitive, intimate scoring, as well as more flowing pieces and almost dreamlike moments, coupled with more threatening, percussive pieces. It all leaves one begging for more."
Well, more we have, with this release, nearly 30 minutes' worth, and my question regarding the live orchestra (or not) is answered in the accompanying booklet, with the notes by Randall D. Larson (and quotes by the composer himself) revealing that the score was totally realised in Snow's studio in Connecticut, performing keyboards himself and utlising samples.
It is so rare to have any of Mark Snow's music on CD that I am sure his many fans will snap up a copy of this limited edition release of just 1000 units. If you haven't yet, what are you waiting for? Go to to order. Their excellent e-mailed newsletter not only keeps you up to date with all the latest soundtrack releases, obtainable from their site, but also carries news of offers, and the splendid Soundtrax column by Randall D. Larson, where you can read reviews and news of all the latest releases, as well as interviews with composers. Neal Acree is the latest interviewee, but archived are chats with the likes of Bill Conti, Mark Isham, George S. Clinton, Bear McCreary, Brian Tyler, and of course Mark Snow.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


The Dark Knight
Music by Hans Zimmer & James Newton Howard
Warner Bros. Records 511101-2 (US)
14 Tracks 73:35 mins

The latest Batman film just premiered in London and is already huge at the US box office.
It is again directed by Christopher Nolan, with most of the cast returning from Batman Begins, save for Katie Holmes, who has been replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal, as Bruce Wayne's love interest. Of course the most talked about addition to the cast is Heath Ledger, playing a much different incarnation of the Joker than has been seen in previous film and TV productions. Ledger is tipped for a posthumous Oscar, which may not just be a sympathy vote, as has been said, as many critics are supporting his nomination.
The score for Batman Begin saw the perhaps surprise teaming of Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, two very stylistically different composers and, whilst it undoubtedly worked well in the film, it made for a pretty dull listen away from it, frankly. So, I approached their re-teaming on The Dark Knight with some apprehension, but also the hope that we might get something a bit more enjoyable on disc this time, so imagine my horror when the first track was so awful as to be hardly considered as music. Basically, it is just a noise and little else, and why do the current crop of superhero pictures have to feature electric guitars so prominently?
Track two, "I'm Not a Hero," isn't a lot better, though it does flow quite well early on, reprising the main thematic material from Batman Begins, but it has an overall ominous feel, with a kind of electronic pulse that dominates. It does however pick up at its conclusion, with some fast-paced action music and a heroic climax.
Whereas the first two tracks display the Zimmer touch, "Harvey Two-Face" is more Howard-styled, at least to begin with, featuring a quite sympathetic feel, but it then picks up and moves along quite powerfully, before a sad piano solo leads into some almost heartbreaking string writing, with horns joining to provide a powerful climax.
The propulsive Batman theme re-surfaces briefly at the start of "Aggressive Expansion," but soon the music turns introspective, only picking up again at the end. The following "Always a Catch" spirals into a disturbing crescendo and then falls away; whilst "Blood on my Hands" is another sympathetic, low-key offering. "A Little Push" is a very dark affair, more sound design than music early on, a brooding piece of menace. This is followed by the best track thus far, "Like a Dog Chasing Cars," an heroic, determined action piece.
"I Am The Batman" is not dissimilar to "Always a Catch," and is followed by more action in "And I Thought My Jokes Were Bad," with those electric guitars from track one (I suspect representing The Joker) making a brief return late on. "Agent of Chaos" is again dominated by darkness, though it does have movement at times, but again the sound design dominates, though the return of the sad piano motif does provide for a poignant ending.
Action largely dominates "Introduce a Little Anarchy," with the Batman theme pitted against the Joker's; whilst the final score track, "Watch the World Burn," broods away again, but gradually the strings lift it to provide a weighty climax.
Obviously, not having seen the film, I cannot say for sure, but the final album track "A Dark Knight" could (at least I hope) be the conclusion and end titles music from the film. At more than 16 minutes, it is basically just an ebbing and flowing of the main Batman theme.
In conclusion, with the style of these scores being very much dominated by the Zimmer/Remote Control style, one wonders why it is necessary for Howard to be involved at all; and, whilst there are good moments in the score, they are few and far between, with the result that, as with Batman Begins, I am unlikely to return to this disc often. Having said that, I am quite confident that the score will work well in the film and I expect I will have to wait until I can see it and later own the DVD to really appreciate it.
The accompanying booklet of this standard album release features numerous colour stills from the film, full musical credits and a note from the film's director, Apparently, however, there are three other different versions of the soundtrack; a 2 LP vinyl version, a special digipak and a collector's edition with special artwork to come after release. Warner Bros. Records are certainly making a big thing of this score's release and I leave it to you to decide whether it was worth it.

Monday, July 21, 2008


Directors Cuts: Mystery
Extreme Music DCD031
34 Tracks 55:37 mins

Directors Cuts: Weepies
Extreme Music DCD032
30 Tracks 46:52 mins

Directors Cuts: Terror Tools
Extreme Music DCD033
99 Tracks 54:52 mins

Three new releases from the extreme Music Library in their Directors Cuts series, starting with Mystery, which features a wide range of music, perfect for trailers or adverts where the desire is to create a mysterious, stealthy, creepy or ominous sound. A big gothic feel is given to the opening track "Immortal Enemy," by composers Hendrickson/Taylor/Emanuel, with a tinkling music box-like interlude and later subtle female choir and chiming bell. Their other composition, "Sweet Revenge" starts out as much more lighter fare, flowing quite nicely until it suddenly takes a sinister turn to end in cacophony. The other composers featured are David Inlander and Bobby Tahouri, and of their individual compositions "Cloak and Swagger" flows nicely, as do "Paradigm Shift," "Sleeping Dogs," "The First Staw" and "Tripple Take," with its bombastic ending. Somewhat darker and more menacing are "Complex Steps," "Sleuth Decay," "Make No Bones" and the eerie "Shades of Darkness . A reflective, piano-lead mood is created in "Minor Miracle," whilst female voices lend an almost religious feel to "Conspiracy Quest."
As far as pure listening pleasure is concerned, Weepies is the more attractive of the three releases and features some well-known members of the Remote Control fraternity. James Brett's "Weeping Beauty" is a sumptuous compostion, reminding somewhat of John Williams' soaring string writing; whilst the same composer's "Sweet Sorrow" is a more intimate, yet still lovely track, featuring acoustic guitar and strings.
Geoff Zanelli has four tracks: the melancholy, piano-lead "Vanishing Act;" the initially guitar-lead, then epic "Bitter Suite," which could easily have come out of Randy Edelman's Gettysburg score; as could the noble "Cry Tide" and the reflective "Gloom with a View."
Gavin Greenaway has two tracks, the poignant piano of "Silent Weakness" and the almost ehereal strings of "Saving Grace."
Matt Gates has just one track, the brief, but passionate "Venus Envy; whilst the remainder of the tracks are courtesy of James S. Levine, including the piano musings of "Unlucky Charm;" the desolate "Low Point;" the lonely piano of "Picture Imperfect" and "Grief Encounter;" and the somewhat more hopeful "Open Closure" and "Below and Beyond."
The third new Directors Cuts release, Terror Tools, is little more than a serious of very brief stingers, all composed by Trevor Morris, which are ideal in capturing that shock moment, but don't really make for any kind of listening experience as a stand-alone CD collection.
You can sample tracks from the Directors Cuts series by visiting the website at

Sunday, July 20, 2008


The Promotion
Music by Alex Wurman
Lakeshore Records LKS 34015 (US)
22 Tracks 41:10 mins

This recent Sean William Scott/John C. Reilly comedy came and went very quickly at the US box office and so far hasn't surfaced this side of the pond.
The music is by Alex Wurman, who is already becoming a veteran of comedy scoring, and is a pleasant affair, quite minimalistic in style, commencing with the light and bubbly mover "The Donaldson Experience," with its catchy 3-note hook. The same theme or approach is basically at the heart of most everything that follows, most often voiced by piano or woodwinds; the composer putting it through all manner of variations, fast and slow; some with a loungy feel, Elfman style, and some in a variety of dance styles. It all flows very nicely and makes for one of the most melodic, sunniest and charming listens I have come across recently.
The final track on the album, "Four Handed Promotion" appears to be something of a bonus performance, a piano duet, based on the main theme. Quite lovely!

Friday, July 18, 2008


The Outer Limits
Music by Dominic Frontiere
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1070 (US)
Disc 1 - 25 Tracks 55:26 mins Disc 2 - 24 Tracks 63:40 mins Disc 3 - 21 Tracks 62:31 mins

With all the fuss that's made over the Twlight Zone series (1959-64), it is sometimes forgotten that there was another classic sci-fi series on air during the early '60s. The Outer Limits was the creation of Leslie Stevens, playwright and screenwriter. Unlike the more wide-ranging TZ, the show was purely science fiction oriented but, like its older cousin, became famous for its opening mix of music and narration.
The music created for TZ has received much praise over the years and was composed by a number of composers, some better known than others, including Bernard Herrmann and Jerry Goldsmith; but The classic first season of The Outer Limits only had one composer however, Dominic Frontiere (Harry Lubin was brought in for the second season after Stevens and co. had a falling out with the ABC management), and his music is of an equally high standard, easily meeting the challenges of the many very different scenarios presented by the show, whilst having to be brought in on a TV showbudget, largely utilising the standard orchestra of around 30, but also integrating music and sound effects to create the highly distinctive, often otherwordly, soundscape that featured overall.
Suites from ten of the best remembered episodes are presented here in this fabulous 3-disc compilation from La-La Land Records, together with various versions of the main and end credits, which include Vic Perrin's classic narration.
There are far too many tracks for me to go into individual detail, but the music, whilst having that overall atmosphere, mentioned above, also contains its share of standout highlights, including a versatile love theme, heartbreakingly beautiful at times, which dominates the opening suite from "The Architects of Fear;" the dreamy harp runs and atmospheres of "Controlled Experiment;" the use of a home-made oscillator, along with harp again, to provide the required out-of-space feel and alien menace to "Nightmare;" the imaginitive manipulation of romantic elements in "Don't Open Till Doomsday" to provide an overall suspenseful feel; the gentle woodwind melody that permeates all the dominant menace of "The Man Who Was Never Born;" the wonderful Oriental colours of "The Hundred Days of the Dragon;" the re-working of otherwordly material , featuring the aforementioned oscillator, from "Nightmare," into exciting, almost martial progressions and action; the use of elements from the show's main theme, along with violent crescendos in "The Human Factor," for which the composer used a larger orchestra of 44, together with its soaring love theme; the whirling, relentless string theme, representing bees set to conquer the Earth in "ZZZZZ;" and the building power and menace of "The Borderland."
Frontiere asked one of his former teachers, Robert Van Eps, who also provided some source music to episodes, to score the "Tourist Attraction "episode," and the man, largely known for his work as an orchestrator, gave a suitably South American feel to the story of the discovery of a prehistoric seas creature off an island in that region, as well as providing some exciting action writing.
I really can't praise this limited edition release enough. Not only does it feature great music, but the accompanying 16-page booklet features extensive notes by Randall D. Larson, including a guide to each episode presented and its music, together with rare behind-the-scenes photos.
I can't imagine there will be many better screen music releases this year.
Visit to order your copy and to keep up to date with all the label's fine releases.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


The Wreck of the Mary Deare/Twilight of Honor
Music by George Duning/Music by John Green
Film Score Monthly Vol.11 No.3 (US)
37 Tracks 76:22 mins

A pairing of scores by different composers feature in this recent release from FSM. First up is George Duning's score for the 1959 film The Wreck of theMary Deare, a mix of seafaring adventure and courtroom drama, starring the lofty pairing of Gary Cooper and Charlton Heston.
Duning's music receives its premiere release, remixed from the 35mm three-track masters, and is quite a short score at some 31 minutes.
The film's action opens with a storm at sea, with the composer's bold main theme emerging from suitable orchestral turbulance, but then the eerie strains of Novachord take over to provide an air of mystery and almost otherwordliness. Both elements appear frequently throughout subsequent tracks, emerging from often tense and suspenseful underscoring; but with moments of high drama, and a touch of sentiment here and there for the Virginia McKenna character. There's a real 'alien' sound to much of "Villain Higgins/Patch Vindicated/Trapped Divers" and "Bull's-Eye," before the violent action of "Higgins Has It," leads into a warm reprise of the main theme over the "End Title."
In his booklet notes, Album Producer Lukas Kendall rightly points out that Duning's score for the film would have worked well in Irwin Allen's various TV productions of the '60s, particularly of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea; and there is some similarity to music the composer wrote for the original Star Trek series.
The second score on this disc is by John Green for the 1963 courtroom drama Twilight of Honor, which starred Richard Chamberlain, taking his first steps onto the big screen on the back of his popularity as TV's Dr Kildare. The score again receives its premiere release in its entirety, though four tracks were originally released on an LP by MGM Records, which also featured a couple of vocal performances from Chamberlain that did not appear in the film, as well as other themes from MGM productions of that time. Again the score is quite brief at nearly 28 minutes, and some of it wasn't even used in the finished movie; but eleven bonus tracks complete the play list on this disc and feature multi-styled source music from the film, including Green's re-recording of Bronislau Kaper's theme from Home From The Hill, plus the love theme medley created for the LP.
Green's score for the film starts impressively with his powerful, racing, main theme propelling the opening action, which Lukas again rightly points out could easily have come from a TV cop show of the time. This theme is undoubtedly the highlight of the score and is much welcome when it rarely re-appears; though there is softer, pleasant scoring, including a nice, guitar-lead love theme, to be found in the likes of"Vicarious Blast/Only One Answer/A Little Rusty," "Loved You Then and Now,"and "I Like Deep BlueAnother element of the score is the sleazy saxophone theme for bad girl character Laura Mae, which crops up here and there.
The main theme returns amongst the action of "The Emmis," and in a brief variation at the end of the suspenseful and aptly named "Suspenseville;" before the love theme brings the score to a satisfying conclusion in "Don't Lock Me Out-Finale."
As always, the disc is accompanied by an attractive and informative booklet, featuring numerous stills from the films, the original Twilight of Honor LP notes, plus Lukas Kendall's aforementioned detailed notes and the invaluable cue-by-cue guide to all the selections presented.
Visit for more information, to listen to samples, and of course to order your copy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Meet Dave
Music by John Debney
Varese Sarabande VSD 6906 (EU)
27 Tracks 42:54 mins

If you live in the UK, you will have recently seen trailers on TV for this new Eddie Murphy comedy, in which he plays at least two roles, that of a spaceship, built to resemble a human being, and its tiny captain.
John Debney occasionally breaks away from his typecasting in comedies such as these, notably for The Passion of The Christ and the video game Lair, but it is rare, and I suspect he could score films like Meet Dave in his sleep by now.
Here, Debney's approach is a blend of straight and comedic, with suitably spacey music, featuring awe-filled choir; bursts of heroic action and adventure, again often featuring choir and full orchestra; "Dave's System Check," "Addressing the Crew" being good examples of the somewhat Star Treky approach; whilst "Betrayal/Mini Dave and No 3," "Saved By the Bus" and "Saving Earth" are more in super hero mould; together with lightly comic interludes, very occasionally turning riotous in tracks like "Welcome to Old Navy." There's also a hint of romance here and there, like in the surprisingly airy "Deli Robbers" and the charming "Gina's Painting.
Occasionally, the music turns more modern and beat-driven, like the sultry sax-lead "Gina Runs into Dave," and the more menacing opening of "Evil Dave Blasts Police Station."
"Mini Dave Apologizes" brings impressive calm and nobility after all the adventure, culminating in a fanfarish finish, leading into the concluding "Blast Off and Return, with its suitably big climax.
All in all then, a highly entertaining and undemanding listen.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


La Liceale/La Liceale Nella Classe Dei Ripetenti
Music by Vittorio Pezzolla/Music by Gianni Ferrio
Digitmovies CDDM106 (Italy)
29 Tracks 58:58 mins

The Digitmovies label continues to serve up music from the films of actress Gloria Guida, this time presenting '70s scores for the erotic comedy La Liceale and its sequel La Liceale Nella Classe Dei Ripetenti.
The former carries the only cinema score by one Vittorio Pezzolla, and is largely based upon an easy-going and poppy main theme, either carried by a variety of intruments, or whistled, as first heard in the title track. Numerous variations follow in susbequent tracks, and the composer also provides erotic scoring here and there, featuring Nora Orlandi putting on her sexiest vocals. Source music, in the form of a couple of tangos, completes the score.
For the sequel, the better-known Gianni Ferrio came on board and, although some of Pezzolla's themes were utilised in the score, this album only features Ferrio's original compositions.
The opening track, after a brief military intro, swiftly turns into something of a samba-styled theme, which is highly infectious and appears a few more times in the score, including the "Finale." Ferrio's secondary theme is something in the '20s style, though given a twist thanks to the composer's use of moog synthesizer, which also carries also carries the main theme here and there. Tracks 24 and 26 and 27 are of a darker, more dramatic feel, somewhat at odds with the rest of the score, and seemingly more suited to a '70s thriller score, but the lighter mood returns in the two subsequent tracks to bring the album to a satsifying close.
As always, a colourful booklet accompanies the disc, filled with stills and original artwork from the films, as well as introductory notes by Pierluigi Valentini and Claudio Fuiano.

Just a brief note to let you know that Thomas Newman's score for WALL.E. is now available in the UK on the Walt Disney Records label (cat. no. 228 2352). Regular visitors to the site will of course have read my review of the US release of this album but, if you missed it, go to my post of July 7th.

Monday, July 14, 2008



SAE presents Tiomkin's ANGEL ON MY SHOULDER!

For more detailed information, click on this URL:


Following his wonderful orchestral music for the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian video game, I'd now like to focus on Mark griskey's very different scores for two recent MARVEL/SEGA games which compliment the cinema release of both the Iron Man and Incredible Hulk movies.
Brought on to the Iron Man project by Justin Lambros, Vice-President of Marvel Interactive, who had written the script for the Gladius game, one of Griskey's first game music credits, the composer was no stranger to the Marvel universe, having previously scored Marvel Ultimate Alliance.
The agreed approach for the Iron Man music was a hybrid score, with orchestral, percussive and electronic elements (with overlays by Dave Levison) and, like the movie score, featuring some kick-ass electric guitars, particularly in the extensive action music, which really rocks out at times, often over a rhythmic techno base, or, in thecase of the Afgan scenes, suitably middle-eastern styled percussion.
Of course there are the customary ambient sounds for the breaks between the action and some villainous and stealthy moments as well, but it's the action that impresses, often quoting the "Iron Man theme," written in the tried and trusted manner for superheroes, where the theme almost sings the character's name.
If you go to the game's official website at, you can actually sample a generous amount of music from the game; and, if you go to, you can read an interview with Mark Griskey on his music for Iron man.

Griskey's approach for The Incredible Hulk game is quite similar in that the powerful "Hulk theme" also features kick-ass electric guitars, but here the action music, though still exciting, is given a more powerful, brutal and relentless feel. The music does still rock at times, but there is less of the rhythmic techno feel about it. The key characters are also given their own brief motifs.
Again, if you go to the game's official website at, you can hear some of Mark's music playing over the various menus.
Both games are available in all the popular formats, like Wii, PlayStations 2 & 3, Nintendo DS, XBox 360 and of course PC.
Visit for more information about the composer and to listen to samples from other projects he has worked on.
Coming soon, I hope to be taking a look at his music for the latest upcoming Star Wars game The Force Unleashed.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Joko Invoca Dio ...E Muori (aka Vengeance)
Music by Carlo Savina
GDM Hillside Series GDM 4117
25 Tracks 51:47 mins

Carlo Savina's score for this 1968 western, which starred Richard Harrison, a name well known to fans of the genre, and was directed by Antonio Margheriti, was previously only available as five mono tracks on an old C.A.M. LP, so this much expanded CD release, featuring another twenty tracks in stereo, is very welcome indeed.
The disc gets under way with a typically dramatic vocal, "Vengeance," co-written and performed by Don Powell (A Deadly Morning, Laredo etc.), with staunch support from I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni. The song is reprised in stereo in track 6.
A good deal of the music that follows is harsh, tense and dramatic, but also nostalgic at times, in a melancholy way; mostly based on elements of the opening song, though tracks like "Terre Lontane" and "Chitarra Nella Notte" present reasonably laid-back instrumental takes on it for acoustic guitar, whilst "In Piena Corsa" gives it a more propulsive feel, as does the harpsichord/guitar duet "In Viaggio;" and "Il Destino di un Cowboy" and "Verso il Confine" are suitably weighty and dramatic; with almost anguished violins making a rare appearance in "Il Suo Nome e' Joko." Trumpet and electric guitars feature prominently, along with snare drums in something of a secondary action variant, as well as in the tenser moments; with urgent harpsichord and guitars bringing things to a head in "Invoca dio e Muori!"
I think it's fair to say, that this is one of the more challenging Italian Western scores, which certainly demands your close attention, but which rewards with repeated listenings.
The colourful accompanying booklet features stills and original artwork from the film together with cast and credits. Visit

Friday, July 11, 2008


Dragonlance: Dragons of Autumn Twilight
Music by Karl Preusser
Lakeshore Records LKS 340012 (US)
29 Tracks 67:02 mins

With all the computer generated animations coming out these days, it's nice to see that someone still cares enogough to keep the traditional animated movie going. Here we have just such a thing, a handsome fantasy tale concerning gods, dragons, sorcery and of course heroes.
It's nice too that a generous budget was apparently allowed for the score, which features orchestra and choir, together with specialist medieval instruments and credited soloists on violin, woodwinds and percussion.
The composer is a new name to me, 37-year-old, LA-based Karl Preusser, none of whose past credits are familiar, both for film, TV and video; but, as a result of his music here, I have little doubt that we shall be hearing more of him in the future.
Right from the powerful choir and brass of the "Main Title," it is clear that this is a score well worth listening to. The same power and excitement is brought to tracks like the semi-martial "Dragonarmies," the heroic "Fizban's Tale," "Elven Rescue the propulsive "Takhisis and Verminaard," "Escape from the Inn," "Draconian Ambush," "Speaker of the Sun," "Sla Moria" and "Xak Tsaroth," with its wonderful horns-lead opening; all culminating in the splendid two part "Battle of Pax Tharkas."
But it's far from all bluster, with the composer effectively stirring the emotions in the likes of "Homecoming," "The Inn of the Last Home," "Goldmoon & Riverwind, "Sturm is Healed," Forestmaster/Pegasus Ride," "Fall of the Que Shu," "The Resurrection of Goldmoon," and "Tanis and Laurana;" whilst the medieval instruments can best be heard on tracks like "Tasslehoff & Flint," "The Circle is Broken," and "Returning to Solace."
"Qualinesti Hymn" is a track worth noting, a simply gorgeous, but sadly all too brief, choral moment in the score.
I think it's safe to say that if you enjoy the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings scores you will find this generous CD will have plenty to offer.
Visit to keep up to date with all the label's latest soundtrack releases.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


A bumper crop of reviews today to make up for my not being able to do any for the last couple of days, due to work and ill health. Oh well, here goes:-

Journey to the Center of The Earth
Music by Andrew Lockington
New Line Records (US)
24 Tracks 67:19 mins

This latest of many film versions of Jules Verne's classic story, opening in US theatres on July 11th, is shot in 3-D and stars Brendan Fraser. The soundtrack album has just been released and I'm working here from an advance copy, so I am afraid I don't have a catalogue number for you, but it should be readily available from your usual soundtrack retailer.
The score is by Andrew Lockington who, after years of working with Mychael Danna on numerous projects, is now picking up a few scoring assignments himself, especially following his much-praised music to 2006's Skinwalkers. For this score, the composer utilises a large orchestra and choir, together with the Japanese drumming ensemble Kiyoshi Nagata.
The album opens in adventurous fashion with the "Journey Theme," which is to return in variations on occasion, but, in this instance, develops into some exciting action at its conclusion. And it's this action writing which probably impresses the most, as with his Skinwalkers score, and there's plenty of it to enjoy in tracks such as "Mine Car Adventure," "Water Drop," "Storm," "Dinosaur!" and "Volcano;" but Lockington also provides some light relief here and there, and suitable moments of awe and splendour, as in "Climbing Sneffels" and "The Center of the Earth;"as well as poignant interludes, like "Goodbye Max," which is followed by the determined "Building the Raft." "The Return," sees the "Journey Theme" and variations bringing things to a satisfying conclusion.
I have no doubt that, on the strength of this and Skinwalkers, we shall be hearing much more of Andrew Lockington in the future.

Buffalo Bill L'Eroe Del Far West
Music by Carlo Rustichelli
GDM Hillside Series GDM 4116
32 Tracks

This much expanded release of Carlo Rustichelli's score for the 1964 western starring Gordon Scott (perhaps better known as one of the better on-screen Tarzans) as the famed Indian Fighter, Pony Express rider and showman, presents the original LP tracks, plus 12 more not featured on that release.
For an Italian western, Rustichelli's main theme is not typical of the genre, but being an early entry is more in the style of the Hollywood western scoring of the time, an easy-going, clip-clopping theme for orchestra, with harmonica and trumpet taking turns to lead on the excellent 4-minute opening stand-alone version. We then get another version as the album tracks are first presented, followed by the introduction of the composer's theme for Indian attack, in "La Carovana va...," another Hollywood stereotypical piece. Plenty more exciting action material follows throughout, and includes a sturdy, heroic theme introduced in "Inseguimento," with the title theme also cropping up to good effect here and there. A more gentle, nostalgic version of the theme, for harmonica, features in "Notte Serena Nel West;"
whilst "Far West" features a glorious, trumpet and harmonica-lead, travelling version; and the camp fire source version "Bivacco" is for harmonica alone.
In between the theme variations and the action, there are some tense, suspenseful moments, but some tuneful source material, featuring a couple of dance-hall instrumentals, provides some light relief.
The bonus tracks of previously unreleased material feature alternate versions of many of the album tracks, giving a generous playing time of over an hour of fine music.
The colourful accompanying booklet features stills and artwork from the film, plus cast and credits. Visit

The Film Music of Thomas Newman
Silva Screen SILCD1262 (UK)
14 Tracks 51:59 mins.

This latest film composer collection from Silva Screen, released on 18th August, brings together themes from Thomas Newman's more acclaimed assignments, faithfully performed by the label's orchestra of choice, The City of Prague Philharmonic, with London Music Works featuring on a couple of tracks from American Beauty, and the theme from the TV series Six Feet Under.
The other films featured are The Good German, Road To Perdition, The Horse Whisperer, The Green Mile, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Little Women, Cinderella Man, Finding Nemo, Meet joe Black and The Shawshank Redemption.
With such an extensive body of work under his belt, I am sure there will be something missing that you would have liked to be included (my own personal regret is that Scent of a Woman or Naked Tango are not featured), but overall this is a fine representation of Newman's work and would make for a good introduction to anyone new to the world of film score appreciation.
Each selection is accompanied by a brief guide to the film and its music by Music for the Movies' Michael Beek, as well as introductory notes, in the accompanying eight-page booklet.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008



For more detailed information, click on this URL:

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


In-Store Soundtrack Signings Set For New York and Los Angeles

Burbank, CA: - Two of the world’s most renowned composers, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, will be performing together live for the first time, on stage at the AMC Loews Lincoln Square IMAX Theater prior to the world premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures’ The Dark Knight on Monday, July 14, at 7pm.
These two world-class, award-winning composers teamed for the second time to create the score for this highly anticipated sequel to the blockbuster Batman Begins, which they scored in 2005.
Zimmer and Howard will be signing copies of the soundtrack at Virgin Megastores in New York on Tuesday, July 15, in Times Square at 7pm, and in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 16, at Hollywood and Highland, also at 7pm.
The soundtrack for The Dark Knight will be released on Warner Bros. Records on
July 15 prior to the film’s nationwide opening on July 18.
Warner Bros. Records will release four different configurations of the soundtrack for The Dark Knight: a standard jewel case CD, a 2 LP set of heavy-weight 180 gram vinyl version, a special edition digipack, and a collector’s edition with special artwork to come after release.
Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Legendary Pictures, a Syncopy Production, a Christopher Nolan film, The Dark Knight, starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Morgan Freeman. Nolan directed the film from a screenplay written by Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer. Charles Roven, Emma Thomas and Christopher Nolan are the producers, with Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull serving as executive producers. The Dark Knight is based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Batman was created by Bob Kane. The Dark Knight will be distributed worldwide in theatres and IMAX by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company. The film has been rated PG-13 for “intense sequences of violence and some menace.”

Monday, July 07, 2008


Music by Thomas Newman
Walt Disney records D000 174302 (US)
38 Tracks 62:07 mins

The latest animation from the Walt Disney/Pixar Animation Studios, WALL.E, tells the story of a lone robot, left on Earth when the planet was evacuated, who comes a cross a research robot named Eve, who realises WALL.E has discovered the key to the planet's future and races back to space to report these findings with WALL.E in hot pursuit.
Writer-Director Andrew Stanton had worked previously with Thomas Newman on the wonderful Finding Nemo and reunites with the composer on this project. Interestingly, songs from the musical Hello Dolly, performed by Michael Crawford, and Thomas' uncle Lionel conducted the orchestra for the 1969 film version. Other songs featured on the soundtrack include La Vie En Rose by Louis Armstrong and an original collaboration between Newman and Peter Gabriel on "Down To Earth." Gabriel also had a hand in a couple of the orchestral cues.
Newman's score for the film has a very important part to play, as it very often has to carry the action in the absence of dialogue, and it has already received much critical acclaim.
The score opens quite mysteriously and wondrously, with "2815 A.D." Following some semi-comic ramblings, "The Spaceship" brings some drama and considerable orchestral weight to proceedings (along with sound effects, which I could have lived without. There are others throughout the album, but mercifully few, and they don't really distract from the music too much). "Eve" follows, bringing a suitably romantic lift to proceedings, as it bubbles along. Some tension follows in "Worry Wait," but "First Date" returns us to the romantic mood, in syrupy '60s style, complete with vocal group. But it doesn't last long, before "Eve Retrieve" bursts into powerful action. "The Axiom" follows, with the strings singing joyfully, before being brought to an authoratitive and weighty close.
More '60s cheese follows with the short advertising jingle, "BNL,"again featuring the vocal group from before. "Foreign Contaminant" sees the composer return to action mode, with the largely breezy "Repair Ward" and "72 Degrees and Sunny" following. There's a return to action throughout the few quite brief cues that follow, before "Define Dancing" returns us to the bubbling, romantic mood for subsequent cues, with even a waltz briefly entering in "No Splashing No Diving."
It's back to the breezy theme from before with "M-O," before darkness descends with the threatening "Directive A-113." Suspense, action and menace combine in "Mutiny!," before "Fixing WALL.E" brings a somewhat ethereal feel, before ending on a defiant note. Brassy heroics announce the "Rogue Robots," who then go on the march in proper military fashion. The following "March of the Gels," whilst still propulsive, is in less conventional fashion. Tense, powerful action features in "Tilt," with choir taking it to its conclusion. Heroics follow over the next few action-packed cues, ending somewhat low-key in "Static." "Horizon" concludes the score, very much as it opened, with a return to that initial sense of wonder.
As with many of Thomas Newman's past scores, the cues are often quite brief, but flow together nicely on this album, so that one is barely aware of where one starts and another ends.
Perhaps reflecting WALL.E's job in "Waste Allocation," the CD's packaging in made from recycled material, and looks it, but this is a nice touch, and even the colourful inserted booklet is recycled, and features plenty of stills, a note from the director, plus full musical credits and lyrics for "Down To Earth."
Come Academy Awards time, it would not surprise me in the least if Newman gains a nomination for this fine score.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


1000 Dollari Sul Nero
Music by Michele Lacerenza
GDM Hillside Series GDM 4115
23 Tracks 39:39 mins

This 1966 Italian western, starred genre regulars Anthony Steffen and Gianni Garko and was directed by Alberto Cardone.
The score, by Michele Lacerenza, not surprisingly features the composer on trumpet for the brilliant opening deguello "Johnny's Theme," which is as good as anything of its kind, and of course faultlessly played. The theme is expanded dramatically in the following "Uno Straniero in Citta," and variations and fragments appear frequently in subsequent tracks, even in somewhat romantic style for "Attimi D'Amore" and "Ricordi."
Some galloping action, complete with electric guitar features in "Inseguimento," and again the guitar theme, introduced in this track, returns for "Marcia di Johnny," and the uptempo "Caccia." Dramatic battle music can be heard in "Fuga," "Contro I Nemici" and "Spiando Il Nemico."
Contrasting all the action and drama are "Nostalgia Di Lei" and "Accompamento All'Alba" which drift along with choral enhancement.
Of course no score for this genre would be complete with its source cues and "Storie Del West" and "Leggende Del West" feature jolly harmonica-lead tune, whilst "In Chiesa" features a church organ solo.
The album concludes with Peter Boom's spirited vocal of the Lacerenza/Gangarossa ballad "Necklace of Pearls."
The colourful accompanying booklet features stills and original artwork from the film, as well as cast and crew credits.
Amazingly, for such a fine score, only a single, featuring "Johnny's Theme" and "Necklace of Pearls" was previously released, so it's great to finally have it available to enjoy in full.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Music by John Powell
Varese Sarabande VSD6908 (EU)
20 Tracks 44:43 mins

This latest big Will Smith action comedy drama mix sees him play an alcoholic super hero, whose heroics often lead to disastrous consequences, before he saves the life of Jason Bateman's character, who sets out to clean up his act and improve his public image.
The score is provided by the dependable John Powell, and combines orchestra with rock and blues elements, resulting in yet another winner, filled with a good share of his trademark action music, starting off with the opening "SUV Chase," which achieves quite a "big and bad" sound, and following up with plenty of fireworks and heroics in the likes of "Train Disaster," "To War," "I Really Hate That Word," and "Hollywood Blvd;" with just a few lighter, comic touches here and there, as in "The Kiss" and "Indestructible."
But this is a multi-faceted score and there are a good many quieter, more sensitive moments, reflecting Hancock's difficulties in fitting in with society, his therapy, and his eventual new-found sense of belonging, with the acoustic guitar-lead "Mary Brings Meatballs" and a theme first heard in "Getting Therapy" and reprised later on, particularly nice, reflecting a gradually emerging warmth towards the character, as he begins to overcome his demons and win over the people.
Things take a darker turn however in "Mortal" and the opening of "Death and Transfiguration," before Hancock emerges triumphant, with the "Getting Therapy" theme leading into the feel-good concluding track "The Moon and The Superhero."

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Music by Danny Elfman
Lakeshore Records LKS 340212 (US)
15 Tracks 48:13 mins

This action-packed mix of stunts and CCGI, is apparently yet another film based upon a comic book, though not one that I've ever heard of. It stars Angelina Jolie as a beautiful assassin (who else could have played it?) and James McAvoy in a rare action role as the guy she has to train.
It's been a while since Danny Elfman wrote a score like this, but he did do a creditable job on the first Mission: Impossible film, so one could be fairly sure he would not let anyone down.
The album starts out with an original rock song, penned and performed by the composer himself, who of course used to be in a band before his transformation into film composer extraordinaire. It's quite a catchy, beat-driven number, which gets things off to a good start, and is followed by the purposeful "Success Montage," which has something of an eastern flavour about it, before picking up a techno rhythm. The flavour continues in "Fraternity Suite," with its subtle male choir giving an almost religious feel to proceedings.
Much of the music that follows is similarly purposeful, whether moving stealthily, or more in full-blown action style - largely orchestral, but with techno enhancements, and even electric guitars rock out in the exciting "Revenge." "Fox's Story" provides a change of pace however, a nostalgic, melancholy theme, with subtle female voice, but even this ends in a burst of action. The theme is expanded on later in the album in "Fox's Decision," where the female voice is more prominent and is joined by full choir, before reaching its crescendo.
When you add it all up, it's a pretty consistent and enjoyable action score, guaranteed to get your feet tapping and pulse pounding.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


The Edge of Love
Music by Angelo Badalamenti
UCJ 1772844 (EU)
20 Tracks 45:31 mins

This new World War II-set love quadrangle is a fictional tale, starring Keira Knightley, Sienna Miller, Cillian Murphy and Matthew Rhys, and is based on real characters, including Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
New Yorker Angelo Badalamenti is perhaps an unusual choice as composer for such a throughly British film, but he has actually done a good job, not only providing the score, but also collaborating with director John Maybury on a number of original songs, some performed in the film by Knightley, but others by the likes of Beth Rowley, Madeleine Peyroux, Patrick Wolf and Siouxsie Sioux. Singer Knightley is not, but she can just about carry it off, though she would be advised not to quit her day job.
Badalamenti's score is described by the composer himself as "tragically beautiful," with much melancholy, and even tragic, string writing, but also a tragi-love theme, best heard in the acoustic guitar-lead "Fire to the Stars"and "Home Movies," with "Holding Rowatt" probably the most unashamedly romantic theme of them all. Of course, his trademark "weirdness" (think the films of David Lynch) is also in evidence on tracks like "Underground Shelter," with its distant piano rag. Davie Hartley's piano provides a cheerful playout in the closing "Caitlin's Theme."
In addition to the aforementioned vocals, the album also features a track bySuggs, together with some of Thomas' poetry, read by Rhys, and underscored by Badalamenti.
The accompanying booklet features colour stills from the films, full music credits, and notes from both the film's director and composer.

Get Smart
Music by Trevor Rabin
Varese Sarabande VSD 6904 (EU)
20 Tracks 42:16 mins

The latest '60s TV show to get the Hollywood treatment is the spy spoof Get Smart, now starring Steve Carell as the bumbling Maxwell Smart, with Anne Hathaway playing the dependable Agent 99.
Trevor Rabin has provided the score, which is very much from the Remote Control stable, including the opening "Smart Dreams," which is reminiscent of Hans Zimmer's Backdraft theme.
But of course, how could anyone make a Get Smart movie without featuring the famous theme from the show, composed by Irving Szathmary, and it duly gets a fair few workouts here, albeit with a more modern feel, complete with big and bad electric guitars and techno rhythms even.
Often incorporating Szathmary's theme, Rabin's score plays things pretty straight and certainly "kicks ass" at times in enjoyable action tracks like "Cake Factory," "Skydiving,""Rooftop Fight,"and "The Big Chase;"with proud, militaristic colourings in the likes of "Max Denied" and "Max Takes a Bow," and plenty of stealthy movement in between.
All in all, a very entertaining listen then. Having been brought up on the original Get Smart, I wonder if I shall enjoy the film itself as much. Certainly, if they had to make it, I cannot think of a better choice of actor than Carell for the lead. We shall see.