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

Thursday, September 04, 2008


It's good to be back! Thanks to regular visitors to the site for their patience in this difficult time. Unfortunately my PC became infected by nasty bugs, which is why I have been offline for over a week. It has now come back from being thoroughly cleansed and, hopefully, I'm off and rolling again. So, here we go with my first new review in a while:-

Masters of the Universe
Music by Bill Conti
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1071 (US)
Disc 1 - 19 Tracks 59:10 mins Disc 2 - 16 Tracks 60:15 mins

Back in the '80s Cannon Films were quite a big noise on the movie making scene, starting off with low-budget fare and then expanding into pretty big budget movies, one of which was 1987's Masters of the Universe, a live-action version, starring Dolph Lundgren as the heroic He-Man, and Frank Langella as the menacing Skeletor; of the popular cartoon series, which sprung from a line of action figures made by Mattel in 1981.
At the time, composer Bill Conti was pretty much at the height of his powers, having scored hits like the Rocky and Karate Kid films, the epic miniseries North and South, the Bond film For Your Eyes Only and of course his Oscar-winning The Right Stuff.
For Masters of the Universe, a score of epic proportions was required, something along the lines of Star Wars meets Superman, and that's just what Conti delivered; a highly entertaining orchestral score, perhaps not entirely performed to Hollywood standards (by various European ensembles, most notably the Graunke Orchestra of Munich), but this only adds to its charm. An LP was issued originally, with an expanded version later. This new limited release of 3000 units presents the complete score, plus the original album programme.
Conti's music is for the film is of the old leitmotific school, with a whole variety of themes for the film's different characters that interplay throughout the score, commencing with the brassy, heroic main theme. Exciting action abounds, as well as plenty of dark menace, the latter with a touch of "Mars" from the Planets here and there (a staple in genre films at that time), and dominated by a villainous march for Skeletor. There are quieter moments too, with sentiment in cues like "The Cemetery;" a gorgeous love theme for Julie (Courteney Cox); and just a hint of comedy here and there. The "End Credits" suite brings together many of the main themes and motifs from the score to provide a most satisfying end to proceedings.
If you love the score as much as I do, you won't want to be without this definitive version of it. If you're new to it, and love big symphonic scores, you won't be disappointed.
The accompanying booklet , as well as featuring numerous colour stills from the film, features extensive notes by Randall D. Larson, which include comments from Conti. Order your copy from

From Costa Communications:


Terence Blanchard


Film premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival on Sunday, September 7th

Blanchard performing at an outdoor concert at the festival on Monday, September 8th

(Hollywood, CA) World-renowned film composer and trumpet player Terence Blanchard reunites with director Spike Lee to score Miracle at St. Anna. The film debuts at the Toronto International Film Festival Sunday, September 7th at 9:00pm in the Visa Screening Room. Miracle at St.Anna marks Blanchard's twelfth collaboration with Lee. Miracle at St. Anna is part of the Special Presentations at the festival. Blanchard's original epic score features over 140 minutes of music and was recorded at Sony Studios in Los Angeles with a 98-piece orchestra, including members of Terence Blanchard’s band. In addition to the film debut, Blanchard will perform an outdoor jazz concert sponsored by the festival on Monday, September 8th. Miracle at St. Anna is presented by Touchstone Pictures in association with On My Own and RAI Cinema.

Miracle at St. Anna is based on James McBride’s critically-acclaimed, NY Times bestseller and World War II novel. With a cast that includes Michael Ealy, John Turturro, John Leguizamo, and Walton Scoggins, Miracle at St. Anna depicts the lives of four African-American soldiers fighting in World War II (1944). The film follows the 92nd Buffalo Soldier Division trapped behind enemy lines and separated from their unit in a small Italian village. What happens within the confines of the town, and the incredible passion with which these soldiers live out their daily lives is nothing less than physically and emotionally extraordinary.

Says Blanchard of Miracle, “I’m inspired by the story itself. Growing up in New Orleans, I remember the Buffalo Soldiers marching in parades and never realized the significant role they played in fighting for our freedom. It’s an honor to be a part of a project that helps to relive and tell a small segment of what those soldiers dealt with in our history.”

Spike Lee and Terence Blanchard's impressive collaborative films include Mo Better Blues, Malcolm X and Inside Man, along with HBO’s critically lauded Emmy-winning series, When the Levees Broke: A Requiem In Four Acts. Blanchard’s 2008 Grammy Award-winning CD A Tale Of God’s Will (A Requiem For Katrina), draws from music he wrote for the series and includes new music written by his band members, making it a beautifully haunting and impassioned song-cycle about Hurricane Katrina and the ravages incurred upon the city of New Orleans.

Blanchard has had a prolific year. In addition to touring worldwide and scoring films, Blanchard played a pivotal role in moving The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz from Los Angeles to New Orleans, a move that as Artistic Director he feels will benefit the city of New Orleans and expose students to the ever-present rich diversity of music.

Terence Blanchard was born in New Orleans and began playing piano at the age of five. In elementary school, he added the trumpet and was coached by his opera-singing father. In high school, Blanchard came under the tutelage of Ellis Marsalis and Roger Dickerson. After graduation, attended Rutger’s University on a music scholarship where one of his professors was so impressed by his talent that he brokered him a touring gig with Lionel Hampton’s band.

In '83, Wynton Marsalis recommended Blanchard to replace him in Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Part of the Blakey legend was his ability to foster performances and individual personalities from the young, malleable talents he brought into his fold. Blakey utilized and nurtured the improvisation and compositional ideas of his band members to solidify his own unique artistic vision. The legacy of the working band as a jazz workshop is at the essence of jazz, and Blanchard remains one of the few on the scene today who fully embraces that dynamic.

Terence Blanchard's additional film credits include Eve’s Bayou, Talk to Me, Barbershop, Dark Blue and Oprah Winfrey’s Their Eyes Were Watching God.


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