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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


Blazing Saddles
Music by John Morris
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1072 (US)
26 Tracks 41:31 mins

I guess most people will have at least heard of, if not seen, Mel Brooks' 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles. I certainly saw it at our local cinema and was thoroughly enjoying it until the finale, when the whole thing went to hell with its misjudged ending. I thought it was just me, but apparently, according to the booklet notes, I was certainly not alone. Anyway, I have not seen the film since, nor do I wish to unless the ending is changed, which is unlikely. As for the music, well I always loved the title song, sung with gusto by Frankie Laine, complete with strategic whip cracks, who had performed similar duties on serious westerns like 3:10 To Yuma and Gunfight at the OK Corral. Apparently, when recording it, he was under the misguided notion that he was again attached to a straight forward western.
Although the song was later made available on a compilation LP of Morris' music for Mel Brooks' comedies, it's taken until now for the enterprising La-La Land Records label to grace us with a proper album of the film's music. There's actually not much to attract serious film score fans here, but devotees of the film will delight in the availability of the music, which is dominated, in addition to the Laine vocal, by songs like the wonderful Dietrich-like "I'm Tired," performed on screen by Madeline Kahn; the choral "The Ballad of Rock Ridge," which opens the film; and the Busby Berkeleyish "The French Mistake."
Instrumentals on offer include the big band jazz take on "April in Paris," by Count Basie and His Orchestra; the source band track "Hoop-Dee-Doo;" the trudging badness of "Mongo,"the mixed bag of styles that is track 11; and various takes on the main theme, like the Indian attack-styled "Wagon train Flashback;" the camp fire-styled harmonica of "Transitions" and "Bart Returns;" the proud "A New Rock Ridge;" and the wacky "The Big Fight" and "The Studio Fight." The closing "Noble Farewell/Finale" sees the theme reprised in a choral/orchestral arrangement to close the score on a satisfying note, before a breezy play out.
As it's quite a brief score, a number of bonus tracks at the end of the disc are welcome, including instrumental versions of the songs, some more successful than others, and other brief snippets, including a vocal by the film's star Cleavon Little, as well as a whipless alternate version of the Frankie Laine vocal.
The aforementioned accompanying booklet is a stylish affair, with Dan Goldwasser's extensive and revealing notes on all aspects of the production, including of course the music, and lyrics to the songs; all accompanied by colour stills from the film. As the release is limited to 3000 units, best mosey on over to to roundup your copy today, pardner!


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