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Monday, January 26, 2009


Batman: The Animated Series
Music by Shirley Walker, Lolita Ritmanis & Michael McCuistion
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1082 (US)
Disc 1 - 36 Tracks 76:05 mins Disc 2 - 35 Tracks 74:02 mins

The success Tim Burton's live-action revival of the famous DC character Batman prompted WarnerBros. Animated to go ahead with the idea of creating a similar revival of the character to follow on from the movie. Their similarly dark take on the character took him in a completely different direction from the campy live-action antics of Adam West & co. that I had been raised on in the 1960s. Unfortunately, by then I had grown out of watching animated series, so it quite passed me by. However, prompted by the continual praise heaped on the series' music, I have since hired a few DVDs and can now see what all the fuss was about - and the shows themselves aren't bad either!
The late Shirley Walker was hired to write the music for the show, having been involved with the Batman film's composer, Danny Elfman, on a number of his projects. A wise choice she proved to be, and her work on this series, as well as a number of projects that would not normally seem likely to be offered to a female composer, proves that a composer is a composer, no matter their sex; and it's hard to see how any male counterpart could have come up with anything better. Her scores were suitably dark and serious (though there's some pretty wacky material as well, for episodes involving The Joker) and there's plenty of exciting, kick-ass action music to boot.
To share the load, she hired two young up-and-comers in Lolita Ritmanis and Michael McCuistion (later joined by Kristopher Carter, who, as Dynamic Music Partners, have gone on to score subsequent Warner animated series), though she of course handled the bulk of the music, providing her own distinctive "Batman Theme," though Elfman had specially arranged his own movie theme for the show's main titles.
For years, fans of the show and its scores have lamented the fact that none of this great music had been commercially released. Well, at last, that most excellent label La-La Land Records, has come to the rescue, producing a splendid 2-disc collection of music from the show, mostly concentrating on Walker's contributions, and featuring her episodes "On Leather Wings," "The Last Laugh, "Two Face," "Joker's Favor," "Perchance to Dream" and "Birds of a Feather;" but also featuring her collaborations with her young proteges on "Pretty Poison" and "Christmas with the Joker." Solo episodes by Ritmanis ("It's Never Too Late") and McCuistion ("Vendetta") are also included, making a total of some 2 and a half hours of great music to enjoy. Added to this, there is a splendid 20-page accompanying booklet, in which Daniel Schweiger details the story of the creation of the series and its music, as well as providing a show-by-show guide to the plots and the music provided for each one, of which generous suites are of course presented; and there are significant contributions from many involved with the show. All this, plus colour stills and music credits which, when added to the splendid music, make for the perfect package, which is rightly dedicated to the memory of Shirley Walker.
This really is one for any screen music historian's collection and, as it is a limited edition of 3000 units, I would advise you to hurry along to to secure your copy.

Muori Lentamente Te La Godi Di Piu
Music by Gianni Marchetti
GDM Hillside Series GDM 4123
35 Tracks 61:41 mins

This 1967 spy movie starred former Tarzan Lex Barker and was directed by Franz Josef Gottlieb.
The music for the film was composed by Gianni Marchetti and features contributions from the dependable I Cantori Moderni di Alessandroni, featuring the fabulous voice of Edda Dell'Orso.
Originally released on LP, the first 14 tracks on this disc feature that programme, in mono, as they were originally presented, followed by the previously unreleased stereo score tracks.
This highly melodic score features a versatile main theme, first heard sumptuously in "Cieli D'America," followed immediately by a loungy take, featuring Edda, in "Donne Da Spiaggia." The theme is to appear frequently throughout the score, in all manner of styles, sometimes accompanied by Edda's solos, and will soon imprint itself on your brain. Edda also features on a bouncy new theme "Una Grappa per Vincere;" whilst full choral forces come into their own on the jazzy "Baraonda a Bordo." The loungy shake "American Palace" follows; and then more of the jazz choral material in "Omicidio Sull'Asfalto." Edda returns, intricately propelling "Voce del Destino." These are then the basic elements of the score, as first they appeared on the re-recorded LP. I presume that, because the unreleased score tracks often reveal differences in tempo and presentation and so do not just repeat what has gone before on this disc, thus holding the interest throughout.
As always, the disc is accompanied by a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the film, as well as principal credits.
Order your copy from, and hurry, because there are just 500 copies released.


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