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

Friday, February 27, 2009


Max and Helen/The Oasis
Music by Christopher young
BSX Records BSXCD 8847 (US)
16 Tracks 49:35 mins

BSX Records brings together two Christopher Young scores previously available on Bay Cities and Edel records respectively.
The 1990 TV production Max and Helen tells of one case that Nazi hunter Simon Weisenthal didn't follow through on, out of respect for the identities of damaged couple Max and Helen, though he did write a book of the same name in order to document their story.
The Max and Helen score takes up the first eight tracks on the CD. The couple's favourite piece, Chopin's Piano Etude No. 3 in E features strongly in Young's score, excerpted in a number of tracks; but it gets underway with the haunting wordless vocals of "In Memory." The uncredited soprano also features in "Stories Must Be Told," which also features solo horn and cello parts; as counterpoint to the Chopin in "Heart Lost;" in "Zalesie," accompanying a fateful tolling bell, before the cue takes on a decidedly oppressive electronic feel; and taking the lead on another variation of the Chopin in "Must Continue;" before closing the score in more hopeful mode in the final "Forgiveness of Sins." A jaunty violin-lead "old country" tune provides an undemanding interlude in "Zioczow Square."
For those of you more used to hearing the composer in horror/thriller mode, this intimate and moving little score will be quite a surprising departure.
Back when he began taking his tentative first steps into the business of film composing, Young was often forced to write in the style of others, particularly evident in his early work is the distinctive voice of Jerry Goldsmith. For his fourth film however, The Oasis, and also his first straight drama, a study of nine air crash survivors and their struggle to survive in the desert, Young had very limited resources, consisting of a small string group, flute, harps and keyboard on the one hand, but also primitive sounding percussion on the other, featuring all manner of elements, like log drums, metal oil drums, conch shells, snake charm rattles etc. The score makes up the remainder of the album and the first two tracks have something of a questing nature to them. These are followed by the lengthy "Devil's Food," which actually runs for nearly 9 minutes, as opposed to the 2 minutes 18, indicated in the play list, and is the first to make extensive use of the aforementioned percussion, providing a threatening, eerie sound scape. "The Heaven Tree" continues with an almost Native American feel, including a plaintive flute solo. The tense "Funeral Mountain follows, and then more eerie, atonal sounds in "Garlock." "The Water Web" is a duet for unaccompanied flutes; with "Rituals" concluding the score in percussive fashion, with much use of drumming. Apparently, there were problems with the recording of much of the more lyrical parts of the score, which is why only about half of the score is presented here, which is a great pity.
The composer adds his comments to the accompanying notes on the films and his scores.
This is a limited edition release of just 1000 units, so best get along to and order your copy now.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Max Manus
Music by Trond Bjerknes
MovieScore Media MMD 0002
19 Tracks 45:27 mins

Both critically acclaimed and popular with audiences, this Norwegian World War II action thriller is directed by Joachim Roenning and stars Aksel Hennie. The score is composed by one of Norway's leading film composers, Trond Bjerknes, a new name to me, but I'm always interested to sample the work of a composer with whose work I am unfamiliar.
A story of a wartime saboteur is, as you would expect, accompanied by much tense and dramatic music, and there is plenty of this in the likes of "The Window Jumper," "Donau Attack," "Before Donau," "Burning the Archive," "The Bridge," "Limpets on Aker," "Execution," "Control Post," and "Max and Hitler." But there are also proud, solemn, reflective and even tragic moments, occasionally featuring solo trumpet, as in the "Opening"and "Military Training;" and piano and/or strings in "Liquidations," "The Train," and "Ski Ride." A brief moment of romance is offered in the piano-lead "Tikken and Max;" whilst a feeling of industry and hope is given to "Propaganda Montage."
Trumpet returns to play a lament over strings and poignant piano in "The End," with reflective piano following in the title track; the album closing in big and dramatic fashion with the "End Credits."
The Max Manus album is available for download as an iTunes exclusive.

Monday, February 23, 2009


The Erotic and Painful Obsessions of Jess Franco
3 Scores by Gerhard Heinz
Allscore Media ASM 028 (Germany)
23 Tracks 56:22 mins

King of European exploitation films Jess Franco has a body of work totalling more than 170 films, most of these representing an addiction to sex and violence. Despite this, he has won the prestigious Spanish film award "Goya" for his life work.
Though they never met, Austrian composer Gerhard Heinz, himself with a body of work totalling more than 100 film scores, many of which were for softcore sex films of the '60s, was given the opportunity (by distribution company Lisa Film) to write the scores for three of Franco's films of the early '80s, two of them erotic, Linda and Eugenie, the other a slasher movie Bloody Moon, starring cult actress Olivia Pascal. This CD presents selections from all three scores, opening with 9 tracks from Eugenie, with its disco-styled main theme; the loungy "Wiederam Swimmingpool;"the easy-going groove of "Alba und Lolita;" the somewhat trippy "Lolita und der Teddybaer" and "Gespraech am Vorhangand; the romantic-strings of "Alberto und Alba;" the erotic sounding "Der Traum zweite Phase;" the somewhat abrasive moog of "Versuchung auf der Terasse; and the pacy "Schlussmusik."
Next up are 8 selections from Bloody Moon which, after a mysterious "Intro," gets into the disco groove with "Holiday Feeling," "Disco Nights," "Disko Alternativ"and "Samba Tropical." All this merriment is balanced out by "Die Sage des Todes Suite," "Bungalow 13" and "Schock," which present the more menacing and suspenseful elements of the score, many of which would not have been out of place in Italian genre films of the period and older.
It's a return to the erotic sound scape for the 6 tracks from Linda, including the sunny, easy-going "Titelmusic Rio Amore," "Im Strandcafe" and "Panorama;" the more dramatic, bongos-driven "Verfolgung am Strand;" the romantic piano of "Betsy und Ron;" and the purposeful and erotic mix of "Die Maedchen im Kloster - Filmversion," with it's lovely, but also weird vocalisations.
The CD comes with notes in German and English, including an interview with the composer.


Congratulations to A.R. Rahman for winning the Academy Award for his music for the phenomenon that is Slumdog Millionaire. It wouldn't have been my choice of those nominated, but then, as always, I consider there to have been better scores not included in the shortlist. Anyway, more power to him, and to the film and its incredible triumph.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


Two items of news from Costa Communications:-




(Hollywood, CA) Award-winning composer JOHN DEBNEY scores Disney’s HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE, directed by Peter Chelsom. The family comedy stars Miley Cyrus, alongside her dad Billy Ray Cyrus. Debney created a new love theme for the film and integrated the score with Miley’s songs to create a unified sound throughout the film. He wove the song tracks and score to play simultaneously, creating a seamless marriage between the two. Debney’s approach to the score is rural and contemporary. Debney wrote the orchestral arrangement to “Butterfly Fly Away,” performed by Miley and Billy Ray Cyrus, written by the Grammy-winning songwriting team of Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri. Next month at the Burbank International Film Festival, Debney will be honored with the Career Achievement Award, and a medley of his scores will be performed at the opening of the festival. HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE will be in theatres April 10; the soundtrack will be released on March 24.

Recently Debney completed the score to another family, fun-filled film, HOTEL FOR DOGS. Last year, Debney set the tone to the dramatic film THE STONING OF SORAYA M. (adapted from the New York Times best seller), which received critical acclaim at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. Currently Debney is scoring the latest Eddie Murphy comedy, A THOUSAND WORDS. His other credits include THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, for which he received an Oscar nomination; IDLEWILD, a Prohibition-era musical starring the duo Outkast and featuring famed trumpeter Arturo Sandoval; the animated films BARNYARD and CHICKEN LITTLE; the comic-book inspired SIN CITY, and the comedies ELF and LIAR, LIAR.

Debney’s ability to deliver the perfect score in a wide variety of films has made him one of the most sought after composers in Hollywood, leading him to work with several directors multiple times. For Garry Marshall, Debney scored the black comedy, GEORGIA RULE, PRINCESS DIARIES 1 & 2, and RAISING HELEN; for Tom Shadyac, he scored BRUCE ALMIGHTY and EVAN ALMIGHTY.

In addition to an Academy Award nomination, John Debney has received several Emmy awards, a Dove award for THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, a CUE award for the score to the videogame LAIR and several gold and platinum selling albums, including THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST and THE PRINCESS DIARIES. Debney was the youngest recipient of the ASCAP Henry Mancini Award for Career Achievement, and has conducted concerts of his music with orchestras throughout the United States and Europe.

In HANNAH MONTANA: THE MOVIE, Hannah Montana's popularity begins to take over her life. Miley Stewart (Miley Cyrus), at the urging of her father (Billy Ray Cyrus), takes a trip to her hometown of Crowley Corners, Tennessee to get perspective on what matters the most in life.

Composer Austin Wintory Scores


Winner of Jury Prize at France’s Gerardmer Film Festival

Los Angeles, CA – Film composer Austin Wintory’s latest project, the psychological thriller Grace, continues on the festival circuit after winning the Jury Prize at France’s prestigious Gerardmer International Fantasy Film Festival in early February. Grace, writer/director Paul Solet’s feature debut, screens at South by Southwest on March 14, 17 and 21 at 11:59 p.m. at the Alamo Ritz 1. Wintory was at Sundance last month for the premiere of Grace; his film last year, Captain Abu Raed, won the Audience Award and received critical acclaim for the score. At 26 years old, Wintory has been BAFTA nominated and last year was presented with an award for “Best New Film Composer.”

Wintory’s role in the production of Grace went a step further than that of a typical composer. As a friend of director Paul Solet, Wintory was involved with the film very early on. Before any filming occurred, Wintory wrote 20 minutes of music based on the script, and then flew to the set to play the music for the actors and discuss their characters. None of that music was ever meant to be part of the score; Wintory wrote entirely new music for the finished film.

For his Grace score, Wintory took an experimental approach. The score consists of manipulated sounds, including recordings of creaking floorboards on the set, a baby crying and flies buzzing. Wintory even used traditional instruments in non-traditional ways, weaving a piece of plastic through the strings of a cello and assembling the largest group of clarinets ever recorded in London at Abbey Road. The score also features vocalist Lisbeth Scott (Captain Abu Raed, Passion of the Christ). Scott wrote lyrics to the lullaby sung by the mother, which is repeated as a theme sung by Scott throughout the score. “I have no intention of ever working with another composer,” said Solet.

Austin Wintory taught himself how to compose, orchestrate and conduct in high school, before attending NYU and USC. His first short film at NYU won a local scoring competition and premiered at New York’s Lincoln Center. At USC, Wintory studied under Golden Globe nominated composer Christopher Young (The Shipping News, Spider-Man 3). In the three years since beginning his professional career, Wintory received a BAFTA nomination for the videogame flOw, was named “Best New Film Composer” at the Hollywood Music Awards and was listed as an Oscar contender for Captain Abu Raed by the Los Angeles Times. His upcoming film projects include the drama The River Why, starring William Hurt and Amber Heard.

Grace stars Jordan Ladd as a pregnant woman who loses her unborn child though a sudden tragic accident. She carries the stillborn baby to term, where she miraculously wills the delivered corpse into life. But it is not too long before the increasingly isolated mother realizes that something is not right with baby Grace, and she must make horrible sacrifices to keep her living.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Just Buried
Music by Sarren Fung
MovieScore Media MMS-09003
20 Tracks 33:10 mins

Released to coincide with the US DVD release of this award-winning Canadian comedy comes Darren Fung's score for Just Buried, which features the Czech FILMharmonic under the baton of the composer. A new name to me, you can find out more about Darren by visiting
The album opens with the brief and mysterious "Welcome to Elder's Bluff," the somewhat otherworldly theme continuing in variations throughout "Whynacht's Funeral Home," "Strange Town, Stranger People" and "New Owner Nosebleeds." A change of direction comes in the happy little whistled tune "Fortunes are Changing, "followed by the surprisingly light "Vehicular Manslaughter." The composer brings a somewhat classical period sound to the violin-lead "Pickles Has the Stick," complete with harpsichord accompaniment. The determined "The Day After" follows, then, after a somewhat drunken opening, we are treated to more variations on the main theme, with cimbalom joining the piano at one point in "Evening Drive." "Ollie's First Time" sees harpsichord return in this brief, sneaky affair, followed by more of the same in "Sneakery." A sinister air is given to "Damned Prostate, and then more sneakiness in "Snarr's." The diabolical "I Dropped a Minivan on Him" follows, then its more sneakiness in "I Have to Go Pee," with its slightly unhinged ending. The somewhat drunken clarinet returns at the start of "Into the Drink," with its overblown ending. High drama follows in "You Screwed My Dad!?!?, though the track does end on a very subdued note. The expressive penultimate track, "Naugler's Funeral Home" leads into "He Was a Good Man," which is basically a hymn played by unaccompanied church organ.
This quirky little score is quite entertaining and I look forward to hearing more from this composer.
As usual, there is a limited CD release and copies should be available from the likes of Screen Archives and Intrada, or you can download the album from iTunes if you prefer.
Visit for further details and to hear samples.

From Top Dollar PR:-

Salta Records with A-list Musicians in New York for the New Title in the Prestigious
Tom Clancy's Video Game Franchise

Composer and music producer Tom Salta, whose previous
credits include the MTV VMA-nominated original score for Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon:
Advanced Warfighter® (GRAW) and the acclaimed sequel Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon: Advanced
Warfighter® 2, has written and recorded the exhilarating original music score for
Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X(TM), the first air-combat game set in the world-renowned Tom
Clancy's video game universe. Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X will be available March 3, 2009
for the Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and the PLAYSTATION®3
computer entertainment system. The Windows-based PC version of the game will be
released the following week.

Developed by Ubisoft®'s Bucharest studio, Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X delivers an intense
and authentic aerial combat experience by fully leveraging the benefits of the current
-generation platforms. To emphasize the game's cutting-edge technology, devastating firepower,
and intense dogfights, Salta composed an adrenalized and emotionally-charged live
orchestral / electronic hybrid score recorded at Legacy Studios in New York with
A-list musicians from the New York Philharmonic and Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
"In Tom Clancy's H.A.W.X we had to explore five emotional dimensions: the patriot,
the life of a mercenary, betrayal, hopelessness and open war on U.S. soil," said
Emil Gheorghe, producer of H.A.W.X. "Tom Salta managed not only to tie all these
elements together in an astoundingly rich and memorable score but he also crafted
an acoustical identity for our game to stand up in the midst of the Tom Clancy's
titles. Using orchestral arrangements, high-tech sounds and a mix of traditional
instruments, he built an incredibly diverse soundtrack ranging from flavorful traditional
themes to military tracks."
To preview samples of Salta's music for the game, visit the official website at

Tom Salta's other video game credits include Ubisoft's exclusive first-person action
title for the Wii(TM) home video game system from Nintendo, Red Steel, drawing from
traditional and contemporary Japan for the game's original soundtrack which received
IGN's Wii Award for Best Original Score. Recording under the artist name Atlas Plug,
he is currently writing the follow-up to his highly acclaimed debut solo album 2
Days or Die. For more information on Tom Salta visit

© 2006-2009 Ubisoft Entertainment. All Rights Reserved. H.A.W.X, Ghost Recon, Ghost
Recon Advanced Warfighter, the Soldier Icon, Red Steel, Ubisoft,, and the
Ubisoft logo are trademarks of Ubisoft Entertainment in the U.S. and/or other countries.
"PlayStation", "PLAYSTATION" and "PS" Family logo are registered trademarks of Sony
Computer Entertainment Inc. Wii and the Wii logo are trademarks of Nintendo. © 2006
Nintendo. Microsoft, Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, and the Xbox logos are trademarks
of the Microsoft group of companies and are used under license from Microsoft.

About Ubisoft
Ubisoft is a leading producer, publisher and distributor of interactive entertainment
products worldwide and has grown considerably through a strong and diversified line-up
of products and partnerships. Ubisoft has teams in 28 countries and distributes
games in more than 55 countries around the globe. It is committed to delivering
high-quality, cutting-edge video game titles to consumers. For the 2007-08 fiscal
year Ubisoft generated sales of 928 million euros.
To learn more, please visit

Thursday, February 19, 2009


John Paul Jones/Parrish
Music by Max Steiner
Film Score Monthly Vol. 11 No.12 (US)
24 Tracks 71:30 mins

As with its other recent release, Auntie Mame, coupled with Rome Adventure, the FSM label has made available on CD for the first time, these two Max Steiner scores from 1959 and 1961 respectively. Both are re-recordings of the composer's music from the films, the first concerning Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones, and starring Robert Stack; the second a vehicle for teen heartthrob Troy Donahue, based on Mildred Savage's tale of "love and lust on the tobacco farms of the Lower Connecticut Valley."
Both presentations are again re-recordings, often the norm at the time; the first conducted by Muir Mathieson, who also conducted the score as heard on the film, and now sadly lost; the second featuring Steiner's seven selections from the Parrish score, originally presented on side 1 of the LP, with George Greeley (My Favorite Martian composer) playing piano concerto-like arrangements of three of the Parrish themes, as well as Steiner's immortal "Tara's Theme" from Gone With the Wind, and the popular "Theme from A Summer Place."
This disc gets underway with the near 37-minutes of selections from John Paul Jones, which is vintage Steiner, full of proud and heroic music, and incorporating, as the composer often did, well-known tunes, in this case, "Yankee Doodle," which opens and closes the "Main Title," book casing Steiner's fabulous march theme for the title character, which is reprised in more stately and nautical modes in the following "Growing Up." After a dark opening, the next track becomes grimly determined for "The First Landing of the U.S. Marines.""House of Burgesses" is illustrated by a light and sunny minuet; with the mood continuing into "Horse-Play," with its banjo-lead Southern feel, giving way to lively horse-racing music, and then to a touch of romance. "Yankee Doodle" returns in grim mode for "Valley Forge," which is followed by the lovely theme for the title character's one true love "Aimee," though the track takes a darker, suspenseful turn before the theme returns in its most espressive form. "The Surrender" features characteristic Steiner action writing, before "Yankee Doodle" again returns softly to close. "Catherine the Great" incorporates portions of the "1812 Overture" in a largely suitably Russian-flavoured track. After an initial fanfare, "The Golden Sword" pairs Jones' march with the Aimee theme. The theme from "House of Bugesses" returns in waltz-like mode for the opening of "Dorothea," before the composer introduces a Scottish lilt into Jones' courtship of Dorothea. The lengthy "Return from Russia- Finale" revisits many of the themes featured in the preceding score, before ending heroically with the march theme.
Parrish opens with a theme not by Steiner, but by actor John Barracuda, who played a small part in the film. "The Tobacco Theme" is something of a spiritual piece, but not very memorable. This is followed by Steiner's "Paige's Theme," a guitar-driven, easy-going piece for strings. "Allison's Theme" is a sultry, clarinet-lead piece of bluesy music, with the typical, easy-going Steiner lilt of "Lucy's Theme" following, probably the best known theme from the picture. A radio source cue follows in "Someday, I'll Meet You Again," a theme originally written by the composer for 1944's Passage to Marseilles. "Paige's Theme" then returns in a waltz arrangements; with another easy-going piece, "Ellen's Theme," which actually opened the picture, concluding this lovely set of selections from the Parrish score. The Greeley performances close the disc in tuneful, easy-listening fashion.
The accompanying booklet is unusually short of illustrations but, as always, features copious notes on the films and scores, by James Lochner, including the much desired cue-by-cue guide, as well as the original LP liner notes from John Paul Jones.
For further information, samples, and to order your copy, go to

Wednesday, February 18, 2009



Long Island Music Hall of Fame To Co-Present Music and Movie Panel As Part Of the

25th Anniversary Of The Long Island Film Festival

Garden City, NY - (February 10, 2009) – The Long Island Film Festival (LIFF) and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame (LIMHoF) will join together to present an exclusive ‘Music in Film’ panel discussion as part of the 25th Anniversary of the Long Island Film Festival. The panel, entitled “Creating a Mood—Advancing a Story” will be moderated by LIMHoF board member and renowned Long Island radio personality Denis McNamara.

Celebrating its 25th Anniversary, The Long Island Film Festival will run February 23, 25-27. The four nights of independent films and panel discussions are being shown at two very hip venues—the cozy Creative Arts Studio in Sea Cliff and Perspective Studios in the City of Glen Cove.

LIMHoF Board Member Denis McNamara is moderating the panel “Creating a Mood—Advancing a Story”. McNamara is best known for his long-time association with WLIR where he pioneered radio airplay of the first wave alternative music during the 1980s. Also featured on the Music and Film panel is LIMHoF board member/CineMedia Promotions president Beth Krakower, and three composers from films that will be screened throughout the festival: Steve French (composer/music editor for PARTING WORDS), Dan McLoughlin (composer of score and songs for CALLING IT QUITS) and Tony LoGuerico (composer of songs for PERIPHERAL VISION).

“We are thrilled that the Long Island Music Hall of Fame will be lending their talents and expertise to celebrate our festival’s 25th Anniversary tour by taking part in this unique panel discussion,” said LIFF Executive Director Francis J. Leik.

“Any filmmaker who is serious about his or her craft won’t want to miss the opportunity to hear what these music legends have to say,” said LIFF Executive Assistant Lisa DiPasquale. “They can offer invaluable insight into a key part of filmmaking-how to join film and music.”

The panel “Creating a Mood—Advancing a Story” will take place on Thursday, February 26, from 7:45-9PM at Perspective Studios (70 Glen Street) in Glen Cove, NY. The full schedule and costs for the Long Island Film Festival can be viewed at


Long Island Music Hall of Fame (LIMHOF) is a 501(c)(3) museum and membership organization dedicated to the idea that Long Island’s musical heritage is an important resource to be celebrated and preserved for future generations. The organization defines Long Island geographically as Kings, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties. The Hall of Fame sponsors the Long Island Sound Award (LISA), traveling educational exhibits, and a scholarship program. It is also creating a museum home in Port Jefferson where the story of the Island’s musical heritage will be told. For more information about the Long Island Music Hall of Fame, please visit

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Music by John Barry
BSX Records BSXCD 8846 (US)
14 Tracks 41:24 mins

Back in the 1970s, British model Caroline Munro became famous as the Lamb's Navy Rum girl. Her face was everywhere and this fame soon lead to her nabbing a few film roles, as in the Bond film The Spy Who Loved Me, Dracula A.D. 1972, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Captain Kronos-Vampire Hunter. Her first starring role as such was however for the 1978 Italian Star Wars inspired Starcrash. Sci-fi fans, their enthusiasm fueled by the former, were eager to take in anything that in any way resembled it, and I can count myself as one of them, but were mostly disappointed, as I was, by the film, and Ms Munro's film career hardly flourished after this role.
The music for Starcrash was composed by John Barry, his first sci-fi score, and his theme for Munro's character, Stella Starr is something of a cousin to his Oscar-winning theme for the later Out of Africa, only taken at a snappier pace, with stylistically similar rhythmic accompaniment to that used by the composer in the same year's Game of Death. After the initial playing of "Stella's Theme" over the "Main Title," "Escape into Hyperspace," Barry's secondary theme, is a steady, propulsive affair that reminds a little of his work in the Bond series, and also of future music for Legend of the Lone Ranger. "Captured" is suitably downbeat and anguished, whilst "Launch Adrift" is very suggestive of the vastness of space, with its repeating piano figure. "Beach Landing" is a grimly propulsive affair, and is followed by the suitably cold, electronically enhanced "The ice Planet/Heading for Zarkon," which ends in an ominous processional. The repetitive "The Emperor's Speech" ends with a brief reprise of "Stella's Theme," but continues in ominous mode into "Strange Planet," before wild percussion adds threat to "The Troggs Attack." The tense "Akton Battles The Robots" is another repetitive track, reminiscent of his work on historical films like Mary, Queen of Scots and The Lion in Winter. The brief, but anguished "Network Ball Attack" follows, before the composer combines his main and secondary themes for "Space War." A more leisurely variation on "Stella's Theme" follows in "Goodbye Akton," complete with the tinkling piano of "Launch Adrift," with the score ending on a reprise of the "Main Title" version of the theme.
There's much to enjoy about this score, particularly for fans of the composer, who can spot all the similarities to pieces that came both before and after Starcrash; and this is certainly a good time to be a Barry fan, what with this release and Intrada's recent The Golden Seal and Until September; but there are still plenty of unreleased scores, particularly of his States side work in the '70s and '80s that I personally would love to see make it to CD.
Star Crash has previously been available both on LP and CD, but has been hard to find for some time now, so this digitally remastered reissue is very welcome and there is a bonus "Starcrash Suite" tagged onto the end of the album, largely featuring both fast and slow versions of "Stella's Theme," to boost the playing time by another 7 minutes.
The disc is accompanied by a colourful booklet, featuring stills and artwork from the film together with Randall D. Larson's notes on both film and score. Limited to just 1500 units, this album is sure to sell fast, so i should get along to if you want to add it to your collection.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Hotel for Dogs
Music by John Debney
Costa Communications Promo
32 Tracks 60:11 mins

A new family comedy reaching UK screens is Hotel for Dogs, starring Julia's niece Emma Roberts, supported by Friends' Lisa Kudrow and Don Cheadle.
The score is written by John Debney, but unfortunately, to the best of my knowledge, no score album has been released, only an album of songs. The composer's publicists have however kindly sent me a copy of his score, recorded at Warner Bros. Eastwood Stage, with a 90-piece orchestra and acoustic guitars, so I can at least give you an idea of what to expect, should you go see the film.
The disc gets off to a bright and breezy start with "Dinner is Served" and indeed a fair bit of this light, lively and melodious scoring features in subsequent tracks, with some heroics thrown in here and there; whilst there are also moments of comic sneakiness and pure slapstick, straight out of the old mickey mouse school of scoring. Of course, the composer also knows how to tug at the heartstrings, when needs be, in tracks like "A Family Someday," "Bernie Picks up Kids," "Rooftop Talks, "Georgia and Her Hat," "Brother and Sister Separated," and "Friday Searches;" and also when to add modern rhythmic elements to the orchestra, as in the purposeful "Rounding up the Strays," and the Thomas Newmanesque touches in the likes of "Stealing Food."
"Puppy Love" is an interesting track, starting and ending quite bluesy, with flowing action in between, all the time being lead by harmonica; and "Kitchen Mayhem" bursts into flowing Latin-styled music at one point. Choir enters the mix at the awe-filled opening of "The Pee Room."
The score does have its darker, mysterious and lightly threatening moments, as in the opening of "Hotel Discovery Pt.2;" "Psycho Sheep," the title of which gives away the approach taken; and the dramatic "Pound Break-Out."
The longest tracks on the disc, at just over 4 minutes each, are "The Big Run Home," a fine rollercoaster of a light action cue, and "Bernie's Speech" which, after a tentative start, warms nicely to present yet more variations on the sweeping and quite charming main theme, heard throughout the score. The theme concludes satisfyingly in "Welcome to the Hotel," before a brief and lively reprise in "Hotel Finale."
All in all, yet another charming and fun little score from the composer, with plenty to enjoy, and I do hope some enterprising label sees fit to give it a commercial release.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Music by Guy Farley & Various Artists
Silva Screen Records SILCD1278 (UK)
21 Tracks 51:51 mins

Cashback is a small, but imaginative British film, which some of you may not have even heard of. It started out as a 19-minute short in 2004, which did incredibly well at international film festivals, winning award after award and eventually gained an Oscar nomination for best short. It then launched on iTunes, becoming one of the top downloads for two years, before it was expanded to feature length in 2007. It was critically acclaimed and became popular for its great visuals, care of its writer/director Sean Ellis, once a leading fashion photographer, and for the stunningly beautiful and often naked females who populate the dreams of its young art student protagonist.
Another key element is the film's soundtrack, which features a score by another man some of you may not have heard of, but who has written some excellent music in recent years, for films which have often flown under the radar, like Modigliani and Madre Teresa. For his Cashback score, featured on 12 of this album's 21 tracks, Guy Farley utilises the London Metropolitan Orchestra, with Simon Chamberlain featured on Piano and ethnic percussion care of Paul Clarvis.
The score opens with the suitably bleak "Break Up," the mood continuing in "Photos," before matters take a fresh turn with the more propulsive "Suzy," which becomes ever more sweeping as it proceeds. It's back to more introverted fare for "Frozen," with solo piano giving an appopriately cold feel to proceedings, and continuing on into "Sharon." The instrument does however take on a more hopeful, almost magical feel in the subsequent "Drawing." By complete contrast, the Celtic tinged opening to "The Challenge," which could easily have come out of Trevor Jones' Last of the Mohicans score, gives way to a familiar hymn, before proceeding to its inspirational conclusion. After this welcome interlude, its back to the bleakness again with "Someone There?" with its disturbing ending, that wouldn't be out of place in a horror film. The brief piano solo "Saturday School" follows, and then the more hopeful "Pittsburgh" recalls the theme from "Drawing." "Dust" returns us to the cold piano solo, but the score concludes with another revisiting of the theme from "Drawing," bringing this mostly quiet, low-key listening experience to a close.
The remainder of the disc is given over to contemporary numbers by Grand Avenue, The Concretes, Bang Bang, The Gypsies, Evil 9 and Malente; as well as Jeni Bern's performance of Bellini's "Casta Diva," and light music in the form of Trevor Duncan's "Enchanted April."
The accompanying booklet features stills from the film, full music credits, plus a note from director Sean Ellis. Order your copy from

Monday, February 09, 2009


Confessions of a Shopaholic
Music by James Newton Howard & Various Artists
Hollywood Records 696 0115 (UK)
14 Tracks 46:51 mins

Released in UK cinemas on February 13th is the film adaptation of Sophie Kinsella's novels The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic and Shopaholic Abroad, starring Isla Fisher in her first big starring role, having previously impressed in supporting roles, most notably Wedding Crashers. UK readers will perhaps remember her in Australian soap Home & Away. The film is directed by P.J. Hogan (Muriel's Wedding, My Best Friend's Wedding) and is scored by James Newton Howard, who disappointingly only gets one track on the soundtrack album, released in the UK on 23rd February, a 4-minute suite that commences with a sunny, guitar-lead mover, which quickly goes into dreamy, romantic mood, with guitar again taking lead, developing a happy beat, which is cut short by rather ominous flamenco-styled music. The threat builds, eventually breaking forth in percussive action mode, before ending quite sneakily. Certainly a varied piece, and interesting enough to warrant a score release, for which we can but hope - but I wouldn't hold my breath if I were you.
The remainder of the album features numbers by Jordyn Taylor, Lady GaGa, Jessie James, Adrienne Bailon, Kat DeLuna, Shontelle (featuring Akon), Pussycat Dolls, Natasha Bedingfield, Trey Songz, Greg Laswell and Macy Gray, most of whom I have never even heard of.
More info at and

Sunday, February 08, 2009


I've come hotfoot from my TV just to tell you that on a huge night for Danny Boyle's film Slumdog Millionaire, which saw it take home numerous BAFTAs, the film's composer A.R. Rahman was one of the honourees, taking home the Anthony Asquith Award for his music, no doubt delighting his many fans, both in his home country and around the world.


Deathstalker II/Chopping Mall
Music by Chuck Cirino
BSX Records BSXCD 8840 (USD)
27 Tracks 49:25 mins

It's good to see a label championing the works of a composer who many of you may not even have heard of, but Chuck Cirino has written some great themes for very low budget movies over the years. Now, you know I'm not normally keen on electronic scoring, but what makes Cirino stand out from the crowd is his ability to come up with a truly catchy melody; witness his work on the 1987 sword and sorcery adventure Deathstalker II, a film by one of the kings of exploitation, Jim Wynorski, and starring a woman, whose body I frankly lusted after for a good many years, Monique Gabrielle. For the film, he came up with a highly infectious galloping main theme, obviously inspired by the music of the "spaghetti western," with electronic cries mimicking the kind of thing Morricone used vocalists for in his scores, but of course accompanied by a typically 80s beat. This theme is prominent in the 12 tracks included on this disc (2 of which are incidentally dialogue extracts), sometimes played slower and in more romantic fashion, most notably in "Love Theme II." Apart from this, "Evil" is the only other theme of note, a suitably dark march of sorts. I really have to thank the label for releasing this score, as I can now throw away my old cassette dub, made back in the dark days when it was quite rare for a mainstream film to have a soundtrack release, let along of one such a modest budget.
I haven't seen the previous year's Chopping Mall, which concerns a group of teenagers trapped in a shopping mall, pursued by security robots. The director was again Wynorski and the cast included the likes of Re-Animator's Barbara Crampton and Mary Woronov.
Again, the score is electronic, with often an 80s beat, with the main theme less memorable, but which moves nicely along all the same, and there's plenty of flowing action music to be found in the likes of "Shopping Death," "Burning Terror" and "Crawling Around As with Deathstalker II, there's some "spaghetti western" influence to be found in tracks like the tense "Showdown" and the actioner "Running Rampant;" whilst the poignant "Love Theme" offers a brief respite. Again, 3 of the 15 cues presented here feature dialogue, which personally I could do without, but at least they're brief, and thus don't really take up too much space that could have been filled by music.
Chuck Cirino has written many scores that deserve recording and let's hope the label, who of course previously released three of his scores on "Cinemusic: The Film Music of Chuck Cirino," continue to support his music with further releases of his work.
The colourful accompanying booklet features stills and artwork from the films (though still not enough of Monique for my liking!), together with notes by Jim Wynorski and Chopping Mall co-writer Steve Mitchell.
Go to for your copy, but hurry, as it is a limited release of just 1000 copies.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


Music by Various Artists
EMI 236 6302 (UK)
18 Tracks 56:14 mins

Faintheart is the world's first user generated movie, resulting from "My Movie MashUp," which allowed users of MySpace to contribute to every stage of the making of the film. The plot revolves around a guy's attempts to win back the love of his life, which probably oversimplifies it, but if you're a MySpace user you'll probably be familiar with the story and all its intricacies. The film was to be released free in just 150 cinemas, as well as on MySpace of course, on 27th January, before its DVD release on 2nd February.
The soundtrack to the film is a very varied affair, featuring everything from instrumentals by Mike Batt and Tom Hodge, to tracks, including some abrasive rock numbers, by the likes of Miss Misery, Phil Mousely, Tenpole Tudor, The Michael Schenker Group, Spandau Ballet, The Human League, Eastern Front, Katie Melua, Saxon, and The Proclaimers; a version of Greensleeves by the Dennison String Quartet; and even a couple of well known classical pieces, Ride of the Valkyries and a Night on Bare Mountain.
The only tracks of interest to the film score fan will be Tom Hodge's opening "Armies," which builds into a quite thunderous action piece; plus the two selections from the film's principal composer Mike Batt's score, the galloping, pseudo-spaghetti western, harmonica-lead "Run to the Funeral," and the initial comic sneakiness of "Maggie in the Comic Shop," which eventually gives way to a lilting waltz-like tune, and finally a gentle mover for piano and guitar.
The accompanying booklet features stills from the film, plus a full rundown of credits for the selections chosen for the CD, which is in stores now.

Thursday, February 05, 2009


Film composer Austin Wintory has signed with First Artists Management, a talent agency specializing in composers and supervisors for film and television that represents Oscar winners and nominees including Philip Glass, Gustavo Santaolalla and Rachel Portman. Since beginning his professional career less than two years ago, Austin Wintory has composed over 20 film scores. His list of credits includes Captain Abu Raed, winner of the Audience Award in 2008 at Sundance; Grace, a psychological thriller that premiered at Sundance this year; and the videogame fl0w, for which Wintory received a BAFTA nomination. Additionally, he was named "Best New Film Composer" in 2008 at the Hollywood Music Awards. He attended both NYU and USC, studying under Golden Globe-nominated film composer Christopher Young, also represented by First Artists. Wintory's next project,The River Why, stars William Hurt and Amber Heard and will open in late 2009.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Auntie Mame/Rome Adventure
Music by Bronislau Kaper/Music by Max Steiner
Film Score Monthly Vol.11 No.11 (US)
25 Tracks 69:37 mins

FSM has recently reissued four albums on two discs of selections from scores of the '50s and '60s by Max Steiner and Bronislau Kaper. These albums have never previously been released on CD and, whilst, if you've been around as long as I, you may well have the original LPs in your collection, you'll probably love them enough to invest in these remastered representations.
Of course, the trend at the time was to re-record selections from scores for record release and these albums are no exception. The first of the two scores addressed here is by tune smith extraordinaire Bronislau Kaper, for the 1958 adaptation of the successful stage production of Auntie Mame, itself adapted from a bestselling book, and starring the incomparable Rosalind Russell. For those not familiar with the original album, the seven selections featured are adapted and conducted by Ray Heindorf and open with "Prelude and Theme" which, after a big opening, settles into a grand, sweeping waltz, before turning solemn and ending on a tragic note. "Patrick" is something of a mixed bag, at times playful, at others lush, and at others sentimental; whilst "The Martini" is largely comedic, and includes Kaper's playful setting of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." "Lady Iris" sees the main theme return in largely sorrowful and subdued variations, but with a Christmasy ending. Things turn decidedly more energetic and wildly comical with "Plantation and Fox Hunt," after a brief banjo rendition of Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home." "Mame Goes Abroad" is a good excuse for a medley of themes, including a Parisian Waltz, a mysterious eastern variation on the main theme, and a Tirolean-styled accordion waltz. The final selection, "Miss Gooch and Finale" features a busy, bustling and light-hearted opening, before concluding in stately fashion. To make the original album something of a tribute to Kaper, on side two, Heindorf also included a new arrangement of the Auntie Mame theme, plus the composer's popular tunes "On Green Dolphin Street;" "Invitation;" "Take My Love," from The Glass Slipper;" and of course "Hi-Lili, Hi-Lo," from Lili. All are included here.
The second score featured on this CD is by the great Max Steiner, for 1961's Rome Adventure, which saw Suzanne Pleshette make her screen debut alongside popular teen heartthrob Troy Donahue. Seven tracks are featured from the score, re-recorded by the composer himself, whilst side 2 of the LP featured, under the sub-heading of "...And other Neopolitan Favorites," six selections from the same year's Warner Bros. Records release "Strolling mandolins," featuring Raoul Meynard and His Orchestra; and includes popular tunes such as "Arrivederci Roma" and "Volare." All are again included here.
The Rome Adventure selections open with the title track which, after tolling church bells and a brassy fanfare, presents Steiner's sweeping main theme, with its impassioned interlude for solo violin. The film's gently lilting love theme, "Lovers Must Learn," follows, and features parts for solo cello and violin. "Tarantella" needs no explanation. The popular song "Al di La" is heard first as an instrumental, then with Emilio Pericoli's vocals. This is followed by another gently lilting tune, initially for mandolin and accordion, "Serenade," which Steiner originally wrote for the 1931 film Transgression. The melodies keep on coming with another delightful romantic tune for "Prudence;" with the second and final title cue starting out quite ethereal, before the main theme re-enters to bring proceedings to a satisfactory close.
As always, the accompanying booklet features detailed notes, by James Lochner, on the films, scores and composers, together with original LP liner notes and a cue-by-cue guide to the selections.
For further info, samples and ultimately to order your copy, go to

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


From Costa Communications:-

Gossip Girl's Transcenders set to score Road Trip sequel

Music production team Transcenders has signed on to score Road Trip II: Beer Pong. Transcenders, who currently write music for the CW hit Gossip Girl, will score Paramount Famous Productions' sequel to the 2000 blockbuster Road Trip, set for release in fall 2009. With backgrounds as popular recording artists, they bring a fresh, innovative approach to composing music for film. Transcenders contributed one song to the original Road Trip soundtrack.

Transcenders (Mike Fratantuno, Brian Lapin and Terence Yoshiaki) were founding members of the Black Eyed Peas, earning a Grammy nomination in 2005 for the song Let's Get It Started. Their songs can be heard on the soundtracks for Judd Apatow's Superbad, Knocked Up, and 40 Year Old Virgin, and the upcoming I Love You, Beth Cooper, opening this summer. In addition, they have written and produced for artists such as Mozella , The Lovemakers and Tasha Taylor.

Monday, February 02, 2009


Wrong Hollywood Number
Music by Edwin Wendler
Westwood Music Group Promo WECD-1169
8 Tracks 15:20 mins

I am indebted to Screen Archives Entertainment for providing me with a promotional disc of Edwin Wendler's music for the 2003 short comedy Wrong Hollywood Number, for which the composer utilised the services of the London Metropolitan Orchestra and Ensemble Calixa Lavallee.
It's a short score of just over 15 minutes, but is quite vibrant, with a versatile main theme, heard in a lush treatment over "Welcome to Hollywood," which is sadly cut short on this disc as it rises to almost majestic heights. The theme however returns in the very next track "Hopes and Dreams," where it first receives a poignant guitar treatment, before picking up in a bright, almost Hollywood musical styled treatment. "Assembly Dance," a lighthearted tango, concludes the same track. The Latin mood continues into the optimistic "New Beginnings," the main theme returning in a brief whistled variation towards the end. "Acting Montage" follows, initially quite classical in nature, before a kind of sixties spy feel emerges, with a heavenly choral to close. "Ignoramus" is pure slapstick, giving way to an ominous drum roll opening to "Ham and Pineapple," before a carefree variation on the main theme takes over, becoming a flowing western theme, complete with whip cracks. A zany kazoo-lead variation on the main theme closes the score in "Hollywood Melody." The disc ends with a strange little source track "On Hold...On Edge."
This bright and very varied little score then is a pure delight, and is available on iTunes, but should you somehow manage to get a hold of a copy of the promo, it features enhanced content; a trailer, session photos and a digital booklet.
For more information on the composer go to, or visit him on, where you can listen to some of his music.

Sunday, February 01, 2009


Music by Mark Snow
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1083 (US)
Disc 1 - 26 Tracks 74:27 mins Disc 2 - 25 Tracks 74:20 mins

As the new millennium approached, all sorts of doom-laden predictions were circulating and in October 1996 a new TV series, entitled simply Millennium, hit the screens. Behind it was X-Files creator Chris Carter and it followed the adventures of retired FBI profiler Frank Black, played by Lance Henriksen, a very capable performer in numerous movies, mainly of limited budget, though, along with this role, his career may well be defined by his performance in Aliens. Black has the ability to enter the minds of serial killers, a useful, if personally disturbing talent put to use by The Millennium Group, as they apparently seek to combat these criminals, with their activities somehow intensifying as the new millennium approaches. Unfortunately, despite this promising premise, I quickly became bored with the show as, to me, it just seemed like another cop show with a twist. I was already locked firmly into the X-Files, and preferred its much more compelling format. Also, the series didn't fare well with its scheduling over here, often appearing late at night and so, I soon drifted away. Reading the excellent booklet that accompanies this extensive collection of music from the series, it seems I perhaps should have stayed with it, as it appears to have become more fantastical as it progressed.
Mark Snow had by this time written the scores for all the great X-Files episodes and Carter obviously turned to him for the music to his new baby. However, whereas his electronic music for the former was a key element and perfectly suited, yet virtually unlistenable away from the images it accompanied, he chose to turn his synths and samples in a more melodic direction for the latter.
The character of Frank Black is delineated by a solo violin sound, with a Celtic feel, backed by heavenly choir, best heard in the "Main Title" of the show; which signifies his "alienation, his loneliness, and the weight of what he had to carry around," to quote the composer. This material, along with a secondary, peaceful synths theme representing Black's Seattle home, the "Big Yellow House" is, at times, pitted against hellish, dissonant sounds representing the underworld, but there are also plenty of spiritual, poignant or mournful moments, either for synths or with choir again featuring, with Snow's sensitive keyboards atop; and folksy, both Celtic and Americana elements, featuring the sounds of dulcimer and slide guitar in episodes like "The Well Worn Lock" and "The Wild and the Innocent." All-in-all then, a much more varied and melodious landscape than that which the composer provided for the X-Files, yet still with plenty to interest fans of that show and its music.
The aforementioned booklet, liberally sprinkled with colour stills, features extensive notes by Randall D. Larson on the show and its music, including contributions from the composer and writer/producer Frank Spotnitz, together with a cue-by-cue guide to the action and the music accompanying it. Limited to 2000 units, fans of the show and its composer will be delighted that this music has finally been made available in another wonderful collection from the enterprising La-La Land Records. Go to for your copy.