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

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Tales of the Riverbank
Music by Mark Thomas
MovieScore Media MMS-09008
35 Tracks 58:30 mins

When I was a boy, BBC TV was responsible for a seemingly endless stream of fine children's shows, one of which was Tales of the Riverbank, which utilised real animals, often driving model cars, boats and planes in the adventures of Hammy Hamster, Roderick Rat and GP the Guinea pig. You'd never get away with it these days, but those were innocent times, before the rule of political correctness. Last year an animated version was made, featuring the voices of the likes of Stephen Fry, Ardal O'Hanlan, Jim Broadbent and Steve Coogan, though what has happened to the film I do not know, as it didn't seem to make UK cinemas and I believe has yet to even receive a domestic DVD release.
The music for the film was provided by Mark Thomas, a man who you can always depend on to come up with the goods. Why he is not working in Hollywood is beyond me, as he is as good a composer (or better) than many who regular find work there. His score for Tales of the Riverbank is largely orchestral, played by the City of Prague Philharmonic, with vocal contributions from Rosanna.
The album commences with the pastoral "Main Title Theme," which is followed by a suitably soaring "Flying Theme," and in turn by the brief, but adventurous "Hammy Appears." The score takes a momentary darker turn with the menacing action of "Falcon Attack," though the cue ends on a light note. A comedic woodwind promenade accompanies "Fellow Rodent Adventurers," then its a return to the pastoral in the gorgeous "River in Splendour."
"In Search of a Boat" features a series of catchy and quite funky grooves, complete with kazoos and whistlers; then its more menace again with "Tunnel of Terror." More of the comic promenade follows in "Ingenious Guinea Pig," and another quirky groove then features in "Saga of the Floating Umbrella," becoming more adventurous as the cue continues, and leading into the exciting, almost Bond-like action of "Crash Landing Heroes."
The score continues very much in the same vein, a mix of, thrills, spills and heroics, that could easily have come out of a big-budget actioner, or war film; and of course comedy, with some catchy little tunes and grooves cropping up here and there. Many of the tracks are quite brief, but the score has a nice flow to it, and is consistently entertaining. Stylistically it is quite varied; conventionally orchestral, but with a pop beat here and there, and even a little jazz in the likes of "One of Those Etceteras"and "Up Up and Away;"but throughout melody is key, which is a rarity these days and is therefore to be treasured. Certainly one of the most enjoyable scores I've heard in recent months.
Go to for samples and to download this excellent album, or you can pick up a CD copy from the likes of Screen Archives or Intrada.


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