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Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Dracula A.D. 1972
Music by Mike Vickers
BSX Records BSXCD 8855 (US)
15 Tracks 53:44 mins

Mike Vickers, a former member of '60s pop group Manfred Mann had a brief film composing career in the '70s, commencing with this the first of two attempts by Hammer to bring Count Dracula into the modern world, the second being The Satanic Rites of Dracula. He went on to provide creditable scores for 1976's At the Earth's Core and 1978's Warlords of the Deep, before his opportunities sadly fizzled out. It's long been my hope that his music would eventually surface on CD and at last BSX Records has taken the first step to realise my wish.
Of course Vickers' contemporary approach to his score for Dracula A.D. 1972 didn't sit well with some critics, not indeed did the modernisation of the Dracula saga but, taken on its own merits, Vickers provided a fine contemporary score, which compares favourably especially with much of what was being written for film & TV thrillers and crime shows of the period. But the album in fact opens with a brief snatch of James Bernard's Dracula theme before plunging into the score proper with Vickers' propulsive horns and drums driven "Prologue" theme, which gives way to menacing rolls on the drums and crashing cymbals. The "Prologue" theme is then given a catchy modern pop setting, with sax lead for the title track.
"Baptism By Blood" is trippy, dissonant piece, featuring disjointed sax; whilst "Dracula Rising/The Blood Ritual/Laura Screams" commences with a nod towards Bernard, providing his own ominous theme for the Count, with includes the same kind of warped brass that is now perhaps more associated with the Terminator universe, before giving way to a flowing, pop-styled piece of action music. The same theme also features in the subsequent "Dracula Returns/Dracula Bites Laura," the latter building to a big climax as the Count gets his girl. Somehow, "Alucard=Dracula/Not the One!/Give Me the Power" reminds me a little of some of John Barry's music from Diamonds Are Forever, which of course was released a year earlier. Whether the likeness is sub-conscious or no, I know not, but it is nevertheless largely an effectively suspenseful cue; whereas the electric guitar-driven "Dumping the Body/Van Helsing Prepares/Jessica Walks into the Trap" reminds more something to be found in the likes of Isaac Hayes' Shaft.
The main theme returns in full flow for "Van Helsing Heads to the Club," leading to a mix of suspense and jazzy sax-lead action music in ""Van Helsing Confronts Johnny/Johnny's Ignoble Death Scene." The 11-minute+ track 13, which represents the whole final sequence of the film, goes through quite a journey before reaching its conclusion, quoting as it does from much of the material laid down earlier, including more Barry/Bond-like suspense, ominous rumblings from Vickers' Dracula music, and of course fast and slow variations on the main theme, which closes out the score in fine style, after a brief redemptive moment for organ.
Track 5, "Devil's Circle Music," on the CD is the one piece in the body of the score not written by Vickers. A wild ritualistic piece, with screaming voices and much electronic mayhem, is taken from "White Noise: The Black Mass: An Electronic Storm in Hell," and is the work of Delia Derbyshire, Georgiana Duncan, Brian Hodgson, Paul Lytton and David Vorhaus.
Two bonus tracks are included at the end of the disc, both numbers by American band Stoneground, that are heard in the party scenes following the film's Main Titles.
Accompanying the CD, which is presented under licence from GDI Records, who issued a whole series of Hammer scores a few years back, before sadly ceasing operations, is a splendid booklet, with detailed notes on the film and score by Randall D. Larson, with contributions from the composer, and a personal reminiscence by one of the film's female stars Caroline Munro. Hurry along to to secure your copy of this limited edition run of just 1500 units.
My personal thanks go to BSX Records for rescuing this score, along with my hope that it might be possible for them to release Vickers' other aforementioned scores.


Blogger isbum said...

Nicely done, Jeff!
I listened to this today and had the same thought's regarding a John Barry connection.

Nice to know I'm not going batty in my old age!

10:33 PM  

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