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Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Transylvania 6-5000/Korgoth of Barbaria
Music by Lee Holdridge
BSX Records BSXCD 8850 (US)
20 Tracks 42:04 mins

Over the years composer Lee Holdridge has written numerous scores for film and TV, much of which sadly remains unavailable on CD, though some of his best work has thankfully been released on commercial and promotional recordings. This new limited release of just 1000 units from BSX dips into both his big and little screen work, presenting premiere recordings of his scores for the 1985 spoof comedy Transylvania 6-5000, which starred Jeff Goldblum, Ed Begley Jr. and Geena Davis as a rather fetching vampire; and Korgoth of Barbaria, the 2006 pilot for a proposed animated series in the Conan vein, though comical, which sadly never got picked up.
Performed by the Zagreb Symphony Orchestra, Holdridge's approach to the music for Transylvania 6-5000 was largely to play it straight, in the finest Bernstein traditions, though there are comical moments to be found, particularly in the composer's use of the Glenn Miller hit "Pennsylvania 6-5000," the title of the film of course being a take on the song.
The album gets underway with the "Main Title," which, after a propulsive opening, gives way to a breezy first take on the Miller hit. Next up is the initially mysterious, then increasingly dramatic "Following the Wolfman," which builds to a powerful crescendo. "Trapping a Monster" continues with the same power, reprising the propulsive main theme. "Draculette" opens mysteriously, a seductive little cue, largely electronic, with sampled female voices, before the orchestra returns for a menacing climax. "Madame Morovia" delivers a cliched, but nevertheless dramatic and enjoyable gypsy violin solo, courtesy of Tonko Ninic. More driving action music features in "Fight and Escape at the Lab;" whilst "The Wine Festival" again includes the Miller hit, electronically this time, surrounded by more flowing action music, which gives way to more diabolical dramatics. This is followed by a straightforward playing of the Miller song, with the title lyric of course changed to that of the film, performed by Randy Waldman on synths and Frank Kapp on drums. After this swinging track, it's back to the business at hand and the dramatics continue in "The Forest," with its hugely dark opening. The disturbing "Old Paintings" and "Transylvania Chapel sandwich the brief, powerful action of "Jack Meets the Wolfman," whilst the lovely "Lupi's Daydream," with its singing violin solo, provides a moment of romance.
"Sneaking Around" follows, a mixture of comedy, suspense and tragedy, with violin returning, along with flute and woodwinds to give a satisfying feeling of resolve to "Radu's Speech."
The final track is yet another take on the Miller hit, which is basically a reprise of the Waldman/Kapp performance earlier on the disc. A very enjoyable effort all told.
The remaining four tracks on the album are devoted to the composer's music for Korgoth of Barbaria, which was studio realised, but which features heavy metal elements, including thrashing electric guitars in the "Main Title." These metal elements keep cropping up throughout subsequent tracks, mostly in light-hearted manner, often with an easy-going beat; though there are some more promising pseudo-orchestral moments, like the Conan-like drums of "Tell Me Do You Know of the Wizard Specules?" "Specules Floating Castle" starts off quite exotically, and there's some interesting sampled vocal work as the track proceeds, with a burst of heroics at its close. These heroics continue into the final track "I've Dated Girls Uglier Than You For Breakfast," before proceedings take a darker turn. However, those Conan-like drums return to close out the "Finale." An interesting curio then, but not one of the composer's finest hours.
Go to for further details, samples and to order your copy. And while you're there, you might like to check out the label's other recent Holdridge release, Lee Holdridge Conducts the Music of John Denver, at Lee enjoyed a long collaboration with the late singer/songwriter, as arranger on his albums, and this CD release of the 1975 LP has been much requested over the years. And there's more: the label has just announced a further Holdridge release, this time of his music for the 2009 documentary Brothers at War, which is described as "an intimate acoustic score, augmented by strings, guitar and piano, including a song written and performed by John Ondrasik, based on the main theme. Go to for further details and samples of this July 2nd release of 1500 units.


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