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Sunday, May 16, 2010


Batman - The Movie
Music by Nelson Riddle
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1130 (US)
32 Tracks 72:13 mins

My thanks to La-La Land Records for being the first to come to my rescue with a nice package of their latest releases, my having found myself in the rare position of having nothing left to review.
I'll start with 1966's Batman - The Movie, a spin-off from the highly successfully, campy TV adventures of the DC Comics character, a series not welcomed by serious Batman comic book fans, but one that was an essential part of this writer's childhood (besides, I was into Marvel Comics, myself!); and why, you ask, has the label decided to release the score when it was issued not that long ago by Film Score Monthly? Well, the simple explanation is that mastering engineer Mike Matessino has gone back to the mono source that he prepared for the Blu-ray release of the film and worked his magic on it to "make it sound as dynamic as possible." It was then remix ed for CD, resulting in the best sounding version of the score yet released. In addition, La-La Land presents a previously unreleased track,"Submarine Battle," for which no score was originally written, but instead music was tracked in from other parts of the score. With no documentation available as to how the cue was pieced together, Matessino had taken it upon himself to recreate it by ear from listening to the film, the sound effects of battle not making his job easy and, as it took so long to achieve, it is only natural that he should have wanted to include it here for our listening pleasure.
For those of you not familiar with the film, series, or its music (hard to believe, when it has been re-run so often over the years), the iconic "Batman Theme" was provided by Neal Hefti, who was unable, as planned to provide the episode scores for the first season, with composer/arranger extraordinaire Nelson Riddle stepping in to provided a typically "with-it" '60s accompaniment, whilst also including extensive variations on Hefti's theme for when the dynamic duo leap into action. Riddle is widely celebrated for his arranging of some of the classic recordings of the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Judy Garland and Ella Fitzgerald, but he also wrote works for the concert hall and contributed to many TV shows of the time, like The Untouchables, Route 66 and Naked City. His feature film work largely consisted of accompanying the "Rat Pack" movies, but I remember his music for the John Wayne western El Dorado (also 1966) with some fondness.
Unfortunately, Riddle became so associated with his jazzy Batman music that he got himself kind of typecast for, when branching out to the Man from U.N.C.L.E. series, he ultimately only scored one episode, as the resulting score sounded too Batman-like for the powers-that-be.
For Batman, he came up with suitably dynamic music for the many fight scenes, appropriately hitting the "pow" and "splat" moments, and also composed individual themes for the principal villains; in the case of the movie, the caped crusader's four deadliest foes, The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler and Catwoman. These themes and his general approach to the series scores was translated to the movie, helping it seem more of an extended episode of the show than anything intended to stand-alone.
As well as the aforementioned unreleased track, two other bonus tracks are included at the end of the disc; firstly, the cocktail lounge song "Again;" and secondly, Hefti's original theme as heard on the show.
For me, a great slice of nostalgia, and yet another fine example of swinging '60s screen scoring well worth preserving, especially with its more dynamic sound.
Accompanying the disc is the usual high quality booklet, with Brian Satterwhite's notes on the production and its composer, as well as engineer Mike Matessino's comments, from which the above technical info is drawn; all illustrated by colour stills from the film. Limited to just 2000 units, get along to for samples and to order your copy.


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