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

Saturday, August 28, 2010


Music by James Horner
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1143 (US)
Disc 1 - 11 Tracks 45:23 mins
Disc 2 - 12 Tracks 54:16 mins

Another attractive limited edition release from La-La Land Records is the 3000 unit Krull, a double disc presentation of James Horner's score for the enjoyable 1983 fantasy. Of course, there have been a few releases of this score over the years, the most complete being the 1998 Super Tracks limited edition. This release includes all the tracks from that issue, and adds a couple more album edits. All of this accompanied by the usual high-quality booklet we've come to expect from the label, with extensive notes on the film and its music by Jeff Bond, including the always desirable cue-by-cue guide, all illustrated with plenty of colour stills.
If, by some amazing chance, you haven't got any of the previous albums, and are not familiar with the score, it was written at the time when James Horner was getting his share of criticism for sounding too like many of his contemporaries, especially Jerry Goldsmith. This score leans less on the great composer, with Horner beginning to find his own style, though there are still flashes of the likes of Williams, Bernstein and Prokofiev. The most glaring similarity though, is his music for the nasty Slayers, which is highly reliant on Holst's "Mars, The Bringer of War" from his The Planets Suite. To be fair to Horner, he, like many young, as well as more seasoned composers since, was often probably at the mercy of the dreaded temp track and, when you're taking your first tentative steps into the industry, you are hardly in a position to argue with the powers that be.
No, I'd rather admire the youthful exuberance displayed in his music for Krull, which does it's best to sweep the action of the film along and makes for a thoroughly entertaining listen away from it as well, performed superbly as it is by the renowned London Symphony Orchestra. Highlights include a gorgeous love theme for Prince Colwyn and his intended, Lyssa; the flowing, inspirational "Ride of the Firemares" and even the ethereal theme for the magical weapon Colwyn uses to battle the evil "Beast," though the Ambrosian Singers do struggle a little with the range of this.
You can check out some samples at, before ordering your copy of this, for a limited time, specially priced, and highly enjoyable album.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


From Top Dollar PR:-

Innovative composer duo reinvent the music of blockbuster
video game movie franchise RESIDENT EVIL


LOS ANGELES, August 26th, 2010 - Composer duo tomandandy, best known for their edgy,
sublime sonic landscapes for movies such as P2, THE HILLS HAVE EYES, THE MOTHMAN
PROPHECIES, KILLING ZOE and pioneering soundtracks for numerous television commercial
campaigns, have created an original, hybrid genre score for RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE, the highly-anticipated fourth installment of the popular
film series based on the video games. Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and
starring Milla Jovovich, RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE presented in 3-D will be released to
digital IMAX® theatres simultaneously with the film's worldwide release commencing
September 10, 2010.
"Our mission for the RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE score was to reinvent the sound of
the RESIDENT EVIL saga," said tomandandy. "At every turn, director Paul W. S.
Anderson encouraged us to avoid cliché. He encouraged us to explore the edges of
noise and modern sound synthesis. This was an amazing gift."
RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE depicts a world ravaged by a virus infection, turning its
victims into the Undead. Milla Jovovich stars as Alice who continues on her journey
to find survivors and lead them to safety. Her deadly battle with the Umbrella Corporation
reaches new heights, but Alice gets some unexpected help from an old friend. A new
lead that promises a safe haven from the Undead takes them to Los Angeles, but when
they arrive the city is overrun by thousands of Undead - and Alice and her comrades
are about to step into a deadly trap.
RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE is a Constantin Film International GmbH, Davis Films/Impact
Pictures Inc. Production, written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, produced by
Jeremy Bolt, Paul W.S. Anderson, Robert Kulzer, Don Carmody, Bernd Eichinger and
Samuel Hadida, and executive produced by Martin Moszkowicz and Victor Hadida.

Describing their creative process of composing a unique music score for RESIDENT
EVIL: AFTERLIFE, tomandandy explain, "We developed an aggressive palette of heavily
distorted sounds and complex metric structures. At times the music is soft, gentle
and airy, a fusion of organic sounds and electronics. Bracketing the music world
with these two extremes: aggressive and distorted on one end and soft and dreamy
on the other, we framed a palette, one with tremendous range.

tomandandy have created original music for feature films by Academy Award® winning
filmmakers including Oliver Stone and Roger Avary, produced music with recording
artists, among them Lou Reed and David Byrne, and collaborated with such artists
as author William Burroughs, performance artist Laurie Anderson and visual artist
Jenny Holzer. In the early 90's tomandandy helped reshape the role of music in the
film, television and advertising industries by developing a new technology that
lowered music production costs to a fraction of previous levels. The new aesthetic
that emerged as a result was MTV's cut-up, non-linear, "look and feel." For more
information on tomandandy visit

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Midnight Movie
Music by Penka Kouneva
Howlin' Wolf Records HWRCD-003 (US)
26 Tracks 40:03 mins

Two firsts for me with this release, a new label, Howlin' Wolf Records, and a new composer, Penka Kouneva.
Howlin' Wolf Records has been founded by one of us, a film score collector and enthusiast; it's initial aim to focus on releasing limited edition albums of "dynamic film scores composed for suspense and horror." But they are interested in your wish lists of scores you'd love to see released, so get on over to their website at and let 'em know what you're looking for. Who knows, you may persuade them to broaden their horizons.
As for the composer, Penka Kouneva, she was born and raised in Bulgaria. In 1990 she graduated from the Sofia Music Academy and was awarded the Mary Duke Biddle Graduate Fellowship to study at Duke University; in 1997 receiving there the first-ever Doctoral Degree in Composition. Now based in Hollywood, she composes for film, TV and games (most recently writing additional music for Prince of Persia: The Forgotten Sands and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) and has orchestrated for the two Transformers movies, Pirates of the Caribbean 3, Angels & Demons, Sherlock Holmes and many more. She is married to my esteemed fellow film music journalist Daniel Schweiger.
2008's Midnight Movie, the directorial debut of Jack Messitt, received the "Best Feature Film" award at the Chicago Horror Film Festival and has gone on to great acclaim as a direct to DVD feature. If you're confused by the artwork at the top of the review, The Dark Beneath is a film within a film, in that it is an old black & white movie that the audience in the storyline of Midnight Movie is watching.
The first track on the disc, "Darkness and Fear," is actually newly composed, especially for the CD, and expands upon the composer's principal main themes to form something of a mini-suite. Starting off with Gothic chords, it quickly develops a propulsiveness, before a sympathetic feel takes over.
The music that follows pushes all the right buttons, with plenty of mystery and suspense, as well as menacing action and shock chords aplenty; achieving a sound that mixes moody Gothic textures with the kind of synth-driven horror fare of the '70s (the John Carpenter films springing most readily to mind) and more contemporary slasher fare. Genre fans will probably lap it up, and I'm sure it is effective enough on film, but I'm afraid these kind of synths and samples scores never do much for me. However, if you're a fan of the film, or just of the genre, I am sure you'll want to check it out.
Accompanying the CD is a 16-page booklet, with extensive notes by writer/director Messitt, a mini-bio of the composer, and her notes about the score.
As I said at the start, Howlin' Wolf Records releases are limited editions, this one of just 1000 units, so you'd best hurry along to their website if you wish to grab a copy.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


From Top Dollar PR:-

Music Composed by Yukko Miyama and Tadayo Shinmakin
Featuring Performances by the FILMharmonic Orchestra Prague


New York - August 24th, 2010 -Sumthing Else Music Works, Inc., through its licensing
relationship with Capcom®, proudly presents Monster Hunter(TM) Tri Original Soundtrack
featuring the original musical score from Monster Hunter(TM) Tri for Wii(TM), the
latest installment in the best-selling Japanese adventure video game series. The
two-disc soundtrack album is released today to retail outlets through Sumthing
Else Music Works, and will be available for digital download on Sumthing
Digital, Amazon MP3 and iTunes®.

Monster Hunter(TM) Tri Original Soundtrack features over 50 original tracks composed
by Capcom in-house composers Yukko Miyama (Mega Man X 7, Mega Man X 8) and Tadayo
Shinmakin (Monster Hunter Freedom Unite) who previously contributed to the series.
The music reflects the game's rich heritage and diverse cultures, hybrid creatures
and natural environments unique to the series. Music for the symphony was recorded
with the critically acclaimed FILMharmonic Orchestra Prague in the Czech Republic.

About Monster Hunter Tri:
Monster Hunter Tri depicts a living, breathing ecosystem where humans and monsters
co-exist. Players hunt fantastic beasts from a huge arsenal of weapons and armor
to achieve glory and help the residents of their newly adopted village survive.
One of the most strikingly beautiful titles ever developed for Wii, the hunting
season allows unparalleled multiplayer gameplay both online and offline and companion
adventures in arena mode.
Monster Hunter Tri sees the introduction of an expansive story mode as the role
of a hunter is tasked by the Village Chief to investigate the constant earthquakes
that threaten the everyday life of Moga village. A bustling and vibrant town, Moga
is home to the hunter and includes a Blacksmith for forging weapons and armor, a
shop where items can be purchased and an expanded farm with Felynes acting as laborers
and tending the crops. Complementing the new creatures and quests that Monster
Hunter Tri introduces to the series, hunters also have the benefit of new weapons
and armor sets including an all new weapon class, the Switch Axe, giant bowgun and
a Torch that not only illuminates the darkest caves but will fend off certain creatures
as they embark on the most epic Monster Hunter(TM) adventure to date. For more information
on the game please visit

For more information on Sumthing Else Music Works and its complete catalog of video
game soundtracks, please visit and

Monday, August 23, 2010


Music by Danny Elfman
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1140 (US)
Disc 1 - 30 Tracks 75:40 mins
Disc 2 - 29 Tracks 68:20 mins

La- La Land Records have released this wonderful expanded edition of Danny Elfman's classic 1989 score for Tim Burton's reimagining of the comic book hero Batman. Limited to 5000 units, which are selling fast, this is a double-disc set, with the premiere of Elfman's complete score on Disc 1, and the remastered original score album, plus bonus cues on Disc 2.
For those of you more familiar with the recent Batman films, you should definitely check out the Burton duo, Batman and Batman Returns, not only for their music, but the films are actually very good, before the series sadly went off the rails when Burton stood down as director, the character disappearing from our screens until Batman Begins.
As for Elfman's score for Batman, well, critics had their doubts whether Burton and his regular musical collaborator could come up with the goods, having mostly been known for the Pee Wee comedies, but they were made to eat their words - and how. Even Warner Bros. must have had their doubts regarding the music, at least, with a number of popular artists originally intended to contribute songs to the project. In the event, only Prince did so, and the first soundtrack album released was of his material. However, fans of Elfman's terrific score were rewarded when a generous (for LPs) score album later followed. So successful was his music, that he became the go-to guy for adapations of comic book characters, with Darkman and Dick Tracy following, being still in demand for Spider-Man and Hulk year later.
Accompanying the music is the usual high-quality booklet from La-La Land, with Jeff Bond's introductory notes and cue-by-cue guide, all illustrated with colour stills from the film.
I'll leave it to Mr. Bond, who does a far better job than I ever could of summing up the Batman score: "What Elfman produced was remarkable: thd dark underbelly of superheroism, as epic and thundering as John Williams' 1978 Superman score, yet full of foreboding, bristling with kinetic energy and violence, coloured by shadings of both Bernard Herrman's portentous, crushing orchestral chords (including a pipe organ right out of Journey to the Center of the Earth) and Carl Orff." I should add that Elfman is a self-confessed Bernard Herrmann fan and the homage paid was quite deliberate.
In closing, the bonus tracks featured at the end of Disc 2 include cues written by the composer as source music, some used, others not, plus alternate cues and a "film edit" for "Charge of the Batmobile."
Hurry along to to grab your copy of this splendid release before they're all gone.


From Top Dollar PR:-

Blockbuster PlayStation®3 Video Game Score to be Recorded at World Famous Abbey
Road Studios


LONDON, England - 23rd August, 2010 - Following his landmark IVOR NOVELLO award-winning musical achievement for the first-person shooter video game KILLZONE® 2 on PLAYSTATION®3, Dutch-born composer JORIS DE MAN returns to provide a new original music score for the highly anticipated next installment in the blockbuster franchise, KILLZONE® 3. Internationally renowned for his epic, powerful and sweeping orchestral music,
Joris de Man's rousing theatrical score for KILLZONE 3 enhances the game's Hollywood-style,
action-focused narrative and propels the dramatic movie sequences and cinematic,
visceral gameplay. His most ambitious compositional work yet, Joris de Man will
record his symphonic music at the world-famous Abbey Road Studios. Developed by
Guerrilla Games, a wholly owned subsidiary of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe,
KILLZONE 3 is scheduled for release in February 2011.

"Joris is the kind of composer that keeps developing his skills and throughout the
years he always manages to amaze us with new sounds, themes and direction in his
music and for KILLZONE 3 he's doing exactly that again," said Mathijs de Jonge,
Game Director at Guerrilla Games. "KILLZONE 3 will be the seventh title that I've
worked on with Joris and it's great to see how the projects we work on keep growing
both in scale as well as popularity. I think it's very important to have this kind
of creative connection with the composer as it adds so much to the experience when
music and game complement each other."

In May 2010, Joris de Man was presented with the inaugural award for "Best Original
Video Game Score" for the KILLZONE 2 soundtrack at the 55th IVOR NOVELLO AWARDS
ceremony held at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London. The IVORS are presented
annually by the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters (BASCA) and are respected
worldwide as the major platform for recognizing and rewarding Britain's songwriting
and composing talents. They are the only major music award to be judged and presented
by the writing community. The music of KILLZONE was also celebrated at the "JOYSTICK
3.0" concert in Sweden performed by the Malmo Symphony Orchestra. The JOYSTICK symphonic concert series currently holds the world record for a game music performance
with an attendance of 17,000 at the first show in 2006. KILLZONE will be performed at
the Gothenburg Symphonic Orchestra's "SCORE" concert in Sweden this November.
Composer Joris de Man commented, "Winning the Ivor this year gave me such a boost
because receiving was not just recognition for my work on the score, but being awarded
it in its first year meant being part of a growing appreciation of game music in
general. The achievement spurred me on and has given me a new energy that I hope
will be heard in the music I'm now writing for KILLZONE 3. I was thrilled to be
invited again to work alongside the team at Guerrilla; they continue to push the
limits of design and technology and I'm really proud to be a part of their next

Following on the heels of the highly acclaimed KILLZONE 2, players will once again
face the hostile Helghast army, battling overwhelming odds in the fight for human
survival. KILLZONE 3 delivers the definitive cinematic sci-fi war experience with
an immersive single-player campaign as well as multiplayer action in the war against
the Helghast. KILLZONE 3 will be fully playable in Stereoscopic 3D, immersing you
in the heart of the action. While you experience this world in incredible, High
Definition, Stereoscopic 3D detail - you'll learn to fear what's around every single
corner. For more information please visit

Killzone is a registered trademark of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Developed
by Guerrilla. © 2010 Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. "PlayStation", and "PS"
Family logo are registered trademarks and "PS3" is a trademark of Sony Computer
Entertainment Inc. "SONY" and "make.believe" are trademarks of Sony Corporation.
Killzone®3 ©2010 Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. Published by Sony Computer
Entertainment Europe. Developed by Guerrilla. Killzone is a registered trademark
of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe. All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 21, 2010


2001 Maniacs: Field of Screams
Music by Patrick Copeland & Various Artists
BSX Records BSXCD 8873 (US)
50 Tracks 76:48 mins

From the outset I should say that this is an album that should be kept away from minors, due to its foul language, both in some of the songs featured, and throughout the interspersed dialogue extracts.
This second offering in the 2001 Maniacs horror-comedy franchise is directed by Tim Sullivan, and finds the residents of Pleasant Valley taking to the road to find more victims, accompanied by a wide range of songs, from hillbilly, through rock, rap and just about everything else - all by artists completely unknown to this writer. Some of the numbers are quite acceptable, whilst others are downright offensive, with the sound bites in between strictly for fans of the movie.
Along with all this, we are at least offered eleven selections from Patrick Copeland's score, totalling just over 18 minutes, which Sullivan describes as "a mixed bag of lunacy and mayhem" and starts out very much in the former camp, with Copeland continuing the hillbilly feel, utilising seemingly live instruments, like banjo, fiddle, guitar and clarinet on the more lighthearted tracks, the catchy breakdown in "Let's Play" especially; whilst treating the more horrific moments, which become more numerous as the score continues, largely with synths and samples, along with percussion and electric guitars in the likes of "Hide and Seek."
"Showdown," whilst brief, caught my ear, with its spaghetti western elements, again including electric guitar, as well as voices; and "Brokeback" offers a surprisingly sunny interlude.
The final score cue, "Final Reckoning" is, as you would expect, the most action packed, with some powerful moments before a peaceful ending.
Copeland makes good use of his limited resources to provide an interesting little score, which is worth a listen, if you can tolerate the rest of the album's content. You can obtain your copy from, where you can first check out some samples if you wish.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Music by Carlos Jose Alvarez
MovieScore Media MMS10014
20 Tracks 47:39 mins

MovieScore Media presents young American composer Carlos Jose Alvarez's film scoring debut with their release of his music for the film which will always be remembered sadly as the last made by tragic young actress Brittany Murphy, and the album is duly dedicated to her memory.
Born of Cuban immigrants, Alvarez studied at Berklee College of Music, where he earned his degree in Film Scoring before going to study under Michalis Economou with the Athens Symphony Orchestra. Now resident in LA, much is expected of this young composer, who also happens to be an accomplished percussionist.
Deadline is a supernatural thriller, but the elegance of much of Alvarez's writing gives the film an emotional quality often absent from other genre efforts, reminding somewhat of Bernard Herrmann in his use of strings.
The lush "Main Titles" theme gets things off to a nice start, with "Lucy and David" continuing in more subdued vein, but with strings, including soloist, continuing to make their presence felt. Piano joins with the strings for "The House;" "First Morning;" the poignant "Medication;" with harp prominent on "What if Ben Finds Out." And the emotional strings of "Miscarriage," give way to a more purposeful conclusion.
Of course, this is a thriller, and so there are suitably dramatic, mysterious, suspenseful, menacing and shocking moments, as in "Somebody Died Here;" "Haunted Piano;" "Taking a Bath;" "An Attempt to Escape;" "Transformation;" "But I Belong to You," with its dark, dissonant conclusion, following an emotion-filled opening; ""The Drowning;" "Following Lucy;" "Burial Site;" and the frantic "Lucy Saves Alice." But, whatever the situation, the composer continues to place the emphasis on strings.
The album concludes with the six-minute "Deadline (Suite for Orchestra)," which reprises and expands upon the composer's main thematic material.
With so many genre scores sounding the same these days, it's rare to hear a fully orchestral, well-written score like this. OK, it's themes are perhaps not the most memorable, but it creates an effective mood and, I should imagine, enhances the on-screen action.
Go to for samples, a trailer for the film, and details as to how to order your copy of the album on CD or as a digital download.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Following on from my coverage of the Predators score, from an advance CD sent to me by composer John Debney's publicists, Costa Communications (see, La-La Land Records have now sent me a copy of their commercial CD release, which boasts the same tracks and playing time - details as follows:-

Music by John Debney
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1141 (US)
24 Tracks 68:37 mins

There's little to add to my previous post, save that Alan Silvestri's score for the original Predator movie, on which Debney has based large parts of his score, has recently been released by Intrada and, taking a retrospective listen to this score, what is most noticeable is that Debney's score has a much bigger sound to it and, of the two, I actually prefer it. But then I always did like Silvestri's score for Predator 2 better than his first effort.
As for the controversy over how the crediting of the music should be handled, all I can say is that the commercial album does denote where Debney uses Silvestri's theme and credit is duly given to Silvestri for its composition. I really can't see why there is any fuss about it at all, as Debney consistently comes across as a fan of Silvestri's score and is always quite open about his re-imagining of his music.
The usual high-quality booklet accompanies the CD, and features comments from the composer, producer Robert Rodriguez and director Nimrod Antal; notes on the film and its score by Daniel Schweiger; and full music credits; all liberally illustrated with plenty of colour stills from the film.
So, if you haven't already gone out and bought a copy of this exciting score based on my initial post, get along to, where you can first take a listen to some clips before purchasing.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Sad to report the death of composer Allyn Ferguson, who passed away of natural causes on 23rd June.
Born in San Diego in 1924, Ferguson will perhaps be best remembered for his work on a number of glossy, star-filled TV movies of the '70s and '80s, including The Man in the Iron Mask, The Four Feathers and A Tale of Two Cities. But his work in TV especially, often with fellow composer Jack Elliott, was extensive, starting on shows in the '60s like The Monkees and The Everly Brothers Show, moving on to '70s shows like Banacek, The New Dick Van Dyke Show, Starsky & Hutch, Barney Miller and Charlie's Angels; '8os fare, such as four episodes of Hallmark Hall of Fame (from which his score to Camille won him an Emmy); and finally Diagnosis Murder in the '90s. In addition, writing scores for many a television movie along the way. His cinema assignments were rare, with 1979's Avalanche Express probably best remembered.
His final assignment was for Back to the Secret Garden in 2001.


From Top Dollar PR:-

MIDNIGHT MOVIE by Penka Kouneva
List Price $15.95
Coming Friday The 13th!
Release Date: 08.13.2010


Howlin' Wolf Records is proud to present the first official film score release for
Penka Kouneva, a prominent Hollywood orchestrator and rising composer for videogames,
television, and film. In 2008 Jack Messitt wrote and directed MIDNIGHT MOVIE, a
supernatural horror/thriller about a maniacal filmmaker who breaks the barrier between
celluloid and reality to stalk attendees at a midnight screening of his black and
white cult horror classic THE DARK BENEATH. To score this film Penka Kouneva was
presented with the challenge of providing scores for both the vintage film and
the modern film, which beautifully blend and intersect seamlessly throughout the
storyline. MIDNIGHT MOVIE, premiered in 2008 at the Chicago Horror Film Festival
winning "Best Feature Film." It is currently available on both Blu-ray and DVD from
Bigfoot Entertainment.
Penka Kouneva has long been recognized in Hollywood for her amazing talent as the
orchestrator of blockbuster scores including HOSTEL, HOSTEL PART II, TRANSFORMERS,
TRANSFORMERS: REVENGE OF THE FALLEN, ANGELS AND DEMONS, as well as Tim Burton's "9." Most recently Penka worked alongside renowned film composer Steve Jablonsky
to score the videogame PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE FORGOTTEN SANDS, now available for
download on Amazon. In addition to a busy career as an orchestrator, Penka has
also scored a number of films other than MIDNIGHT MOVIE, including CHUPACABRA TERROR, ICE SPIDERS, and most recently ROUGH HUSTLE.
The score for MIDNIGHT MOVIE is an earnest composition with gentle piano in addition
to dark string tremolos, brass textures, ambient electronics with heavy percussion
and ethereal voices. For the vintage film featured in the storyline, THE DARK BENEATH,
thin, high violins, bassoon, synth patches, and meandering chords for suspense are
employed. A newly composed accompanying suite "Darkness And Fear" as well as an
expanded cue for "Bridget, Your Father Is Not Here" are bonus features.
This release is a limited edition pressing of 1000 featuring a complete score and
full color inserts with vivid imagery from the film. The 16-page insert booklet
includes detailed liner notes by Jack Messitt, the writer and director of MIDNIGHT
MOVIE, along with notes from Penka Kouneva, the composer. This collector's limited
edition packaging is lavishly designed by Luis Miguel Rojas.

For more information and to hear excerpts from select score cues please visit HOWLIN'

MIDNIGHT MOVIE Official Film Website:

JACK MESSITT Official Website:
The names of companies and products mentioned herein are the trademarks of their
respective owners.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I don't normally cover releases that aren't sent to me for review, but I just couldn't let this one pass without bringing it to your attention.
I had thought nothing could top Prometheus Records' release of Dimitri Tiomkin's complete score for The Alamo earlier this year - but that was a re-recording, albeit a very fine one, and here, in a triple celebration of the 100th anniversary of composer Alex North's birth, the 50th anniversary of the film's release, and the 1000th release by Varese Sarabande's Robert Townson, comes the complete original score, plus much unused music from the great 1960 epic Spartacus which, in the unlikely event you don't know, was directed by Stanley Kubrick, and starred Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Jean Simmons, Laurence Olivier and Peter Ustinov.
At the time, a 40 minute LP of re-recorded highlights was released which, though a fine listen, hardly represents what many consider to be Alex North's masterpiece. Here, in a project that has been simmering for many years, we have a splendid box set, featuring the complete score, in mono, over two discs; another featuring all the surviving stereo tracks; and yet another featuring alternate cues, plus some composed prior to, and used, during filming.
As a bonus, there's a double disc presentation of many variations on the love theme, recorded by musicians past and present, including Mark Isham, Dave Grusin, Patrick Doyle, Lalo Schifrin, Alexandre Desplat, John Debney, Brian Tyler, Randy Edelman, and of course the classic Bill Evans recording. That's 6 CDs, and Mr. Townson isn't finished there. Oh no, also included is a 90-minute DVD, wherein composers such as John Williams, Alexandre Desplat, Christopher Young, Mark Isham, David Newman, Lalo Schifrin, Brian Tyler, and Townson himself share their thoughts on North's magnum opus. To top it all off, there is a splendid 168-page hardback book, featuring Townson's notes on the film, its music and composer, including a complete cue-by-cue guide, all liberally illustrated with stills from the film and and many rare behind the scenes shots to boot.
Released as a Varese Sarabande CD Club title, I should warn you that this is a pricey item, and it's worth shopping around for the best deal. But, should you be able to afford it, this is a release that undoubtedly belongs in every serious film music enthusiast's collection.
Finally, one of cinema's greatest and most neglected scores has been given the treatment we have longed for. Bravo, Mr. Townson, and long may your work continue.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Music by Jeff Toyne
MovieScore Media MMD0010
18 Tracks 42:49 mins

This digital download review from MovieScore Media marks their second collaboration with composer Jeff Toyne, their first release being his music for 2007's Shadow in the Trees.
Within is a Lifetime TV movie and concerns a young girl who if gifted with the ability of seeing evil spirits within others.
Toyne's score is standard genre fare, right from the mysterious tinkling piano and wordless female vocals of the "Main Titles." The same opening theme is given a propulsive rock/pop treatment for the following "Driving," and receives an initially sympathetic treatment in "Sadie."
More menacing fare is introduced at the start of "Rachel Sees a Ghost," but the main theme quickly returns to close the track. A more ethereal treatment of the film follows in "Walk of Discovery."
Surprisingly the theme then goes walkabout for the following three tracks - all a mix of mystery and eeriness, before returning briefly amongst more dissonant eeriness in "I Told You."
More of the same follows in "I Know How He Died" and "The Shed," the latter picking up a propulsive rhythm in its later stages.
There's a positive feel about the opening of "Saving Rachel," but this too soon descends into dissonance, and there's more of this in "Michelle Gets Rachel," before a propulsive variation on the main theme is introduced.
The score concludes with "I Could Have Helped Them" and a sadly reflective variation on the main theme that comes to a halt, before a reprise of the "Driving" variant.
In addition to Toyne's brief score, the album features two amiable, folksy songs by Miriam Jones, as well as Cameron Grant & Melissa Kaplan's "Hallowe'en is Here" which, if it isn't, certainly sounds as if it's taken from Danny Elfman's A Nightmare Before Christmas.
Go to for samples and details as to where to download your copy.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Vampires Suck
Music by Christopher Lennertz
Lakeshore Records LKS341892 (US)
24 Tracks 52:45 mins

Christopher Lennertz has been a busy man. I recently brought you reviews of two of three recent scores he has written for comedies, Cats & Dogs 2 and Marmaduke. Now Vampires Suck is to hand, which reunites Lennertz with writer/directors Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer, with whom he last collaborated on Meet the Spartans.
The 20th Century Fox release opens in US theatres on August 18th, and is of course a comedic reaction to the glut of Vampire movies and series that are so prevalent at the moment, but Lennertz quite rightly played against the comedy for the most part, saying: "I wanted to take everything that makes the vampire genre so seductive...tragic melodies, dark romance, and scary textures...and turn it up to eleven." He certainly succeeds in that, enlisting huge forces of orchestra, voices, guitars and percussion.
Wildly swirling strings, brass and voices propel you into things at the opening of "What Would You Do?" before the track develops into the first of a number of exciting action cues, many with modern elements that include guitars and thunderous percussion, as the composer indicates above, that include "Attack on the Dock;" the opening of "Edward Saves Becka;" "Driving and Chasing;" "Becca Meets the Family;" "Killing Jack;" "Testing Edward," which gives the love theme (more of which below) an uptempo workout; "The Pack Arrives;" "Antoine Torn to Shreds;" "Race to Prom;" "Edward Exposed;" and "Becca Must Become a Vampire," with its eerie ending.
On the softer side, we have tracks like the pianistic "Something Strange..." and "Welcome to Sporks" - all mysterious and romantic. And then there's "Meet the Sullens," which has a propulsive, modern vibe to it, before picking up dreamy female vocals along the way, these elements becoming increasingly romantic in "Chemistry in Class," before emerging as the score's love theme in the second part of "Edward Saves Becca." "First Kiss" continues the romance, with delicate piano taking the lead, giving way to passionate strings, before concluding the track; and there's more passion to be found in "The Breakup," with some truly heartbreaking string writing. More understated and somewhat bittersweet are "Frank Comforts Becca" and the second half of "Becca's Confrontation;" whilst the female vocal returns for a brief lament in "Becca is Dead?"
"Sleepwalking" mixes almost waltz-like Gothic string writing with romance and even a brief touch of comedy; and the powerful and intense opening of "I'm a Killer" is a standout too.
"The Final Bite" concludes the score on a passionate and satisfying note, with the strings and brass soaring Heavenwards.
Lakeshore Records release the score for Vampires Suck, digitally on the 17th of this month, with the CD following on the 31st. Whatever your choice, you're sure to enjoy!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Here's the tracklisting:-


From Silva Screen Records Limited:-

Silva Screen Records will be releasing the new Doctor Who double CD set - Doctor Who Original Music From Series 4: The Specials on 20th September.

We will be running a Twitter campaign so if you would like to be the first to find out about the 2 CD set tracklisting and be kept up to date on Silva Screen’s Doctor Who releases please join us on Twitter -


Original Music From The Television Series

Bionic Beauty, Deadly Ringer, Once A Thief
Music Composed by Joe Harnell presents THE BIONIC WOMAN: ONCE A THIEF / DEADLY
RINGER / BIONIC BEAUTY, featuring music composed and conducted by Joe
Harnell for the 1970’s cult television show, THE BIONIC WOMAN, created and
developed by Kenneth Johnson (THE BIONIC MAN, THE INCREDIBLE HULK, V
– The Original Mini-Series) and starring Lindsay Wagner, Richard Anderson,
Martin E. Brooks, Ford Rainey, Martha Scott and Jennifer Darling. THE BIONIC
composed and conducted by Joe Harnell, continuing his successful creative collaboration
with Writer/Director/Producer Kenneth Johnson, a relationship that includes fondly remembered television projects such as THE INCREDIBLE HULK, HOT PURSUIT, CLIFFHANGERS, V – The Original Mini-Series and ALIEN NATION. Joe Harnell has
been nominated for an Emmy Award on three occasions for Best Dramatic Score.
During his career, Harnell composed over 400 hours of original music for motion pictures
and television. His scores for THE BIONIC WOMAN and THE INCREDIBLE HULK
heavily influenced the scoring of all Universal television programs in the late 1970’s.
His scores used a traditional orchestral approach (influenced by his Jazz roots) using
a 32 piece orchestra. He frequently conducted scores from the piano during recording
sessions and he performed all the piano and keyboard solos in all of his scores.
In addition to Joe’s wonderful score for these three episodes of THE BIONIC WOMAN,
this release includes a new recording of Jerry Fielding’s title music for THE BIONIC
WOMAN, produced and arranged by Dominik Hauser, with trumpet by the legendary
Roy Wiegand and drums by the great Kurt Walther. presents the original television soundtrack recording to THE BIONIC WOMAN: ONCE A THIEF / DEADLY
RINGER / BIONIC BEAUTY in loving memory of the great Joe Harnell.
THE BIONIC WOMAN: ONCE A THIEF / DEADLY RINGER / BIONIC BEAUTY is an Exclusive release, professionally mastered by Digital Outland, factory manufactured and limited to 1000 units.

Monday, August 09, 2010


Get Carter
Music by Roy Budd
Silva Screen Records SILCD1300
28 Tracks 53:56 mins

Silva Screen are embarking on a new reissue series featuring the music of the late Roy Budd. Starting with the Get Carter soundtrack album, the series will include Soldier Blue, Fear is the Key and The Stone Killer.
As Mike Hodges' Get Carter was voted number sixteen in the BFI Favourite British Films of the 20th Century, and number one in the Total Film Greatest British Films Of All Time lists, I am sure that most of you will be familiar with the film, which of course is the original Michael Caine starrer, and not the woeful Sylvester Stallone reimagining.
Budd's music was conceived on a tight budget, featuring himself and two members if the then Dudley Moore Trio, but the gritty realism didn't really suit a traditional underscore in any case. Save for the classic main theme, unfortunately still presented here with intrusive sound effects, although its second incarnation, "Goodbye Carter!" is relatively unhampered, save for some wind effects during the intro, the remainder of the music on the album consists of source numbers in the jazz/pop style of the time, some presented both with vocal and instrumental versions
Interspersed are dialogue excerpts from the film, making this a good audio souvenir of the film if you like that sort of thing. Personally, I have always held the opinion that if I wanted dialogue I would have bought the film, not its soundtrack.
Available from the 23rd of this month, for the first time, the album is available as a digital download from iTunes, Napster and Amazon, but of course you can still download or order your copy on CD from

Saturday, August 07, 2010


The Expendables
Music by Brian Tyler
Lionsgate Records (US)
Silva Screen Records SILCD1339 (UK)
20 Tracks 71:50 mins

For fans of the action genre of the past three or four decades, The Expendables is surely a must see. Directed by Sylvester Stallone, the incredible cast includes Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Mickey Rourke, Jet Li, Jason Statham, Dolph Lundgren, Jason Statham, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Eric Roberts, and of course Stallone himself.
After a successful collaboration with Stallone on his return to the Rambo character, the actor/director again turned to Brian Tyler to provide the score, which is to be released in the States both digitally and as a disc-on-demand by Lionsgate Records; and here in the UK on CD and as a digital download by Silva Screen Records from 23rd August.
Reflecting the Middle-Eastern and South American locations of the story, Tyler incorporates suitable colours to his orchestral/choral/electronic forces; as is often the case, playing the various ethnic instruments himself, as well as Flamenco guitar.
Normally Tyler conducts but, due to the grounding of flights in Europe because of the volcanic eruption in Iceland, he was unable to attend the orchestral sessions in Prague, having to guide proceedings via video link.
No stranger to the genre, the composer has provided many a fine action score in recent years but, unlike some of his contemporaries, he usually comes up with thematically based music - his love of strong themes being reflected in his recent work on updating Morton Stevens' classic Hawaii Five-O theme for the forthcoming TV revival. And his "Expendables Theme" gets this generous album off to a good start - a full blown, propulsive and vaguely heroic piece, which builds to a nice crescendo.
Of course, Tyler's action scoring dominates and there is plenty to get excited about in the likes of "Aerial," "Ravens and Skulls," "Massive," "Royal Rumble," "Warriors," "Waterboard," "Time to Leave," with the ethnic elements first making their presence felt in the alternately mysterious and percussion-heavy "The Gulf of Aden," and the Flamenco guitar, albeit briefly, in "Lifeline."
In amongst the action, there is of course some tension and suspense, but this seldom lasts too long before the fireworks get going.
But it's not action all the way, with "Lee and Lacy" providing some electric guitar-lead romance; "Confession" some poignancy; and "The Contact," a pleasant Flamenco interlude."
It all comes to a head in the five-minute-plus "Mayhem and Finale," where, after the decisive action, the main theme returns predominantly in rather solemn fashion, presumably remembering the fallen.
All-in-all, another entertaining score from Tyler, who is "Mr. Reliable" when it comes to this kind of action fare.

Friday, August 06, 2010


After a short, unforeseen absence, due to my being unable to connect to my ISP, I am back. I started the following review on Wednesday, so here it is - finally!

Garbo: The Spy
Music by Fernando Velazquez
MovieScore Media MMS10013
20 Tracks 43:46 mins

Fernando Velazquez has written the music for Edmon Roch's documentary Garbo: The Spy about counterspy Joan Pujol, alias Garbo. I know practically nothing about the film's subject, save that this was a quirky character, and Velazquez has certainly reflected that in his score, which is somewhat jazz-based and written for modest forces, as is of course often the case with documentaries, where budgets are tighter. Having said this, the composer here proves in spades that you don't need a symphony orchestra to provide an engaging accompaniment.
Much of the music has a real lightness of touch, apparent from the very first track on the album, with its jolly, plucked stringed propulsiveness. This catchy main theme re-appears in a number of the tracks that follow, sometimes in more sneaky mode as befits the character's occupation.
"Malta Siege" presents a new theme, somewhat subdued, but also propulsive, that also features in "Operation Dream;" whilst "The Early Years - Barcelona" offers harp-driven romanticism and nostalgia. There's a feeling of time passing in the light, yet industrious "The Net in Motion;" with Assignment Venezuela" and "Road to Caracas" being suitably Latin-styled in their rhythms and instrumentation, the latter successfully transforming the main theme in lieu of its new locale .
Of course the score isn't without its more serious moments, as in the mournful "Spanish Civil War" and ""Don Quijote;" with "The Nazi Menace" suitably tragic; but overall it's a largely light and entertaining listen.
Unfortunately, in addition to his score, Velazquez also provides the song "Mars in Ball," which he also sings, and another two songs are included, featuring RiP, none of which are really in character with the rest of the music and do their best to spoil the effect of what has gone before.
However, stick around for the "End Credits" which presents a straight jazz rendition of the main theme, complete with whistled melody and some great solo guitar and piano. For me, the best track on the album.
Available both on CD and as a digital download, for samples, a trailer, and ordering details, go to

Monday, August 02, 2010


Piranha 3D
Music by Michael Wandmacher
Lakeshore Records
26 Tracks 58:24 mins

Not only does '70s cult favourite Piranha get a re-working here, but it's also the latest to take advantage of 3D technology, so expect plenty of toothy fish flying out of the screen at you in US theatres from August 20th.
Michael Wandmacher has supplied the music for the film, available digitally from the 10th of this month, and on CD from the 17th. Of his score, Wandmacher says: "there were two priorities for the score, one was to find a central theme and motif for the piranha and the other was to capture the utter chaos that the fish bring to the screen. In addition to a large orchestra, heavily layered electric guitars, electric cello, bowed piano and rock percussion were used in combination with custom signature electronic sounds created specifically for the film." It's an approach that works perfectly as right from the first track, "Whirlpool," he whips his forces into a frenzy, creating many an exciting action cue. His motif for the attacking piranhas, first heard at the culmination of that first track is a terrifying slice of dissonance, which perfectly suggests the feeding frenzy that presumably happens on screen. The following title cue continues with strings-dominated dissonance before eventually a foreboding, questing theme is introduced.
Of course, in addition, prior to all the action, there are mysterious, suspenseful interludes, the composer sometimes emulating John Williams' approach to Jaws with his low, base-heavy sounds (and this can also be said, to a certain extent, of some of the string work in the action sequences); with of course the music alone for the obligatory shock moments being menacing enough to lift you out of your seat. It's not until the penultimate track, "Breathe," that any sort of calm is restored.
Perhaps purists will not totally take to the rock elements incorporated in some of the action writing, but anything is fair game these days and these work well enough for the more open-minded listener. Probably the rocking "End Titles" are best avoided though.
All-in-all, this is certainly one of the most savage, thrilling and intense film scores I have heard in quite a while.