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DOG SOLDIERS.

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Released in 2002, DOG SOLDIERS mixes horror with action, a small squad of British soldiers are sent to the Scottish Highlands on what is termed as a routine night time mission, they are told to link up with a special operations unit, but on reaching the rendezvous point they find carnage and the remains of what was obviously the members of the unit. Amongst the bloody remains they find one survivor. The attackers return to inflict the same bloody and horrible death on the group of soldiers, but before they can do this the unit is rescued by a local zoologist Megan (Emma Cassidy) who tells them that they are being hunted by werewolves. The unit have no way of contacting anyone and are forced to seek refuge in a house which they have to defend until the dawn arrives. What ensues is a scary, gore filled and gruesome fight for survival as they battle to the death with the evil pack of werewolves. The movie is a real edge of the seat affair with so many twists and turns jumps and starts that I know you will reaching for the tranquilisers after the first 20 mins or so. Directed by Neil Marshall who also wrote the story and screenplay, the movie stars Sean Pertwee, Kevin Mc Kidd, Liam Cunnigham and Darren Morfitt.

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The musical score is by Mark Thomas, and it too is an all action affair for the majority of its duration and with a storyline such as this it cannot be anything else too honest. If you missed the film and the score I am not that surprised I do not think that the film did that well initially, but has since gained a fair amount of recognition and even attaining something of a cult status amongst some. The score is certainly worth checking out, let us say if you like action music and also highly atmospheric cues then this is for you. It is a relentless and pulsating work that holds the listeners’ attention right through. The style employed by the composer for me is somewhat reminiscent of the late Roy Budd with gentle nods to Goldsmith and even a taste of the more traditional horror fare purveyed by the likes of James Bernard and Harry Robinson it being dramatic and symphonic but also containing some upbeat and synthetic attributes (Hammer meets Rambo if you like).
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Brass stabs and percussive elements combine with the string section to create harrowing but at the same time memorable compositions that fit the action like the proverbial glove. Enhancing, supporting and heightening the action and sometimes graphic horrific events unfolding on screen. The score also contains a handful of albeit short but melodic moments, the composer employing strings, woodwind and also horns to evoke a mood of solitude, hopelessness and sheer desperation as the soldiers fight for survival against a powerful and what seems to be unbeatable foe who at every moment stops the defending soldiers in their tracks picking them off one by one. The soundtrack also includes CLAIR DE LUNE by Debussy which sort of rises out of nowhere as a calming interlude. This is a score that I would recommend you seek out, maybe it is deleted in its compact disc form or very expensive to buy, but it is still available on Spotify and I tunes.

https://www.amazon.com/Dog-Soldiers-Mark-Thomas/dp/B000BQPHWE

 

IS PARIS BURNING?

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Many years ago when I was a lot younger and soundtracks were not so readily available or at least limited in what was issued, it was shall we say acceptable to buy a cover version of a score, this was at times down to the original not being available or if it was it was an import and had been deleted very quickly. Even at times when soundtracks were available, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA for example many people who were not actual film music collectors would opt for the cheaper cover version, nowadays I pleased to say that cover versions or re-recordings of scores from films are a lot better than they were in the days of MFP (although I am not knocking that label in anyway) and even HALLMARK released some pretty good covers and originals THE BIG COUNTRY for example. The re-recordings of today are in most cases excellent as attention is paid to reconstructing scores that have parts missing or sections that have never been previously released, in fact the only way to hear the entire score is to sit and watch the movie that it comes from. Re-recordings I think stepped up a gear when Silva Screen stepped into the re-recording market and also let us not forget the wonderful series of classic film score as recorded by Charles Gerhardt and the RCA label. But for me it was Silva screen and the Hammer soundtracks that had never seen the light of day became available as re-recordings, yes ok this was a compilation of themes and principal cues from a handful of Hammer movies such as DRACULA, VAMPIRE LOVERS, VAMPIRE CIRCUS, HANDS OF THE RIPPER etc. But they were very authentic and left us the collector wanting more, in fact it was the re-recordings by Silva that inspired the GDI label to seek out the original scores from these Hammer horrors and we all know what an excellent series that turned out to be. But, it’s the re-recording that I am focusing upon. Maurice Jarre has always been a favourite of mine and I am proud and privileged to say I met him many times both at concerts, premieres and privately and after a while became friends with him. His music has been a big part of my life as a collector of movie music in fact it was LAWRENCE OF ARABIA that started my (for want of a better word) addiction to film music. The composer had the knack of not only creating dramatic and supportive scores for movies but he also was able to produce a theme that invariably became popular away from the film it was intended to enhance. DOCTOR ZHIVAGO being a prime example in the form of SOMEWHERE MY LOVE Lara’s theme.

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The latest re-recording to hit the news is the TADLOW release of Jarre’s IS PARIS BURNING? Now although I have always been aware of the theme I have to state that the score was not a favourite of mine, the original LP record is still in the collection and in new condition, which shows how many times I actually played it.

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But after a lot of buzz about this re-recording conducted by Nic Raine and performed by THE CITY OF PRAGUE PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA I decided to get myself a copy, and yes I am so glad I did. As always the attention to accuracy and detail that is displayed in other TADLOW recordings is also present here but even more so in my opinion. I suppose that because I did not actually listen to the score that often when it was issued all those years ago I can in effect listen to it with fresh ears and an open mind, what I am hearing is a wonderfully atmospheric and thematic soundtrack, which is performed to perfection by what has to be one of the globes leading film music orchestras. The compact disc opens with THE OVERTURE, which itself opens with a fairly typical Jarre sound and style, piano and percussion building with aggressive sounding brass whilst the composer introduces a variant of the familiar central theme from the score, this segues nicely into a more martial sounding piece with strings and flutes working together to bring to the fore a march theme and then on accordion we hear for the first time the haunting and highly melodic theme for the movie, this is bolstered and given weight by timpani and strings that transform it from martial into a flamboyant and almost joyous waltz type composition which brings the track to a shimmering and uplifting conclusion. This re-recording boasts a lot of previously unreleased cues 22 in all if I counted correctly. So definitely a complete edition of this soundtrack and one that will fit in very nicely with the rest of Jarre’s moving and highly attractive film soundtrack releases on the TADLOW label, we have James Fitzpatrick to thank for all these wonderful releases but I am sure he will say NOT JUST ME, and when you look back on film music history with re-recordings or even soundtrack releases we can invariably get a glimpse of his name on other releases, i.e. Silva Screen with their Hammer series etc. His contributions to film music as a producer have been many and also as a conductor too.

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But I digress, back to IS PARIS BURNING, let it be sufficient to say just go buy it, you certainly will have PAS DE REGRETS (sorry could not resist). As for me not being struck with the original soundtrack by Jarre maybe I was having an off day or I went deaf for a while because this is a glorious score, superbly written and filled to overflowing with so much patriotism and power, you must have it in your collection. The double CD also contains a handful of other Maurice Jarre scores or suites from them. There are concert suites from THE NIGHT OF THE GENERALS, THE TRAIN, WEEKEND AT DUNKIRK and also IS PARIS BURNING plus we are treated to the opening titles from THE DAMNED and two bonus tracks which are vocals from IS PARIS BURNING. PARIS EN COLERE sung by Melinda Million and also a choral version of the same piece. Exhaustively extensive sleeve notes by Frank D Wald which are just so informative plus numerous stills and art work from the movie and pictures of Jarre and a front cover that cannot fail to attract anyone’s attention. So in a word FANTASTIQUE and UNE LIBERATION IMPORTANTE.

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PERRAK AND OTHER FILM MUSIC BY ROLF KUHN.

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Another release from ALL SCORE MEDIA/CHRIS SOUNDTRACK CORNER in Germany, available on a ltd edition vinyl long playing album and also available on download. PERRAK and other film music by Rolf Kuhn, essentially a jazz artist Kuhn is also able to turn his hand to other genres of music and has made notable contributions within the easy listening arena plus has contributed many compositions that have been used by various so called music libraries and of course has written for both television and motion pictures. This lively and highly entertaining release contains the music from two movies which Kuhn scored in 1970, PERRAK or HARD WOMEN as it was entitled outside of Germany and DAS GELBE HAUS AM PINNASBERG aka- THE YELLOW HOUSE IN PINNASBURG were both directed by film maker Alfred Vohrer who put his faith in Kuhn as a composer to come up with the right musical solutions for his movies, the film makers trust paid off and the composer created two wonderfully up beat soundtracks that are filled with so many themes and leitmotifs it is hard to comprehend that so many lively and catchy groovy tracks hail from just two movies. The scores and films were both received well by public and critics alike and PERRAK in particular became something of a cult film and soundtrack and would very often be re-used within other movies. The style within both scores is as you can imagine predominantly jazz fuelled but at the same time Kuhn introduces dramatic interludes and also fuses these with a lighter more pop orientated style, strings, brass, guitar and percussion feature throughout the scores, with a number of solo piano compositions entering the proceedings. The long playing record contains 22 tracks, which is almost every piece of music from both of the movies, there are however a handful of extra cues (6) available on the download version of the soundtracks. Again I do recommend that you at least try the album as in vinyl version of this as it looks fantastic as well as sounding great. The style of Kuhn is in my opinion not dissimilar to that of Francis Lai or even Michel Magne it has that freshness to it and because it is a fusion of jazz, orchestral, dramatic and romantic with some sensual undertones it makes for a very varied, interesting and entertaining listen. Presented well by ALL SCORE/CHRIS SOUNDTRACK CORNER with 180gr premium LP packaged in a luxurious solid cardboard cover that has attractive art work both front and back. Another one for the collection, highly recommended.

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The world of Italian film music is a varied one and when one thinks about it is probably Italian composers more often than not that have been involved in creating innovative sounds and styles to accompany the moving image. It was after all the Italians who not only re-invented the western score but also ended up creating a whole new genre of music for what was an established type of movie. It was also the Italians who developed a sound and style that we still to this day associate with the GIALLO genre of films and when it came to Horror flicks well the Italians are as we know now past masters at underlining shocking and gory moments in celluloid. One particular type of horror film was the collection that dealt with cannibals, i.e. CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST etc. Many of these movies had scores that seemed to subtle, gentle and melodic for the horrors that were unfolding on screen and were sometimes certainly too serene and sweet to accompany the gruesome and at times graphic bloodletting that was the norm for these movies. One such movie which maybe many have forgotten was I’ISOLA DEI DANNATI or ISLAND OF THE DAMNED. Hailed as an unfinished masterpiece the movie from 1978 was directed by Luchino Martello, the film told the story of a Doctor and his wife who along with a young intern become stranded on a remote and what they think is an uninhabited island. After a while the intern begins to have an affair with the Doctor’s wife Laura, shortly after this it soon becomes apparent that they are not alone, the other inhabitants of the island having a taste and desire for human flesh. But hang on let me start again, that’s what the plot would be if it were in fact a movie “WHAT”? I hear you say, but you just said, yes I know I did, ok l will come clean, L’ISOLA DEI DANNATI is a fictitious movie, Luchino Martello yes he is a fictitious character also but one with a great name don’t you agree, what we have here is a tribute or an homage to the wonderful music styles that came out of Italy during the 1970, s for films of the erotic and Carnivore variety which had music created by composers such as Morricone, Ortolani, Cipriani, Fidenco, Ferrio and their like. I have to say that this had me fooled for a while simply because the music by MONDO SANGUE (Cristiano Sangueduro and Cristina Casereccia) is simply superbly retro and filled with what one would think is the sounds of the 1970’s, the attention to detail with the style, orchestration and performance of the score (if that’s what it is) is faultless. Wordless female vocals, grunting and puffing chorale sections, happy sounding la LA’s, beautiful tone poems created on light woodwinds that are enhanced by the use of harpsichord that seem to float on tranquil winds that frequent the imaginary island and also there is that definite ITALIAN SOUND present, a sound that we have not heard since the late 1970, s that came from movies such as EMMANUELE, THE STORY OF O, and the aforementioned Cannibal horrors and others.

This album which is an actual vinyl release is a must have purchase from the excellent catalogue of ALL SCORE MEDIA and if you have not got a turntable, well go and buy one right now because to miss out on this exquisite release would be tragic ( it is also on Spotify) but I highly recommend the vinyl experience. Let’s put it this way if you like, FIDENCO, MORRICONE, FERRIO, NICOLAI, TROVAIOLI etc then you will love this. Fantastic cover art makes this unmissable in any record browser, listen to LA CACCIA DI COCCO, this is Italian film music from the 1970’s at its best (if you know what I mean), just think WHEN WOMEN HAD TAILS fused with THE INSATIABLES add a little light BLACK EMMANUELE and mix in some MONDO CANE or VAMPYROS LESBOS and that’s the vibe that is created here, there is also the sounds of lapping waves and screeching birds in a number of the cues that are underlined and enhanced by the utilisation of strings and organ which adds greatly to the ambience and the atmosphere of this work, even in the final cue LA FINE (KING OF THE CANNIBALS) there is a definite reference to one of Morricone’s early scores FOUR FLYS OF GREY VELVET, I love it, go buy it now.

ALL SCORE

If you have been collecting film music since the 1960’s it is probably true to say that you have heard the name of composer Peter Thomas mentioned or even listened to some of his infectious musical themes for TV and motion pictures. He is without a doubt one of Germany’s most prolific composers of music for film. Thomas has created numerous soundtracks for a wide and diverse variety of both movies and television projects. His scores being filled with drama and romantically laced properties but also containing a pop orientated background which acts as a foundation for his compositions. I am so pleased that ALLSCORE MEDIA the German premier soundtrack label has released a compilation which in effect pays homage to composer and his collaboration with Czech film maker Zbynek Brynch on three movies THE FEMALES, OH HAPPY DAY and ANGELS WITH BURNT WINGS all of which were released in 1970. All three movies were themselves as original and innovative as the music that the composer penned to enhance and support them but sadly all were flops at the box office. Although the scores are all fundamentally similar in style and overall sound and all carry the unmistakable musical fingerprint of Thomas they all contain something that is fresh and effectively original and unique which is a testament to the talent and creativeness of Thomas as a composer, arranger and orchestrator. The compilation which is a two disc set, boasts a total of 59 tracks of which fifty percent were previously unreleased. We are also treated to two bonus tracks which are adaptations of the composer’s original compositions and interpreted by the MUFUTI TWINS which were originally released in 2007. According the promotional material that came with the release Thomas was and still is referred to as the WIZARD OF FILM MUSIC, and after listening to the music contained on this compilation alone it is easy to understand why. I think my favourite score within the compilation is OH HAPPY DAY, the composer has created an upbeat and highly energized collection of themes for this rather controversial coming of age movie that are filled to overflowing with rhythmic and charismatic thematic material which oozes class and is alluring as well as infectious. The composer’s music is filled with smouldering and steamy grooves which range from pure erotica through to soulful sounding cues and upbeat march infused compositions which at times add a touch of comedic light relief to the proceedings. Many say that Zbynek Brynych was a filmmaker who lacked direction and any continuity within his projects but just as many observe that he was a director who was way ahead of his time and many of the audiences in the early 1970’s were not equipped or ready to take in his insightful and somewhat chaotic nightmarish interpretations. The music that Thomas composed for the movies was too a little offbeat but listening to it today it still remains fresh, inventive and contemporary.
This is a compilation that you should invest in, well presented with a twenty-four-page booklet that contains exhaustive and highly detailed liner notes by Christopher Klaese (in English and German) a filmography and a multitude of colour stills from movies, this one is for you. Highly recommended.

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