Anyone familiar with MINISTRY OF SOUND, will quite rightly associate the name with dance music, and they would of course be correct to do so as M.O.S. have released numerous albums all of which contain specialist and classic floor fillers from clubland, mixed and produced by the top DJ, s of the day. Recently however the Ministry have deviated somewhat and added to their growing catalogue a handful of compilations that are slightly out of the normal area of music that they are known for. One of their recent releases is THE SCORE, which is a 3, compact disc set, that arguably contains some of the greatest or well-known themes from the movies. The line up of titles is impressive as is the list of composers that are included, granted not these selections are original recordings, some being cover versions or re-recordings, but they are performed by some of the leading orchestras from all over the world who are in turn directed by many respected conductors. There is really nothing new here for collectors, but saying this it is just so great to have all these wonderful themes on one compilation and evokes memories for me personally of the days when the film music compilation was alive and well and living in a record shop near you. The selections are varied and are a mixture of old and new, such as Nino Rota’s haunting theme for THE GODFATHER, John Williams foreboding JAWS theme, John Barry’s slice of romanticism in the form of OUT OF AFRICA, Hans Zimmer’s proud THIS LAND from THE LION KING, James Horner’s BRAVEHEART and TITANIC, Danny Elfman’s dark and impishly delicious BATMAN theme, the list is literally endless, well nearly. But alongside the classics there are also selections from more contemporary movies and the odd TV theme, such as. LION, GRAVITY, GAME OF THRONES, INCEPTION and BLACK SWAN. Alan Silvestri, Vangelis, Craig Armstrong, Alexandre Desplat, Ennio Morricone, Howard Shore, Clint Mansell (no relation), Brian Eno, Maurice Jarre, Max Steiner, Thomas Newman they are all represented here along with others.
CD 1, opens in grandiose style with John Williams who is conducting the London Symphony orchestra, in a thrilling and stirring performance of the main titles from, STAR WARS. What better way to open a compilation of music from the movies, this inspiring and iconic theme is followed by another piece of music that is set firmly into film and film music history, THE JAMES BOND THEME, from the first 007, thriller DR. NO, composed by Monty Norman and arranged and conducted here by probably one of the greatest film music composers of all time, John Barry. The theme which has been utilised in every official James Bond movie since DR.NO is given a jazzy and dramatic feel by Barry, who went onto compose the music for at least another 10 Bond movies, providing the franchise with some of the most recognisable and successful soundtracks, which included numerous hit songs and instantly recognisable themes.
RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK is next in the running order, with the L.S.O. once again stepping up to the mark and giving their all under the baton of composer John Williams. This rousing march from the Spielberg directed movie is followed by THE GODFATHER THEME, which was an international hit both as an instrumental, and as a vocal rendition, SPEAK SOFTLY LOVE, was recorded by over 100 artists globally, and if my memory serves me correctly these included, Vince Hill and Andy Williams. For track 5, we return to the music of John Williams, and another collaboration with gifted movie maker Steven Spielberg, JURRASIC PARK, boasted a proud and highly dramatic soundtrack, but was also infused with just the right amount of emotion by Williams, who also scored its sequel, with his themes being utilised in further outings to the park which were scored by other composers, such as Don Davis and Michael Giacchino.
Tracks 6 and 7, will be a delight for fans of Hans Zimmer, with his music for THE LION KING and GLADIATOR, being represented. Now I am not really a fan of Zimmer when it comes to his more recent efforts, but THIS LAND from THE LION KING is stirring to say the least, complete with choir and driving percussive elements that are further embellished and bolstered by brass and strings. Also, we are treated to his theme from Ridley Scott’s, GLADIATOR, in which Zimmer collaborates with Lisa Gerrard, for NOW WE ARE FREE. The compilation continues with the music of James Horner who sadly passed away far too early, Horner is a genius and has created so many emotive and poignant themes for movies such as, CASPER, GLORY, COCOON, WILLOW, KRULL, FIELD OF DREAMS and BRAVEHEART which is represented on this compilation, track number 7, is the beautiful but bitter sweet end title music from the movie, that includes an arrangement of the composers FOR THE LOVE OF A PRINCESS, also from the movie. This is followed by more John Williams with HARRY POTTER and THE PHILOSOPHERS STONE and SUPERMAN. Hans Zimmer again with the rousing DRINK UP ME HEARTIES, YO HO HO, from PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and his brooding but mesmerising INCEPTION theme. Howard Shore makes an entrance with THE FELLOWSHIP from LORD OF THE RINGS and Clint Mansell is represented by his LUX AETERNA from REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, Alan Silvestri steadfast fans will delight when they hear The City of Prague Philharmonic launch into his vibrantly excellent BACK TO THE FUTURE theme, as will Jerry Goldsmith devotes when they get to hear LIFES A DREAM from STAR TREK V, THE FINAL FRONTIER again performed by The C.O.P.P.O. Brian Eno brings disc one to a close with AN ENDING which is taken from the soundtrack to TRAFFIC. Yes, that’s right disc one, and there’s more as they say, in fact two more discs that are rammed with so many great pieces of film music it is hard to take in. This compilation is certainly a case of both quantity and quality. So are you ready, here we go,
Disc 2, E.T. was a smash hit at the cinema box office and there was not a dry eye in the house at the end of the movie, this was a case of images and music together perfectly, Spielberg’s imagination being transferred to the big screen, with an adventure on earth for an alien that touched the hearts of millions, the film told the story of an extra terrestrial who had been left on earth by mistake and befriended by a young boy Elliot, and all the time there was the music of John Williams, punctuating, and underlining every beautiful, emotive and comic moment. The track included here is ADVENTURE ON EARTH which runs almost continually for the last 20 mins of the movie, underpinning the exciting escape of E.T. on BMX bikes and his final reunion with his spaceship and the tearful and heart-breaking final departure of the alien. With the composers dramatic and thundering fanfares underlined by percussion bring the movie to it end. For track number two, we have the theme from TITANIC, James Horner admitted that the director of the movie hated the song and he was told not to use it, but the composer persisted, and we all know what happened, representing the award-winning score we have ROSE, which is performed by a wordless soprano, supported by Celtic sounding pipes, strings and subtle use of percussion, in this rendition of the familiar MY HEART WILL GO ON. ROMEO AND JULIET, comes next, this is Craig Armstrong’s beautifully crafted piece entitled THE BALCONY SCENE, for the Baz Lurman movie, which featured Leonardo di Caprio. Poignant piano, and fragile sounding strings melt the listeners heart as the combine, intertwine and compliment each other performing the composers richly romantic but delicate theme. Thomas Newman, is the Son of one of the film music worlds most respected figures. Alfred Newman, scored numerous movies and acted as head of music for film studios in the Golden days of Hollywood. Alfred’s music is part of Hollywood history as he created themes and scores for movies such as HOW THE WEST WAS WON, THE GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, AIRPORT,THE ROBE, THE SONG OF BERNADETTE and so many more, the Oscar winning composer/conductor influenced the way in which movies were scored, and his blueprints for want of a better word are still in use to a degree today, AMERICAN BEAUTY was a movie that caused quite a stir, and created a lot of revenue at the box office, Thomas Newman’s score is somewhat low key and unassuming, but the theme, is one that is instantly recognisable, from the first few introductory notes. THE PLASTIC BAG THEME, has also been sampled and re-used many times in dance tracks and mimicked by other composers within other movies. Thomas Newman of course is the current composer for the James Bond franchise, with his score for SKYFALL, receiving an Oscar nomination in 2013.
His Brother David is also a respected film music composer and his cousin Randy Newman is the popular composer/songwriter/performer, who was responsible for fashioning the soundtrack to TOY STORY. Disc two continues, with more wonderful film music as we experience the LOVE THEME from the original BLADE RUNNER composed and performed by Vangelis. For track number, 6, we go back to the silver age of film music, with composer Alex Norths, LOVE THEME from SPARTACUS, on listening to the composition one would not think it was from a movie about Gladiators, slaves and Romans, as it sounds a little too contemporary, surprisingly it worked within the movie, the remainder of North’s score being more dramatic and in tune with what was taking place on screen. More classic movie music follows this time from the Humphrey Bogart thriller, CASABLANCA, the movie was scored by Max Steiner in 1942, Steiner, became known as the Father of film music and was credited for changing the way in which movies were scored when he wrote the soundtrack to KING KONG back in 1933. For this cue we hear AS TIME GOES BY, which although was featured in the movie CASABLANCA, was not actually composed by Steiner, he did however utilise sections of the melody and incorporate it into his main score. The song was written by Herman Hupfeld in 1931, and became popular when it was sung by the character Sam (Dooley Wilson) in that famous bar scene in CASABLANCA. Disc two continues and includes, THE MISSION, (Gabriel’s oboe) OUT OF AFRICA (Theme), DANCES WTH WOLVES (Theme), DR. ZHIVAGO (Lara’s Theme), BLACK SWAN, THE PIANIST, GONE WITH THE WIND, AVATAR, TRUE ROMANCE and the haunting LION THEME from the film LION. So, as I have already stated, this is a compilation that contains a varied content, and one would hope that THE MINISTRY OF SOUND would produce a sequel, THE SCORE 2, very soon. One criticism, and no it’s not anything to do with the music on the set, it’s the lack of notes, the absence of info within the compact disc liner, there is a track listing, but that’s it. I personally think that film music compilations do need notes, in fact all soundtrack releases need notes, to tell the people about the composers the films and even the directors involved. But, hey that’s something that is down to the individual record label. Disc three opens with the rousing theme for one of TV, S most popular shows, GAME OF THRONES, music by Ramin Djawadi, who’s rapid rise to the top of his game has been incredible and well deserved. The familiar strains of the opening theme for the series begin the final CD in the compilation, Djawadi’s driving theme not only being dramatic but also having a degree of melodious attributes that hook the listener immediately.
Track two, is MOBY.S contribution to HEAT, a track entitled, GOD MOVING OVER THE FACE OF WATER, it is a pleasant enough cue, but personally I found it a little repetitive and tedious, the track never really moving on or developing melodically, the same chords being repeated over and over, with varying degrees of percussive crescendos here and there, fully electronic and somewhat boring. Oliver Stones, Vietnam war movie PLATOON, is next, or at least the music that Stone decided to use in the end, which was Barbers, Adagio for strings, this must be one of the most played pieces of classical music. The score for PLATOON was originally composed by French Maestro, Georges Delerue, but was not used, for me the Delerue score is a work of art, it is a score that is filled with fragility, and would I think been perfect for the movie. However, Stone the director dis-agreed, I am not sure, but I think that the Adagio for strings was used as a temp track by the director, and because he had heard it so much and cut his movie to it, he fell in love with it and decided that it was best for the movie. All I can say is yes, it is a moving and powerful piece of music, but if you do get a chance to hear the Delerue, I urge you to take time to do so. This performance of the Adagio, is a flawless one by The City of Prague Philharmonic. We return to Thomas Newman for the next selection, THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, has in recent years become something of a cult movie, Newman’s music is powerful but at the same time melodious and haunting. SCHINDLERS LIST, by John Williams, is presented next, performed by the CITY OF PRAGUE PHILHARMONIC, this is a wonderfully touching rendition of the MAIN THEME from the movie, which was originally performed by Itzak Perlman.
Another John Williams composition is next, and from another film by director Spielberg, SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. HYMN TO THE FALLEN is a piece that always gets to the soul of any listener, the martial timpani and brass being augmented and enhanced by the composers use of strings and choir that when combined create a highly emotionally charged piece. The remainder of disc three contains a variation of highly polished and attractive sounding themes, THE LIFE OF PI, FORREST GUMP, THE IMITATION GAME, APPOLLO 13, INDEPENDENCE DAY and JAWS to name a mere handful. THE SCORE is a compilation that I would recommend highly, it is a great listen from start to finish, and will keep you entertained, with its varied content and alluring musical moments from the Silver screen. Enjoy.