DUNKIRK.

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I was not intending to write a review of this soundtrack, but after trying to listen to it a few times I decided that maybe it should be written. DUNKIRK the movie is quite brilliant, director Nolan I think has got it right and the way in which he approaches the subject matter and shoots the actual story is impeccable and affecting. The score however is yet again another disappointment, Hans Zimmer once again has created a soundscape rather than a musical score, because musical it cannot be called or labelled. The composer utilises musical and unmusical sounds at times to create his soundtrack, but although at times the sounds are effective within the context of the film I found it a distraction rather than supporting the proceedings. Zimmer is without a doubt a talented man, and I get so frustrated about the way in which many film music collectors put him on a pedestal as if everything the man has done is filled with brilliance, yes there have been a few scores that have hit the mark both in the films and away from them BACKDRAFT for example, GLADIATOR another such example. The soundtrack for DUNKIRK was another case of a missed opportunity in my opinion and yes before you all shout it I do realise film scoring has changed since the days of 633 SQUADRON, WHERE EAGLES DARE and BRIDE OVER THE RIVER KWAI, but would it have hurt to include a few bars that bared some resemblance to a march or an inspiring or patriotic sounding theme. As I say within the context of the movie Zimmer’s efforts work to a degree they build the tension and also create the stressed atmosphere and the feeling of hopelessness but this is not music, One of the longest cues on the soundtrack is SUPERMARINE which I have to admit I dislike with a vengeance, it is grating and monotonous, repeat, repeat ,ad nauseum, I get the ticking clock, but that’s a sound that has been utilised many times in film scores by the likes of Morricone, Zimmer’s sounds on this film are for me a nightmare and an experience that I will not repeat ever I do not think. Make your your own mind but film music this is not, it’s more like one of those odd dance tracks that everyone raves about says how great it is, but never actually dances to it because it’s just too weird and never buys it. Zimmer as always was not alone in this venture, two other composers are credited Lorne Balfe and Benjamin Wallfisch, but I cannot hear anything different or original within their cues that sets them apart from the rest of this soundtrack, it just grates on and on, never really getting anywhere, apart from the end two tracks in which Edward Elgar is also credited, and in which we can just about pick out his Nimrod composition which is heavily masked by the electronics of Zimmer and Balfe, sorry don’t like it, and if Christopher Nolan is to direct a Bond movie, please, please, please no Hans Zimmer.

CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS, THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE.

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DUN DUN DAHHHHHHH its CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS, no not me, the movie, although hang on maybe if I, ummm well maybe not,,,,. Faster than a speeding train, braver than anything you can think of and sillier than most things, that is CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS, BUT, what a fantastic movie, a laugh a minute it is great. If you are feeling fed up or just grumpy go watch this film it has such a wonderful formula and presence about it which if bottled would I think be a brilliant tonic to cheer everyone everywhere up. The music for this animated feature of epic proportions is the work of the talented composer Theodore Shapiro, I cannot give this score praise enough as it is not only bubbly, energetic, robust and melancholy, but is also filled to the rafters with so much thematic material that is fast paced and just so entertaining, without a doubt the music lends much to the movie and the composers timing with the musical full stops, commas and exclamation marks is uncanny and excellent. I also love the way in which the composer at times parodies the superhero sound that we seem to get served up in the serious movies of this type, not that I am saying CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS is not serious, of course it is, he is a superhero of the highest calibre and should be treated with the utmost respect. The score obviously contains its fair share of the lighter and more comedic sounds and trademarks, but it also has about it a more serious, yes serious sound, which works very well indeed within the context of the movie, adding drama, pathos and touches of slapstick if that is something that can be done musically. I must say I cannot recommend this enough, it’s just a non-stop rollercoaster ride of musical mayhem and magnificence that is overflowing with Bold Brass, stirring strings, rumbling percussion all of which combine to create a score that is faultlessly timed to hit the punchlines and accompany the action throughout, but it is such a great bit of fun too.

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The composer utilising Symphonic and synthetic, with the added presence of choir, which underlines the magnitude and importance of this great superhero. There is even a slice of the HALLELUJAH CHORUS utilized within the score, but not as we know it, well it is but it’s got something to do with Poopy-pants so enough said, Theodore Shapiro, is I think one of the most inventive and talented composers around at the moment, he seems to be able to turn his hand and his talents to any genre of film and is able to fashion music to suit any situation and scenario, GHOSTBUSTERS is a prime example, it is another score that is dramatic but also epic sounding in places and like CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS verges upon the operatic in certain areas, an animated movie with a score that is big, brassy and filled with a gigantic musical persona and did I mention there are kazoos too. Now who in their right mind can resist this, I am just off to the chest of draws to find the underpants and cape, DUN DUN DAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!! (and I leave you with that image). Seriously folks go get this score now.

WALLY STOTT/ANGELA MORLEY.

 

 

When one thinks of Wally Stott I think you straight away remember the GOON show, as it was Stott who was musical director for many of these madcap pieces of comedy genius that featured the likes of Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry Secombe. Born Walter

 

Wally Stott on March 10th,1924. Stott later in life (1972) underwent sex reassignment surgery and returned to composing as Angela Morley. Stott often attributed his entry into music composition and arranging to the influences of the light music composer conductor Robert Farnon and it was within the area of light music or easy listening as we refer to it nowadays that Stott first made a name for himself. Writing popular pieces of music that were loved by the music buying public in England during the 1950’s.

 

He was also involved in writing music for radio broadcasts and provided the now familiar theme and incidental music for Hancock’s Half Hour, it was also during this period that Stott began to work as the musical director for the third series of THE GOON SHOW, which began to run from 1952 and finished in 1960. He also composed the 12, note theme for Lew Grades ATV channel that introduced each of the company’s programs from 1969 through to 1981 when the company stopped production. He began a long association with Phillips records in 1953, and would arrange the backing tracks and direct the orchestra for various artists that recorded on the label.

 

He also released albums as an artist in his own right one of the most popular being LONDON PRIDE which was released in 1958. In 1958, he provided the musical accompaniment and was the MD for Shirley Bassey and was featured on Bassey’s 1959 hit single, AS I LOVE YOU which reached the top of the British hit parade in the January of that year.

 

 

He also worked with Dusty Springfield. Frankie Vaughn, Roy Castle and Harry Secombe as well as collaborating with Scott Walker on the singers first four albums. In 1962 and 1963 Stott arranged the UK’s entries for the Eurovision song contest. RING A DING GIRL and SAY WONDERFUL THINGS which were both performed by Ronnie Carroll. In 1962, Stott acted as arranger for the debut album of Italian tenor Sergio Franchi, entitled ROMANTIC ITALIAN SONGS, which was released on the RCA RED SEAL label and later arranged and conducted the music for Franchi’s second album also on RCA entitled WOMEN IN MY LIFE. In 1974 as Angela Morley the composer was nominated twice for an Academy Award in the category of best music and original song score/adaptation, this was for THE LITTLE PRINCE and THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE, on which she collaborated with Douglas Gamley, Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Lowe for THE LITTLE PRINCE and Richard M Sherman and Robert B Sherman on THE SLIPPER AND THE ROSE. She was the first transgender person to be nominated for an Academy Award.

 


In later years Morley received Emmy nominations for composing music for television series such as Dynasty, Falcon Crest, Hotel and Dallas. Morley also worked on many American TV shows, these included CAGNEY AND LACEY, WONDER WOMAN, BLUE SKIES and McClain’s LAW. She won two Emmy Awards for her work in music arrangement, these were in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Music Direction, in 1988 and 1990, both for television specials starring actress Julie Andrews. She also composed sections of the score for WATERSHIP DOWN in 1978.

 

 

After this She began to work with composer John Williams, but mainly in an un-credited role providing arrangements for the composer to conduct with the famed BOSTON POPS ORCHESTRA and regularly conducted the BBC radio orchestra and the BBC Big Band. She died in Scottsdale Arizona on January 14th, 2009 aged 84.

 

JOHN VEALE, UNSUNG HERO OF THE SILVER SCREEN.

Born John Douglas Louis Veale in Bromley Kent on June 15th,1922, composer John Veale, is again one of the driving and original forces within British concert hall and film music that is at times sadly overlooked. Veale attended the Dragon School in Oxford from 1930 through to 1936, and then later went to Repton school which was in Derbyshire from 1936 up until 1940. After this Veale attended The Corpus Christi College in Oxford until 1942 where he studied History. Even when he was a young child Veale took a keen interest in music, which was something of a surprise as none of his family as in his parents or siblings were musically inclined, although his Father did like to listen to Gilbert and Sullivan. Veale found himself particularly attracted to the sound of the wind instruments and whilst attending the Dragon School and at the age of twelve was given a clarinet for his Birthday. He taught himself to play the instrument and when he moved onto Repton School took lessons and began to experiment in composing. He then began to play in the school orchestra and was a member of a jazz band and tried to emulate his hero at the time Benny Goodman. It was the arrival of his new music teacher in 1939, John Gardener who opened the young composers mind to other composers and widened his appreciation of the classical music world, in the form of Sibelius and Shostakovich that really fired up Veale’s interest in composition. It was Gardener who also introduced Veale to the work of William Walton via a performance of Walton’s first symphony. Veale also became interested in the music of Bartok, Bax, Ravel, Vaughn Williams, Rawsthorne and Barber. All of which made a lasting impression upon him and shaped the way in which he fashioned his own music in the following years. During the second world war, Veale spent his war service in the Education Corps, and during this time he continued to study music unofficially with Egon Wellesz and had lessons from Sir Thomas Armstrong in harmony and counterpoint. It was during this period that the composer had his first works performed and completed his first symphony.

early3 After the composer was demobbed, he returned to Oxford where he continued his studies with Wellesz and further studied music. He began to write incidental music for the theatre, and it was a piece of music from one such production LOVES LABOURS LOST (1947) that began Veale’s involvement in writing for films, the composer sent a copy of his score for the production to Muir Mathieson, who after seeing it asked Veale to write music for The Crown Film Unit, it was via this assignment that Veale met conductor John Hollingsworth, who was assistant to Sir Malcolm Sargent. Veale then became friends and moved in musical circles with many of the most respected composers of that period, Elizabeth Lutyens, William Walton, Humphrey Searle, Constant Lambert, Alan Rawsthorne plus poets and writers such as Dylan Thomas, Philip Larkin and Kingsley Amis.

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It was around 1954 that Veale returned to writing music for film, John Hollingsworth attended a performance of the composer’s clarinet concerto and had heard that Muir Mathieson was looking for a composer to write the score for THE PURPLE PLAIN which was a movie that starred American actor Gregory Peck. After hearing Veale’s clarinet concerto Hollingsworth spoke with Mathieson, who agreed that Veale would be right for the film. The score was a great success for the composer and this led to other film scoring assignments that included, WAR IN THE AIR which was a documentary for television and the feature films, PORTRAIT OF ALISON-aka POSTMARK FOR DANGER (1955) and THE SPANISH GARDENER (1956) which starred the then British heart throb Dirk Bogarde. Veale’s score for this was grandiose and dramatic and had to it a hint of the style employed by Miklos Rosza in his early British movies.

 

After this the composer worked on several B movies, CLASH BY NIGHT, THE HOUSE IN MARSH ROAD, HIGH TIDE AT NOON and NO ROAD BACK which was an early movie for Sean Connery and featured Alfie Bass.

 

 

As the 1960, s began Veale and composers like him who wrote romantic and richly thematic music seemed to fall out of favour, the music fans at that time opting for the pop music revolution or the more Avant Garde and modern sounding music. The decades of the 60, s and the 70, s were not kind to the composer. But interest in his music soon returned during the 1980, s and the 1990, s. With Chandos records recording a few his works. John Veale may not have written the scores to that many movies, but the few he did write were impressive and filled with rich thematic material. He battled prostate cancer for many years but finally had to leave Oxford and return to Bromley where he resided in a care home, he passed away on November 16th, 2006.

 

Michele Lacerenza.

Born in Taranto, Puglia, Italy on January 7th 1922. Michele Lacerenza was to become one of the most important musicians to be connected with the Italian cinema and in- particular the Italian western. Like Alessandroni, s whistle and guitar playing, Franco De Gemini’s excellent harmonica performances and Edda Dell Orso’s unique aural vocalising, Lacarenza was to make his mark on the western genre and also other movie scores with his inspired and unblemished trumpet playing.

Lacerenza came from a family background that was musical; his Father Giacomo Lacerenza was a well known conductor. Lacerenza came to the forefront of Italian film music when he was asked by composer Ennio Morricone to perform trumpet on “A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS”. The films director Sergio Leone had originally insisted on having Italy’s most prominent trumpet player at that time Nini Rosso to perform on the soundtrack, but Morricone wanted to use Lacerenza because he remembered his flawless performances whilst they were at the music conservatory and has stated since that he wrote the piece with Lacerenza’s trumpet in mind.

After playing the films central theme for Leone the great film-maker was said to be reduced to tears because Lacerenza’s performance was so full of emotion. Morricone described him as “A sublime trumpet player” After the success of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS, Lacerenza continued his collaboration with Morricone on scores such as A PISTOL FOR RINGO , FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE and THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY. Lacerenza became much in demand and began to perform on many other film soundtracks, it was also at this time that he had a hit record with a cover version of THE HOUSE OF THE RISING SUN (La Casa Del Sole) a song that had been a worldwide hit for British rock band The Animals.

 

Lacerenza’s career went from strength to strength and as well as performing on film scores and collaborating with composers such as Ennio Morricone, Nino Rota and Armando Trovaioli he also began to compose music for the cinema and although his output may not have been immense it was certainly important and original. The Maestro also taught music at the Foggia conservatory of music and the Santa Cecilia Academy.  He died in Rome on November 17th 1989.

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