THE HAMMER COMEDY FILM MUSIC COLLECTION.

 

hammer comedy

Hammer films and comedy, sounds a bit of an odd combination, but in fact some of Hammer’s most successful movies were comedies and also comedy was something that Hammer were doing long before they resurrected DRACULA or FRANKENSTEIN. The studios most lucrative movie of the comedic variety was actually a film that was based on a popular ITV show called, ON THE BUSES. This was the first of three films that Hammer produced that centred on the cheeky and somewhat unlucky bus driver Stan Butler and his sidekick bus conductor Jack who were forever in it up to their necks or chasing woman, and always hotly pursued by the grinning inspector Blake or Blakey who’s mission in life was to get the better of the dodging duo. So quite rightly GDI decided that their comedy compilation of music from Hammer films should commence with selections from all three of the ON THE BUSES films, let us say straight away the music for these comedies was very tongue in cheek and was more often than not a musical wallpaper rather than an actual film score, but saying this it did it’s job and was an integral part of each and every movie and also every gag or comedy caper that was taking place on screen. So the collection kicks off with the title song from the first movie in the series, “ITS A GREAT LIFE ON THE BUSES” which was performed by singing group Quinceharmon. This is a very jolly sounding vocal in fact you can almost see the singers broad smiles as they perform it, shades of BROTHERHOOD OF MAN. This jaunty, cheeky and bouncy little ditty sets the scene perfectly for much of what is to follow. The end title makes an appearance in track 2, but is shorter than the opening track, but more or less the same. Track 3, is taken from MUTINY ON THE BUSES the music here is by well known British composer Ron Grainer, who of course found a place in music lovers hearts with his theme for DR WHO and later wowed soundtrack fans with his wonderfully atmospheric score to THE OMEGA MAN, the music that he has penned here is serviceable and pleasant enough but lets say its no Oscar winner as far as film music goes. Tracks 4 through to track 7 are taken from the final instalment of the Buses trilogy, HOLIDAY ON THE BUSES, composer Denis King was responsible for the score to this, and although it is fairly easy going material and pleasant enough it is far from memorable, King of course too found fame in writing for the small screen, remember BLACK BEAUTY? So the buses trilogy out of the way we move onto the next movie, it too started out as a TV show and became very popular with audiences in the UK during the 1970,s LOVE THY NEIGHBOUR would certainly not be given air time nowadays, lets just say it was a tad racially motivated and would be frowned on in this day and age if the TV company decided to repeat it. The score for the movie version of the series was the work of another well known British composer, Albert Elms, Three cues are included on the compilation, these are THE TITLE SONG,THE QUIZ and THE CRUISE, With most of the music included on this collection, there is not a lot that one can say about it other than it is serviceable and also that it was well suited to the movies it was written for, they say comedy is one of the hardest things to get right when you are an actor or a director, and I think that also can be said for the composer too, it must be difficult not to go over the top musically, because a splurge of music here or a little too much volume there could in affect ruin the scene or spoil the punch line, the carry on movies seemed to be able to get the mix right in all departments, and I think that Hammer were in a way trying to emulate the masterful comedy that radiated from that particular series of movies when they embarked on making comedy films during the 1970,s. At times it worked on other occasions it fell a little flat. Vintage Hammer comedy is up next in the running order as we are treated to Tony Lowry’s typically British sounding comedy musical flourishes from the 1958 naval caper UP THE CREEK, which starred David Tomlinson and peter Sellers and was directed by Val Guest.

 

up

Back to the 1970,s for the next four tracks, all of which come from MAN A BOUT THE HOUSE, music here is by Christopher Gunning, who also worked on Hammers HANDS OF THE RIPPER, again the music is fairly easy going and light, with two of the cues easily fitting into the Musak category of the dentist waiting room variety, the selections from the score do however include some up tempo chase music and a catchy title song performed by Annie Farrow. Two characters that featured in MAN ABOUT THE HOUSE the TV series and also the movie were George and Mildred, and as it transpired these proved to be more popular than the series they first popped up in, thus they were given their own TV series and also a feature film was produced, but not by Hammer, but GDI felt that they could not omit the odd couple from their compilation, so we have music from GEORGE AND MILDRED by Les Reed  and also another Cinema Arts inc production RISING DAMP with the repulsive Rigsby and the sex starved Ruth being musical accompanied by composer David Lindup. Back to Hammer next, and Stanley Blacks music for FURTHER UP THE CREEK, which is obviously the sequel to UP THE CREEK. The compilation also includes two vocals from NEAREST AND DEAREST, with THE MORE YOU LAUGH being performed by Hilda Baker, in true Nellie Pledge fashion. Plus I ONLY ARSKED which was an adaptation of the TV series THE ARMY GAME, that is represented by the vocals of Bernard Bresslaw on the song, ALONE TOGETHER. The final selection is by composer David Whitaker and is taken from THAT’S YOUR FUNERAL, which was released in 1973,and it has to be said is nowhere near as interesting as the composers other Hammer scores, i.e.; VAMPIRE CIRCUS and DR JECKYLL AND SISTER HYDE. But wait there is more, three bonus tracks are saved right until the end, and you know the saying save the best till last,    well no actually forget that,,, these are just a bit of fun really, they include The ON THE BUSES title song, performed by those nice smiley folks, Quinceharmon, but this time its Accapella, and two cues from RISING DAMP one of which is a version of the title song performed by Leonard Rossiter.  Without a doubt this is a collection for true Hammer devotees, and yes there are some pleasant enough compositions within its running time, but I think Hammer should really stick to scaring people.

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