50 TO 1.



William Ross is a composer who has scored numerous movies and has always in my opinion produced scores that serve the picture well, he  also manages on each outing to give film music collectors a tuneful and pleasurable listening experience even if the music is played without the images that it was intended to originally enhance. His latest scoring assignment 50 TO 1 also falls into this category, working wonderfully within the context of the movie but also standing up on its own as music that is exciting, enjoyable and exhilarating.  Based on true events 50 to 1 tells the story of a racehorse named MINE THAT BIRD and the animals stunning and almost unbelievable comeback and win at the 2009,Kentucky derby. I say almost unbelievable because the story is simply that, it’s a heart warming tale of an animals triumph over adversity and against all the odds a story of an animal that comes through and touches everyone’s emotions, as composer Ross comments in the sleeve notes for the compact disc release, “If it’s true that we tend to root for the underdog, then the story of Mine That Bird is one for the ages”. Ross has written a score that encompasses a number of styles and these styles accompany the many differing characters or classes of characters that are in the movie, it takes the listener to the depths of despondency and underlines the feelings of disappointment felt by the horses owners when all seems lost and hopeless, then the score steps up a gear and enhances perfectly the determination of the animal and the pride and elation felt by the people who put their faith in him. As with the majority of films that are within the same collective as 50 TO 1, i.e. SEA BISCUIT, PHAR LAP and to a degree CHAMPIONS, music has a major role to play, and composer William Ross certainly delivers in all departments with this score, bright and triumphant brass flourishes are combined with strident and swelling string crescendos to highlight Mine that Bird and his unrelenting determination to come through, it is a score that will I know bring a tear to the eye of many who listen to it. It is filled with emotion, pride and has at its conclusion an almost joyous and thankful atmosphere a kind of “We Did It” feel and sound. The score opens with the track, TEN YEARS LATER, a tuneful and rambling guitar acts as a background to a harmonica solo that is laid back and slightly blues orientated, this is supported by a sprinkling of piano and further use of guitar, making this a pleasing and easy going opening to the compact disc. Track number 3, RIDING TO THE RANCH is an upbeat affair for a rock slanted guitar solo and percussion, and although short lived this is a foot tapping and entertaining piece. Track number 4, MEETING BIRD has a slightly comedic edge to it, slide guitar and fiddle combining to create a kind of ho-down atmosphere.



William Ross.


Track number 5, A MUST SEE HORSE, is a slightly apprehensive sounding cue, strings being the backbone of the composition that give it a homely and warm feel. In track number 6, THE BREEDERS CUP, Ross introduces a more fully symphonic mood and enlists the strings once again to open the cue, these stridently carry the piece forward but soon melt away to segue into a more low key less driving composition that is guarded and subdued. Track 8, is another mischievous piece BIRD PLAYS, opens with wailing but harmonious harmonica and introduces a square dance composition that has infectious and entertaining properties. If I had to draw comparisons between this soundtrack and others, I would say that 50 TO 1 has the grittiness and intimacy of ALL THE PRETTY HORSES, the mesmerizing values of THE NATURAL, the drive and get up and go of HOOSIERS and the melodic heart of  LEGENDS OF THE FALL. Tracks 17 and 18 for me are the highlights of the score and bring it to its triumphant and highly emotional conclusion, PRELUDE TO THE RACE and  THE RACE AND EPILOGUE seem to melt into one and give us a near 11 minute piece that is filled with driving strings ominous sounding brass and thundering percussion, the final cue gradually building as it underlines Mine that Bird at first struggling in the derby, but slowly but surely becoming stronger and eventually heading to the front of the field, the composers music accompanying the horse as he powers on to win the race and assuring a place in history. I cannot recommend this soundtrack highly enough, a beautiful score once again from Mr Ross. Released on momentum as a promo, this is the labels first release and I hope it will not be their last, well packaged in a digi- pack, with interesting sleeve notes courtesy of Tim Greiving and contributions from director producer Jim Wilson and composer William Ross.




It seems that the surname of NEWMAN has been around in the film music business for an age, Alfred Newman of course we all know for his amazing and superbly lush and varied scores for Hollywood of yesteryear, Lionel also had many connections with film music mainly as a conductor. The Newman dynasty is still well and truly established in Hollywood of today with Thomas and also Randy but we must not forget David Newman who in my opinion has contributed numerous brilliant soundtracks to the silver screen. My first encounters with his music came in the 1980,s with scores such as THE KINDRED, CRITTERS,  HEATHERS, BILL AND TEDS EXCELLENT ADVENTURE and moving into the 1990,s was treated to scores for films such as MR DESTINY,HOFFA,MIGHTY DUCKS, THE PHANTOM, MATILDA and GALAXY QUEST to name but a few.

As the 21st century dawned David Newman continued to be a busy and sought after composer for the cinema, and since the year 2000 has scored just over 40 motion pictures, all of which are from various genres, each time Newman managing to provide music that wonderfully underlines and enhances the many scenarios that are unfolding up on he big screen. One of his latest assignments is for an animated version of TARZAN, the story of Tarzan of the apes, originally created by Edgar Rice Burroughs, has over the years been brought to the cinema screen many times and on each occasion it seems to be a different take on the original story. This latest version is no exception, with the storyline being suitably updated for the latest generation of movie goers. David Newman’s score is epic and adventurous, and to be honest is more like listening to a Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack from the 1970, s/80,s with its use of bold and rasping brass combined with booming and rhythmic percussion and ever present lush romantic sounding strings that are at times embellished and supported by choir. It is a powerful work that will set pulses racing and help to put audiences on the edge of their seats, driving and urgent sounding strings with proud almost anthem like flourishes from the horn section are underlined and carried along by infectious percussive elements making this an exciting and invigorating listening experience.  It also contains some fragile and more intimate sounding interludes which the composer weaves  into the fabric of the work giving it a touch of melancholy in places, plus he adds little nuances and understated motifs that are at times just fleeting glimpses of themes but these elements bring significant weight to this already impressive and potent soundtrack.  Newman utilizes to great effect woodwind and also emotively lush strings to underline a number of the scenes between the two central characters Tarzan and Jane, bringing a sense of romance and also a somewhat charming awkwardness to the proceedings.

But it is his grand, resounding and highly stirring thematic compositions that drive this score onward’s or in Tarzan’s case upwards to the trees of the jungle, depicting the thrills and also the sheer vastness and imposing stature of the said jungle. It is I suppose a score that has more affiliations with soundtracks from three or four decades ago rather than the more modern soundtracks that we are hearing of late, full of themes and overflowing with emotion and vibrant compositions this is a score that you cannot and must not miss out on. If you are a fan of Newman’s THE PHANTOM, then I am of the opinion that you will not be disappointed by TARZAN.



JOHN IRELAND, was born in 1879 near Manchester, he studied piano, organ and composition at The Royal college of Music where he went onto be a teacher tutoring the likes of Benjamin Britten. Normally the composer would avoid becoming involved in the writing of music for film as he thought that film music was something that would damage his reputation as a serious music composer or a composer of music that would be performed in the concert hall. In 1946, the Ealing studios musical director Ernest Irving approached Ireland asking him to consider working on a Michael Balcon movie entitled THE OVERLANDERS, this was a film based upon the story of Australian wranglers attempts to move large numbers of cattle from the Northern areas of Australia in case of a Japanese invasion during the second world war, the events which took place in 1942,were captured perfectly by Balcon;s movie and the film which was written and also directed by Harry Watt has attained the reputation of being a British movie classic. At first Ireland declined to have anything to do with the project, but Irving was determined to enlist the composers talents on the film and went back to Ireland with a very lucrative offer which Ireland accepted, Irving promised Ireland that he would support him throughout the scoring process offer, Ireland provided the movie with a soundtrack that not only worked with the movie but also has since become an iconic score for cinema and a part of British film history.





Ireland was also drawn to the project as it featured a cast of people who were not stars. The music has since appeared on recordings which have been directed by the likes of Sir Adrian Boult, Richard Hickox etc and has been included in a number of film music compilations. Ireland was to have produced a second film score for Ealing studios entitled The Toilers of the Sea but this project was cancelled when the producer involved decided to part company with Ealing Studios. THE OVERLANDERS was to be the composers last major work and he retired to Sussex in 1953, taking up residence in a converted windmill on the south downs, which along with the river Thames had always been a rich source of inspiration for the composer. John Ireland, passed away in 1962, aged 82.


john ireland.