PLAY IT AGAIN-The Classic sound of Hollywood.


Play it Again-The Classic sound of Hollywood, is a collection of music from some of the better known movies to come out of Hollywood, Cinecitta and also the U.K. I wanted to get this point over before starting the review as the title of the collection suggests that is music from just Hollywood productions that are included, so lets start with disc number one, this opens with Franz Waxman’s lyrical and poignant theme from PEYTON PLACE the movie not the television series that seemed to go on forever during the 1960,s. Waxman was of course along with his peers such as Rozsa, Korngold and Steiner responsible for creating some of Hollywood’s most memorable film scores and worked on numerous motion pictures during the 1930,s thru to the 1960,s his music for SUNSET BOULEVARD being one of the most popular and well known, Waxman also created the score for THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN which was a landmark work not only in his career but also within the film music community.


Track number two, is from THE THING, scored by Russian born Dimitri Tiomkin, who went onto write so many well known songs and themes for movies, including The Green Leaves of Summer for THE ALAMO, Do Not Forsake Me from HIGH NOON and provided scores of epic proportions for films such as THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE, 55 DAYS AT PEKING and the GUNS OF NAVARONE. THE THING however is not as musical or melodic as Tiomkins other works and the suite of music here representing the soundtrack is largely atonal and suspense filled with the added eerie sound of the Theremin creating the perfect mood and atmosphere for this now classic horror/sci fi movie. All of the recordings on disc number 1 of the compilation are in fact re-recordings and were previously released on the RCA red seal label as part of the Classic Film Music series which was conducted by Charles Gerhardt and performed by the National Philharmonic orchestra, this was and still is a superb series of recordings and have acted as a rich source of information and have become must have items within collecting circles.




Track number three is from SALOME (1953) music for the main score was by composer George Duning, but the dance sequence which is included here was written by Danielle Armitheatrof , which was something that George Duning spoke of when I interviewed him, “The SALOME score was a very long one for me, and Morris Stoloff felt the background score was very important. It was at my suggestion that he got Daniele to do the dance scene, so I was free to concentrate on the score.” Amitheatrof worked steadily on Hollywood productions and also on TV shows, in fact his last scoring assignments were for THE TIME TUNNEL which was popular with viewers in both the USA and the UK during the 1960,s, the composer’s last motion picture score was in 1965 when he provided the score for Sam Peckinpah’s violent western MAJOR DUNDEE which starred Charlton Heston and Richard Harris. Tracks 4, 5 and 6 are all from the pen of the master of film music or the Father of film music as many refer to him, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, this giant of motion picture scoring is responsible for creating the template upon which the majority of film scores are based, the scores represented on this compilation are OF HUMAN BONDAGE, BETWEEN TWO WORLDS and THE SEA HAWK. All classic scores that are epic and sumptuous in their musical styles and create an atmosphere that is richly romantic and wonderfully lyrical. It is surely the opening bold and proud sounding fanfares of THE SEA HAWK that inspired composer John Williams on his STAR WARS scores. The music is luxurious and purveys an air of opulence and high emotion which is something that the composer always seemed to be able to do when scoring a movie no matter what genre it was.


Disc 2 opens with the music of another musical giant Max Steiner, GONE WITH THE WIND is I suppose Steiner’s most well know piece, or at least the theme from the movie is, TARA’S THEME, represents the score on this occasion. Track number two disc 2, is from 1965, and the music is by a young French composer Maurice Jarre, Zhivago was the second time that Jarre had worked with British film maker Sir David Lean, and their partnership was set to endure for many years Jarre providing the music for Lean’s movies such as RYANS DAUGHTER, A PASSAGE TO INDIA and also LAWRENCE OF ARABIA. DR ZHIVAGO was a great success for Jarre, and the haunting theme he wrote for the movie LARA’S THEME became a worldwide hit. Track number 3 is also from the 1960,s in fact it was released in 1960, directed by Alfred Hitchcock PSYCHO provided composer Bernard Herrmann with the opportunity to compose one of the most shocking and now familiar sections of music for the infamous shower scene in the movie, Herrmann’s shrieking and vicious sounding strings even now some 50 years on still managing to cause a certain amount of uneasiness to anyone hearing them even when they are removed from the images.


Track number 4, is from the aforementioned LAWRENCE OF ARABIA by Maurice Jarre, the overture represents Jarre’s timeless soundtrack for this compilation with its booming percussion, and haunting string led theme t is most definitely one of cinemas most accomplished and memorial scores. Add to the titles already mentioned, music from BEN HUR, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, VERTIGO, THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN, CASABLANCA, KING KONG, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS and BREAKFAST AT TIFFANY’S and we have here a collection that is certainly epic and undoubtedly classic. Certainly worth a listen, maybe a volume two is on the cards I hope so.



I must admit my first real contact as a fan with composer Waldo De Los Rios was not as a film music composer but as more of an arranger when his upbeat version of Mozart’s 40th symphony entered the British charts and subsequently reached the number one slot in that chart back in the early 1970,s. The album on A and M records which contained the composers own unique arrangements of classical works by the Masters also attained the number one position in the UK and remained there for some time. I also remember seeing a window size poster of De Los Rios on display in the HMV store main front window in London next to smaller display advertising David Bowie, so that’s how popular he was during that period in the UK. A TOWN CALLED HELL or A TOWN CALLED BASTARD as it was screened under in the UK cinemas was a movie that had a short run at the picture houses, and I did not manage to see it. I was under the impression for a number of years that it was one of those American produced westerns made in the style of a spaghetti, along the lines of LANDRAIDERS or HANG EM HIGH attempting to cash in on what the Italians had done with something that was essentially of American origin, but then discovered it was a Spanish production (a Paella western) and regretted not seeing it on the big screen. Something that was remedied later I am glad to say when the video became available, it was then I also discovered that De Los Rios had written the score, and soon added it to my then large list of soundtracks I thought should be released. De los Rios, I think did an admirable job of scoring the movie, he was after all in a difficult position, on one side there was the Italian or spaghetti style of scoring a western which was gaining more and more recognition and popularity and on the other the more traditional Hollywood approach of what was conceived to be western/cowboy music. Both being admired by collectors for their own unique flavours and colours, what De Los Rios achieved I think was a perfect equilibrium between the two styles, and at the same time remaining original as well infusing his own highly imaginative and appealing technique. Track one is a stirring opening to the compact disc and is totally martial in its style and sound the composer utilizing timpani alone to create a march of sorts that although brief is attention grabbing.
Track 2 is one of the longest on the disc weighing in at almost 5 minutes, this is an overture of sorts containing a number of the scores principal themes and includes booming and stirring percussion, subtle use of organ, sparse utilization of strings, a sprinkling of sombre and upbeat sounding brass, wistful almost windswept woodwinds with choir and guitar adding their support. Track three is the actual theme from the movie, again short lived but effective and haunting, De Los Rios combining male voices with a lone electric guitar and underlined by strings building in volume and also tension towards the end of the cue, the composers use of choir being similar to that of composer Kristophe Komeda, using voices as actual instrumentation as opposed to being a background to the performance. There are a few atonal and dare I say un-musical tracks within the score, some of which are cleverly enhanced by the composers use of reverb and electronic assistance, which includes I think what is a brief musical stab or two performed upon an Ondes Martenot, but saying this there is even within these examples little interludes that include motifs, and snatches of themes, which seem to come out of nowhere and thus are an unexpected and pleasant surprise, the tracks becoming more interesting and taking on a transformation to be even more enjoyable because of their presence. Overall A TOWN CALLED HELL is a very good score and one that I would recommend you purchase. Sound quality is variable but for the most part good, and for a score that is nearly 40 years old sounds pretty chipper to me.


The second disc in this two CD set is SAVAGE PAMPAS again music is by Waldo De Los Rios, and again the composer has produced a riveting and powerful work. Originally issued on a long playing record(which became a rare item very quickly) the soundtrack also has been around on a bootleg CDR which was an LP transfer for a few years. The music in this case is certainly potent and the way in which the composer employs choir within the work is highly original and effective. The composer combines proud and patriotic sounding choir with commanding and driving percussion which is underlined and enhanced by the use of equally authoritative strings that are embellished further by strumming guitars, assorted brass and windswept sounding woods. The compact disc includes 10 tracks and 8 of these are generous in their running time, the shortest being just over 5 minutes and the longest running for nearly 12 minutes Track 4, is for me one of the highlights of the score and this recording it is filled with rich and rhythmic compositions that are the essence and the core of De Los Rios’s infectios and rousing score. Sound quality is very good, and the entire package is presented with a sumptuous and informative booklet that contains informative notes on each movie and lengthy information on the composer, plus numerous stills from the movies, photographs of De Los Rios and poster art also. This is a must have compact disc and will enrich any film music collection. Recommended.



The amount of soundtracks that are being released recently is quite staggering, in most cases these scores are by new and up and coming composers many of whom we as collectors have never heard of before, it amazes me that these lesser known composers who are mostly young Maestro’s are producing so much quality music and it is thanks to labels such as Movie Score Media and Kronos that we are getting to hear many of their works for the cinema. A few years ago we looked to Spain for a breath of fresh film music air, but more recently composers from Eastern Europe seem to be making their mark upon cinema audiences with their haunting and emotive sounding film scores. Bartek Gliniak is a composer who I have heard of before and I must say I liked what I heard, one of the latest releases from the ever industrious Movie score media/Kronos stable is the composers delightful and pleasant score for MY NIKIFOR (2004) which is a biopic of the Polish outsider artist Nikifor Krynicki, who painted over 40,000 pictures – on sheets of paper, pages of notebooks, cigarette cartons, and even on scraps of paper glued together. Underrated for most of his life and achieving recognition as a primitivist painter in his late years. The score is a slightly offbeat but at the same time entertaining and romantic work, the composer creating a haunting and infectious central theme on which he builds the remainder of his score.


I love the way in which the cimbalom is utilized throughout the work and punctuated and accompanied by slightly roguish sounding pizzicato strings that add a certain devilish appeal to the proceedings, the composer also makes effective use of solo piano and certain points within the score and employs a heart melting violin solo and underlines this with subdued and fragile sounding woodwind that is further supported by a heartfelt and melancholy sounding cello. But, it is the cimbalom alongside pizzicato strings that are the main feature of the score in my opinion, they act as a glue that holds the remainder of the soundtrack together or at least act as a bridge between the various instrumentation within the score. The reoccurring 4 note motif and variations of it is one that you will never tire of simply because it is infectious and also because the composer arranges and orchestrates it in so many fresh and different guises, at first being performed by cimbalom then it is handed to the plucked strings and taken on by piano and then violin, it is also given a more romantic working midway through the compact disc by piano. There is a sound and style to this work that for me evoked many of the composing styles of Bruno Nicolai, with oboe being enhanced by warm sounding strings and plaintive piano with the odd scattering of harpsichord and the ever present cimbalom these elements stirring up memories of Nicolai’s COUNT DRACULA at times but Gliniak,s actual themes being less harsh than Nicolai’s. The composer also employs recorder and delicate harp strokes and bassoon to create a wonderfully lyrical work. This is a polished and enjoyable score and one I would recommend in a heartbeat. Please check it out, you will not be sorry.



The movie Red Krokodil portrays on the big screen the story of a Krokodil-addict who finds himself alone in post-nuclear city. This neorealist hallucinatory film by acclaimed visionary director Domiziano Cristopharo was inspired by an unpublished story penned by Francesco Scardone. The drug Krokodil is in no way fictitious in fact it is a real danger to drug addicts who expose themselves to it, it is a cheaper form of heroine thus becomes attractive to addicts, Krokodil is made up of a mixture of codeine and paint thinners. The name Krokodil comes from its trademark side effect: scaly green skin like a crocodile around the injection site. A quick search on the internet for that will bring up graphic images of people with swollen faces, exposed bones and muscles and skin rotting off on any given body part. The reason the drug is so anatomically destructive is due to its mix-ins. Users stir in ingredients at times including gasoline, paint thinner, hydrochloric acid, iodine and red phosphorus which they scrape from the striking pads on matchboxes it is a flesh destroying or flesh eating drug which it is said originated in Russia.

The musical score for RED KROKODIL is the work of composer Alexander Cimini, and although it does contain its fair share of dark and harrowing sounding passages the composer has also written some of the most beautiful and haunting music that I have heard for a long while, in some ways the lighter or more melodic parts of the score for me evoked the works of Zbinew Preisner and at times even brought to mind the music of Maestro Ennio Morricone. Cimini utilises solo piano, solo violin and sorrowful and heartfelt cello solos throughout the work which are laced with plaintive sounding woodwind and these are bolstered and further supported by a rich and romantic sounding string section. The score is a fusion of both radiant and shady sounds and styles that intertwine and melt into one another to create a wonderfully lyrical and intensely dramatic work. The music is at times quite desolate and despairing purveying a sense of desperation and isolation but at the same time the composer gives us hope and a real sense of yearning with his emotive use of cello and violin that underline perfectly the feelings of the movies central character as we see his world and also himself disintegrating, the composer is on hand at all times to take the watching audience through the central characters emotions and underlines the at times disturbing visuals eloquently and enhances these moments effectively but at the same time is never overbearing. The CD opens with C_age, which is an apprehensive sounding piece, which relies mainly upon percussive elements to create its dark and threatening persona, strings too are introduced into the equation but not the melodic or lush variety instead they are swirling and jagged sounding and are given more ferocity and impact by percussion and tense synthetic support.
Track number 2, RED KROKODIL MAIN THEME is a beautiful and highly emotive composition with solo violin taking centre stage supported by the string section in an at first subdued romantic mode, the solo performance makes way for the string section who then become the forefront of the piece with choir make an appearance giving the strings more substance and adding weight to the proceedings to create a touching and melancholy cue which ends with a concerto like solo piano underlined by gracious sounding strings as the piano takes on the thematic core of the piece. Track number 3, ALONE is again a melodic piece, a balalaika sound is heard to introduce the cue, and remains in the background as support for a tragic sounding violin solo. Track number 4, MY WOUNDED BODY is a heartfelt and emotive composition, again the composer utilizes the string section to great effect and to this he adds a mournful sounding horn which brings to the piece a sense of loneliness and despondency. This is a score that I have to recommend to you, it is a score that you must add to your collection and one that I know you will return to many times after the first listen, the compact disc also includes a bonus track which is track number 13 in the running order, PASSION AND LOVE is a romantic and lush sounding cue and is taken from the soundtrack to HYDES SECRET NIGHTMARE which contained a score by Kristian Sensini, Cimini provided this cue for the score and it was not released on the soundtrack release of the score. Another wonderful release from Kronos records who seem to be unstoppable at the moment.



I think that over the past three to four years we have seen a fair few film scores that have been surprising to say the least, when I say surprising I do mean this in a positive way, EVIL DEAD for example by Roque Banos was groundbreaking to say the least and also THE CONJURING by Joseph Bishara was brilliantly original and also scared the hell out of you when you listened to alone and unwisely in the dark, so music for horror or thriller movies has in recent times come into its own and although for the most part these scores are not overly melodic they do still seem to create something of a stir in the film music collecting community.

Composer Raphael Gesqua,s score from AMONG THE LIVING fits easily into this category of scores I think, it is not only effective within the context of the movie but also has a place away from images to stand as original and innovative music. Released on MSM/KRONOS this score is in my opinion a must have, it is largely an atonal work and relies on unique sounding orchestrations and composition styles to establish its original and compelling sound. For example the use of a whistler within the score is a brilliant and effective idea and successfully creates an ambiance that is menacing and uneasy, in fact I found it particularly perturbing because a whistle is something that I normally associate with being carefree or happy, but in this case the scenario it creates and the atmosphere it purveys is somewhat fraught and filled with apprehension. The composer also utilizes to great effect, voices, stroked cimbalom, sinewy and edgy strings which are either in the form of a small string ensemble or at times are presented as a solo performance, trills of woodwind, percussive elements and an array of sounds which are either conventional or electronic and could be described as musical or otherwise to fashion a soundtrack that is impressive and highly original throughout. There are also a handful of what could be described as more conformist sounding cues within the work and these are at times delicately constructed with melodic cores and posses a simplicity and fragility to them that is enchanting and affecting, performed in the main by strings and woodwind. However the attraction of this work for me personally is the more unconventional sounding cues, the off kilter guitar, the uneasy sounding strings and the heart stopping stabs that appear out of nowhere and of course that chilling whistle. AMONG THE LIVING has a freshness about it and is brimming with vibrancy and energy, the score literally oozes originality and purveys a real ambiance of tense nervous action whilst at the same time evoking feelings of darkness and desperation that at times have tinges of melancholy. It is a work that should be grasped and savoured by collectors and is a style of scoring that should also be welcomed simply because it is so innovative.