PLAY IT AGAIN-The Classic sound of Hollywood.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A TOWN CALLED HELL/SAVAGE PAMPAS.

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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.

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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.