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I was privileged enough to have met Ron Goodwin twice, and also attended a few of his concerts with the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra. He always came across as a friendly and kind person who loved to entertain as well as compose music. His scores for numerous movies made up a good part of the popular music that was played on the radio during the 1950,s through the 1960,s and into the 1970,s and even today we occasionally hear his more famous compositions for the big screen on stations such as CLASSIC FM and BBC Radio 3. His death was sad indeed it felt like many of us collectors had lost a friend rather than a composer who’s music we adored. Of course I like many were introduced to Goodwin’s music via movies such as 633 SQUADRON,THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES,THE TRAP and OPERATION CROSSBOW. Goodwin was closely associated with war movies and his stirring and highly dramatic themes and scores thrilled cinema audiences world wide, but Goodwin’s music was not just background score for a movie it also contained memorable thematic material that easily crossed over into the popular music category and I think this is why the composer was so successful, because he appealed to one and all. Shortly after his death, EMI decided to issue a double compact disc as a tribute to his musical prowess and diversity. RON GOODWIN THE MAGNIFICENT MAN AND HIS MUSIC MACHINE contained 53 tracks of Goodwin’s compositions, 24 of which were taken from his film scores and also compositions written for his long playing record releases the remainder being made up of his early single releases.

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It is a highly absorbing and entertaining collection of music that evokes memories of this wonderfully talented British composer. My main encounter with Ron Goodwin’s music came via the excellent EMI STUDIO TWO releases, the most popular being the LP,s of LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN, ADVENTURE and EXCITEMENT, all of which have been re-issued onto compact disc. Let us start now though with disc number one of this compilation, THE EARLY YEARS-POPULAR SINGLES, It opens with JET JOURNEY which is a somewhat typical British sounding travelogue piece, strings sweeping the proceedings along at a fairly brisk pace, in fact this was Goodwin’s first single to be released on a 78rpm disc in 1953.

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This became popular very quickly and caused something of a stir when it was first available in Gt Britain. Goodwin composed many other pieces that were released as singles on the Parlophone label, the dramatic THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN, the jaunty and somewhat Hispanic sounding RED CLOAK, and the infectious SKIFFLING STRINGS among them, but Goodwin was also active in the area of recording cover versions or arrangements of other composers works, WHEN I FALL IN LOVE for example by Victor Young, a rousing version and tempestuous version of VICTORY AT SEA by Richard Rodgers and a particularly haunting arrangement of Ronald Binges ELIZABETHAN SERENADE (which was used for the dairylea cheese spread advert). I remember listening to most of his music in my room as a teenager on my trusty blue and cream coloured Dansette record player. It was a period in my life that I look back on with great fondness, it was a time when I was discovering film music and music in general thus Goodwin became a big part of that discovery process because via Goodwin I got to hear a lot of film music or at least the themes from soundtracks that were not available at that time. Which was also true of other artists/composers such as Stanley Black, Mantovani and to a degree Ronnie Aldrich, all of whom released some great compilations that either concentrated solely of film music or mixed film themes with easy listening standards. Goodwin’s releases however held a special place in my affections, both his albums and singles were things I looked forward too, and I remember being the proud owner of a white label 78rpm of the theme from SHANE which was a one sided disc, sadly it got broken a few years ago when moving house. I think everyday life was simpler then and also so was music and film, both seemed to be straightforward and uncomplicated. But I digress, back to this marvellous collection of music from Ron Goodwin. Disc one also includes BLUE STAR which was the theme from the television series MEDIC, which was written by Victor Young, Ron’s interpretation simply oozes charisma and purveys a luxurious atmosphere.

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LINGERING LOVERS was the sequel to Goodwin’s popular SKIFFLING STRINGS or SWINGING SWEETHEARTS depending on what side of the Atlantic you heard it. Again the lush and luxurious strings employed by Goodwin set the mood for something that is easy going and uncomplicated but at the same time posses a haunting melody. Track number 5 on disc one is Goodwin’s version of the ever popular COLONEL BOGEY MARCH, which made an appearance in the now classic war movie BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI, this arrangement also includes THE RIVER KWAI MARCH which weaves in and out of the piece. Other delights on disc number one are THE MELBA WALTZ, UNDER THE LINDEN TREE, THE LAUGHING SAILOR, MOULIN ROUGE and the alluring and haunting THE GIRL FROM CORSICA which was penned by Trevor Duncan. Disc two is entitled RON GOODWIN’S ORIGINAL COMPOSITIONS FROM FILM AND LP’S. It opens most stupendously with the composers familiar and rousing theme from 633 SQUADRON and also includes the love theme from his score in track number two.

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THE TRAP is up next the movie which starred Oliver reed and Rita Tushingham I have to say is almost forgotten but the music that was written by Goodwin lives on and is also used as the theme for THE LONDON MARATHON. THOSE MAGNIFICENT MEN IN THEIR FLYING MACHINES is next in the running order, Goodwin’s music is still to this day instantly recognisable to all ages. For this compilation the principal themes from the score have been woven into a suite of music a suite which has been on many of Goodwin’s compilations. LANCELOT AND GUINEVERE is a lesser known score by Goodwin, here we are treated to a 4 minute piece from the soundtrack which is romantic and regal. As well as movie themes or suites of music from his scoring assignments such as WHERE EAGLES DARE, BATTLE OF BRITAIN, OPERATION CROSSBOW, THE MISS MARPLE’S MOVIES, MONTE CARLO OR BUST, DECLINE AND FALL and FRENZY this second disc also includes original compositions by the composer that were released on compilation albums such as the busy and almost frantic sounding LONDON SERENADE depicting the hustle and bustle of a busy Metropolis. Plus lively compositions such as JUMPING JUPITER and the laid back and uncomplicated THE GIRL WITH MISTY EYES. All in all this a wonderful 2 disc set that covers some of the composers musical triumphs, I say some because there is so much more to Ron Goodwin that I think it would take up a 50 disc encyclopedia type recording. Please don’t miss out this one it is still available…

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Composer Anton Garcia (not to be confused with Anton Garcia Abril), is a relative newcomer to the world of film scoring, he began his musical career as a member of the thrash band SHAH in Russia who over a period of a few years had numerous hits and became one of that countries most popular and successful bands. After the members of SHAH went their separate ways Anton Garcia turned to music production as a career and worked on a number of albums for high profile artists. As well as producing albums he also contributed to their content with compositions and lyrics. It was at this time that the composer/producer began to work on a number of advertisements which were mainly for television providing these with music that was supportive and also quick to establish itself thus creating a link between watching audiences and the product the ad was for, this eventually led to the composer working on motion pictures. His most recent scoring assignment is for the Russian/German/Ukrainian/Czech co-production of VIY. Which stars Jason Flemyng and Charles Dance. The movie which is a fantasy/thriller/horror has been successful in Eastern Europe and there is now a sequel being planned. VIY started production in 2009, but after numerous halts in filming which were mainly due to lack of funding the movie was not completed until 2012, eventually reaching cinemas in Russia, Ukraine and Azerbaijan in 2014. The musical score is a pulsating and commanding work which is a large scale affair being performed by symphony orchestra and synthetic support, it is filled to brimming with rich and vibrant thematic material, that switches from full on powerful action music to tender sounding tone poems and is underlined with an atmosphere that simply oozes mystery and menace which Garcia creates by combining strings, woodwind and choral components. In many ways his score is a contemporary take on the soundtracks from bygone days that adorned many a Hollywood production filled with luxurious, haunting and lush themes that gave greater impact and depth to scenes and scenarios on screen. Garcia fashions a highly entertaining score which utilises both the brass and string sections to their maximum, with percussion, woodwind and choir ably supporting throughout. The composer utilises jagged sounding brass stabs and flourishes to purvey a sense of urgency, with strings creating a driving, relentless and robust foundation and at the same time provide a dark and sombre mood to some of the cues. Garcia builds his score on a foundation of brass and strings with the choral parts further enhancing the dark atmosphere giving it a far more foreboding presence which is at times malevolent in its presentation and sound.


The music is for much of the scores duration tense and urgently fraught but it does however posses a beauty that shines through the more dissonant/action material revealing the works gloriously melodic heart of the which is poignant, frail, graceful and emotive. This is a powerhouse of a soundtrack and one which any self respecting film music collector should own. This is a swashbuckling, adventurous work which has certain affiliations and similarities with other film scores such as CUTTHROAT ISLAND, YOUNG SHERLOCK HOLMES, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN and at times evoked memories of both Goldsmith and Barry and is a score that I know will bring much satisfaction to many. Anton Garcia is a composer that one should make note of as I am confident we will be hearing more of him and his music. Available soon on Kronos records,highly recommended



I was prompted to write a review of this score because the movie was screened on the BBC this week, the sprawling epic about the monumental battle that took place between the British forces under the command of Wellington and the French under the leadership of their Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte did come in for some criticism at the time of its release but has since become an epic film in every sense of the word. Filmmaker Dino de Laurentiis assembled an all star cast which was headlined by Rod Steiger as Napoleon and Christopher Plummer as a rather pompous but at the same time caring Wellington both actors produced believable performances and for me personally it was Plummer who stole the movie in his portrayal of the iconic British commander. The cast which was a truly international one also included a number of well know actors Orson Welles for example played Louis Xvlll, whilst Virginia McKenna, Ian Ogilvy, Jack Hawkins, Rupert Davies, Michael Wilding, Gianni Garko, Ivo Garrani, Andrea Checchi, Dan O Herlihy and Oleg Vidov all put in credible performances. The battle scenes were spectacular with Director Sergei Bondarchuk utilising a number of Russian army divisions as extras. The musical score was the work of Italian Maestro Nino Rota, who was no stranger to scoring a Napoleonic war drama as he worked on WAR AND PEACE some years earlier in fact the composer utilised and reworked some thematic material from his WAR AND PEACE score and wove it into the fabric of the score for WATERLOO, this being transformed into THE WATERLOO WALTZ, which is heard before the mayhem begins. Rota’s music was a crucial and also an important component of the movie, the opening in particular is highly dramatic with brass and strings giving it an urgent and imposing feel setting the scene for much of what is to follow. Rota’s music is highly effective within the battle scenes his score underlining, heightening and supporting the aggressive action that is taking place on screen.

The score accompanying the somewhat jolly and ram shackle British, Scottish and Irish and giving even more pomp and majesty to the opposing French forces, his score also purveys a sense of futility and creates an atmosphere that seems to shout why do wars and battles such as this have to be fought? The music that Rota composed to accompany the SCOTS GREYS as they charge headlong towards the French lines is masterful, it conjures up the adrenaline rush that the troopers must be feeling as they hurtle towards an unknown fate, but then as the film goes into a slow motion sequence Rota too slows the music and underlines the impressive sequence with an almost celestial and romantic piece performed on organ and strings that momentarily create a mood that is calm and serene.
The remainder of the charge is not scored the SCOTS GREYS being countered by the infamous French lancers who despatch most of the British as they become bogged down in heavy muddy ground.


The battle scene where we see an Ariel view of a number of British squares being attacked by French cavalry is impressive enough but the drama and sheer senselessness of the action by the French is heightened by Rota’s aggressive, sharp and jagged sounding soundtrack, where the composer utilises brass and percussion aided by strings to create a highly agitated and chaotic atmosphere as we see the British unleashing hails of bullets against a cavalry that has no infantry or cannon to support it, the French sustain heavy losses and as the scene comes to its conclusion Rota returns to an arrangement of the central theme that is performed on solo violin depicting again the waste and the senseless act of war and the madness and carnage of battle. The final battle scene is scored in three sections, it begins with the proud and bombastic march that accompanies THE OLD GUARD (LA VIELLE GARDE) as they go in to finish off the British, the strident drums the piccolos and the brass convince us that yes the French have beaten Wellington, in fact the British too are resigned to the fact that all is lost, until a rider informs Napoleon that the Prussians are in the woods,(I PRUSSIANI) the mood suddenly alters as we hear the strains of the Prussian theme the commander telling his children “To fly the black flags high and show no mercy”.


The music also conveys Napoleons despair and disbelief that victory has been taken from him, then the music slips into the theme for the British forces (WELLINGTON-NOW ITS YOUR TIME!) as they take advantage of the support from the Prussians and advance towards the oncoming French. Napoleon is man handled away from his troops as the battle reaches its climax and the French are beaten, surrounded by the British and the Prussians the French are given the option of surrender but refuse this and are finished off by cannon. IL CAMPO DI MORTI is a sombre and low key piece that is played as Wellington peruses the field of the dead, it gradually builds from its low and sombre beginnings and the composer transforms into an ominous sounding version of the scores central theme. This is truly an epic score, my only reservation about this particular release is the sound quality, released on LEGEND records(Italy) it consists of the same track listing as the original CAM and Paramount long playing records, and I cannot be sure but am pretty certain that no restoration or re-mastering took place for this edition, I just hope that one day soon a re-mastered version will make it to compact disc, so that we may sample the delights of this magnificent score without the distortion and sound fluctuation and also some of the additional music that was provided by Wilfred Josephs, the score is conducted by Italian maestro Bruno Nicolai.