THE RED TENT (2014)

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The Red Tent we all probably know as the title of the 1970 movie which starred Sean Connery and Claudia Cardinale and was scored by the Italian Maestro Ennio Morricone. Recently however there has been a highly praised Lifetime TV mini series of the same title, the subject matter of which is completely removed from the aforementioned motion picture and its storyline. The series stars Minnie Driver and is directed by Roger young, the mini series runs for two episodes. The music for the film is by the highly talented and gifted composer Laurent Eyquem who was responsible for the scores to the motion pictures COPPERHEAD and also TOKAREV plus numerous other film scores that are not high profile but in my opinion should be because they are so well written and have to them a haunting and highly attractive persona and sound. The composers talent for creating romantic and dramatic musical soundtracks for both TV and Cinema is obvious and with each assignment his command of enhancing and supporting images seems to increase and become more accomplished, his scores becoming an integral and also an important component of each individual project. His score for THE RED TENT is a varied and alluring one, the composer utilising, strings and woodwind to great effect and adding to these elements female voice and ethnic instrument performances that infuse the right amount of authenticity into the proceedings, underlining each and every scenario that is being acted out on screen and creating the correct ambience, mood and atmosphere for the storyline. The central theme is a simple but an effective piece of writing, the composer employing sorrowful cello in the first instant of the opening bars on track one of the CD, the cello is soon joined and underlined by restrained strings, these however soon melt away and a piano solo is introduced that is enhanced and elevated slightly by understated cello and then further embellished by the string section. Piano becomes the principal instrumentation of the cue, with emotive and heartrending cello remaining its companion mirroring and augmenting the piano, the composer also recalls the delicate strings to the composition and adds a fleeting female vocal which is successful in evoking an almost ethereal atmosphere to the proceedings, it is a lilting and melancholy sound which is created by the combined instrumentation but at the same time has a power to it, that culminates in bringing forth a beautifully restrained and elusively fragile theme that becomes affecting and moving as it develops. The theme can be heard throughout the score, and appears and manifests itself in various arrangements being performed by strings, piano and other instruments.

I have to say I am a fan of this composers music and his style, his works ooze romanticism and also have the ability to enhance dramatic and action situations, on listening to each new score or indeed some of his earlier works I hear a freshness and a zestful and vibrant style that I know will be attractive to other collectors. THE RED TENT is an epic score that has many attributes, filled to brimming with rich thematic material and elegant and lavish tone poems. Highly recommended.

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ON HER MAJESTYS SECRET SERVICE.

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It is amazing to think that it iS FORTY five years ago that ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE was released and the new James Bond played by George Lazenby was introduced to cinema going audiences all over the world. Now Lazenby certainly had a job on his hands, firstly he had to portray the suave, sophisticated and jolly deadly quintessential spy James Bond and secondly he had to fill the shoes of an actor that everyone associated with the role Sean Connery.
After it was initially released OHMSS was deemed to be something of a flop at the box office compared with its predecessors
GOLDFINGER,THUNDERBALL and YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and yes I suppose receipts, reviews and above all audience reaction must have been disappointing to the films producers, plus the fact that Lazenby had announced before the films release that he would not be returning as James Bond. The on and off screen relationship between Lazenby and Diana Rigg also proved to be rather rocky and Lazenby even dared to suggest that the soundtrack for this latest Bond outing should have pop music tracked onto it. But taking all this and more into account OHMSS is for me one of the best if not the finest movie in the 007 series and even stands up against the latest Daniel Craig interpretations. I love it because of Lazenby,s performance because I think he brought something to the character that showed Bond’s vulnerability and also showed a human side to 007 proving that he was just a mere mortal that had emotions. Still cant quite forgive him for suggesting a pop song score though. The movie was a real adventure tale, filled with thrills spills, turns, twists, romance and of course a number of gadgets, plus the villain was also portrayed wonderfully by Telly Savalas who’s performance as Blofeld was probably the best out of all that had proceeded and also all which would and will follow. The musical score by the Bond Maestro John Barry is simply the best Bond score ever written. There has been nothing to rival it since or before its conception. I thought it was an insult that the song WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD was not recognised by the Academy and was not given an Oscar nomination. The song and also the movie have since become icons in their respective worlds with the movie attaining a cult status and the song being adored by millions because of its various uses in adverts etc. I remember first buying the LP way back in 1969 around December if my memories serves me correctly, it was in the record department of Bellman of all places, a gatefold LP on UA records, with a fold out of Mr Lazenby complete with ski suit and skis gun in hand in 007 standard pose. 39 shillings and 6 pennies it was and worth every penny and an LP I still have to this day. In later years I also purchased the American import version and then the subsequent compact disc release which culminated in the purchase of the expanded release CD a few years back.
I was always contented with the music that was on the original albums and compact discs as I think at times an expanded release is not required, less being more if you know what I mean. But in the case of OHMSS it is a bonus in the true sense of the word, and a welcome addition to any collection of Bond music. The EMI disc contained the 11 original album tracks (some of which did contain previously unreleased music) plus a scintillating further 10 cues which included the haunting WHO WILL BUY MY YESTERDAYS which was presented as SIR HILARYS NIGHT OUT (track number 18). The score for OHMSS as I have already said is in my opinion the best Bond score written, it has to it all the elements a Bond score requires, plus it has not one but two songs the second being a charming little Christmas themed vocal by Nina of Nina and Frederick fame, DO YOU KNOW HOW CHRISTMAS TREES ARE GROWN. This was not as successful as WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, but nevertheless was given air time on the BBC radio and also television at the time of the films release, Nina and a collection of angelic children making appearances here there and everywhere including THE MORECOMBE AND WISE CHRISTMAS SHOW. John Barry made effective use of the songs melody and gave it a somewhat sinister twist within track number 19 BLOFELD’S PLOT within his score. For OHMSS I also think that Barry created a more upbeat sounding support and utilised a number of electronic instrumentation as support to the more conventional orchestral sound that had become associated with Bond, the familiar strains of the JAMES BOND THEME for example was performed on electric piano/organ rather than the normal guitar rendition, there was still the bombastic sound present alongside the jazzy steamy passages and the exhilarating action cues that were complimented by laid back almost easy listening tracks, but there just seemed to be something else, its something I have not quite put my finger on even after all this time but the score for OHMSS was special and still remains so to this day as does the actual movie, I would rather sit down and watch OHMSS than any other Bond film and that too goes for the score, at the time Barry’s approach seemed fresh and bright certainly different from his previous Bond outings but still retaining the familiar musical aura that just oozed James Bond. It was also one of the very few Bond movies to roll the opening credits without a title song, instead Barry let fly with his fast paced and exciting OHMSS theme which became the foundation on which Barry constructed the remainder of his score, with this central theme and also the inclusion of various manifestations of WE HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD etc OHMSS is for my money the cream of Bond scores and the best Bond movie.

The compact disc is still available and along with all the other Bond soundtracks seems to get released every Christmas and also every time a new Bond is announced or released. If by any slim chance you have never heard ON HER MAJESTYS SECRET SERVICE or seen the movie, please please remedy this asap, an iconic score for an iconic movie in a series that are classics.

SHAFT (2000).

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Released in 2000 SHAFT starring Samuel L Jackson in the title role was a pretty solid and convincing updating of the Shaft series, the musical duties for the movie fell to British born composer David Arnold who was at the time very much in demand because of his association with the James Bond movies. Arnold was it seemed a natural successor to John Barry on the 007 franchise and provided a suitably bombastic and Barry-esque musical accompaniment for the smoothness and suave persona that was Bond and his various adventures as they unfolded on screen. Arnold also proved to be successful in the area of the blockbuster providing highly thematic material for films such as INDEPENDENCE DAY and GODZILLA and also he conjured up a sparse and almost desolate sound for YOUNG AMERICANS. So I suppose when one thinks about it Arnold although not the obvious choice was well practised and would be able to give SHAFT a rhythmic and pulsating sound. To score a SHAFT movie without utilising the infectious and iconic theme as penned by Isaac Hayes back in 1971 I suppose would be un-thinkable, so Arnold took his cue from the theme and although not directly copying it he wove some of the elements from the theme into his score giving it a vibrant sound that possessed a retro atmosphere but at the same time had been given a musical makeover that allowed it to be contemporary. The elements that he used were familiar with audiences and film music collectors who had already been aware of SHAFT and were attractive to others who may not have already heard the Hayes theme or seen the original SHAFT movie and subsequent sequels and TV spin off’s. The composer employed a funk band line up similar to the one that Hayes had put together for the original score and to this he added a more conventional orchestral line up comprising of strings and brass that was supported by percussion, woods and synthetic flourishes thus giving the soundtrack a greater dramatic presence but all the time allowing the familiar sound created by Hayes to seep through into the proceedings. I suppose you could say it was very similar to what Arnold had achieved with his Bond scores but this time there is attitude and a sassy soulful groove going on. In fact listening to Arnolds score is like listening to the original SHAFT with elements of SHAFTS BIG SCORE, snips from SHAFT IN AFRICA and also the jazzy funky influences of Lalo Schifrin making an entrance every so often. I think I am right when I say that the score was never officially released and a song/score compact disc was the only version to hit the shops at the time of the films release on the LA FACE label as I say none of Arnold‘s dramatic score was on the CD instead it was filled with R and B songs, there was however a promo release of the score, which disappeared rather rapidly. So this release from LA LA LAND RECORDS is most welcome.

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I remember seeing a promo of Arnold’s score in a shop on a white label by this I mean it was a compact disc no cover just track listing I thought about it at the time but did not pick it up, which is something I still regret. This release is filled with fantastic notes and lots of stills and contains 74 minutes of music over 29 tracks, it’s a great score and is not only exciting and powerful but contains real melodic qualities and highly infectious themes and motifs, this is well worth checking out and adding to your collection. Every track seems to bounce along with an unrelenting energy, Arnold employing 70,s disco style strings that are punctuated by little organ full stops and commas and given support and a driving rhythmic background by wah wah guitar and imposing groovy bass lines. Recommended…..

FEMMINE INSAZIABILI.

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Originally released on a long playing record back in 1970 which was on the famed Italian soundtrack label ARIETE (ARLP 2006), FEMMINE INSAZIABILI or INSATIABLE WOMEN or just THE INSATIABLES is probably one of Bruno Nicolai’s finest soundtracks. It was also probably this particular soundtrack that made me realise that Nicolai was a talent all on his own and also brought it home that he possessed a unique and vibrant musical style away from the shadow of composers such as Morricone, Rustichelli and Rota all of which Nicolai collaborated with as conductor or arranger. This score in particular contains numerous styles and is a theme laden work. The composer utilising the unmistakable aural talents of Edda Dell Orso who’s marvellous vocalising is used throughout the score giving it an even more attractive and haunting quality. Yes it is true to say that one can make comparisons between the work of Nicolai and also the work of Morricone and it has to be said that both composers were particularly busy and creative at this time in their respective careers, but FEMMINE INSAZIABLI has to it an aura and a musical presence that to be truthful is far superior to much of what Morricone penned at this time, Nicolai’s themes seem to be more developed and a lot more melodic, the composer arranging and orchestrating the core themes from the score differently throughout to create a veritable smorgasbord of rich and attractive compositions that combine to create a soundtrack which when listened to away from the images still remains entertaining. The movie was released in 1969 and was directed by Alberto De Martino, it starred John Ireland, Frank Wolf, Dorothy Malone and Robert Hoffman. A journalist meets up with an old lady friend in the United States when he is visiting there, but shortly after meeting her she is murdered, the journalist decides to find her murderer and in doing so discovers that many of her so called friends did not like her at all and further discovers that in the years she has been in America she has become corrupt. Nicolai’s score opens with the driving and vivacious sounding title song I WANT IT ALL, performed by Lara Saint Paul with backing vocals by Edda and driving melodic strings that are melodic but upbeat. “THE GOOD THINGS THE BAD THINGS THE THRILLS THE SORROWS AND THE JOYS, I WANT IT ALL, ALL LIFE CAN GIVE ME, WITH EVERY PART OF ME I WANT TO LIVE”. are the opening lines, Sounds good to me, performed wonderfully with beautifully orchestrated backing by Nicolai, this opening melody carries on through the remainder of the score and pop’s up here and there in various musical guises and permutations. The remainder of Nicolai’s score is fairly upbeat and has to it a busy almost big band sound in places, with brass and percussion creating luxurious sounding themes and motifs. Then there is the softer and far more easy listening side to the work, with strings and light percussion combining with organ and Edda exquisite voice the composer adding to this interesting and original sounds and trills etc that accompany and embellish the central thematic material. This for me personally is brought to a fuller fruition in track number four which is just one of the instrumental variations of the I WANT IT ALL theme. The soundtrack is released on EASY TEMPO records which was a label that was very active a few years back releasing various scores and also putting out a series of compilation discs that were entitled simply EASY TEMPO 1 to 10. The score for FEMMINE INSAZIABILI is simply glorious, it is an essential purchase and a MUST HAVE Bruno Nicolai soundtrack, your collection will be lacking and incomplete without this gem of a soundtrack, seek it out and add it straight away. It was also released on a double LP record by the same label. To say certain cues are stand out or highlights of the work would be impossible as every cue is magnificent, my own favourites being the title song, INTIMITA , NOSTALGIA DI UN INCONTRO,AUTOSTRADA PER LOS ANGELES and AUTOSTOP. Buy it and check these and the other fantastic 18 tracks out.