ROY BUDD’S MASTERPIECE, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.

 

 

 

When you think about it the music of composer Roy Budd was a very big part of going to the cinema during the 1970, s, and on and into the late 1980, s. He scored some of the most popular movies that were produced during this period, and it all started with SOLDIER BLUE, which very soon became a movie with a reputation, probably for all the wrong reasons, but nevertheless Roy’s music was a key feature of that movie, he followed the success of SOLDIER BLUE with numerous soundtracks for a varied collection of films and was also responsible for creating catchy themes for TV shows such as THE SANDBAGGERS and MR ROSE. He was responsible for the stirring themes for THE WILD GEESE and also THE SEA WOLVES, fashioned another great western score in the form of his music for CATLOW, and treated audiences to some atmospheric music for so many other pictures, THE BLACK WINDMILL, THE STONE KILLER, TOMORROW NEVER COMES, THE FLIGHT OF THE DOVES, GET CARTER, ZEPPLIN, DIAMONDS, KIDNAPPED, SOMETHING TO HIDE, THE MARSEILLE CONTRACT, FEAR IS THE KEY, WHO DARES WINS,WILD GEESE 2, SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER,THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN DEADLY SINS, MAMA DRACULA, FIELD OF HONOUR etc, in fact the list is indeed endless.

 

One of his best loved scores is for PAPER TIGER, which starred David Niven. The music for this is so varied and haunting, and included a hit song, WHO KNOWS THE ANSWERS, which was performed by THE MIKE SAMMES SINGERS, and had lyrics by Sammy Cahn, the score also featured performances from THE RAY CONNIFF SINGERS and for me was a fusion of the styles of Goldsmith and Mancini, being highly dramatic and stirring, but at the same time having at its core a fully romantic sounding theme, which were given the Budd treatment. Its highly emotive themes and surging strings, evoking all the splendour and magnificence of those great film themes of the past.

 

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On Sunday October 8th, there is a very special performance of Roy’s magnificent score for the 1925, silent movie THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, which starred Lon Chaney, Roy worked tirelessly to fashion the score for this movie, and put all that he possibly could into its creation. Sadly, it was his dedication to this project, and his quest for musical perfection that ultimately cost him his life. PHANTOM the score, is a standing testimony to the genius and artistry of this wonderful composer and generously kind man, who was taken from us far too soon. Nick Hocart is one of the dedicated people behind bringing the concert or performance to fruition, I asked him a few questions about it and his thoughts about the music of Roy Budd.

Have you always been a fan of Roy Budd and how did you become involved with the live performance of Roy Budd’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA?

Unfortunately, Roy passed away when I was too young to have seen any of the films he scored, and I was unaware of his talent. I studied music at school and left Australia seeking a career in the industry. Four years ago, I was introduced to Sylvia Budd, who told me all about Roy’s career, his phantom of the opera score and his commission to write his first opera for the Berlin Opera. I was shocked that such a brilliant composer and accomplished musician was not more widely held up as an influence and role model in the British music scene, and more so that his masterpiece score had never been publicly performed. Having heard the score Roy wrote to Phantom I agreed to help Sylvia make the live performance happen – it’s going to be incredible to hear this music performed live.

What size orchestra will be performing on the night, and was it an easy task getting an orchestra involved in the project and a conductor?

 

We have a 77, piece orchestra, the Docklands Sinfonia performing the score for the premiere in the London Coliseum. The score was written for an 84, piece orchestra, it’s an incredibly full and rich piece of music, but the challenge is space for all the musicians! We may yet have to reduce the orchestra by a couple of strings to fit all the percussion in the pit too, but however many musicians we can fit in, we will!
The conductor and founder of the orchestra, Spencer Down, has been hugely excited to make this happen from the outset, and his involvement has been crucial to getting to where we are today.

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If the performance on October 8th is successful, do you think that maybe there could be other dates arranged at other venues?

 

We do have interest to do more shows in other parts of the world, and we would hope further interest to do more shows in the UK too. There are people waiting for this opportunity to hear the music first hand, to see if Roy was successful in making the transition from jazz to classical maestro. I hope they won’t be disappointed.

Would a concert of the music of Roy Budd be something that you or his estate would consider, I am sure that there are so many fans old and new out there that would love to hear his music performed live?

 

This is a tougher one – while I don’t have the full history I understand that Roy parted ways with his former agent, there were issues, and some of the music remains outside the control of Roy’s estate. Hypothetically – it would be great to put together some of Roy’s classic scores for a grand performance.

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I know when I interviewed Roy just before he died he was so passionate and excited about the score he had written for PHANTOM, why did it take so long for the music to be released onto a recording?

 

When you meet Sylvia, you understand that she is still very much in love with Roy and his passing must have been devastating to her. There were also issues to sort out as well as illness over the years – but what matters is it is available for fans now as well as the opportunity to hear the performance live!

 

What for you is the appeal of Roy Budd’s music?

Firstly, I couldn’t believe the score to Phantom the first time I heard it – it really takes the film to a new level – you need to see the film with the score to realise the effect it has. After that introduction to his music I went back through his jazz works and he has fantastic speed and timing, and is clearly a perfectionist – never a note or beat that doesn’t sound exactly like it should be where he’s playing it. Listen to a song like I’ll remember April and it sounds like a classic jazz standard, except it’s got his stamp of originality on it, his sound, little runs on the piano that sound deceivingly simple. Also watch any video of Roy performing – he’s clearly having a great time performing and leading his musicians who are all watching him closely for cues and following his lead. Amazing musician, performer, composer!

 

Soldier Blue was Roy’s first major film score, a great soundtrack, but unfortunately the actual score, remains un-released, there is so much music in the movie, I hope one day to see this released, do you think it will ever happen?

 

I need to refer to my earlier answer on his older work here – I don’t know the history or where the rights may be at this point in time. All my efforts to date have been to bring about the performance of Phantom. Who knows what a successful performance may bring about…

 

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My thanks to Nick for taking the time to answer my questions and for his dedication to the memory and the music of Roy Budd. I truly hope that the live performance of THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA score by Roy Budd, will be a great success, please if you can support this event. See you there……..

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BEN – HUR.

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Question, how do you review a film score that is already a classic, already evergreen and already loved by many? Well that’s a difficult question, unless of course you happen to have a copy of the new re-recording of BEN HUR by Tadlow music. BEN HUR the music has played a big part in my life, it was along with EL CID. LAWRENCE OF ARABIA and ZULU among the first ten or twenty soundtrack LPs that I had in my collection, it was also a film that I loved and a book that I read over and over as a child. In later years too, the music played a big part as I used it in a school nativity which was staged at the local Church, where my youngest son played the angel Gabriel and did his lines to a soundtrack of the MOTHERS LOVE music. This superbly wonderful music has endured the years and has maintained its standing as a firm film music great with fans of movie scores and lovers of music alike. This is a score that dreams are made of, filled with melody, themes, glorious pomp and highly emotive musical nuances. The new recording from TADLOW is itself a triumph and a stirring piece of musical history. So, should I try and review it or should I simply just listen to it, well I suppose I will do both. At the fans of music from the movies gathering on September 9th, 2017, James Fitzpatrick of Tadlow, was kind enough to show the gathered audience a film of the recording, the cue which he played to us was ENTR’ACTE the original version, which I think I can say blew everyone away.

 

 

The quality of the recording, the high standard of the performance and the impeccable reconstruction work all made this one of the highlights of the day. Listening to this track again on the recording through my hi fi system just confirmed that this is a thing of beauty and quality. Right from the proud opening brass flourishes it is a piece of music that one straight away associates with Dr Rozsa and with BEN HUR, this is the sound of the Biblical epic, the sound of Hollywood and the sound of the Golden age of film scores. Emotive and poignant, dramatic and rousing, epic and grand, fragile and intimate, it has all of these attributes, and more. To examine the tracks and analyse each of them would I feel be wrong, as my opinion of the score is very, very biased, maybe all I will say is you really need to get this release when it is available, if you do not add this to your collection, then you and that collection will be poorer for it. So, order it now. Have you done it yet, available for pre-order now from Tadlow, released on October 3rd.

 

 

The release contains 157 minutes of music some of which has not been heard before, performed by the excellent CITY OF PRAGUE PHILHARMONIC and CHORUS conducted by Maestro, Nic Raine. This 2-compact disc set, comes with a full colour 16, page booklet. With highly informative notes by Frank K DeWald. New Score & Orchestration Reconstructed by Rozsa Expert Leigh Phillips.
What! Have you not ordered it yet??????

 

 

http://www.tadlowmusic.com/2017/08/ben-hur-miklos-rozsa/

 

1. OVERTURE (6:17)
2. ANNO DOMINI / STAR OF BETHLEHEM / ADORATION OF THE MAGI (5:09)
3. FANFARE & PRELUDE / MARCIA ROMANA / SPIRIT & SWORD (5:04)
4. SALUTE FOR MESSALA / FRIENDSHIP / FRIENDSHIP CONTINUED (5:00)
5. THE HOUSE OF HUR (2:24)
6. CONFLICT (1:54)
7. ESTHER / THE UNKNOWN FUTURE* (4:24)
8. LOVE THEME / RING FOR FREEDOM (5:27)
9. SALUTE FOR GRATUS / GRATUS’ ENTRY TO JERUSALEM (4:25)
10. ARREST* (1:28)
11. REMINISCENCES (2:05)
12. CONDEMNED* / ESCAPE* / VENGEANCE (3:41)
13. THE PRISON – PART 1 / BEHIND GRILLS** / THE PRISON – PART 2 / SILENT FAREWELL** (2:23)
14. THE DESERT / EXHAUSTION / THE PRINCE OF PEACE / ROMAN GALLEY (7:36)
15. SALUTE FOR ARRIUS / QUINTUS ARRIUS / THE ROMAN FLEET (2:28)
16. THE GALLEY (THE ROWING OF THE GALLEY SLAVES) / REST (4:30)
17. BATTLE PREPARATIONS / THE PIRATE FLEET / ATTACK! / RAMMING SPEED / BATTLE / RESCUE / ROMAN SAILS / THE ROWERS (11:05)
18. VICTORY PARADE / VICTORY FINALE (2:48)
TT: 78:16
CD 2:
1. FERTILITY DANCE (1:57)
2. ARRIUS’ PARTY (1:21)
3. NOSTALGIA / FAREWELL TO ROME (2:26)
4. JUDEA / A BARREN COAST* (3:51)
5. BALTHAZAR / BALTHAZAR’S WORLD (3:51)
6. HARUN AL ROZSAD* (2:19)
7. HOMECOMING / MEMORIES / HATRED (5:23)
8. THE DUNGEON** / LEPERS (3:22)
9. RETURN / PROMISE / SORROW / INTERMISSION (7:34)
10. ENTR’ACTE (Original Version) (3:34)
11. PANEM ET CIRCENSES (1:10)
12. CIRCUS FANFARES (0:43)
13. FANFARE FOR CIRCUS PARADE / CIRCUS PARADE (PARADE OF THE CHARIOTEERS) (3:33)
14. BEN-HUR CROWNED / BITTER TRIUMPH / AFTERMATH (2:55)
15. VALLEY OF LEPERS / THE SEARCH / THE UNCLEANS (5:42)
16. ROAD OF SORROW / THE MOUNT / THE SERMON / FRUSTRATION (5:28)
17. VALLEY OF THE DEAD / TIRZAH SAVED (4:12)
18. THE PROCESSION TO CALVARY / THE BEARING OF THE CROSS / RECOGNITON (7:56)
19. GOLGOTHA / CALVARY** / AFTERTHOUGHTS** / SHADOW OF STORM (2:35)
20. THE MIRACLE / FINALE (5:27)
21. LOVE THEME FROM BEN-HUR (3:00)
TT: 78:33
*Not in film
**Premiere recording

 

THE LION WOMAN.

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Again, we must thank Movie Score Media for bringing to us the music of a composer that ordinarily we might have overlooked, either because the movie was not released in our respective countries or maybe the film had a low budget and was overshadowed by bigger more well financed projects. In this case it is the talented composer Uno Helmersson, who has written a particularly enchanting and melodic soundtrack for THE LION WOMAN, the music is rich in melodious passages and overflowing with an abundance of poignant and emotive tone poems that please the listener and linger long within the subconscious. Saying this, it is not all sweetness light and romantic or melancholy sounding pieces, the score also contains many darker pieces, with the composer turning to a fusion of synthetic and symphonic textures and musical colours, these at times can be menacing or sinister sounding, the composer using them to build the tension and lay down an atmosphere that is foreboding and uncertain. However, most of the work is light and airy sounding, with piano solos or piano and woods in unison that are supported by layered strings that seem to caress and underline the main musical themes. The release from Movie Score Media, coincides with the movie’s release in Germany, which was on September 14th, written and directed by Scandinavian film maker, Vibeke Idsoe, the films storyline was based upon the novel by Norwegian author Erik Fosnes Hansen, and tells the story of a young girl Eva Arctander who suffers from a very rare genetic disorder which generates hair growth over large parts of her body. Her Mother dies in child birth and her Father attempts to hide Eva from everyone, because he feels ashamed of his daughter’s appearance. Despite all the odds being stacked against her, Eva, has a passion for life but because of her experiences with people’s bigotry and disrespect she decides to join a theatre group which includes members that also suffer from rare diseases, the movie is her story and follows her from the age of seven and concentrates on her 14th and 22nd years. It is a touching and somewhat frustrating tale, but also a film that you cannot stop watching, a compelling storyline, with some wonderful performances by the leading actors. The musical score plays an important and integral part and is key to the emotional content of the movie.

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The central theme is a combination of solo piano and strings which create a solid opening foundation, on which the composer begins to build his theme, expanding it with woodwind and additional strings to create an elegant and haunting piece which grows and builds in momentum purveying a romantic yet urgent mood. The score is a delight and one I know will once listened to will be returned to and recommended by many. The style employed I would say was akin to the sound achieved by composers such as Phillipe Rombi, Alexander Desplat, Georges Delerue and has hints of Morricone and maybe touches of a Barry-esque quality, especially present within the writing for woodwind and strings. The sorrowful but attractive Cello solos within the score are particularly alluring, and the composers gift for melody is stunning. It is sad, dark, emotive and dramatic, a combination that we as film music collectors cannot complain about. I found that it was a totally pleasing listening experience, which I recommend highly.

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MY NAME IS LENNY.

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MY NAME IS LENNY, is a compelling and fixating story about the life of Lenny McClean, who was a leading figure in the bare-knuckle fraternity in the UK, THE GUV’NOR as he liked to be called was said to have taken part in over 4000 fights and moved in circles that included the more notorious and seedy sides of the London criminal underworld. Directed by film maker Ron Scalpello, MY NAME IS LENNY stars Josh Helman in the title role, Helman of course found favour with cinema audiences in his acting roles in movies such as MAD MAX FURY ROAD and turned in a convincing and memorable portrayal of Commander Stryker in the newer editions of the X-MEN pictures. McClean became an iconic figure within the British fighting fraternity and even made an appearance in Guy Ritchie’s LOCK STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, where the fighter made the role of Barry the Baptist his own. Ron Scalpello’s movie shows us the story and background of McClean the man, and the legend he became. Composer Ian Arber has created a musical score that is just as powerful and riveting as the movie itself, Arber is a rising star in the world of film and TV music and has already fashioned memorable and commanding soundtracks for numerous projects which include, documentaries, such as I AM BOLT and SIR MO FARAH (Mo Farah no easy mile). He also acted as musical assistant to Joe Kraemer on MISSION IMPOSSIBLE-ROGUE NATION, and provided the music for BBC 2, s QUACKS. MY NAME IS LENNY, contains a soundtrack that is a combination of conventional instrumentation and synthetic or electronic sounds and samples. The opening theme, on the release MY NAME IS LENNY(suite) has to it a style and sound that is not unlike Hans Zimmer, now we all know how I feel personally about Zimmer’s scores of late, but in this case, I am using him as an example to describe to you the construction of this particular piece, it is basically a four or five note motif that is repeated over and over, with momentum gathering as the composer flesh’s out the theme adding textures and layers giving the piece a commanding persona and a sound that is powerful and haunting, the theme builds and builds gaining volume, then as quickly as it reaches its crescendo of sorts moves into a quieter and more calming interlude, in many ways it has affiliations with Zimmer’s TIME theme, from INCEPTION. As in it begins low and brooding and then opens out into an expansive piece, which, has the ability to make one want to return to it as soon as it has finished. The remainder of the score is constructed from mainly electronic performances of the composer’s compositions, which are for most of the time tense and quite urgent sounding, but there is a guitar solo and plaintive piano present at key points which adds a certain amount of melancholy and emotion to the proceedings. This hint of a theme accompanies Lenny’s girlfriend Val in the movie and is an acknowledgement of her influence upon the fighter.

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There is also a rock sounding segment, with fuzzy sounding guitar, enhanced by percussion, both of which work in unison in the cue COME BACK TO ME, the two being hard to separate at times as they are complimenting each other so well. The composer does make effective use of percussive elements throughout the score which at times we are told were made up of the sounds of boxing gloves hitting their target, which is an ingenious and highly creative move on the part of the composer, I suppose this can be compared to Jerry Goldsmith’s synthesised percussion in HOOSIERS that mimicked the sound of a bouncing basketball in many of the on-court scenes that the composer enhanced. This percussive support in MY NAME IS LENNY, punctuates and underlines various instrumentation, both conventional and otherwise, giving it not only support, but also adding depth to the work as a whole and in my opinion becoming the driving heart of the soundtrack. There is a mood or atmosphere of apprehension and darkness throughout the score, that is maintained via the use of a simple guitar rift if that is the correct terminology, the composer also making affecting utilisation of distorted sounds and a grossly distorted cello which represents Lenny’s abusive stepfather, these elements add even more tension and uncertainty to the style and sound of the music, thus adding more colour and more layers to the work. The opening theme returns briefly in a few cues but does not fully develop until we reach track number, 11 THE DECIDER, when it is a more triumph sounding version, and again in the final cue THE GUV’NOR, which is slightly more subdued and emotional, piano adding a tinge of sadness and giving the final track a low key melodic foundation. Overall, I did enjoy listening to the score and discovering the musical colours and textures of Ian Arber, the composer seems to have a unique approach to scoring movies and works with a varied line up of artists, which have included the hip hop performer NAS, and David Rowntree the drummer from BLUR on his score for I AM BOLT. I look forward to more of his work, soon. Soundtrack available on Movie Score Media.

http://moviescoremedia.com/my-name-is-lenny-original-motion-picture-soundtrack/

FEAR IS THE KEY.

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Roy Budd was one of the world’s leading jazz pianists, but of course is also known for his alluring and well-crafted film scores. With the first live performance of Mr Budd’s PHANTOM OF THE OPERA score scheduled to take place on October 8th, 2017 at London’s Coliseum, I thought maybe it’s the right time to post reviews of his soundtracks that were made available on the Cinephile label 18 years ago in 1999. First up is FEAR IS THE KEY, a fast-paced movie based on the story by Alistair McClean. For this project Roy fused the symphonic styles of orchestra with that of jazz influences and the end result was something that sounded like a mix of groovy jazz vibes and full on dramatic orchestral flourishes, it is a testament to the skill of Mr Budd that these two quite differing styles gelled in his hands and not only underpinned, punctuated and supported the full on action on screen, but stood up as a listening experience away from the movie and still remained exciting and a compulsive listen. The style and sound created and achieved by Budd on FEAR IS THE KEY is meeting of so many musical colours and textures, it evokes some of the work done by Jerry Goldsmith and also briefly gives a gentle nod to Ennio Morricone, plus then there are the ingenious and polished jazz influences that glide along with ease and are a delightful and delicious encounter for the listener. It was described as sounding like a fusion of Led Zeppelin and the SHAFT soundtrack, but when you think about it, It, is simply Budd, through and through. I think I am correct when I say Roy was just 25 when he penned this score and already had soundtracks such as GET CARTER, SOLDIER BLUE etc to his credit, FEAR IS THE KEY displays the professionalism and expertise that this then young man had.

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The score also includes some outstanding performances by jazz icons such as, Kenny Ball, Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes all of whom played their hearts out and jammed all the way through. As well as the dramatic action cues and the flawless jazz performances the score contained one of the composers most haunting themes in the form of IN SEARCH OF THE KEY which although having jazz influences contained a flowing and attractive theme performed by the string section, which as we all know are Roy Budd trademarks, the theme being reprised a few times within the film and an alternate arrangement being performed on the compact disc in track number 10, FROM SEA BED TO SURFACE. FEAR IS THE KEY is a soundtrack that should be in your collection, and if it is not then you should take steps to remedy that, NOW ….