The artistry and the musical excellence and prowess of composer John Scott never fails to amaze me and although we have not heard a great deal of new material from the Maestro in recent years it is just great at times to go back through one’s collection and pick out a handful of titles and re-visit them. This something I did recently after interviewing record producer Bruce Kimmel, who had released Scott’s entertaining soundtrack to ROCKET TO THE MOON on his KRITZERLAND label and hinted that maybe THE LONG DUEL would also be seeing a compact disc release soon. So, I thought as I am lucky enough to have a good LP transfer of the score on a CDR (which I did myself for personal use only) I would share my thoughts with you on this and a few more of Scott’s soundtracks. But, where to start?
Ok, WILLIAM THE CONQUERER, is as good as any I suppose seeing as my ancestors arrived in England with the Norman conquest of 1066. WILLIAM THE CONQUERER was the first in a series of historical dramas which went under the collective name of BLOOD ROYAL. The music composed and conducted by John Scott is fully symphonic and contains choral tracks which are in keeping with the period in which the story is set. Directed by Peter Jefferies and produced by Peter Snell it starred Michael Gambon, Anna Calder Marshall and William Rufus. The score was divided into three musical styles, the more traditional dramatic or action film score, choral sections performed by the Gregory Choir of London and music that was akin to music that would have been performed during the times of William the first. It has to it the unmistakable sound and style that we as collectors straight away associate with composer John Scott, surging strings and proud anthem like brass that are underlined by percussion. WILLIAM THE CONQUERER has to it an English sound, by this I mean that it is melodic and often has a pastoral style. The period music or music that is imagined to have been performed at the time when the story is set is also well done and entertaining, the composer obviously carried out research on the period before starting work on the score and he manages to flawlessly fuse and combine all three styles within the score seamlessly. There are some wonderfully themeatic cues within the score and I have to say it is a soundtrack that once you press play the only time you will reach for any of the buttons on the player is to press PLAY so that may experience it all over again. The score is a powerful one and performed by The Berlin Radio Concert Orchestra, with whom Scott worked with on numerous occasions. The soundtrack was released on JOS records in 1990, sadly some copies fell foul to the dreaded CD rot and turned a golden colour with some of the tracks becoming unplayable, but thankfully most were not afflicted by this. This I think is one of Scott’s best soundtracks, there is so much going on within the work, it is highly dramatic, romantic and has a driving and potent core that acts as a musical foundation on which the composer builds an impressive score. It does seem to be something of a rarity nowadays, so if you do manage to find one grab it A.S.A.P.
Next THE LONG DUEL, it is somewhat surprising that this has never made it to compact disc. Originally issued on an ATCO long playing record, THE LONG DUEL is an action-packed movie set on India’s Northwest frontier in the days of The Raj. It focuses upon a rebel leader (Sultan) played by Yul Brynner who is threatening the stability of the region and therefore is pursued by the authorities under the leadership of a Colonial Police Officer (Young) played by British actor, Trevor Howard. Released in 1967 the film was directed by Ken Annakin and starred Charlotte Rampling, Harry Andrews. Edward Fox, Imogen Hassal and Andrew Keir. Composer John Scott provided a suitable action led soundtrack under the name of Patrick John Scott. The composer providing a sweeping and highly melodic opening theme entitled WHEN THE WORLD IS READY which opens the recording, Scott’s signature strings making a romantic and commanding opening statement and setting the scene for what is to follow, Scott included ethnic sounding instrumentation in the form of Sitar and percussion into the fabric of the dramatic score, which also added a certain degree of authenticity to the proceedings. Alongside the Indian sounding musical passages, we also hear music that is more British sounding in the form of dance tracks entitled STRUTTING which has to it a slightly comedic persona. But it is Scott’s wistful and dramatic sounding brass and strings that steal the show as they weave in and out, playing like a cat and mouse game one trying to catch the other, which fits perfectly into the storyline of the movie. One such track is THE TRAIN which is scored with driving strings, brass, woods and martial sounding percussion. THE HANGING BRIDGE INCIDENT is also a powerful piece, again booming percussion and Walton-esque strings combined with shrill woods and sharp sounding brass are the order of the day here. Overall a fine example of the film music of John Scott and one which I hope will be available soon on compact disc.
From the North west frontier, we move now further East to Japan and to the 17th Century, SHOGUN MAYEDA was released in 1991 with the soundtrack released on Intrada records. This is typical John Scott and is a soundtrack filled to brimming with rich and gloriously rich sounding themes, flyaway strings and wistful woods being augmented and driven by strings and brass that is embellished by booming percussion. It was a perfect assignment for the composer as he is passionate about Japanese history and culture and also excels at scoring action and epic movies, so SHOGUN MAYEDA gave him the opportunity to write a score that literally oozes and radiates strong themes and also has to it a fragility and a delicate side. Let us just say this is a soundtrack you should already own, if not why not and if not, what are you waiting for, find it buy it love it. So three scores, three very different movies but all made great by the inspiring and theme laden music of John Scott.