Cast your mind back if you can, lets take a trip own memory lane, a walk among the scores from yester year that inspired and entertained and are now looked upon as being iconic or classic. I thought I would re-visit a handful of scores that were at the time of their release must have items. This was in the days of the LP record remember, and when record labels such as Varese Sarabande I suppose were in their infancy. But it is because they released scores that were maybe obscure or a little out of the ordinary that they became what they are today.


The first is score I am talking about is, THE BEASTMASTER (1982) music by Lee Holdridge, this is an epic and rousing work, the composer was hard pressed to finish on time as he was given just two and a half weeks to write approx.; eighty minutes of music, and the score had to be recorded in Rome. What Holdridge produced was a magnificent and wonderfully lyrical sounding work that has a rich and abundant cache of themes, which are not only robust and fully symphonic but contain a romantic and exuberant energy that is infectious and inspiring. The score was released in the United States on a Varese Sarabande long playing record, and in Italy on the CAM label. The film is an entertaining yarn and the score helped create a heroic and epic feel to the proceedings. Many critics at the time of the film’s release referred to it as a watered-down version of CONAN, THE BEASTMASTER was released three months after the John Milius movie and to be fair there are certain similarities, Directed by Don Coscarelli, it starred Marc Singer in the title role, Rip Torn and Tanya Roberts. The soundtrack has been re-issued a number of times on compact disc and a suite from the score was also recorded and released on the Citadel and Varese Sarabande records label by Charles Gerhardt.


On listening to the soundtrack recently it has not aged at all, it remains a vibrant and haunting listening experience and is a score that you should have within your collection. The composers proud sounding A HEROS THEME/THE LEGEND OF DAR is superb, but that is just one example of this score’s musical treasures.



From fantasy to horror and the 1986 score for the remake of Vincent Price classic horror, THE FLY starring Jeff Goldblum and Geena Davis. Directed by David Cronenberg it had a powerful score by composer Howard Shore. The soundtrack in my opinion was somewhat overlooked and even ignored at the time of its release, but of course with the composer putting his stamp on a number big box office hits, including THE LORD OF THE RINGS and HOBBIT movies in future years, many of the composers fans via these scores were tempted to seek out earlier soundtracks that Shore had penned. THE FLY is a dark and sinister sounding work, but also has to it lighter parts that the composer fuses and incorporates into the shadowy and uneasy sounding fabric of the score. The composers use of strings within the work is stunning and effective. Shore creates a thickly ominous sounding soundtrack that is an integral and important part of the film, at times becoming almost operatic in its sound and style.

THE FLY was originally released on a Varese Sarabande LP record, and later was made available on compact disc, it was also re-issued on a CD that also contained the score for the sequel THE FLY ll, which had a score by Christopher Young. Shores score for THE FLY is at times complex and atonal but has in recent years become one of the composers most appreciated works for cinema. It has to it a macabre and at the same time alluring musical persona and, in my opinion, makes a gentle nod in the direction of Bernard Herrmann. Certainly, one to add to the collection if you do not already have this.


Now, to something more mellow initially and not horror or fantasy, THE MOLLY MAGUIRES, was released in1970, the story was part truth part fiction and was set in the mining community of Pennsylvania in the 1870’s. The score is by Henry Mancini, many people associate him with syrupy and sweet sounding melodies such as MOON RIVER and THE DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES, but Mancini was also capable of creating some dark and very dramatic music for film, just listen to CHARADE or MASTER OF THE ISLANDS to confirm this.  MOLLY MAGUIRES is a score that I think encapsulates the style and the sound of Mancini, it has to it some of the most beautiful and wonderfully thematic compositions, plus it also includes a darkness and apprehension that is filled with a tense and dramatic atmosphere. The score was released on the Paramount label on record back in 1970, and was given a new lease of life on the Bay Cities label when they re-issued it on compact disc.


It also got a release on Kritzerland which also featured the rejected score by composer Charles Strouse. The central theme which we hear in the opening cue on the recording runs throughout the work in various guises as the composer arranges and orchestrates this to suit the scenes and scenarios within the movie. Mancini employing traditional sounding Irish instrumentation at key moments within the score, Irish Harp and Penny whistle feature as does flute and fly away sounding strings, the composer consolidates the sound and style by underlining these elements with faraway sounding horns and other brass instrumentation alongside percussion and accordion. It is simply a classic soundtrack, and one of Mancini’s finest and that is saying a lot considering his prolific output. The love theme from the score THE HILLS OF YESTERDAY is itself a variation upon the central theme, but the composer fashions a more subdued and softer tone poem which has appeared on many of his compilation albums since as well as being performed in concert. THE MOLLY MAGUIRES is another valuable addition to any film music collection.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s