Welcome to the first Soundtrack Supplement of 2022. In this edition we have a mixed bag of scores and news of up-and-coming releases as well as a few oldies but goodies. So, let’s not waste time and begin, shall we?
SCREAM AND SCREAM AND SCREAM AND SCREAM AGAIN AND AGAIN…
But first can I ask What’s your Favourite Scary Movie? No I know it’s not Halloween, but would it per chance be, Scream or the Scream franchise or series that was so popular, well if it is here is some wonderful news, in fact you might even Scream with delight when I tell you, The new Scream movie is out and so is the atmospheric and highly charged score by Brian Tyler, yes good old Ghostface is back and back with a bang, (well a slash and a lunge actually). When I heard that the Scream storyline was to be resurrected or rebooted, retold whatever? I was really pleased as the movies I always thought were great horror flicks. Yes, they were at times corny and predictable with the audience not really having to think about much apart from who was going to die horribly next.
But still they were entertaining in a twisted sort of fashion, one of the pluses’ to the series of movies were the scores by the Master of the Macabre Marco Beltrami, I say Master of the macabre but since he scored the first two Scream films he has certainly come a long way, working on so many high profile movies of all genres, his scores for the original movies I always felt were more than just a run of the mill horror score that was filled with crashes, bangs, jangling percussive elements, booming timpani, and shrieking strings, instead they took on the persona being downright operatic in their sound, style and in the way the composer utilized and placed the music.
Beltrami’s scores made the movies to be fair, and supported, punctuated, and accompanied the slashes and the madness that was contained within them. So, as well as Scream 2022, by Brian Tyler, Varese Sarabande have released a Scream box set, which contains so many extras, As the latest instalment of Scream lands in theatres Varèse Sarabande revisits Marco Beltrami’s masterful scores from the horror franchise’s first four films with Scream: Original Motion Picture Soundtracks. The 4-LP set—pressed on blood-red vinyl with black smoke swirls dedicates a full album to each film and includes two hours of unreleased material. This is a collection that will be available for collectors from June this year, I know it’s a way’s off now but it’s a treasure trove of masterful compositions that you should add to your vinyl collection, and maybe keep it sealed? It’s available for pre order now.
The collection is housed in a unique jacket, which folds out into a 3’ x 2’ Ghostface mask. For fans seeking additional content, the 6-CD set, and digital editions are available now and offer each film’s score in its entirety, plus more than four hours of unreleased music, previously unreleased demos, cues, and alternate takes. A total of 171 tracks and over six hours of music.
The CD box set is available exclusively on VareseSarabande.com and Intl.VareseSarabande.com and limited to 1,800 units. Both the CD and vinyl versions feature new, in-depth liner notes from film music journalist and author, Jim Lochner. This is a set that you should not bypass, it is superb and something to Scream about (see what I did there). But to Brian Tyler’s powerful soundtrack to Scream 2022, there is something of a Beltrami feel and sound to the work, which I was more than pleased about with Tyler including gentle nods to the original scores at times.
But as we all know Brian Tyler puts his own musical fingerprint on the movies he has scored, and this is no exception, it is a score that encompasses many emotions and covers a variation of senses. And very much like Beltrami’s original scores has to it a deep atmospheric content, that too achieves that operatic level. The opening cue New Horizons is a richly thematic and affecting piece for strings and voice and is mesmerizingly beautiful. It lulls one into a false sense of security, creating a restful and even calming aura, which we all know recalling the past Scream scores probably will not last long. Track number two, Rules to Survive, is surprisingly calm as well. With the composer again utilising strings, piano, and a scattering of electronic sounds towards the end of the cue. This is a brooding and apprehensive sounding piece, that has to it a calm outer casing but inside it is all the time building and growing into something that is more threatening and malevolent. But it’s not really until cue number three Ring, Ring that any true sense of menace begins to formulate and raise its head which effectively combines synthetic sounds with strings, to create a dark and malignant style. This is an icy and sinister sounding track filled with a formidable and foreboding that is I suppose partly alerting the watching audience or the listening film music collector that something is about to happen, and its not long before musically at least it does, the cue literally erupts into a cacophony of rasping brass, searing, and slicing strings that are underlined and driven via sharp and commanding percussion. To be honest Tyler plays an ace card here rather than going all out from the start he builds the tension with a simmering and tense composition that creates a thick and tantalising atmosphere before letting loose with the full onslaught.
I only listened halfway through to this score before I became engrossed and impressed, it’s a work overflowing with mayhem and has to it a harrowing and threatening persona. Recommended.
Armand Amar, is a composer I followed for a number of years, and it amazes me even now that many collectors are not aware of his magnificent body of work for cinema and TV. I do not think that I have ever seen this wonderful composer’s name on a list of favourites from any collector, yet when one sits and listens to his scores for films and television, as well as documentaries one cannot fail to be moved emotionally and mesmerised by his obvious talent for melody and his skilful placing of music within any of the mediums. His use of voices and the inclusion of ethnic instrumentation is I think why his music is so attractive, alluring, and interesting.
There is no doubt that his compositions are innovative and emotive, the composer being totally in tune with each project he has worked on. One of most recent scores is for the movie Mystere, and once again the composer delivers a beguiling, inventive, and haunting work, that will I am sure be appreciated by many. It has so many themes within it, all beautifully written and wonderfully performed, purveying a gracious and affecting sound and style.
This is a quality score, overwhelmingly beautiful, serenely sensitive, and totally absorbing. The score also includes additional cues written by Anne Sophie Versnaeyen and Mathieu Coupat. Highly recommended.
Cobra Kai season 4 is now airing on Netflix and the music is also available on digital platforms, composers Leo Birenberg and Zach Robinson have again created an upbeat and thematic soundtrack for this hi energy and just as upbeat series. The soundtrack for season 4, is released on two albums vol 1 and 2, each containing some interesting musical styles, upbeat is a little bit of an understatement I feel, as the music for this series is unstoppable and powerfully high octane. The musical onslaught for want of better description is relentless, but it’s a good relentless as this is a score that is not only highly supportive of the series but entertaining to listen to away from the images.
Of course, there are also quieter moments, which too are affecting and effective.
The composers combine successfully dramatic symphonic sounding compositions with more contemporary pop/rock infused styles that at times evoke the popular synth music of the 1980,s and 1990,s as in Harold Faltermeyer and to a degree Giorgio Moroder, they also employ inventive percussive elements to great effect that drive and sweep the score along at pace.
Add to these components an ethnic sound for even greater effect and a style that could easily be from any one of the superhero movies that have been released over the past decade and what we have here is an inspiring soundtrack that I know you will love. Recommended.
I would like to mention a score that at this moment in time is not available on a recording, but I am hoping that it will soon be, it is taken from the movie The Tender Bar which is directed by George Clooney,
The music is by composer Dara Taylor, who has provided the picture with a fairly subtle score that weaves in and out of the storyline alongside popular songs that are featured on the soundtrack such as Radar Love by Golden Earring, Good Times by Chic, I Love the Nightlife by Alicia Bridges, Shotgun by Jnr Walker and the All Stars, and so many more.
The movie stars Ben Effleck, Christopher Lloyd, Daniel Ranieri, and Tye Sheridan, and is a coming-of-age film about a young boy who tries to find father figures at his uncle’s bar. Dara Taylors sensitive and emotive music adds an intimacy and a fragility to the storyline and its characters, certainly a film to watch out for and hopefully the music too will get a release.
Quartet records have been industrious once again. I am pleased to say that the Spanish label have released for the first time on compact disc the great music of Ed Welch from the movie The Thirty Nine Steps, which was released in 1978 and directed by Don Sharp which starred British actor Robert Powell as Richard Hannay.
The music is in a word gorgeous, and the opening track on the album entitled The Thirty Nine Steps Concerto is written in a similar style to that of The Warsaw Concerto. The music is typically English sounding and filled with lush sounding melodies and lavishly thematic material. Which is something that the composer continues to elaborate and develop upon throughout the remainder of the score, with the piano solos courtesy of the talented Christopher Headington.
I remember getting the LP record and loving the music and often wondering why it was not discussed or applauded more as it is a score that everyone should own, and now you can thanks to Quartet records, who also have released Treasure Island by composer Natale Massara, which is a name that is often linked with Pino Donaggio because he conducted the majority of Donaggio’s film scores including The Howling, Piranha, Home Movies and Tourist Trap.
But thanks to Quartet we can at last sample Massara as a composer in his own right, with this rip roaring and sweepingly, raucous, and dramatic sounding score for the Orson Welles movie that was released in 1972. Both The Thirty Nine Steps and Treasure Island are available from Quartet now. Quartet Records – Specializes in the release of soundtracks
EPIC IS A WORD OVER USED NOWADAYS.
Have you ever thought what is an Epic? Or what qualifies as having epic proportions or themes in cinema and TV that is. An Epic as in when talking about cinema and TV productions, is a film or series that is full of spectacle, so I am told. Historical films often fall into the category of Epic and would usually take an important or maybe not so high-profile event and ensure that the settings and the costumes and the content of the production are historically correct. Most times the films unfolding storyline would be accompanied by a grand musical score and to coin an old Hollywood saying, “A Cast of Thousands”, which would make them among the most expensive of films to produce. The most common subjects of epic movies are Royal figures such as Queen Victoria, Cleopatra, for example to just select two randomly, and events that took place in their respective reigns. Also, important people from history could also be the subject of these types of movies Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, in El Cid, or Napoleon in films such as Waterloo, Oliver Cromwell in Cromwell, T.E. Lawrence in Lawrence of Arabia, etc. Or they can be about events such as The Battle of Rorke’s Drift in Zulu, or the more sprawling and wider effects of the Russian Revolution in Doctor Zhivago and Nicholas and Alexandra (which we will come to in more detail soon) and more recent events such as The Normandy Invasion in The Longest Day.
There are a multitude of examples, with many of them being Biblically slanted, charting the life of Jesus, in movies such as King of Kings and Jesus of Nazareth for example. Or key figures within the Bible such as Moses in The Ten Commandments and later in the Italian made TV series Moses, which starred Burt Lancaster, these Epic productions often charted the rise of Christianity at the time of the Roman Empire, Ben Hur being a prime example. With The Birth of a Nation also qualifying as an epic a long time before any of the other movies I have mentioned. Some, Epics based on historical facts are interesting just as they occurred with the filmmakers relying on the facts and sticking to them to make a movie that will be of interest to audience es, but at other times the script writer has been known to add nuances, tweeks, and even fabricated events that they or the studio that was producing the movie deemed to be essential to spice up proceedings for watching audiences. How the West Was Won for example mixed events that had taken place in American history, such as the Civil War and mixed these with personal stories of individuals and families.
With, these blockbuster productions came impressive cast lists, and the grandiose and quite often lavish symphonic score, with sweeping and lush sounding themes or even in a handful of examples a more delicate and intimate soundtrack depending upon the subject matter and the characters involved. So, that is I suppose the meaning of Epic as related to a movie or small screen production. And so to Russia.
1971 saw the release of Nicholas and Alexandra, it told the story of the inept and out of touch leadership of the Russian Tzar Nicholas, and his eventual fall from power and about how he and his family were imprisoned and executed by the revolutionary forces. Directed by Franklin J Schaffner, the film was scored by British born composer Richard Rodney Bennett, who penned a suitably lush and romantic score, that was tinged with melancholy, vulnerability, and fragility.
It is a score that I personally still hold in high esteem and am of the opinion also that it is to this day one of the composers finest works for cinema. It contains and expresses for most of its duration a highly melodic and haunting sound, with woods and strings acting as the foundation of the work.
The score being influenced mostly by music from 19th century Russia, it is emotional, lyrical, sweeping and filled with an eloquent and imposing expressiveness and sensitivity. The composers approach works so well within the movie adding emotive and poignant tonal verses that purvey hints of helplessness and a sense of longing, melancholy and frustration, the composer also maintaining an air of melodic, mesmerizing, and affecting musicality.
The composer deploys the works central theme throughout in varying arrangements and guises, adding choir, brass and percussive elements on occasion giving it a more lavish and opulent style when required. The haunting eight-note motif perfectly augmenting and underlining the storyline and its central characters, Rodney Bennett’s music caressing the images and weaving a rich but subtle background to the events taking place on screen.
The score becoming grander at key points within its development but never overpoweringly so, the brass and timpani employed in a somewhat martial fashion adding a more urgent mood to the proceedings.
The composer was a master at writing music for film and always managed to maintain a fine balance that allowed the score to support without overindulging itself, he is noted for doing this previously in 1967 with his lilting, sensitive and partly folk inspired score for Far from the Madding Crowd. The composer worked on a wide range of genres in cinema as well as writing and performing jazz and providing scores for ballets.
Richard Rodney Bennett was born in Broadstairs in Kent England on March 29th 1936. In an interview with composer James Bernard, he told me that he was at a session for an early Hammer production and John Hollingsworth who was at the time Hammer’s MD introduced Bernard to a young composer, who it transpired to be Richard Rodney Bennett. Bernard recalled that even then Hollingsworth could see something special in the young man.
And it would be Richard Rodney Bennett who would provide the music for the Hammer movies, The Witches, The Man Who Could Cheat Death, and The Nanny. But it would be films such as Lady Caroline Lamb, Murder on the Orient Express, Return of the Soldier, and Yanks that he became mostly associated with. His now iconic theme for Murder on the Orient Express being instantly recognisable from the first few notes. At times I feel that maybe Richard Rodney Bennett gets some unfair press as several collectors are still today quite ignorant to the importance of his music in film and TV. He was an influencer and inspired composers such as Christopher Gunning, George Fenton, and Patrick Doyle. Listen to Fenton’s scores for Ever After and Shadowlands in which one can clearly hear Rodney Bennet’s influence and to a certain degree in Gunning’s now iconic theme for the British TV series Poirot in which jazz influences are fused with dramatic scoring. Richard Rodney Bennet, died in 2012, one of his last scoring assignments was for the BBC TV series Gormenghast in 2000.
He was an eclectic composer of serious orchestral works, jazz songs as well as music for stage and screen and aside from his compositions for cinema his most famous compositions include a First Symphony, a piano concerto and four string quartets. Among the latter are scores for operas, such as the dramatic “The Mines of Sulphur” and the more light-hearted and satirical “A Penny for a Song”. He was born into an artistic family (his mother was a pianist and composer, his father a writer of children’s books), Bennett wrote a cantata, “Put Away the Flutes”, before he had reached his twentieth birthday. He was enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1953 and graduated from there in 1958. He continued to study music under the guidance of French composer/conductor Pierre Boulez in Paris, eventually becoming skilled at combining jazz and serial techniques, in addition to mastering jazz piano, and it is true to say that many of his better scores for film etc are influenced by jazz, as in Wrong Arm of the Law which was released in 1963. The rest as they say is history, with Sir Richard Rodney Bennett becoming one of the most esteemed and sought-after composers of film music in the world. He died on December 24th 2012.
See you next time.