All posts by jonman492000

untitled. (sleeve notes).

FILM MUSIC IS AN ART.
By John Mansell. (Movie music international).  © 2019. not to be re-printed without permission of the author. 

 

Art is something that can be purveyed in various ways, there is art as in the form of the drawing or painting of images, art as is the written word or the creation of poetry and verse, art as in sculpture and pottery or the musical works of the great Masters, art comes in many shapes and personas, and at times one does wonder is this really art? There is also an art form which is sadly overlooked and has always been and this is the composition of music for the specific purpose of enhancing or supporting the moving image on screen, in other words film music as we know it. There are an abundance of styles and sounds which are utilised within the film music arena, but the one purpose no matter what style or direction artistically the composer chooses to focus upon or take, is that the music he or she writes underlines, supports and above all compliments and elevates the scene or scenarios that are being acted out on screen, and the composer has to do this without being intrusive or overwhelming, in fact he or she writes music that maybe at times is not even noticed by a watching audience, this I suppose is the purpose of music in film, to be there in the background to add to a scene but it must not be heard in a way that we as an audience or a listener would hear it in their home or via a recording they have purchased. There are numerous composers that work within the film music fraternity, but there are but a handful that stand out and shine via their innovative or distinctive compositions. One of these is Maestro Remo Anzovino, his music for feature films, documentaries and television projects, may or may not be familiar to you, but there is little doubt that he is a talented musician and a composer that adds colour, light and shade to a movie just as a painter adds textures and images to a canvas. Anzovino, personifies the word chameleon-like with his varied and versatile compositions and has created numerous soundtracks that not only ingratiate the projects he has worked upon adding atmosphere and depth to each one in an individual way, but also he has written affecting and mesmerising tone poems that have much appeal and contain a hauntingly beautiful quality which can be appreciated and savoured by many who listen to them away from the images they were intended to underline and punctuate.

The composer’s music is a synthesis of styles, that encompasses and embraces numerous musical sounds and employs a mixture of textures and colours. There are delicate and intricate nuances within his works that evoke emotive and poignant senses, intimate piano solos that fixate the listener because of their charming and expressive sound, dark and brooding passages that are intense and gripping and lavish and luxurious themes that are vibrant and tantalising. But, every project is different, yes there is a sound or a style that is present throughout each of his musical journeys whether this be for a studio album or for TV, Film etc, but when one listens to music by this composer every new recording and new composition is filled with an astonishing vitality and energy which beguiles and enthrals.

Remo Anzovino, was born in Pordenone, Italy on February 12th 1976. He began to take piano lessons in his early years and then as a teenager studied privately harmony and jazz and then moved onto counterpoint. He began to compose music at the age of 11, aged 18 the composer began to work on writing music for commercials, and at around the same time started to contribute musical scores for the theatre. He was always attracted to creating music for the moving image, and aged 26 the composer wrote his first score for a silent movie, an area in which he has since exceled and become known for in recent years.
“I have always imagined a silent film with screenplay and sounds, to me silent films are just films. Therefore, it was a matter of commentating them musically rather than making didactic choices or a simple accompaniment. This requires a greater preparation on the film and a greater respect of the narrative. I cannot stand the idea of extemporizing music especially for a silent film. In fact, a greater rigor is expected. Obviously, there is no chance to discuss the music with the filmmaker and thus you need to convey modern emotions and feeling from a film shot almost a century ago”.
(Remo Anzovino).

In 2006 the composer began to devote most of his time to composing music for film.
“I think a musician can work for a film only if he loves the cinema deeply and knows its basic language. I feel comfortable in doing this because I work as if the music was not mine, I love cinema to the point that I personally strive for finding the most suitable solutions for the film. In my concerts I always put some themes from soundtracks that I rearrange in different forms to make it even more autonomous in the relationship with the audience”. (Remo Anzovino).

This music collection includes five examples of the composers work for film, VAN GOGH OF WHEAT FIELDS AND CLOUDED SKIES, GAUGAIN IN TAHITI-PARADISE LOST, WATER LILIES OF MONET, HITLER VERSUS PICASSO and THE OTHERS and the composers score for FRIDA VIVA LA VIDA. Each one has its own individuality, its own voice and its own musical fingerprint. It is evident when listening to these superb scores that there is a glimmer of genius within each of them, with a light of excellence that shines through them and radiates from them.

Many critics often remark when discussing composers and they want to draw a comparison between them and a more established or well-known artist. “This is the new Ennio Morricone” or “This could be a modern-day Bernard Herrmann”. Yes, Remo Anzovino, does have certain qualities and little nuances and quirks of orchestration that one could easily compare to other composers that work in film, but to draw any comparisons with other composers I think would be pointless as he is a music-smith who has created his own incredible sound and fashioned his own original style, he is Remo Anzovino.

VAN GOGH-OF WHEAT FIELDS AND CLOUDED SKIES.
The Sedona International Film Festival, presented the Great Art on Screen series with “Van Gogh: Of Wheat Fields and Clouded Skies”. This was screened in Sedona on Wednesday, Feb. 13th, at the festival’s Mary D. Fisher Theatre. Great Art on Screen is a series of seven documentaries featuring an in-depth look at the most extraordinary and ground-breaking art masters of their time. Take a fresh look at Van Gogh through the legacy of the greatest private collector of the Dutch artist’s work: Helene Kröller-Müller (1869-1939), one of the first to recognize the genius of Van Gogh. In the early 20th century, Kröller-Müller amassed nearly 300 of Van Gogh’s paintings and drawings now housed at her namesake museum in Holland.
The Basilica Palladina exhibition in Vicenza, “Amid Wheat Fields and Clouded Skies,” with 40 paintings and 85 drawings on loan from the Kröller-Müller Museum, lends the basis of this program, revealing Van Gogh’s art and his genius, while allowing audiences to understand the importance of drawing as part of his craft. Van Gogh’s seemingly instinctive canvases were the result of long, preparatory studies very rarely exhibited – not just sketches but stunning works of art in and of themselves, where the broken flow of lines that characterize the style and strokes in Van Gogh’s paintings can already be seen. Composer Remo Anzovino, wrote a soundtrack that is sublimely beautiful and alluring attractive, the Maestro creating wonderfully lyrical musical poems that not only enhance the images on screen but also bring a sense of emotion and poignancy to the proceedings.
His music gives the artistry and stunning imagery as created by the Master Vincent Van Gogh an even greater life and vibrancy, the musical score purveys an aura of vulnerability and fragility and weaves an intricate and compelling musical web, that itself could be seen as a brush of sorts that is applying colour and giving life to an empty canvas. The composer utilises solo piano and strings that at times soar or entwine to bring to fruition a heartfelt and highly emotive conclusion.
The gracious and eloquent themes the composer has written seem to engulf the listener and surround them; they are emotionally affecting as just music as well as being effective in the context of the film. The style is at times classical but there is also present a slightly more contemporary sound which although is fleeting proves to be attractive and powerful. The score is filled with a vibrant but at the same time poignant persona which has touches of splendour tinged with melancholy. The piano performances are haunting and spellbinding and create a mesmerizing and delicate air. Accordion is also utilised and adds much to the proceedings, the instrument fades in and out of cues adding an even greater atmosphere to the score. The instrument is then given a greater role and is centre stage in a handful of cues, LOVING PEOPLE being one of them. ARLES SYMPHONY is another outstanding piece which has subdued but simultaneously driving strings that are a background to additional strings which perform the central melody, this is also enhanced by use of percussion and punctuated by Accordion. But it is the piano performances within the score that tantalise and entertain, they are not only delicate and fragile sounding, but via their achingly beautiful pure sound become hypnotic.
HITLER VERSUS PICASSO and THE OTHERS.
“I was involved in scoring Hitler Versus Picasso and the Others from the producer Didi Gnocchi (3d Produzioni) with whom I previously worked for some television projects. She co-produced Hitler versus Picasso with Nexo Digital as distributor. From that moment on we started an ongoing partnership collaborating particularly with the CEO Franco Di Sarro. I composed 3 scores VAN GOGH OF WHEAT FIELDS AND CLOUDED SKIES, HITLER VERSUS PICASSO and WATER LILLIES OF MONET one after the other since all the films were released in 2018, one every two months in approximately six months”.(Remo Anzovino).
HITLER VERSUS PICASSO and THE OTHERS, has a score that is certainly filled with drama and urgency, but, it also contains many passages and interludes that contain a rich and melodic style, Remo Anzovino, has written a powerful soundtrack that is overflowing with themes which have varying styles and definite appeal. The music is an entertaining entity alone, as well as perfectly supporting the film. The composer manages to create so many fresh and lingering thematic properties throughout the work. It is a more thematically led score with strong motifs that lend a considerable weight to creating a greater atmosphere and setting the mood of the film. Directed by Claudio Poli, HITLER VS PICASSO and the OTHERS is set in 1937 when the Nazi’s held two exhibitions in Munich: one was in order to denounce what was termed as “degenerate art,” the other, was curated by Hitler personally, and was said to be staged to glorify “classic art.” The film is presented and Narrated by Toni Servillo, and is a journey through four exhibitions, where masterpieces by Botticelli, Klee, Matisse, Monet, Chagall, Renoir, and Gauguin are on display. With each exhibition a story unfolds and each of these are interesting and fascinating.
The cast includes, Timothy Garton Ash, Jean-Marc Dreyfus, Edgar Feuchtwanger, Simon Goodman and Berthold Hinz. After a period of seventy years since the declaration of war, HITLER VERSUS PICASSO AND THE OTHERS is a film that reveals many of the secrets of the so-called Fuhrer treasure. Paintings by numerous revered artists are hidden, looted from galleries and museums with many of them thought destroyed by the Nazi’s and lost forever. These are un-earthed and reveal the Nazi’s obsession with art. The four exhibitions which the film revolves around are.

“Degenerate Art” Munich, July 9, 1937
The Nazi hierarchy organized this exhibition in Munich, it consisted of 650 works of art seized from over 30 German galleries and works that were confiscated from private collections. The works were chosen from modern movements in the world of art that were not in keeping with what the Nazi’s considered to be things of beauty.

“21 rue La Boétie”, Paris, March 2017
Anne Sinclair, director of the Huffington Post, reveals the story of her Grandfather, Paul Rosenberg, who was to become known as one of the most interesting gallery owners and art dealers in the early part of the 20th Century. He was a French national and Jewish, who was good friends with Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Henri Matisse, and an extraordinary art collector, who opened a gallery at 21 rue La Boétie, in 1910, where he collected works of ‘degenerate art’. In 1942 he was stripped of his French nationality and part of his collection was stolen by the Nazis.

“Gurlitt Collection”, in two locations:
The last chapter of the films story is set in September 2010. A train hurtles along a track with an elderly Gentleman on board, he is German, and we soon discover that he is art collector Cornelius Gurlitt. His Father, Hildebrand became known as ‘Hitler’s Merchant’. Cornelius was hiding some of the most priceless art treasures of the century, among them “Portrait of a Lady” by Matisse, the painting belonging to expert and lover of Impressionism, Paul Rosenberg.
The music for the movie is an essential component of the story telling and an integral and important part of the film and the film making process, it would be difficult to imagine this movie without the subtle underscore or the more dramatic and driving pieces that the composer created for this production, the thematic quality of the compositions are evident and the score heightens the mood and atmosphere within every scene, the composer underlining and punctuating without being intrusive. The score is a fusion of symphonic, choral and electronic elements. Anzovino fashioning and creating via use of the full range of the instruments within the orchestra and by way of samples.

HITLER VERSUS PICASSO AND THE OTHERS, contains a score that is a truly haunting affair, one example of emotive writing within the soundtrack is the cue, VIOLIN FOR THE INNOCENTS, which is filled with so much emotional sentiment and a musical passion that is immediately affecting, it is not just a heartfelt composition but a heart breaking one, that invades the listeners soul. The same can be said for CELLO FOR THE INNOCENTS which recalls the same theme, in a slightly briefer duration, but has to it an air of melancholy and a rather more sombre aura, but again brimming with yearning and poignancy.
“My scores for film and also television always involve musicians. My team is made up of people who get along and of high expertise. For string instruments, we have developed a special technique that mixes pieces played by musicians for every section of the orchestra and samples. This combination makes the sound tenser and more modern without giving up to the kind of expressiveness only musicians can add. Brass instrument, woods, percussions and string instruments are rigorously played by musicians. Piano pieces are of course played by me. I like using electronics in expressive and analogue fashion. I usually conduct my film scores but am also supported by my assistant the Maestro Federico Mecozzi. While one conducts the other supervises in the recording booth with the sound technician Cristian Bonato”(.Remo Anzovino).

 

WATER LILIES OF MONET (The Magic of Water and Light).
This film tells the story of how a huge piece of art came into being and also of how it essentially broke with convention and also of the artist Monet who’s life was reconstructed and invigorated via painting. It is a story that shows the obsession the artist had with light and water, an obsession it seems he could not get away from, but putting it to wonderful use by transforming his paintings into magical and beguiling Masterpieces that were to revolutionize modern art. The artist had one goal and that was to transfer his first impression onto the canvas and paint so it appeared as an image that he had not seen before every time he looked at it. The documentary also does this and shows the watching audience THE WATER LILIES by Monet as they have never been seen before. This is a uniquely special cinematic experience, with exclusive footage of Monet’s masterpieces which are housed at the Orangerie Museum, the Marmottan Museum and Giverny. Masterpieces that would be the artists final legacy to France and ultimately the world, being a symbol that is associated with peace and hope for all.
The score for WATER LILIES OF MONET is an accomplished and richly melodious work. It has to it an intimacy and purveys a sense of hopefulness and joy that is resounding and vibrant. The composer makes effective use of synthetic and sampled sounds within the score and creates a collection musical landscapes and moments that are coloured with mesmeric and lilting musical sounds and textures which he achieves by combining the synthetic with the symphonic, the choral and solo voice interludes. The composer fashions uplifting and energetic themes that are filled to overflowing with exuberant and harmonious sounds. The score may not be grandiose, but it is a work that is tantalising and haunting, the combination of Soprano and strings is stunning, and the use of electronics and conventional instrumentation is a stroke of genius, each section complimenting and giving support to one another.

GAUGUIN IN TAHITI-PARADISE LOST.
In 1891 artist Paul Gauguin had become disillusioned with life in Europe, his wife had left him and taken his children with her, his friend Vincent Van Gogh had passed away and his life as a painter was in the doldrums. In the same year the artist decided that he would leave Marseilles and head for the South Seas, it was this decision that took him to Tahiti. French Polynesia and The Marques Islands where he was to experience so many beautiful and wonderous sights in the form of landscapes, seascapes and also life experiences through the local populations of the islands. These inspired him to create images and vibrant colours that were to change his approach to painting forever, seeing the use of colour and light in a very different way from when he was in France.
The film takes us to simple island dwellings which the artist built out of leaves and bamboo whilst in the Pacific and to modern day Paris, New York, Boston, Chicago and Edinburgh where many of his masterpieces are now preserved. This is a film that follows this master’s journey on which he grasps the essence of life and art. To enhance the beauty of Gauguin’s surroundings Remo Anzovino has written one of his most touching scores, it is a work of immense beauty itself, the composer again performing piano on the soundtrack. There are it seems an endless collection of heart-warming and wonderfully affecting themes present within this score, and at times it is hard to take in that all this superb music comes from one movie. The opening cue, OVIRI, is a short lived but brooding and powerful introduction to the remainder of the score, with the composer creating a dark and shadowy sound, via piano, low strings and breathy woodwind, tremolo strings are introduced also which bring a sinister sound to the proceedings, it is a uneasy style that is employed, with brass being added at the conclusion.
Track number two, NOA NOA is a lighter affair with soft strings and lilting piano performance which compliment each other perfectly, the composer also utilises wood wind as in flute which has to it a slightly jazz style, but the combination of the strings, piano woods and electronic support is ingenious and also entertaining and evokes memories of Italian film music from the late 1960’s and into the decade of the 1970’s, its film music but also could be categorised as new age or easy listening exotica styles. Track number four on the recording is LES JOURS PERDUS, this is in my opinion one of the most beautiful melodies on the score, piano again takes centre stage whilst being underlined by strings, and laced with additional string performances giving the piece a rich and wonderfully lavish style and persona. The tender nuances composed by Remo Anzovino within this cue are in a word stunning, they are filled with a delicate and affecting style that is romantic but at the same time purveys a mood or atmosphere that is fragile and totally consuming.
Track number five, I WILL LEAVE , is a more downbeat cue with strings introducing the track, but the low key and near sombre atmosphere, alters as the composer brings into play more strings and the gentle use of percussion and solo violin, the music gains pace slightly but never reaches its crescendo as it reverts back to a more calming and tranquil piece as it reaches its conclusion. Track number six, PARADISE LOST is the piano solo version of the piece, again it is a beautifully executed performance by the composer, the seven-note motif is lovingly played and oozes with elegance and charm. Track number seven, BACK TO THE ROOTS, is another cue that is slow builder, the composer again turning to the string section to create the foundation and introduction, whilst adding other elements both electronic, percussive, choral and symphonic as the composition unfolds and progressively builds. Electronic and conventional instrumentation working in unison to fashion a melodic and powerful track which has to it an inspiring sound. The score features a handful of soloists, these include, flautist Fabio Mina, percussionist Marco Zanotti, cellist Anselmo Pelliccioni and Violinist Federico Mecozzi. The score is a delightful and sophisticated collection of themes which underscore, support and enhance the production and add to it a greater atmosphere and depth.

FRIDA VIVA LA VIDA.
This is a movie that explores both parts of Frida Kahlo’s personality. We see her human side as in a person who is a victim of her tortured body and of her tormented and difficult relationship and also the film focuses upon her pioneering artistic career and her involvement with feminism. Asia Argento narrates and as the film progresses, we begin to understand the dual personality of this complicated but brilliant individual. The film utilises Frida’s own words and makes use of her letters, which are mixed with interviews and other documentation. Of, course it also shows many of her paintings, which are on display and stored in many of Mexico’s amazing museums and galleries. The score for this movie in particular is I think one of the composers most varied, it also is one that sounds as if it contains more synthetic than symphonic, but this adds to the impact and also the entertainment value when listening to it away from the movie. There are rich and vibrant pieces and also Latin flavoured passages scattered throughout the soundtrack as well as vocal performances and jazz orientated tracks performed by an easy sounding trumpet which is punctuated by piano as in YO ME PINTO or accompanied by strings in the impressively rich and emotive, FRIDITA (Adagio for trumpet and strings) classical guitar performances also bring much to the overall sound of the score, as in the track MEXICAN LANDSCAPE. It is a score that is filled with such a wealth of thematic properties, the composer being highly inventive in his approach to the subject matter. There are delicate musical poems such as HOW FAR I. LL FLY, CHILDREN WE WONT HAVE and PEONY, with apprehensive but touching compositions that include, EACH TIME I WAS BORN. and upbeat pieces such as WALKING IN MEXICO and BROKEN HEART TANGO.

No matter which way you view film music or music in film, there is very little doubt that Maestro Remo Anzovino is a master at his craft and I for one look forward to more from him.   MMI/JOHN MANSELL(C) 2019. 

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HITSVILLE THE MAKING OF MOTOWN.

 

hitsville

 

I think I can safely say that we are all film music lovers here, but do we listen to just film music? Of course not, well at least I know many of us don’t. I am passionate about movie music and have grown with it as well as up with it. But along the way of course there have been other genres of music that have made an impression upon me. I was a dj for a while in fact for longer than I care to remember, and via this career move I encountered many types of music over a period of some 43 years behind the decks at first on the mobile circuit and then in the clubs of my home town Brighton on the south coast of England. One particular area of music I was drawn to was MOTOWN or TAMALA MOTOWN, its funny because Motown is the name of the label but it also is now established as the label for the type of music and the sound and style that that label purveyed.

motown 9

 

But it was not just as a DJ that I noticed the Motor Town sound, no it began a few years before that when I discovered much to the annoyance of my parents the portable transistor radio the kind that ran off batteries, I spent many a night hiding under the covers in the hope that they would muffle the sound that was coming from its small speaker. Listening to the wat are now called pirate radio stations normally Luxembourg. Its funny because as a kid I honestly thought that radio Luxembourg was not in the Duchy of Luxembourg but on a ship off the coast of the UK, like Radio Caroline etc. I even had the idea that’s why it keeps fading in and out because it’s the ship moving on the sea. It was then under the covers that I began to notice this sound this style that was being put out by the Motown label, the DJs on air often referring to it as the Detroit Sound which of course was where the label was based.

 

motown4

 

It was not just the vocals that I was drawn to, in fact it was more the music that caught my attention, and when you think about it the music actually was the driving force which pushed the vocals and enhanced the glorious voices of the likes of Marvin Gaye, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Diana Ross, Edwin Starr, Gladys Knight and the pips, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, and later the likes of The Jackson 5.

 

 

The Motown artists were like a family, at times appearing on each other’s records sometimes uncredited. But it was the music that fixated my attention, those strings, the horn section, the riff’s performed by the guitars, percussion, keyboard or piano, it was a glowing collection of musical excellence that was flawlessly performed and often done in just one take. But who played the horns, who performed the riffs on guitar, who conducted this orchestra and where did they get those beautifully energetic strings from? This year it is 60 years since the Motown label was established, six decades of hits, six decades of vibrant and ingenious writing and sixty years of memories all accompanied by the sounds of Hitsville.

You may be wondering by the time you get to this point, is he mad, has he lost his marbles? Why is he talking about Motown this is a film music site, well yes it is and that brings me to the reason for this article, is a new music documentary that has already been aired in the USA on the Showtime Channel and is due to hit the UK in December 2019, (there have been screenings in cinemas already in the UK) the reason it was brought to my attention is I interviewed composer Ian Arber a while ago and he was responsible for scoring the documentary, so after the interview I researched the production and decided that it was certainly worth mentioning, and being the 60th anniversary of Motown what better time to INCLUDE IT ON mmi.

Ian-Arber-300
composer Ian Arber.

The film charts the labels birth in Detroit in 1958 up until its relocation to Los Angeles in the early part of the 1970’s. The label was established by Berry Gordy, and ended up being an iconic and respected name, the music of Motown and its artists transcended time, and brought together cultures, generations and also helped in bringing together ethnicities. The Motown sound often acting as a bridge or common denominator for various ethnic groups. The film contains interviews with key artists and also rare footage of recordings and performances. It explains Gordy’s reasons for forming the label and also touches upon the Civil Rights movement, but also shows that Motown was a colour-blind label as in it was aimed at everyone. For me after the 1960.s Motown changed and it was in the early part of the 1970.s that we began to see Motown artists leaving the label and turning up with Motown sounding songs on EPIC, ABC etc. But Motown continued, and attracted new talent in its new LA home. As a DJ in the clubs, I noticed that certain records which were popular say in the 1980’s lost their appeal to the audiences and sounded dated and tired, but as soon as a Motown classic was played the dance floor soon filled, with dancers of all ages, it seems that the sound of Motor town resonated with everyone. So, Motown I think never ages, it has to it a style and an overall sound that remains appealing to every generation, youngsters like it because their parents played it and in turn their parents also played it because they loved it etc etc.


Berry Gordy who was the founder of Motown had always loved music and began by opening a record shop in Detroit, called the 3D Record Mart, Gordy’s aim was to try and educate the people into appreciating jazz, but the store did not last long and Gordy had to close its doors. However his love of music never faded and he would go to the clubs in Detroit and watch bands and solo artists, and it was in one of these bars that Gordy met a bar manager named Al Green, no this s not the same Al Green we all know as a vocalist, this Mr Green also owned Pearl Music and just happened to represent a singer named Jackie Wilson. It was at this stage that Gordy became a member of the song writing team for Wilson and penned REET PETITE which was a great success for the artist all over the world. The other writers involved were Billy Davies and Gordy’s sister Gwen. Gordy continued to write songs and it is estimated to have written a further 70 or so with his sister Gwen and Brother Robert.


In 1957 Gordy met a young doo-wop singer Smokey Robinson, and with Robinson wrote GOT A JOB which was licensed to END RECORDS a label that was based in New York. The song which was to be the first for Smokey Robinson and his newly re named group The Miracles, was an answer song to GET A JOB which had been recorded by The Silhouettes the previous year achieved mild success. Gordy decided that he wanted to form his own label, originally wanting to call it TAMMY RECORDS after a film which starred Debbie Reynolds, but this was not possible, so he settled on Tamala instead, in 1959 Gordy and his sister founded ANNA records, and on this label they released a couple of dozen singles, the most popular of which was Barret Strong’s MONEY(that’s what I want). Which was written by Gordy and a Janie Bradford who was a secretary at the label. A number of the records released by Tamala and Anna records were picked up and distributed by Chess records in the States giving them a greater audience. And this relationship led to Gordy coming into contact with Harvey Fuqua who was the brother of INK SPOTS group member Charlie Fuque.

Gordy’s sister Gwen married Harvey in 1961. The rest is as they say History, and the founding of the label led to numerous hits which have become classics in music history, the harmonies, the melodies and the lyrics performed by so many iconic artists will I hope live forever. Many of the major hits for Motown were hits because they were simple, easy lyrics and also lyrics that actualy had heart and soul. For example, MY GIRL by the TEMPTATIONS with a lead vocal by band member David Ruffin and an unforgettable opening bass line and guitar riff. It was musical moments like this that I for one was attracted to and also the string arrangements in many of THE TEMPTATIONS other songs such as “JUST MY IMAGINATION”, and who could forget the infectious and driving strings in GET READY and the wonderful orchestral backing on Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “AINT NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH”.

motowna

And “IT TAKES TWO” with Gaye duetting with Kim Weston. These are just five examples off the top of my head, and as they say the list is endless and with Motown they are not exaggerating.

four-tops2

The brilliance of Stevie Wonder as an artist and a song writer, the haunting vocals of Diana Ross and the unmistakable lead vocals of Levi Stubbs of the FOUR TOPS on. Hits such as REACH OUT, SEVEN ROOMS OF GLOOM, BERNADETTE and CANT HELP MYSELF, with the remaining three group members punctuating and enhancing his distinct vocalising. Motown will live forever, which is something I am pretty pleased about. Catch the movie if you can or wait till December for the TV screenings, either way you must see the movie. In the mean time dust off the MOTOWN CHARTBUSTERS ALBUMS and step back in time for a party.

DOLEMITE IS MY NAME.

DOL

Well you all probably are aware that I am a bit of a sucker for films from the 1970’sand also the sounds of funk and jazz tat were employed in movies such as COFFY, SHAFT, CLEOPATRA JONES, SUPERFLY, TROUBLEMAN, THEY CALL ME MR TIBBS etc. I just love that soul filled funky vibe that those movies were supported by. Their soundtracks were a fusion of the dramatic and the upbeat with a scattering of songs that came along for the ride. Many of the scores employed great horn sections and sizzling string performances that were backed and given a groove by an array of driving and hot sounding percussive elements and fuzzy guitar passages alongside the Shaft sound as penned by Isaac Hayes. DOLEMITE IS MY NAME is a new Netflix production that stars the ever industrious and popular Eddie Murphy, who has delivered one of his most convincing and polished performances to date.

DOLEMITE

 

The movie focuses upon the real-life character Rudy Ray Moore and as portrayed in this movie by Murphy was a charmer of a man who dabbled in many things including music and comedy, Moore proved many of his critics wrong when his alter-ego Dolemite who was a funny and at times profanely obscene kung fu fighting individual, became a success within the Blaxploitation genre.

 

ScottBomarRosterPic

 

But it is the music for the movie that I am more interested in, Scott Bomar has created a wonderfully retro set of themes and musical passages to accompany the movie, and if I was listening without knowing what this music was from I would most certainly be of the opinion that it was written in the 1970’s, it is a true re-creation of the sound of the Blaxploitation movies that were around during that decade, and a homage to composers such as Quincy Jones, Issac Hayes, Gene Paige, Gordon Parks, James Brown, Curtis Mayfield, Roy Ayres, Marvin Gaye and Johnny Pate, who scored so many movies that we now consider essential viewing and classics of the silver screen. There is a style and sound that Bomar has managed to nail which takes one right back to those days, and even for me personally evokes soundtracks such as STILLETO, ENTER THE DRAGON, DIRTY HARRY and of course the original DOLEMITE movie from 1975.

 

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This is a jazzy and cool sounding score that also includes a handful of vocals, but even though it is a super funky explosion of colours and textures it is also a full-on dramatic work and has to it an instant appeal, because as soon as you hear the opening score cue you just want to hear more. The composer employs sultry and breathy woods, soulful horns, wild Hammond organ, deep basslines and driving percussion, to great effect and punctuates these elements with sliding strings that at times sting and then become romantic and easy going, add to this a bluesy sounding piano and even more soulful vocals and what you have here is a wonderful salute to the Blaxploitation score, and one I recommend that you listen to. If you like your music upbeat and super cool then this is most certainly for you.  Available from Milan records.

JOKER.

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In a world of so many movies about Superheroes, I suppose it was inevitable that at long last there would be a film dedicated to a Super villain. And what a Super Villain THE JOKER is. The character has come a long way since those meek and good-humoured rough, tumble and biff, bam, zoew, TV episodes that starred Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward as Robin. And Cesar Romero as the Joker, his interpretation of the character being evil but in a kind of hammy and jovial way. The latest incarnation of the JOKER character is certainly way darker than those early days on TV and is an unnerving and convincing performance of a deranged personality that is pure evil and knows no boundaries in inflicting pain, discomfort and spreading chaos and carnage. Directed, produced and co-written by Todd Phillips, JOKER is an origin story The director focuses upon Arthur Fleck ( Joaquin Phoenix), and his study of this character is a rather stark and mostly sad insight into the life of a man who is clearly struggling to find his way and make his mark within the fragile and frantic society that is GOTHAM City. Fleck just wants some glimmer of light or maybe a slice of hope to fall his way, he attempts to change his fortune by becoming a stand-up comic, but he soon realises that the joke is very often him. He becomes trapped in a recurring existence that drifts between lethargy and spite and, finally we see his hurt when he is betrayed. The character portrayed wonderfully by Phoenix, gets caught in a spiral of never ending wrong decisions all of which impact upon each other and escalate into problems that become increasingly unsolvable, the chain reaction of bad scenarios in his life are the beginnings of this virulent characters incarnation, and we are treated to a no holds barred and gritty character study. The music for JOKER is the work of talented and innovative composer Hildur Guðnadóttir. She recently worked on the successful TV series CHERNOBYL and her score for this series received numerous nods of appreciation from both collectors, fans and critics alike. The music for JOKER is in the main dark and edgy, it has apprehensive and sinister undertones throughout, and supports and enhances the images and scenarios on screen perfectly. The score is filled with shadowy and unsettling passages and sounds, that are disconcerting and unnerving when listening to them away from the film. Many of the cues I would say lean towards the atonal as in no- thematic, but even amongst all of the darkness we can still find traces of thematic quality albeit fleeting and subdued. The work is certainly an original one, with the composer providing a vibrant and innovative sound and style to the proceedings.

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If however you are looking for themes that are anthem like or traces of flourishes that are remotely proud and patriotic as in fanfares or racing and heroically laced compositions etc, then you maybe a little disappointed, But, that is in no way a slight upon this score, as it is robust, brooding, melancholy and at times lilting, and most certainly dramatic and exciting, but above all it is superbly affecting and tantalising.

EUPHORIA. THE HBO SERIES.

labrinthFilm music is a great art, By this I mean that composers and even song writers and performers have it seemed dip their toes into the rippling waters of film music and scoring movies, I remember when I first saw that Marvin Gaye had scored TROUBLEMAN I was sceptical to say the least, but “Oh Ye of little faith” as they say, because the end result was quite stunning as in being polished and precise for the movie and also was great in the entertainment department too, it was a score that was supportive of the movie and also was a collection of themes and songs that one could sit and listen too without having to have the images. Of course, the soundtrack went onto gain a cult status.

The same can be said of EUPHORIA which has a score that is penned by the artist LABRINTH. I know that hardened film music fans will probably look at this and be horrified, but wait a minute, this is a TV score so as a reviewer of film and TV music I felt bound to listen. To be honest and fair I know very little about LABRINTH, apart from his songs that have hit the chart and also of his many collaborations, which I have played when doing DJ work in the clubs. PASS OUT and EARTHQUAKE with Tinie Tempah, BENEATH YOUR BEAUTIFUL featuring Emelie Sande and his projects working with artists such as Diplo and Sia. The score for EUPHORIA is a refreshing experience that is a delight to listen to, well structured and appealing melodically as well as entertaining via its many instrumental cues and handful of vocals that are on the soundtrack. LABRINTH, is always very melodic and lyrical in his compositions even if they were at times up-beat and dance orientated. I could always hear little nuances and quirks within them that I would sometimes think well I really like that or how did he do that? Which I suppose is why he is so successful and popular; with each new song or production he re-invents himself and with EUPHORIA he has certainly showed another side of his ample talents.

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EUPHORIA the HBO series, follows a group of high school students as they discover love and various friendships in a world of drugs, sex, trauma and the ever-present social media. The cast of Euphoria includes actor and singer Zendaya, Maude Apatow (Girls), Angus Cloud, Eric Dane, Alexa Demie, Jacob Elordi, Barbie Ferreira, Nika King, Storm Reid, Hunter Schafer, Algee Smith and Sydney Sweeney (Sharp Objects).
It is an American adaptation of an Israeli TV show of the same name, with every episode being penned by writer Sam Levinson, all episodes are written by Sam Levinson who is also executive producer on the series. The series is produced in partnership with A24 (Lady Bird, Random Acts of Flyness, 2 Dope Queens, Pod Save America) and includes executive producers Drake, Future the Prince, Ravi Nandan, Kevin Turen, Hadas Mozes Lichtenstein, Tmira Yardeni, Mirit Toovi, Yoram Mokadi and Gary Lennon. Ron Leshem and Daphna Levin, who created the Israeli series, are also executive producers.
EUPHORIA, the score is a fusion of instrumental and vocal but the instrumental cues are inventive and contain many colours and textures, there is a wonderfully melodious and also a wide variations of styles within this score, and yes it is a score not just a collection of songs that have been tacked onto the film for affect. This is in my opinion an accomplished work filled with vibrant and energetic pieces, I particularly like the way in which the composer utilises voices and upbeat backgrounds that create infectious themes that will I know haunt the listener long after the recording has ceased to play. Tracks such as FORMULA, FOREVER, NATE GROWING UP and others make an impression on first listen and are affecting and robustly thematic with upbeat backing that enhances and bolstered the central composition. There are also several less upfront tracks, which are poignant and intimate, the composer utilising guitar and piano and solo voice, as in NEW GIRL, HOME FROM RE-HAB and WE ALL KNEW. EUPHORIA is a score that is fashioned out of many elements, these include acoustic, vocal and electronic, there is a quality to this score that I am sure you even as a film score purist or a hard-line symphonic lover will hear. It is in my opinion certainly worth exploring.
Check out the cues I have already mentioned and also tracks such as, FOLLOWING TYLER, KAT’S DENIAL SIDESHOW, DEMANDING EXCELLENCE, MADDY’S STORY and THE LAKE these contain innovative use of instruments or samples which the composer presents to us in a fresh and vibrant way, some being driving and also uplifting, but above all accomplished and also showing signs of brilliance in the way that certain sounds are utilised and combined to create and achieve original sounds and style. The vocals WHEN I RIP and STILL DON’T KNOW MY NAME are also a standout tracks and I feel will maybe get airplay on their own as single releases? What I love about this soundtrack is its diversity, for example listen to song WHEN I RIP and you will think you are in a club setting and then in the next instant we are treated to the down beat and totally emotionally absorbing ARRIVING AT THE FORMAL, which has to it a charm and a subtle but powerful core that is enhanced via neo-classical strings and delicate touches of piano that at times are childlike and poignant. Also listen to McKay and CASSIE which has to it a vintage soul vibe akin to the sound of James Brown, then the next cue is GANGSTER which is fully electronic and contains a harsh and menacing sound that is a combination of organ percussion and a rap, which reminded me of a number of tracks that were popular in the charts a while back. Yes, I recommend that you take a listen ASAP, because this is a score that demands that you do.