Category Archives: Reviews

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT THIRTY.

As we start the so-called season to be cheerful, its time for Soundtrack Supplement number thirty. Again, a mixed bag of soundtracks are inside this edition, with a disaster movie that has provoked some negative comments opening the proceedings.  Remember the disaster movie? EARTHQUAKE, THE TOWERING INFERNO, SWARM, etc, well its back with a vengeance, in more ways than one in the form of SKYFIRE.

This is a Japanese movie, that was released in 2019 or at least it was made in 2019, it has, an American lead star and a Turkish composer. So an eclectic mix of talents or maybe not, this is something that you will have to decide after seeing it, the film itself is just stupid, after all who would build a luxury hotel on the side of a Volcano, but saying that its basically non stop action and mayhem from start to finish. Which is accompanied by some good special effects and a pulsating and commanding score by composer Pinar Toprak.

PINAR TOPRAK.

The film I suppose is a muddled and fast paced affair that has elements of every disaster film storyline, it is not only filled with disaster movie cliches, but contains a ridiculous plot and a weak script and also some pretty disastrous acting as well. The score however is excellent as far as disaster scores go, it has a contemporary sound, but also contains passages that evoke memories of past disaster film score highlights as in the already mentioned EARTHQUAKE etc. In fact, the music is probably the best thing about the film, but maybe I am being overly unkind, (ummmm no I’m not).

Pinar Toprak in her Studio

The composer wowed us with her score for CAPTAIN MARVEL and garnered a fair bit of attention with her music for the TV series STARGIRL. All I will say is film music fans will not be disappointed at all with this soundtrack, it is a fusion of synthetic and symphonic, the composer getting the balance just right and purveying urgent and tense interludes that almost always turn into high octane pieces that are overflowing with a powerful and also thematic air. The score does of course have its quieter sections with the composer creating rich and romantically laced compositions at various stages of the works development.

There is a powerful and driving persona to this soundtrack, with brass flourishes and booming percussive elements combining with strings to create a rich tapestry of action led tracks that remain thematic and interesting. Recommended.

Invariably at this time of year the Christmas movie raises its glittery and sweet little head. But its Christmas so we can allow that can’t we? As long as the soundtrack is good, I don’t mind at all. MY ADVENTURES WITH SANTA is a movie I don’t really know a lot about, but you can bet its not Oscar material and is filled with the normal Christmas feel good elements etc. The score by composer Damon Criswell is actually very good, the soundtrack itself is listed as a compilation so yes it also contains songs, but these are all original compositions.

Whether that is a good thing or not I am not certain. But at least we dont have to listen to Brenda Lee rocking around the Christmas tree on this one. But Criswell’s score for me is perfect Christmas themed fodder, it has to it a magical and mysterious air and contains enough warmth and melancholy to satisfy any Christmas Grotto Elf and bring a little bit of sparkle to the listener. I was reminded of the sound of James Horner at times with the composer combining, wistful and sweeping syrupy string led themes with choral effects and delicate little chimes and shimmering touches adding even more Christmas atmosphere as the work proceeds. Criswell also utilises a more grandiose sound that combines a traditional Christmas sound with dramatic symphonic styles. Its not an awful score, and being truthful I have to say I enjoyed it for the most part, even the numerous references to more traditional songs and carols which the composer integrates into the fabric of his original score. and I would say it is worth checking out.  

Remember two scores from last year, UNDONE and MAROONED by Amie Doherty, both of which were interesting to say the least, well the latest score from her is for another Christmas movie, which is the Hulu film HAPPIEST SEASON, I have to say although I did not enjoy this work as much as I did UNDONE it does have its moments, and is essentially a fairly good score. But there is not really a lot a composer do with a Christmas themed movie is there?  After all is pretty restricting and it also depends on the studio or the producers and director, who normally want Christmassy sounding music for their Christmas film. So, although HAPPIEST SEASON is not in my opinion the best of Doherty, it also cannot be said that it is the worst.  It is thankfully available on digital platforms so another case of try before you buy, my opinion is try it and then move on, or if you have not heard UNDONE buy that instead.

 Bear McCreary is a composer I have a lot of time for, it seems that he is able to turn his hand to scoring most types of movies and hops from genre to genre with ease.

He went through a period of scoring almost everything, and with each new TV show or film we saw his name featuring on the credits, FREAKY is one of his more recent assignments, and the composer has treated us to a score that is not only powerful and filled with inventive and innovative compositions but also is a delight to listen to, it is a horror film music fans dream come true with McCreary balancing the ominous and fearsome elements of his score with a scattering of lighter and melodic interludes.  Which come as a welcomed respite in a swirling Herrmann-esque sea of commanding and foreboding compositions. Recommended. From new releases to a recording or two you might have missed, the first is not actually a film score but is a compilation that does contain film themes alongside easy listening tracks.

THE LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN and ADVENTURE were originally released as separate albums on LP on the EMI Studio Two label. The artist was Ron Goodwin who released several LPs on this label during the late 1960’s through to the end of the 1970’s. All of which did have film music connections, because at the time Goodwin was himself a much in demand composer of movie scores. When the compact disc came into being many record labels decided to re-issue what were popular albums onto the new format, the good thing was that the collector would get great value for money sometimes because the Goodwin compilations were able to be re-issued as a buy one get one free kind of ting, so THE LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN and ADVENTURE were released onto one disc.

 I think for me personally ADVENTURE was the favourite, because of 633 SQUADRON, MISS MARPLE, VICTORY AT SEA, OF HUMAN BONDAGE, THE TRAP, OPERATION CROSSBOW, and items such as GIRL WITH A DREAM, THE GIRL FROM CORSICA, THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN (which was originally released on a 78rpm) and ELIZABETHAN SERENADE. Which although not film music were a perfect companion and a great listening experience, remember these compilations were released at a time when soundtrack albums were quite thin on the ground, mainly because there was no real interest in the actual scores only the themes, so Goodwin was providing music lovers and film music fans with an essential service and a way of hearing movie themes when the original recordings were not available.

THE LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN, contained what I look upon as classic film themes, from mainly British movies, DANGEROUS MOONLIGHT, THE WAY TO THE STARS, MOULIN ROGUE, FIRST OF THE FEW, GONE WITH THE WIND, LIMELIGHT, ESCAPE TO HAPPINESS were all there and more. So, by having these two recordings on one disc we were treated to a smorgasbord of powerful, melodic, and haunting themes that are now all looked upon as being iconic. Today compilations such as these are no longer around, the variety of the music and also of the film genres was amazing and I for one lament the passing of these types of collections. But there again, there are very few artists like Goodwin or even Mancini who also produced so many compilations containing film themes around these days. They were able to be so adaptable and flexible, but today the crossover artist is non-existent which again is sad. The word Variety is under used and the entertainment and music industries should look at reviving it. THE LEGEND OF THE GLASS MOUNTAIN and ADVENTURE are available on digital platforms, so if you have never heard these why not check them out, or if you had the LP.s or even have the CD’S why not click online and go get nostalgic.

Let’s stay with the one that got away or one you may have overlooked. And in this case one that has never been released onto compact disc, MURDERERS ROW by Lalo Schifrin was originally issued on a Colgems long playing record in 1966 in the U.S.A. with the UK release being on the RCA Victor label with slightly different art work, the recording when it was released and available was quite hard to come by and nowadays has attained for itself something of a following simply because of the fact it was and still is so rare. The album occasionally appears on various online sites in an auction, but these are very few and far between. It is a mystery to me why the soundtrack has not received a compact disc release as so many Schifrin scores have been made available in recent years on the shiny little discs. When contacting Schifrin’s own record label, they told me that it was a score that they probably would never be able to issue because of copyright problems. So, this gem of a soundtrack will sadly probably remain unreleased or at least not on CD. Now I am lucky because I do have the album and I did an LP transfer to my pc to preserve it and I was also lucky because it is a stereo recording. The album opens with a full working of the main theme for the movie, this a thundering start with the composer employing big band sounding brass and an up-tempo background courtesy of percussion and organ that is joined by more brass most notably saxophones who carry the central theme forward and upwards, with more percussive elements being added as the piece progresses, the jazz big band sound dominates the composition and drives it onwards in a very similar fashion to that of THE LIQUIDATOR score also by Schifrin. MURDERERS ROW is a mix of light sounding groovy tracks, jazzy inspired sections and the odd instrumental of I.M NOT THE MARRYING KIND which would ordinarily be supporting the distinct vocalising of Dean Martin but due to contractual restrictions none of Mr Martins vocals were released on any of the Matt Helm soundtrack albums, and also due to same contractual restrictions Mr Martins image was not allowed on the covers either. There are also plenty of extremely dramatic and fast paced interludes which seem to spring from nowhere to entertain and add a certain beat and urgency to the whole score.

 Its right up there with BULLIT, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and THE LIQUIDATOR. Its bombastic hard hitting and truly theme laden, ok the central theme or variations of it run through the entire score but it is an infectious theme that is never boring and one that I know listeners will never tire of. Like the FLINT movies, the Matt Helm series was very tongue in cheek and the music often reflected this but at certain points the composers involved would often score the movie as a serious entity thus the music worked even better and because the scene was scored in this way the scenario on screen also worked better.

There are twelve tracks on the recording and every-one of them is wonderful, they are filled with an energy a vitality and just a good old fashion sound that we never seem to hear anymore. I love the way Schifrin’s music just seems to ooze a charismatic sophistication, with its light and airy sambas, its easy listening and laid back jazz tracks and of course it’s more powerful and commanding sections, Schifrin is a Master when it comes to relaying moods and atmospheres and in this score, he excels even more than usual, with the composer on piano and bass guitar (performed by Carol Kaye) who played on many Beach Boys hits, was the performer on LA BAMBA by Richie Valens as well as working with the likes of Quincy Jones, Phil Spector and Simon and Garfunkel to mention but a few bringing much to the work. There is also effective use of strings, percussion, harpsichord, woods, Hammond organ, cymbalom, brass and even at one point an accordion taking a turn. The highlight of the score apart from the great theme is track number 4, SUZIES THEME (LOVE THEME) which is haunting and alluring, with the composer employing a light dusting of brushed percussion with dreamy sounding strings acting as a background to a delightful and mesmerising harpsichord solo that performs the love theme, this is to be honest an absolute delight and in many ways reminded me of the work of Stelvio Cipriani on THE ANONYMOUS VENETIAN, it has that easy going but at the same time beautifully crafted style to it. I know this soundtrack is not available on Compact Disc, but it is now thankfully on platforms such as Spotify, it is essential listening, if you don’t believe me go find it and be amazed.

Ok heres one I missed from 2018, DURANTE LA TORMENTA is mysterious thriller which also wanders into the realms of fantasy.  There are two storms which are separated by the passing of a quarter of a century but happen on the same date, we see a woman murdered a daughter missing the Berlin wall falls and there is just seventy two hours to unravel the complicated truth. The strong, affecting and powerful musical score is by Spanish Movie Maestro Fernando Velazquez, who produced a score that does much to aid the flow and development of the storyline, underlining and punctuating the taught and nail biting scenarios as they are presented on screen.

FERNANDO VELAZQUEZ.

How I missed this I do not know, it is a wonderfully dark and tense sounding score, which is something that the composer does brilliantly, his music has audiences on the edge of their seats, and he always manages to support and elevate his projects without the music becoming too intrusive. The at times driving score in many ways evokes his brilliant soundtrack for DEVIL which is another must have release by this gifted and talented composer. Recommended.

That’s about it for now, back next time in soundtrack supplement thirty one, with more new releases, Christmas scores and those elusive scores that you missed out on.  And a little spaghetti.

SOUNdtrack supplement twenty nine.

Ok here we go once again it’s time for another look at the latest soundtrack releases and there are quite a few this time, whether they are all interesting or not is another matter, quantity does not always mean quality does it?. I thought maybe I would fit in just another soundtrack supplement before Christmas, but the way things are going it looks like maybe another two or three will be on the cards before the big day. (if the big day happens that is as we know it) Christmas will we are informed by the powers that be somewhat different this year, no realy? So let’s start off with something that is seasonal and I say seasonal because after all it is the end of November and I have already heard THE FAIRY TALE OF NEW YORK about thirty times on the radio (the edited PC version of course) and also seen the crème eggs waiting in their thousands to be placed on shelves on Christmas eve.

I thought to begin maybe we should go back to happier times and look at a British movie from a while ago, (1970) and a film that was a musical setting of a tale penned by Charles Dickens. SCROOGE was an adaption of the authors famous tale from Christmas in Victorian times, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, I know the movie had a mixed reaction when it first went into theatres in the UK and the U.S.A. After all Albert Finney although being a fine actor, is certainly no singer, but I think it actually worked, after all Ebenezer Scrooge would not strike me as a person who would want to burst into song and make a pleasant job of it, Finney mainly spoke the lyrics, and I have to say for the most part it was rather effective and dare I say it endearing in a way. Released in 1970 SCROOGE was the work of Leslie Bricusse who wrote the book and lyrics and co-wrote the music with composer Ian Fraser.  music. The movie also starred Alec Guinness, Kenneth More, Edith Evans, Roy Kinnear and a number of familiar British actors.  Finney won Best Actor at the Golden Globes in 1971, for his portrayal of the irascible Scrooge. And the film became a firm favourite after its initial release, which is shown almost every year at Christmas time on TV all around the world. 

The soundtrack was issued at the time of the film’s release in a gatefold edition, on the Columbia label and contained the now familiar numbers such as I HATE PEOPLE, THANKYOU VERY MUCH, I LIKE LIFE, YOU, YOU, SEE THE PHANTOMS etc. Ok I must admit I like it and it is a bit of a tradition that in my house it is mandatory that we sit and watch this every year, normally Christmas Eve, no if’s, buts or whatever’s. It is I think a feel-good film because we all know that old Ebenezer will come good in the end. It’s a funny thing that SCROOGE was committed to film first and then was adapted for the stage, it opened in 1992 in Birmingham with Anthony Newley in the title role, and later moved to London’s West End, the supporting cast was strong in the form of Jon Pertwee, Stratford Johns, and Tom Watt.

The show was revived in 2012 with the legendary entertainer Tommy Steele taking the lead, bringing his own style and persona to the role of the bitter Ebenezer Scrooge. Like another Charles Dickens novel that was turned into a musical OLIVER. SCROOGE has taken its place in British film and musical stage show history. 

Ok from a musical we head back to the film scores that have been released recently, and as I hinted in the opening of this article we are spoilt for choice. THE BOY IN THE SNOW I think contains a highly atmospheric score, it maybe not the most grandiose work, but it has its moments, the composer Philip Eisenfeldt, has crafted a tense yet melodically affecting score, in which we are treated to mesmerising pieces and dark rich passages that work so well together, the differing styles complimenting and supporting each other throughout.  The composer utilises to maximum effect slight choral nuances that are underlined by woods and laced with subtle string performances, it is a score that one will sit and listen to and before one realises it it’s over, but this is because it is so effective, not only as a score but as music to be savoured and appreciated away from any storyline or imagery. It is one I recommend you take a listen to.

Like Philip Eisenfeldt composer Patrick Kirst is a new name for me. His latest work BREAKING SURFACE is an intensely apprehensive soundtrack. The music creating tension and foreboding and purveying a sense of claustrophobia and fear. But it is a score that also has its less edgy moments, and I would suggest the digital platforms to investigate these. 

THE DESCENDANTS is a TV movie from the Disney stable, with music by Canadian born Actor and composer David Lawrence, all I am going to say is WOW.. I love this soundtrack, the score is just crammed full of beautiful thematic material, and if I was asked to say who this composers style is similar to I would have to drop in names such as James Horner, John Williams and John Debney, there is so much rich melodious content within this fully symphonic wildly romantic and dramatic work. I have to comment and say this is at the top of my list of the late November releases, there is a plethora of musical notions within the soundtrack that are both fearsome and magical, it is overflowing with an abundance of haunting musical poems that are delicate, intricate and above all enriching, inspiring and entertaining. The story is set twenty years after Belle and the Beast have married, and have become King and Queen of the United States of AURADON, after they became King and Queen they banished all villains to the isle of the lost, which is a slum that has a barrier around it where all magic is forbidden.

Belle and The Beast  have a son Ben, who decides that he wants to allow four children from the isle of the lost to be given the chance to live in Auradon, and he chooses, the son of Cruella de Ville Carlos, Evie the daughter of the Evil Queen Mal the daughter of Maleficent and the son of Jafar Jay. Unbeknown to Ben and his parents, Maleficent has instructed the four offspring to steal the fairy Godmothers wand so that she can release the barrier on magic around the isle and take control of Aura. Lawrence’s powerful and romantically laced score aids the movie greatly and is an important and vital part of its storyline.

An animated feature next, DRAGON RIDER, in which we follow a young silver dragon who teams up with a mountain spirit and an orphaned boy on a journey through the Himalayas in search for the Rim of Heaven. The score is by composer Stefan Maria Schneider who worked on HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON as an orchestrator for John Powell. And one can certainly hear certain little quirks of orchestration within DRAGON RIDER that we also heard in the Powell score. This is a great little score, I say little mainly because many of the cues are rather brief as in less than a minute in duration, I think the longest cue is around three minutes, which is entitled TEMPLE OF THE DRAGON RIDER that has a content that ranges from apprehensive, dramatic and action led to downbeat and slightly martial, which is certainly no mean feat in a relatively short amount of time, The thing I like about this score is it never becomes boring, it is go, go, go, but also the composer infuses a mischievous air into the proceedings, that keeps it fresh, vibrant and robust. The score is as far as I can make out mainly symphonic, with maybe a few electronic passages which are mainly for enhancement and support. Strings and brass with underlying percussive support are the main stay of the work, plus the composer enlists chorale support at times. It’s definitely worth a listen.

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo (29 September 1864 – 31 December 1936) was a Spanish essayist, novelist, poet, playwright, philosopher, professor of Greek and Classics, and later rector at the University of Salamanca. And it is he who is the subject of the documentary PALABRAS PARA UN FIN DEL MUNDO (WORDS FOR THE END OF THE WORLD).  His major philosophical essay was The Tragic Sense of Life (1912), and his most famous novel was Abel Sánchez: The History of a Passion (1917), a modern account of the Cain and Abel story. The music for the documentary is by accomplished composer Ivan Palomares, one only has to mention this Maestro’s name or see it on the credits of a movie etc, to know that this will be a work that will be innovative, inventive and affecting.

This is a subtle work, sparsely scored with delicate touches and fleeting sounds which at times drift into soundscape rather than what we as collectors refer to as musical score, although it is in no way un-musical or unmelodic. The work is a mix of both electronic and conventional instrumentation, with piano featuring throughout, the composer also utilises cello for solo performances which adds a touch of melancholy and deeper emotion to the work. Released on Movie Score Media. As I have already said the recent batch of releases have excelled in quantity, but maybe the quality is not as high as it could have been, it’s a sorry state when we get something in the region of thirty plus releases of soundtracks and more than half of these are quite flat in the quality and entertainment departments, but as I always say this is my own personal opinion, and I always recommend that you check out as many new releases as you are able to via digital platforms, it’s a good way to try before you buy, if that is a CD release is available. So that is why invariably I try and look for and include something that is vintage or has been issued before in the past decade that maybe collectors could have overlooked, and in these times of more and more records as in vinyl making a return some soundtracks are now being given an LP format release which for many is welcomed news.

The soundtrack for the Italian made western THE BOUNTY HUNTERS (INDIO BLACK/ADIOS SABATA) for example, this fantastically fun spaghetti score has long been a favourite of mine and many others, Bruno Nicolai penning a Morricone style soundtrack for the Yul Brynner gimmicky and quirky western tale. Brynner taking on the central role of Sabata and making it his own and a portrayal of an already established character that had originally hit the screens in the form of Lee Van Cleef, the score by Nicolai is I suppose and I hope that you will agree with me on this one Text book Italian western, the score was never released on vinyl, its first full release was on compact disc when Hillside/GDM records released it, at the same time the label also issued the SABATA and THE RETURN OF SABATA  soundtracks on another compact disc, since then the scores have all been re-issued some with extra tracks by other labels. Which has been the norm with Italian scores of all genres, we get what we think is the complete soundtrack released but then we get some months later an expanded version, and after this a definitive edition, and now we are getting vinyl releases of the same scores all over again.

So is this record companies just making collectors shell out again and again or are these really worth having, the latter I fear is not the answer in my opinion, but I suppose that if the record companies re-issue material again and again and the collectors buy them well it’s the collectors choice isn’t it.

I have always prescribed to the saying LESS IS MORE and I for one am happy with soundtracks that I have and have never seen the need to go out and get a copy of a score I already have because a label has re-issued it with two minutes of extra music or a suite or karaoke version of a track on it,  to be honest these karaoke versions or suites are a con, most of them being put together at the labels mastering stage by engineers or producers and none of them being used in the original soundtrack or having anything to do with the composer of the score.

However, I am pleased to see scores such as THE BOUNTY HUNTERS on vinyl, (Dagored records) in orange as well as being a two LP set. SABATA was of course originally issued on LP record at first on the Japanese UA label then later came an American release. It’s great to hold a new album again, there is just something about the feeling and the excitement of placing the record on the deck and lowering the stylus onto it. Maybe more will see the light of day very soon, although saying this the renewed interest in vinyl is surging forward and outstripping the sale of cd’s and downloads in recent months. Maybe its something to do with lockdown, because people need feel good things and vinyl is certainly that. It would be great if record companies did re-issue a lot of spaghetti westerns onto LP record, as long as they use the original art work that is, the Italian western soundtrack was renowned for its stunning art work, and I would be made up to see it all again in sealed releases.

So, to a few more recent titles, UNSEEN is an accomplished and strangely attractive score composed by Eloi Ragot. It is dark and chilling in places and has to it a fearsome and somewhat uneasy style that establishes an even more unsettling mood at times.  But there are a number of different atmospheres and musical colours and textures contained within the soundtrack, these range from the dark and unsure to the more romantic and even the melancholy and reassuring. The composer utilising piano, strings and cello in key points to purvey a sound that is either sad or hopeful. It is an enjoyable soundtrack, and one that is both varied and haunting.

 UNEARTH by Jane Saunders is too an interesting release, I would not say interesting for melodic reasons, but for the use of atmospherics and for also creating textured moods and for the fashioning of musical passages that are thickly compelling in a macabre kind of way, the score seems to convey to the listener a tormented persona, but also has to it in certain areas a subtle and even attractive sound. Both UNSEEN and UNEARTH are available on digital platforms.   

Other titles that are worth a listen include, GATHER by Michael A Levine, DEMONS SOULS (VG) by Shunsuke Kida, OUTBACK by Justin Bell, Mark Mothersbaugh’s quite epic but quirky sounding THE CROODS A NEW AGE proving that he is such an underatted composer once again, LA CINTA DE ALEX by Antonio Escobar and Martin Phipps’s excellent score for THE CROWN -SEASON FOUR. See you next time in soundtrack supplement thirty.

SOUNDTRACKS ON VINYL.

Two vinyl releases this week from ALL SCORE in Germany, the first has already been issued on a digital format VEGA 5 AVVENTURE NEL COSMO is the work of Mondo Sangue, and is a release that I reviewed n soundtrack supplement twenty one, it’s a worthy sequel to their other albums NO PLACE FOR A MAN and L’ISOLA DEI DANNATI both of which were released by ALL SCORE. The albums are in fact not soundtracks to movies, but scores for imagined films, its an interesting concept and one that has thus far yielded so much great music. The latest is in my opinion a tribute to composers Peter Thomas and to a degree Ennio Morricone, the styles, as the sounds employed within the work evokes both of these artists musical fingerprints. The vinyl release is available now from All Score, and the numbers are limited so hurry.

The second release from the German label is a Peter Thomas soundtrack, performed by the Peter Thomas Sound Orchester, THE BIG BOSS of course was released on CD a while ago and it has since been available on digital platforms, this I am certain is the first time that it has been available on LP record, and it is presented as the original motion picture soundtrack (revisited). The twenty-track album is impressively presented with some eye-catching cover art. Certainly worth having both of these gems in your collection. The style employed and the sound achieved by Thomas is uplifting and entertaining, the composer utilising a big band style and lacing it and fusing this with pop orientated compositions that also have to them a jazz flavour. Well worth adding to your collection.

Click below for details.  

All Score Media

Also coming very soon is a vinyl release of BACK TO THE FUTURE sadly not the score, but the original album tracks from the MCA LP that was issued at the time of the movie’s release some 35 years ago, and containing Alan Silvestri’s now iconic sounding central theme. The soundtrack was also later released CD by MCA. Mondo will release the album on November 28th. The artwork for the release is stunning and has been created by Poster Artist Drew Struzan. The release also boasts never before seen artwork that was created for the movie but never used.  The recording has been re-mastered for this edition and is pressed on 180-gram coloured vinyl.  Click here to find out price availability and shipping rates.

Various Artists – Music From The Motion Picture LP Back To The Future – Horizons Music

WENDY.

This year has shall we say not been the best has it, although saying that there have been a number of great soundtracks released, and composers who I had not heard of before the Covid 19 pandemic have certainly come into their own and produced some wonderful scores for both film and TV. Sadly some of the films that have been scored are still to be released because of the current restrictions, but luckily a number of the scores  have made it to either CD, LP or digital sites. A movie that premiered in January at the Sundance Film Festival and was released later in February is WENDY, it is as you might have guessed a unique and quite dark take on the story of Peter Pan, but I wont spoil it because hopefully you will want to check it out on the big screen when we can again, which I hope wont be that long. The inventive and alluring score is the work of composers Dan Romer and Benh Zeitlin, (Zeitlin is the director of the movie) yes you have heard the name Dan Romer before, he was supposed to score the new James Bond movie but was replaced by Hans Zimmer, in my opinion a mistake, but what do I know, I think Romer would have brought something new, vibrant and fresh to the franchise, but like I say what do I know and who am I ?

The score for WENDY contains all the freshness and vibrancy that I thought the composer would add to 007, there is an originality and also an inventive and mesmerising vibe to this work, at times the music is simple and just washes over the listener but on other occasions it becomes quite complex and involved, but it still works and still remains interesting and leaving the listener craving more. The story of WENDY is as I say a take on Peter Pan but not like we know the character, there are a number of dark and unsettling moments, but the movie will I hope be well received if it is released in theatres, if not then we must look out for the blu-ray or DVD in stores.

Zeitlin.

I listened to the score on Spotify, it is licenced by Sony so I would think there could be a physical CD release, but t the moment it looks like this will not be happening. This is a wonderfully varied score, the composer utilising an array of percussion to create up-beat and rhythmic passages, there are interludes within the score that are melodic and filled with melancholy, but for the majority of its running time I found the music to be more active and action led if that is the correct way to describe it, the composer utilises conventional symphonic instrumentation and fuses this with electronic and synthetic textures to create some beguiling and haunting moments within the score. I found myself returning to the score a few times to fully take in and appreciate this work. The cue NEVER GROW UP I think is again simple but so effective and affecting as it builds and gathers momentum and pace, it has to it a determination and a positivity that just attracts and impresses. This style and atmosphere also manifests itself in WHERE LOST BOYS GO and WANT TO FLY, the latter being a favourite of mine underlined with dramatic and fast paced percussion, brass flourishes and driving edgy strings that maintain a tense and robust mood throughout. The remainder of the score too is impressive and it is a triumph of a soundtrack that I recommend you check out a.s.a.p. Its one of the surprises of 2020 and a pleasant one for a change. Go listen.

SOUNDTRACK SUPPLEMENT TWENTY EIGHT.

Welcome to another soundtrack supplement, I trust everyone is well and listening to film music. In this latest edition of soundtrack supplement, I am including a handful of scores that I think are worthy of a mention but are maybe a little bit thin on the ground and also maybe you might have overlooked. Also I will be including a section on Bruno Nicolai, and the availability of some of his scores that were originally released on the EDI PAN label in Italy from the late 1960’s through to the 1980’s. But we start with the more recent additions to the soundtrack arena.

AMMONITE is set in the England of the 1840’s, it focuses upon a fossil hunter Mary Anning who is portrayed convincingly by Kate Winslet. Her character is something of a recluse and works alone on the south coast of England, she had found recognition and fame of a sort years before via her many discoveries, but that is now all in her past. To make a living she searches for more common fossils to sell to tourists so she can live and also to make provision for her Mother who is ill. When a wealthy tourist asks Mary to look after his wife Charlotte played by Saoirse Ronan, the fossil hunter cannot afford to turn him down. But although their relationship is at first a little stormy, the two women are slowly drawn to each other and their friendship blossoms, leading both of them to decide what is the true depth and nature of their relationship. The subtle and haunting musical score is the work of Dustin Halloran and Volker Bertelmann, this winning composing duo have produced so many scores for TV and film over the past few years, all of which have been affecting as well as entertaining. AMMONITE is certainly no exception, the score containing understated yet beautifully powerful pieces, with the composers combining piano with slight and underlining strings, that purvey a sense of fragility throughout the work. The opening track FOSSILS is a wonderfully delicate and calming opening to the score. Solo piano that is at times laced with touching strings. The remainder of the score too has to it a calming and melodic air, the music being gracious and eloquent. The use of cello is so effective and adds to the work melancholy and emotive levels. Recommended. To Television next and Dominik Scherrer’s quirky and jaunty music for the series of MiISS MARPLE, I don’t know about you but as soon as I hear Miss Marple I instantly think of Ron Goodwin? This score however is not Ron Goodwin in any way style or form, in fact this is a polished and shall we say highly melodious score, whereas Goodwin’s Marple scores were somewhat comedic and upbeat in places. Scherrer has created a beautifully thematic work, with lilting interludes that ooze sophistication.  This is just a selection of the music from the series, but it is an entertaining representation of the composer’s music for the series.  Again, recommended.  

COME AWAY is I suppose a film that can be described as a fairy tale mash up, or even Peter Pan meets Alice in Wonderland. So, with that in mind and with composer John Debney on board it is a given that this is an enchanting movie and one that has a beautiful and magical sounding soundtrack. If I say that I love this score, I know you will realise just how magical and mystical this music is, it is filled with so many emotions and evokes for me the music of the late James Horner in places with Casper being uppermost in my mind, this enchantingly wonderous score transports the listener too far off lands, such as Neverland and Wonderland plus to places that one could only imagine to exist. Debney provides the movie with a poignant and moving soundtrack, romantic, sweeping and delicate are the words best used to describe this unrelenting work that is emotive, beguiling and affecting. The score is fully symphonic, and the composer employs choir and solo voice on occasion which fashion mesmerising atmospheres and create transfixing musical moods throughout.  

Debney has been busy of late and provided a vibrant soundtrack for the Netflix show, JINGLE JANGLE at this time there is only a near four minute suite of the music he penned on the soundtrack release which contains mainly vocals from the show by the likes of Ricky Martin, Forest Whitaker, and Usher. But hopefully there might be a score album on the horizon, because Debney is certainly back on form.  

THE LIFE AHEAD or to give it the original Italian title LA VITA DAVANTI, is an emotive movie, that brings Sophia Loren back to the screen, the movie which is scored by Gabriel Yared, is stunning to look at, the photography creating a warm and glowing aura for much of the films duration. Loren is as always stunning to look at and in this a challenging role where she portrays the character, Madame Rosa. Directed by Edoardo Ponti, yes that’s right Ponti, Sophia’s son. The musical score is a perfectly gracious and poignant accompaniment to this highly emotional tale,  its not all about poignancy and subtle thematic properties however, there are a handful of up beat more contemporary hip hop infused tracks scattered throughout, but it is the romantic and touching musical poems that impress and attract. Yared, is such an underatted composer, but on this occasion I think maybe he will get the notice and credit that he so richly deserves, his score is supportive but never invades the story line or overshadows the action on screen, recommended. Game soundtracks seem to domineer the releases market of late, which is not a bad thing because it means that orchestral/instrumental scores are reaching a younger generation.

There have been a few recent examples that stand out, CALL OF DUTY, BLACK OPS-COLD WAR by Jack Wall being one of these. This is powerful stuff, which includes choral work, driving strings and brass flourishes, with relentless percussive accompaniment. It’s definitely an action-packed work and listening to the score made me want to check out the game until I realised, I did not have anything to play it on. It’s a score that has many stylistic attributes, ther are for the majority of its running time the action laced pieces which drive onwards and upwards, but there are also a few and I say a few, quieter moments, and occasionally pop sounding cues, that weave in and out of the proceedings, but even these seem to contain a modicum of action led material. GODFALL is another game score that is overflowing with a commanding musical persona, proud and strident, this is certainly one to add to the collection, music is courtesy of composer, Ben MacDougall. Again, it is filled to the brim with rich and powerful thematic material, maybe this is the way things are going in film music, because these game scores are probably at times more vibrant and entertaining than some feature film scores that are doing the rounds these days.

Well if the music is good, I will buy it, that is all I am going to say. And this is good, go check it out on digital platforms. Staying with game scores,  MARVELS SPIDER MAN:MILES MORALES has a score written by composer  John Paesano and once again it’s a yes from MMI for this video game score, it is a robust and totally consuming action score, it is a fusion of both symphonic and synthetic, choral interludes and proud anthem like themes which remain with the listener long after the score has stopped playing.

Another one you should own, no doubt about it. Other game scores of note include the dark and pulsating PRODEUS by Andrew Hulshult, and the interesting and up beat and driving music for XIII by Lionel Gaget which sounds more like the music from a 1970’s cop thriller or blaxploitation movie, think STILETTO meets SHAFT.

With the popularity of vinyl growing it seems week by week, and collectors of all genres of music returning to the beloved LP format, I had a conversation with a friend and he recounted the LPS that composer Bruno Nicolai released on the EDI PAN label back in the 1970’s, most of these were of course soundtrack related, but others did focus upon non film music projects that the composer hade either written or had acted as conductor upon. The friend then sent me pictures of the cover art for a handful of these, and the memories literally came flooding back.

The label was to say the least an interesting one, its catalogue boasting so many diverse titles, from feature films, documentaries and also studio albums that the composer had compiled for release. In those days I don’t think soundtrack collectors really cared if it was a soundtrack or not and at times this was not made that clear by the label, but it was music by Nicolai that they had not got and that was good enough for them. I have to say at the time of the release of many of these albums, I did not buy  them and it has always been something I regrated, as I later became a great admirer of the work of Nicolai. However, a few were issued onto compact disc, but these titles were merely a drop in the ocean compared with the titles that remained in the EDI PAN catalogue, and some even today have not seen the light of day either on CD or digitally.

One score that I was always attracted to was L’ARMA MERAVIGLIOSA (THE WONDERFUL WEAPON) which was released in 1978.  I am informed that this is a documentary or docu-drama. but do not set that in stone as I am still not certain. The soundtrack was issued on a double LP set on the EDI PAN label but distributed by Gemellil, it had a gatefold cover, with some really strange art work on the front cover, all I know is the music was outstanding and it is a surprise to me and other Nicolai fans that this has never been re-issued onto vinyl or CD many stalwart collectors having to be contented with a LP transfer CDR. It is a score that oozes the classy and charismatic style of the composer, with a plethora of thematic pieces that range from ancient sounding compositions, baroque, up tempo almost lounge sounding material to traditional Italian vocal performances.

 I remember getting this at the same time as L’ALPIN I’E SEMPRE QUEL also distributed by Gemelli. GERMINUS was a soundtrack that Gemelli also distributed for Nicolai’s label and this was issued back in 1969, but thankfully this has seen the light of day on compact disc.

There seem to be so many EDI PAN albums that are just crying out for a re-issue and I am sure that fans of all Italian film music would be willing to part with their hard earned cash to add them to their soundtrack collection. There are a few in the pipeline we are told, but when these will surface is still not yet confirmed. Let us hope that Nicolai finally gets the recognition that he so richly deserves, and with new companies such as FOUR FLIES, and already established labels such as ALL SCORE, KRONOS, BEAT, and their like we will eventually get to listen to the works of this sadly underatted and greatly ignored Maestro.

It beggars the question why are some scores released and others left to gather dust in the vaults of record labels, I suppose it is all down to finances in the end, will the score sell? Will it be of interest to a wider audience and not just fans of a particular composer? 

This I suppose has to be taken into account, and the record companies who are considering the release have to really focus upon, I have always said why don’t the record companies ask the fans? Its logical surely, (don’t call me Shirley) sorry could not resist. Put it out there on the dreaded social media (include a list of titles) what one or two would you say are of interest, simple really isn’t it? Gather the feedback and issue the one with the most interest. Press 300 or 500 items and see what happens, then move to the next one and etc etc. But I digress, what I am saying is there are so many great scores that remain unreleased from Italian productions and I am sure this can also be said for other countries, so instead of re-issuing soundtracks for the third, fourth or even fifth time, do something that has languished in the crypt of forgotten soundtracks for an age, bring it back to life, and share it with the world. Italian label Contempo issued LA STRAGE DEI VAMPIRI by composer Aldo Piga in 2015 which was a popular release, Why? Well because it is not only an excellent score, but it had never and I mean never been issued before,

Contempo also re-issued the Neil Richardson conducted MUSIC FOR DRACULA in 2016, with music by composer James Bernard, in a 2 LP set, which Silva screen had originally released on LP in 1989 and presented it in a gatefold luxury edition, before committing it to various CD incarnations which after a while became kind of “OH ITS THAT AGAIN”.

Both re-issues are long deleted, so we live in hope for a re-pressing or maybe a CD release in the future, especially of the Piga masterpiece.

Back to CD releases and some that you could have missed if you blinked a few years back and more recently. AN AMERICAN TAIL and THE LAND BEFORE TIME by the much-missed Maestro James Horner have both been given expanded editions and both scores are superb. Horner excelled in every genre but with these two animated features he certainly managed to create an abundance of beautiful music, heart warming and dramatic these scores are wonderful examples of this gifted mans talent. AN AMERICAN TAIL for me has the edge, why I do not know? But, I just warm to this score each time I hear it, maybe it has something to do with watching it with my daughter when she was nine I guess, and especially at this time of the year leading up to Christmas. The score is hauntingly beautiful the songs entertaining and also funny and emotional. SOMEWHERE OUT THERE in my mind being more affecting than the TITANIC title song, outstripping it  both emotionally and musically.

 I remember playing the song one night at a function where I was dj’ing the people loved it, not a dry eye at the end. His score for this Don Bluth classic animated feature, is too classic Horner, with its sweeping themes and its haunting melodies. Even if you have the original LP or CD please go check this out.

THE LAND BEFORE TIME is written  in much the same way as AN AMERICAN TAIL, it again is classic Horner, the composer combining comedic with romantic and dramatic, fusing intimate themes with urgent and highly powerful pieces, plus it contains another great title song IF WE HOLD ON TOGETHER performed by Motown Queen Diana Ross. Also, with these two scores more than any others I feel that the composer was successful in establishing his distinct and distinguished sound.

All we need now is an expanded WILLOW. Back to the 1970’s for the next soundtrack and French composer who has written literally of film and TV scores,

Vladimir Cosma, is possibly one of the busiest film music composers in Europe or at least he was. He has released the majority of his scores and also has had numerous compilations of his music issued on CD and now digitally on sites such as Spotify and I tunes. L’AFFAIRE CRAZY CAPO  was released in 1973, directed by Patrick Jamain it featured the acting talents of Maurice Ronet, Jean Frere Marielle and Jean Servais, and is a Mafia type cop thriller, the music is hard hitting and also up beat with the composer utilising dark sounding piano and strings laced with brass and percussion to fashion a hard hitting soundtrack that takes its lead from the likes of Nicolai, Ferrio and Cipriani. Possibly one of Cosma’s most dramatic and effective soundtracks, it was issued onto CD by CAM records in 1992 as part of their now famous Soundtrack Encyclopaedia.

To 1976 for the next soundtrack, Lipstick is an American rape and revenge thriller movie, directed by Lamont johnson and starring Margaux  Hemingway, Chris Sarandon , and Anne Bancroft. Mariel Hemingway also has a supporting role as Margaux‘s onscreen sister. The score was by French pop artist composer performer, Michel Polnareff, with the title track being released on a single in 1976 and charting in France, USA and the UK, and becoming a massive disco hit. The theme is very much disco orientated, but the remainder of the score is symphonic, the composer utilising solo piano and woods that are underlined by strings and given further depth by the utilisation of sol cello. The album which was issued on Atlantic records on CD as well as originally on LP is divided into four sections, with two lengthy cues and also two shorter tracks one of which is the central theme.

The composer does turn to electronic instrumentation in track number three THE RAPIST, which is a rather tormenting and annoying piece, that spills over into track number four which is entitled, BALLET, both of these I thought had shades of Giallo soundtracks that were popular in Italy at the same time. THE LIPSTICK MONTAGE however is a wonderfully lyrical cue that has a running time of around thirteen minutes, the lilting and haunting performances do alter mid-way through and the composer introduces a more up beat style, turning to a dramatic style that is performed by a combination of conventional and electronic mediums and again manifests a sound that is not dissimilar to that of a handful of Italian composers from the same era. If you missed this one check it out on digital platforms, certainly worth a listen, also another Polnareff to look out for is LA FOLLIE DES GRANDUER, which is a great work, and has a Spaghetti western style theme to open it, plus a beautiful love theme. The film, which was directed by Gerard Oury starred Yves Montand, the soundtrack was issued by Universal France as part of the LISTEN TO THE CINEMA SERIES.  

The most recent work from Michael Giacchino LET HIM GO, is worth a listen, if that is you can stand the track titles, like his other scores Giacchino names the tracks with a tongue in cheek title, this time they are particularly cringe worthy, but its lucky the music is good.  This nothing like the bombastic or big sweeping Giacchino that we know and love, this is an intelligent and mature work, filled with poignant melodies and emotive musical interludes, it is a delicate and intimate sounding score, that relies upon guitar and strings, which underline and support the solo guitar performances with a subtle and sensitive air, As I say worth a listen.