FEUD-BETTE AND JOAN is set to be shown on the BBC in the UK very soon, it charts the relationship between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford as they embark on a film project together for the first time, both hoping that their roles in WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE will maybe somehow rescue their declining careers. The music for this FX television series is by Mac Quayle, who has fashioned a score that is as varied and maybe also as unpredictable as the two Hollywood actress, s, Davis and Crawford. I must state that this is soundtrack that I was immediately taken by, in fact I think I listened to it three times through when I first acquired it. The composer has created a score that is wonderfully appealing and extremely well crafted and orchestrated, it has to it a sound that can be likened to the bygone days of Hollywood, with rich and luxurious sounding passages that are filled with romanticism, with sweeping strings and unashamedly opulent sounding cues that delight and haunt the listener. It is a score that is filled with melody, and various musical styles that seem to fit together with ease, even though they are all very different. Alongside the more serious or dramatic set pieces there are a number of jazz influenced cues, many of which are up-tempo and have to them a sound that is straight out of the 1960,s, I was at some points within the score reminded of the style of John Barry when he employed those somewhat jazz orientated cues that also had within them a melodious and tantalisingly haunting central or core theme, the background being performed by percussion, bass and piano, whilst the main thematic property of the cue was carried by the string section, fusing a contemporary musical foundation with a more pronounced and romantic signature. There are also big band sounds and styles present within the score, the composer employing a lazy muted trumpet solo that plays over brushed percussion and laid-back brass support. This is probably more pronounced or obvious in track number 14, A DAY AT THE BEACH, which is easy going and simple but effecting and affective. There are also a handful of very poignant and emotive moments within the work as in THIS AWFUL SILENCE, which is a piece for a mesmerizingly beautiful and delicate sounding violin solo, which after just seconds is underlined or mirrored by cello, these two heart-rending performances are then joined by harp which punctuates the proceedings adding a sense of fragility and at the same time purveying traces of apprehension to the composition.
The Harp is then given centre stage taking on the solo performance role for just a few seconds before we are treated to an understated but rich performance from the string section, which is filled with melancholy and warmth, again I was reminded of the work of John Barry, but the composer I think very respectively also pays homage to the composing styles of Herrmann, Raksin and to a degree Waxman within the score, without ever going over the top or fully utilising anything that one would recognise. This is a soundtrack that you SHOULD seek out, savour it and appreciate its fine qualities, then add it to your collection, as soon as you can. FEUD-BETTE AND JOAN is a classy and alluring soundtrack, that hooks you right from the main titles and keeps you in tow through to its epilogue, I know you as I did will finish listening and then press that play button again, to repeat the experience. I don’t just like this score, I love it.