Tag Archives: JOHN SCOTT

THREE OF SCOTT’S FINEST

 

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The artistry and the musical excellence and prowess of composer John Scott never fails to amaze me and although we have not heard a great deal of new material from the Maestro in recent years it is just great at times to go back through one’s collection and pick out a handful of titles and re-visit them. This something I did recently after interviewing record producer Bruce Kimmel, who had released Scott’s entertaining soundtrack to ROCKET TO THE MOON on his KRITZERLAND label and hinted that maybe THE LONG DUEL would also be seeing a compact disc release soon. So, I thought as I am lucky enough to have a good LP transfer of the score on a CDR (which I did myself for personal use only) I would share my thoughts with you on this and a few more of Scott’s soundtracks. But, where to start?
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Ok, WILLIAM THE CONQUERER, is as good as any I suppose seeing as my ancestors arrived in England with the Norman conquest of 1066. WILLIAM THE CONQUERER was the first in a series of historical dramas which went under the collective name of BLOOD ROYAL. The music composed and conducted by John Scott is fully symphonic and contains choral tracks which are in keeping with the period in which the story is set. Directed by Peter Jefferies and produced by Peter Snell it starred Michael Gambon, Anna Calder Marshall and William Rufus. The score was divided into three musical styles, the more traditional dramatic or action film score, choral sections performed by the Gregory Choir of London and music that was akin to music that would have been performed during the times of William the first. It has to it the unmistakable sound and style that we as collectors straight away associate with composer John Scott, surging strings and proud anthem like brass that are underlined by percussion. WILLIAM THE CONQUERER has to it an English sound, by this I mean that it is melodic and often has a pastoral style. The period music or music that is imagined to have been performed at the time when the story is set is also well done and entertaining, the composer obviously carried out research on the period before starting work on the score and he manages to flawlessly fuse and combine all three styles within the score seamlessly. There are some wonderfully themeatic cues within the score and I have to say it is a soundtrack that once you press play the only time you will reach for any of the buttons on the player is to press PLAY so that may experience it all over again. The score is a powerful one and performed by The Berlin Radio Concert Orchestra, with whom Scott worked with on numerous occasions. The soundtrack was released on JOS records in 1990, sadly some copies fell foul to the dreaded CD rot and turned a golden colour with some of the tracks becoming unplayable, but thankfully most were not afflicted by this. This I think is one of Scott’s best soundtracks, there is so much going on within the work, it is highly dramatic, romantic and has a driving and potent core that acts as a musical foundation on which the composer builds an impressive score.  It does seem to be something of a rarity nowadays, so if you do manage to find one grab it A.S.A.P.

 

Next THE LONG DUEL, it is somewhat surprising that this has never made it to compact disc. Originally issued on an ATCO long playing record, THE LONG DUEL is an action-packed movie set on India’s Northwest frontier in the days of The Raj. It focuses upon a rebel leader (Sultan) played by Yul Brynner who is threatening the stability of the region and therefore is pursued by the authorities under the leadership of a Colonial Police Officer (Young) played by British actor, Trevor Howard. Released in 1967 the film was directed by Ken Annakin and starred Charlotte Rampling, Harry Andrews. Edward Fox, Imogen Hassal and Andrew Keir. Composer John Scott provided a suitable action led soundtrack under the name of Patrick John Scott. The composer providing a sweeping and highly melodic opening theme entitled WHEN THE WORLD IS READY which opens the recording, Scott’s signature strings making a romantic and commanding opening statement and setting the scene for what is to follow, Scott included ethnic sounding instrumentation in the form of Sitar and percussion into the fabric of the dramatic score, which also added a certain degree of authenticity to the proceedings. Alongside the Indian sounding musical passages, we also hear music that is more British sounding in the form of dance tracks entitled STRUTTING which has to it a slightly comedic persona. But it is Scott’s wistful and dramatic sounding brass and strings that steal the show as they weave in and out, playing like a cat and mouse game one trying to catch the other, which fits perfectly into the storyline of the movie. One such track is THE TRAIN which is scored with driving strings, brass, woods and martial sounding percussion. THE HANGING BRIDGE INCIDENT is also a powerful piece, again booming percussion and Walton-esque strings combined with shrill woods and sharp sounding brass are the order of the day here. Overall a fine example of the film music of John Scott and one which I hope will be available soon on compact disc.
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From the North west frontier, we move now further East to Japan and to the 17th Century, SHOGUN MAYEDA was released in 1991 with the soundtrack  released on Intrada records. This is typical John Scott and is  a soundtrack filled to brimming with rich and gloriously rich sounding themes, flyaway strings and wistful woods being augmented and driven by strings and brass that is embellished by booming percussion. It was a perfect assignment for the composer as he is passionate about Japanese history and culture and also excels at scoring action and epic movies, so SHOGUN MAYEDA gave him the opportunity to write a score that literally oozes and radiates strong themes and also has to it a fragility and a delicate side. Let us just say this is a soundtrack you should already own, if not why not and if not, what are you waiting for, find it buy it love it. So three scores, three very different movies but all made great by the inspiring and theme laden music of John Scott.

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.

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Composer John Scott has contributed much to world of film music both as a composer of film scores and also in his early days as a performer playing on soundtracks for the likes of John Barry. The composer has scored numerous movies some of which have been high profile releases and success’s at the box office, however I as a collector of soundtracks feel that this great British Maestro still has not received the applause and recognition he so richly deserves, I am not entirely sure why this is but it seems that this talented and versatile music-smith is sadly almost ignored or shall we say is overlooked. His musical triumphs for the big screen include movies such as ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA, ROCKET TO THE MOON, THE FINAL COUNTDOWN, THE DECEIVERS, SHOGUN MAYEDA, WILLIAM THE CONQUERER, THE LONG DUEL, GREYSTOKE, SHOOT TO KILL, MOUNTBATTEN and many more. He also worked with film maker Jacques Cousteau scoring his interesting and colourful films such as AMAZON. One of my favourite scores by the Maestro is the aforementioned ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA.

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Directed by Charlton Heston who also played the part of Mark Anthony with the alluring Hildegard Neal as his Cleopatra. The movie was released in 1972 but it did not fare well at the hands of the critics, in later years however it has been given the acclaim it so rightly should have received upon its release. A soundtrack album was issued on Polydor records with a gatefold cover that sported attractive original art work, the release contained selections from Scott’s beautifully constructed score, but much of the music did not make it onto the recording.

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It would not be released in its entirety for another twenty years and this was thanks to the composer himself making the complete work available on his JOS records label in 1992. It was a long drawn out process and a labour of love for Scott, he approached the publishers of the music and told them of his idea to release the complete score, but his words fell upon near deaf ears the publishers telling the composer that it would be too costly to record. So over the years the composer would record sections of the score at the end of sessions for other recordings, the process began in Berlin or East Berlin as it was then called in 1987,it was at this time that Scott managed to find time to record the OVERTURE from his score, he returned in 1988 and recorded more sections and after a while he managed to finance a session and complete the recording of the soundtrack. The completed recording was then assembled and edited in Los Angeles almost twenty years to the day after the original recording sessions in London.
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The compact disc opens with the near ten minute OVERTURE, which is basically an opener for the film and the score and gives us the feel flavour and style of the work, the cue offering up a glimpse of many of the soundtracks principal thematic material and setting the scene for this monumental and supremely lyrical work in which we are treated to THE LOVE THEME, CLEOPATRA,S THEME plus themes for ANTONY, CAESAR and OCTAVIA as well as the highly dramatic BATTLE MUSIC which accompanies the BATTLE OF ACTIUM during the movie, Scott’s music perfectly accompanying both Caesar’s fleet and Antony’s opposing forces. Track number two is THE MAIN TITLES music for the film, this is in short a soaring and romantic piece that builds slowly with its central theme growing in not only volume but in lushness and splendour. Scott employing woodwind and brass that is supported by percussion and timpani until it reaches its magnificent and lavish crescendo with the string section making the composition their own in a thundering and sumptuous arrangement of LOVE THEME that comes to a powerful and tumultuous end with brass and percussion adding more weight to the string section. The remainder of the score is filled to overflowing with haunting themes, intricate tone poems, luscious romantic interludes and highly dramatic and fearsome action tracks. For me personally this is one of John Scott’s most accomplished works for the cinema.

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Performed flawlessly by THE BERLIN RADIO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND CHOIR under the direction of the composer, this is a score that every discerning film music collector should own. Highlight cues if there are any as all of them are so engrossing, include, THE BARGE SHE SAT IN, SOMETIMES WE SEE A CLOUD THAT’S DRAGONISH, HE GOES FORTH GALLANTLY, BATTLE OF ACTIUM, EPILOGUE-ETERNAL REST. Seek this compact disc out, it is magnificent and glorious.