Tag Archives: La La Land Records


The most terrifying thing about THE SWARM is that it is based on Fact: It exists. Fact: It has awesome destructive power. Fact: We don’t know how to stop it.




THE SWARM was released in 1978, it was not exactly one of the best movies released in the decade of the 1970’s but it was fairly entertaining. There were a lot of disaster movies released in the latter part of the 1970’s EARTHQUAKE, THE CASSANDRA CROSSING and THE TOWERING INFERNO etc among them. THE SWARM, like THE CASSANDRA CROSSING, combined the elements of a disaster movie with that of the horror genre but at times I felt it descended into a rather farcical piece of cinema that was hard to take seriously, it was an Irwin Allen production which he also directed. The screenplay by Sterling Silliphant and was based upon the novel of the same name written by Arthur Herzog. The movie was criticised heavily at the time of its release and was a significant failure at the box office for the Warner Brothers studios. Despite having an all star cast that included Henry Fonda, Michael Caine, Richard Widmark, Bradford Dillman, Fred McMurray,  Katherine Ross, Ben Johnson, Lee Grant, Jose Ferrer, Richard Chamberlain and Olivia De Haviland, it still failed to stir up any real enthusiasm amongst cinema going audiences. It did however receive an Oscar nomination for best costume design.



The musical score was by Hollywood movie music giant Jerry Goldsmith. The composer was already well versed in the ways of scoring action thrillers and provided a score that many said was better than the movie it was written for. On listening to the score one will identify straight away the typical Goldsmith approach and style, with at times grandiose and action packed compositions being purveyed via the brass section and accompanied by urgent strings that themselves are supported and embellished by the use of pounding percussive elements, thus creating a tense and powerful sound. Goldsmith employed horns and other brass instrumentation and combined them with dramatic sounding strings to create the sound of the humming bees which was particularly effective in the scenes where we see the swarm descend onto towns and other places where people are. There are also softer moments within the score and the track A GIFT OF FLOWERS evokes past Goldsmith compositions such as A PATCH OF BLUE and the track THE PIPER DREAMS from the OMEN. Originally issued onto an LP and cassette tape which was released on the Warner Brothers label, this however has been long out of print, a re-mastered and expanded version of the soundtrack was issued by Prometheus records on compact disc for the first time in 2002 which contained over 40 minutes of extra music. Now we in 2020 thanks to LA LA LAND records are finally able to listen to the complete score, the recording which also contains several alternate takes and the cues from the LP as well as the actual film score is a complete picture of Goldsmith’s powerful work.

jerry goldsmith Oscar 1980
Even listening to this today one can hear the excellence of Goldsmith’s score and hear within it that unmistakable stamp of musical inventiveness and the presence of quality that the composer placed upon each and one of his projects, good or bad. The sound achieved by the composer is a distinct one and even if you are not a devotee of Mr Goldsmith it is a style that is instantly recognisable, and has manifested itself in earlier works such as THE OMEN, RANSOM and THE SAND PEBBLES and again would be displayed in later scores such as U.S. MARSHALLS and SMALL SOLDIERS etc. Disc one of the release contains the film score of which there are thirty cues, disc two containing the album tracks and additional cues. The release comes with a full colour booklet with notes by Jeff Bond. A not to be missed release.





I must say I am not a huge fan of TRANSFORMERS the movies although I also should state that they are not as annoying or pathetic as other sci fi movies or superhero yarns that have been doing the rounds in recent years. The attraction for me to TRANSFORMERS is the high octane vibrant and pulsating musical scores and sound designs created by the talented music-smith Steve Jablonsky. The composer is with consummate ease able to fuse the fully symphonic sounds of the orchestra with the synthetic and electronic, on each occasion creating something that is not only wonderfully in tune with the action unfolding on screen but is also able to stand alone away from the images it was intended to enhance and punctuate. A couple of fellow collectors have said to me we can’t understand why you don’t like Zimmer but are ok with a composer such as Jablonsky, well I am not sure really, all I know is that Jablonsky’s music does seem to stir something inside me, maybe it is more melodic or more developed or maybe just more appealing to my own personal tastes, or even maybe it is the way in which he employs his music to the movies he has worked on. For this latest episode of the TRANSFORMERS series of movies THE LAST KNIGHT, the composer has written some beautifully emotive and poignant pieces that are filled with melancholy and have about them an atmosphere and mood that is of the romantic. I also noticed that this score is somewhat less action led in the music department, yes ok, there are the fair share of knock em down and drag em out set pieces but there are also several cues that are subdued or low key, these contain almost lilting themes which are performed by an array of instrumentation, Cello Violin and strings accompanied by choral performances. This is a brooding soundtrack that is not unlike the veritable coiled spring which is waiting to open or jump out at the listener, sometimes a low-key track or a cue that one thinks to be a less energetic piece ends up being a builder that peaks with a blast of thundering percussive elements or a rasping collection of brass or even a wall of electronic sounds. It is a well-structured work rich in strong themes and powerful and pulsating action passages that will I know have you on the edge of your seat both in the cinema and at home when listening to the score. It would I think be wrong to compare Jablonsky to any other composer, but if I was asked to describe his style I think I would probably say it is a fusion of Tyler and Debney, it is rhythmic and on occasion upbeat and commanding but it also has real heart and soul to it which certainly adds greater depth and atmosphere to every project he works upon. This is worth a listen, Check out TRANSFORMERS THE LAST KNIGHT asap.


Available now on LA LA LAND RECORDS.
1. Sacrifice 6:46
2. The Coming of Cybertron 4:58
3. Merlin’s Staff 5:49
4. No-Go Zone 3:28
5. Stay and Fight 6:26
6. Code Red 2:12
7. Izzy 4:00
8. Purity of Heart 3:34
9. Megatron Negotiation 3:37
10. Today We Hunt 1:46
11. Running out of Tomorrows 1:20
12. Drone Chase 5:07
13. You Have Been Chosen 2:17
14. Seglass Ni Tonday 6:27
15. Quintessa 6:36
16. Vivian 3:52
17. Abduction 3:04
18. History of Transformers 4:23
19. Cogman Sings 2:09
20. Vivian Follows Merlin 6:41
21. The Greatest Mission of All 2:19
22. Dive 3:15
23. Two Moons 2:03
24. Merlin’s Tomb 3:18
25. Claim the Staff 3:36
26. Prime Versus Bee 2:45
27. Your Voice 4:34
28. I Had My Moment 2:29
29. Ospreys 1:49
30. Battlefield 3:43
31. Did You Forget Who I Am 1:56
32. We Have to Go 5:48
33. Calling All Autobots 2:55
34. Sir Edmund Burton



Tim Burton and Danny Elfman is a pairing of talents that is made in heaven or at least made in a parallel world which is filled with odd and unhinged dark things that delight and fright all at the same time. So, I was a little surprised when Tim Burton’s most recent cinematic project came to the screen minus the ample talents of Mr Elfman. The film which is positively dark and suitably weird would have probably benefitted greatly from the magical musical touch of Elman, but do not fret or fear Burton’s latest imagining for the silver screen is in safe hands with composers Mike Higham and Matthew Margeson. This talented composing duo have created a succulent and inviting work that not only enhances the off kilter goings on at MISS PEREGRINES HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, but elevates and underlines the occurrences and the somewhat shadowy and unpredictable storyline superbly. To be fair some of the musical passages are not dissimilar to the style of Danny Elman with their cheeky and impish nuances being put to excellent and effective use by the composers. Maybe the score is not as mad cap or even as manic as some of Elfman’s work for Burton, but it is still highly effective and innovative, punctuating and supporting the warped and strange world that is being brought to life on screen. This is a score that is filled with themes that are at times low key and even calming, but these are also themes that has something of a dual personality and can turn from sweet and lullaby like motifs into darkly rich threatening and powerful pieces that infuse a sense of danger and create an atmosphere that is thick with apprehension and unease. To say that this is an accomplished work is simply not enough, this is a score that is masterful and powerful and one that establishes itself almost immediately, the composers creating a work that is sublimely virulent yet melodic and soothing at the same time. I love the way in which they utilise strings, low woods and choral support which is I suppose ironically “ELFMAN-ISH”. The use of a ticking clock in several of the cues attract one’s attention with the composition on each occasion rising from the simple tick tick sound, at times transforming into subdued or haunting tone poems but more often than not turning into themes which are sinister or unsettling, that either build gradually into taught and thunderous crescendo’s or move swiftly from 0 to 60 towards a full on and spellbinding no holds barred onslaught of symphonic and synthetic magnificence. The music is haunting as in unforgettable and it is also a score that you will want to return to as soon as you have finished listening to it. Accomplished, fantastical and Herrmann-esque in places, with guttural low woods and jagged brass lines and stabs being woven through sinewy, swirling, driving or urgent sounding string passages with at times organ making an entrance to fashion riveting, terrifying and icy sounding musical moments. It’s a delight, and a pleasure to encounter, savour and experience. One for your collection, a must have item. Available on La La Land records. Highly recommended.



Animated feature films or indeed animated series for television always seem to be popular, maybe its because we all know that what is happening on screen is a little more far fetch and impossible than real life or indeed any of the live action movies etc. Our superheroes or crusaders for law, order and at times the American way are many but not as many it seems as the villains and unsavoury characters that said superheroes do battle with. SUPERMAN is of course the main character we all associate with the super hero genre, then we have SPIDERMAN, BATMAN, CAPTAIN AMERICAN etc etc the list is endless. Its probably true to say that the antics and adventures of these super beings transfers well and comes over as more exciting and outlandish in animated films, simply because these super characters are able to do more when presented as an animated character. This is just a theory and personal opinion. Music in these animated features too plays a big part and helps to create and establish atmospheres and moods giving storylines a greater impact. Many composers have underlined, supported and given our superheroes a musical helping hand over the years, but I have to say that with the emergence of BATMAN all’a Tim Burton and Danny Elfman’s dark yet impish and playful take on the soundtrack things did seem to step up a gear or two. Elfman’s brooding but at the same time richly dark and anthem like theme for the caped crusader is one now that has become synonymous with the franchise and in later movies when Elfman was not involved the images seemed to be lacking that dark and offbeat support, not that I am saying Zimmer, Newton Howard et al did not do a great job because as time moves on so do requirements of movies and everything else, but there just seemed to be something of a void there musically speaking. Back to the animated features and subsequent TV spin off’s and again producers turned to Danny Elfman to enhance the BATMAN character but only within the central theme department as many of the scores were penned by the brilliantly talented Shirley Walker who worked with Elfman on many occasions. I am no expert in the area of music for animation in fact it’s a case of listening to what I like and that’s the end of it, numerous composers were called in to work their musical magic on BATMAN the animated series for Warners/DC comics , some familiar others still remaining obscure and unfamiliar even after their BATMAN scoring experience. Todd Hayen, Carlos Rodriguez, Mark Koval, James Stemple and many others made invaluable contributions to the BATMAN animated series for TV and although they may not be familiar names in film music collecting circles its certainly worth checking out their wares.

images (30)

So lets concentrate firstly on BATMAN THE ANIMATED SERIES volume three as released by La la land records.

This four disc set is in one word impressive or to use two Impressive and powerful. It contains music from around twenty three episodes or at least selections from these episodes, the opening is courtesy of Danny Elfman with his now familiar BATMAN theme strains and flourishes setting the scene deliciously and darkly for the remainder of the four discs. Track two through to seven are taken from ROBINS RECKONING, these first tracks being the work of composer Carlos Rodriguez written for part one of the story and tracks eight through to fifteen are the work of composer Peter Tomashek for part two of the same tale. The first six cues in my opinion are in many ways similar to the sound that was achieved by Elman on the original movies ie BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS, there is a certain sense of the operatic at times within the work but at the same time Rodriguez maintains a certain amount of the dark and quirky persona that Elfman created, this I think is mainly down to the orchestration, strings and brass playing a major part in the make up of the score, with not only drama but hints of the romantic being included along the way. Sections nine through to fifteen are somewhat different in their sound and overall style although saying this composer Peter Tomashek does retain that air of mystery throughout that is tinged with urgency and underlined with driving strings that are supported by booming percussive elements and at times rasps from the brass section that seem to sneer and push their way into the proceedings, his approach however is removed slightly from both Rodriguez’s approach and Elfman’s original take with the composer producing an inventive and original work that although dark at times does towards the end of the score transform into a more heroic or courageous sounding work which for me any way works a treat.

hqdefault (1)

Track number sixteen is billed as a bonus track from ROBIN’S RECKONING, and is composed by Carlos Rodriguez, it has a kind of circus style to it but in a macabre and somewhat unsettling way. Tracks seventeen to twenty three are the handiwork of the brilliantly talented Shirley Walker, taken from P.O.V. or POINT OF VIEW and is one of the composers earliest contributions to the series, which is reflected in her score as she refers to the original Elfman theme during some of the action sequences, a trait that seemed to become less and less as the series progressed.

images (32)

This is a powerful score from Walker, and one that contains so many of her own themes it literally oozes charisma and brilliance which is why she is considered still to be the foremost composer when it comes to the BATMAN animated series, P.O.V. is in my opinion a return to a more traditional way of scoring, bold themes, a march, numerous motifs and highly exhilarating action cues with driving strings and tense sounding brass stabs that certainly get the adrenaline going. Above all Walker’s music entertains away from the images as well as working with them. There are another seven sections on this four disc set credited to Shirley Walker and each and everyone of them is a delight and pleasure to listen to. SEE NO EVIL, THE MAN WHO KILLED BATMAN, THE FORGOTTEN,TERROR IN THE SKY among them. To review every section or every scrap of music on this collection would take hours, so based on what I have thus far told you about I would say go and buy this compilation a.s.a.p. You will not regret it, I promise. Over five hours of glorious dark and exciting music that is laced with the romantic and at times the melancholy, presented wonderfully and filled with informative sleeve notes and numerous stills from the series, highly recommended.

images (29)

Right from THE BATMAN we move to SUPERMAN, again from the animated series and again this is a four disc set released by La la land records with a running time of over five hours. Shirley Walker again provides us with some pretty impressive music to accompany the man of steel. Her spirited sounding opening theme also opens the compilation, with a proud and anthem like sound created by flyaway woodwind and timpani acting as a background to somewhat cautious sounding brass flourishes that are them selves supported by driving strings and transform from furtive to full blown, in just over a minute Walker sets the scene perfectly for the adventures of this super superhero. Lolita Ritmanis is first up in the running order of the CD with her music for THE LAST SON OF KRYPTON, this was according to John Takis (who penned the excellent sleeve notes for this compilation and also the BATMAN collection) originally broadcast as a feature length movie, but is divided into three sections, the first part being scored by Ritmanis, who created a quite unrelenting score filled with action cues and a multitude of thematic material, in my opinion her style is not dissimilar to that of the late Elmer Bernstein, especially in the more action orientated passages and even at times within the quieter moments of the work as well.

images (31)

Dark underlying strings laced with brass and percussion erupt into a more sustained onslaught if that is the right way to describe it that although essentially action music somehow remains melodic, Ritmanis at times echoes the Shirley Walker theme or at least fleeting references to it within her score, at times enlisting the aid of synthetic sounds.

Part two of the story is scored by Michael Mc Cuistion with part three being the work of Harvey B. Cohen, Mc Cuistion penned a suitably poignant soundtrack for the coming of age section of the story where we see the young Kal-El taken in by his earth parents after crash landing near their farm in Smallville and then growing into the young Clark Kent, Mc Cuistion’s score is an accomplished one that includes many variations of musical styles and also has within it a particularly rousing SUPERMAN central theme where we see Clark learning to fly. This is an album that is pleasantly surprising, it is grand and epic, filled with action cues but also has its fair share of compositions that ooze melancholy, romance and emotion. Don’t wait any longer, buy it, listen to it, enjoy it….




Its been a decade since Mel Gibson’s controversial but highly popular movie THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST was released. It caused quite a ripple amongst Church goers and also ruffled a few feathers throughout the world but was also acclaimed by as many people for its qualities and its content. One of the striking elements of the movie was its haunting and at times disturbing musical score. Composer John Debney fashioned a soundtrack that is dramatic, romantic and also celestial. Filled with authentic and ethnic sounds and instrumentation, choral passages, both female and male voices driving percussion and at times grotesque and twisted compositions which although are not melodic still have to them a certain attractive quality. The composer also provided the film with a plethora of melodious compositions many of them being delicate and intricate, others being sweeping and lavish. LA LA LAND RECORDS have released this two disc set of the score to mark the movies tenth anniversary, it is after all an iconic score and also a work that was an important milestone in the careers of both director Gibson and composer Debney. Again I have to stress that this is not really a review as you are all probably aware of just how good this music is, its more of a heads up to collectors making them aware that this 2 disc set is available on the LA LA LAND label. This double compact disc contains numerous tracks that have either never been released before or tracks that were released that contain extra material, plus on disc two there are ten bonus cues which include the trailer music and also alternate versions of cues already included on disc one. There are over two hours of music here in fact 2 hours and 12 mins, a groundbreaking score that now receives a groundbreaking and definitive release. Definitely one to add to your collection..