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LA GRAND PARDON is a hard hitting gangster movie which took its lead from THE GODFATHER, but unfortunately was not as successful as the Marlon Brando Mafia classic. Director Arcady  taking leave from his tales of North Africa and swapping the warmth of the African sun for the  reality and somewhat shady world of the Bettoun clan who are a Jewish Mafia-like family that are running a prostitution ring, selling “protection,” and operating casinos and they do this without much interference from the authorities and live at peace with their Arab counterparts, that is until a young gangster played by Bernard Giraudeau decides to  cause trouble between the two ethnic factions and set them against each other. Jewish cultural and religious events are celebrated by the Jewish gangsters, who promote family traditions, which is in stark contrast to the Police inspector who makes it his mission in life to destroy them all.  Composer Serge Franklin provided the film with an infectious soundtrack, and incorporated into the score a couple of entertaining and upbeat pop orientated songs that have a definite 1970,s vibe about them, plus it also contains its fair share of upbeat pop driven instrumentals that again are very much in the same vein as the vocals, and there are some nice jazz led interludes that are most welcome.  It is however the composers haunting and enticing central theme that is the foundation of the soundtrack and one that re-occurs throughout the work in various guises to establish a musical consistency. The composer also introduces a scattering of more emotive sounding compositions that are touching and delicate in their make up and performance. Franklins score is in fact made up from three principal themes, the first of which is the central theme which has to it a warmth and simplicity, the composer utilizing solo guitar and also combining this with an accordion type instrument (The Bandoneon) and underlining these with melodic and rich sounding strings.


The second major theme is a more strident and powerful piece, which has at its heart a percussive drive that is a background to forceful sounding strings. The third and most emotive central thematic signature is the love theme, performed in the main by soft and luxurious strings, which receive support and embellishment from subdued Bandoneon and or solo piano and guitar performances.  Franklin for me personally evokes memories of the music of Francois De Roubaiux within LE GRAND PARDON, it is a soundtrack that is filled with entertaining and original sounding compositions at one point the composer briefly turning to the SHOPHAR-the Jewish Rams horn to add effect and atmosphere. Music Box records should be congratulated for bringing us this re-issue that boasts over 30 minutes of extra music that was not featured on the original release.



LE GRAND CARNAVAL/Le Coup de Sirocco.


Recently Premier French soundtrack label Music Box records have released a number of Franklin soundtracks these include, LE GRAND PARDON, LE GRAND CARNAVAL, HOLD UP, DERNIER ETE A TANGER and LA COUP DE SIROCCO. All of which contain the unmistakable style and musical fingerprint of Franklin, but at the same time all posses’ musical voices and identities of their own that became important and individual to each respective movie, supporting, enhancing and integrating with the storylines and characters and effectively add greater atmosphere and depth to each of the movies. Le Coup de Sirocco/ The Siroccan Wind  (1979),was directed by Alexandre Arcady and it was the first in a series of movies that the film maker shot about his life in Africa, and looked at life through his eyes as a pied-noir or black feet, which was the name attached to Algerians who had European roots. The soundtrack that Franklin provided the director has some jazz orientation  but is also coloured by the styles and sounds of the Mediterranean, with  a definite leaning towards the more classic and rustic Italian sound of Nino Rota which is fused with more upbeat and boisterous musical flavours which are inspired by composers such as Armando Trovaioli and Piero Umiliani, the composer at times providing up-tempo beats and shakes as in track number 23, HEY BABY FOOT, which could be from the soundtrack to any number of Italian movies from the 1960,s or indeed from any hip coffee bars juke box from that period. Saxophone, sultry strings, brushed percussion and cool almost smoky sounding piano come together in track number 24, SEXY SAX BLUES, to create a laid back and highly steamy sound.


The central or main theme itself is more like a traditional Italian melody, quirky woodwinds are carried along by an even more jolly or robust sounding piano. Franklin adding strings and solo trumpet to the equation and utilizing mandolin to great effect as in track number,25, LE COUP DI SIRROCO. The score is represented by just five cues but each and every track is entertaining this edition containing a cue that has not been released previously in the form of track 21, NARBONI and FILS which is essentially a variation or a fuller rendition of the scores central theme. Track 22, VILLE d’ALGER, is a more emotive sounding cue, Franklin weaving a melodic and haunting tone poem together performed by plaintive woodwinds which are subdued and light in their sound, strings also make an appearance acting at first as a background to the woods, but then rise above them to momentarily create a near luxurious sound, which although short lived is affecting. This short score is coupled with (1982), again set in Africa, Director Arcady opens his story during the 1942 allied troop landing in Algieria. For this assignment Franklin utilized a strong and romantic sounding central theme, that was performed by lush sounding strings that gave it an expansive and full sound, but to this he added a solo guitar which added an intimate and fragile sound to the proceedings, the composer also utilized a martial sound which he relayed via choir, timpani and piccolo, the score also contained a number of references to the music of the era, and included a handful of tracks in the style of the big band sound of Glenn Miller and his like, which is demonstrated in track number 4, WELCOME TO PARADISE which although a vocal sung in French still posses that Miller or Goodman swing sound with trombones, trumpets, clarinet and percussion combining to create a sound that is nostalgic and immensely entertaining. The compose also provides us some beautifully emotive pieces within the score, as in track number 6, Douce Algérie, which opens with solo woodwind, underlined by harp and light use of strings, the woodwind melts away and segues seamlessly into a flawless and heartrending solo violin performance, which eventually is joined by subdued woodwind and punctuated by angelic sounding harp, the string section returns and gives Franklin’s tender and beautiful composition a fuller rendition, after which the woodwind returns to bring the cue to its conclusion. Track 8, VIOLENCE combines both dramatic and highly charged music with a backdrop or background of drums from a big band, the combination although maybe sounding odd is highly effective, Franklin later in the cue adding male voices to great effect. This is a delightful score, and contains a plethora of magical sounding themes which I am confident will be popular with collectors of fine movie music.





rien-a-declarer-la-maison-du-bonheur-les-chtisAnother wonderful release from the ever industrious and un- stoppable French film music specialist label MUSIC BOX RECORDS. This time they treat us to not one but three soundtracks on one great compilation, which have all been penned by the highly talented and versatile composer Philippe Rombi, the films from which these scores are from are LA MAISON DU BONHEUR (2006), RIEN A’ DECLARER (2010) and BIENVENUE CHEZ LES CH’TIS (2008) all of which were directed by French actor/film maker Dany Boon. The latter which has already seen a compact disc release is represented by a selection of cues from the soundtrack with the inclusion of a variation of one of the themes performed on chimes. The other two titles are first time released scores and are presented here in their entirety. The collaboration between film maker Boon and composer Rombi has been a fruitful and interesting one, Rombi’s eloquent, melodic and robustly infectious music complimenting and enhancing perfectly the scenarios and images that have been created by film maker Boon.  The compact disc opens with the score for RIEN A’ DECLARER, (NOTHING TO DECLARE). This lively and full-bodied sounding work includes a handful of themes that are hauntingly beautiful and also an equal amount that are slightly boisterous and definitely infectious. Rombi’s score posses a puckish and uncomplicated comedic atmosphere, the composer creating not just highly thematic passages but bringing to the surface an almost joyous and effervescent mood. In many ways this score reminded me of the style of past French film music Maestros, Michel Magne and Georges Delerue. Magne was brought to mind because of the upbeat sections of the score and mainly because of the presence of a quirky waltz like theme that establishes itself as the core and  foundation of the score, a madcap and almost eccentric sounding piece on which the composer builds a pulsating and strident central theme which in turn influences thee remainder of the score, this theme first manifests itself within the scores opening track, Générique début, which opens with a  grand and lavish sounding introduction that is almost operatic in its stature, performed by strings and brass this imposing opening melts away to allow the composer to bring his more mischievous sounding piece into the equation. Rombi ushers this impish and infectious motif in very gently in fact almost warily but soon expands and enlarges it until we begin to hear the full roguish entertaining impact of this humorous sounding composition, which has the ability to be haunting in a kind of annoying yet pleasing fashion. The composer makes excellent use of the jaunty and mischief infused theme throughout the score and re-invents it on a number of occasions within the score, thus keeping it fresh and vibrant and above all original.




I also make comparisons with Georges Delerue; my reason for this being that I think Rombi like Delerue takes a simple theme or motif and turns it into an intricate and fragile sounding tone poem that at times although making only a fleeting appearance manages to add depth and greater atmosphere to any scene within a film. Creating a high degree of emotion and colouring the scenario with glorious and haunting music. The second score that is represented on the compact disc is  LA MAISON DU BONHUER (THE HOUSE OF HAPPINESS) which was the first  film that Rombi and Boon collaborated on, the score for this movie is written in the same comedic style as  RIEN A’ DECLARER, but in my opinion goes a little further in the humorous department, it is a far more deliberate sounding score, in some ways the music sounds almost clumsy but immensely effective, the composer using strings to great effect to create a comical apprehensive sound, there are also a few more jazz orientated moments within the score where solo piano is utilised to great effect as in track number 18, CASINO, track number 20, La bague and track 21, Rêve de maison, where light and airy piano is underlined by smooth and sultry sounding strings. There is also present a feint hint of subdued samba or a laid back bossa nova beats which make an entrance within a few of the cues and these soon become infectious and entertaining. The final score as mentioned in the opening of this review is Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis (Welcome to the Land of Shtis), already issued on compact disc this is another delightful score, and this edition of the soundtrack includes a bonus cue in the form of Le carillon d’Antoine performed on bells or chimes. Again the score is for the most part comedic in its overall sound and style but does also include a beautiful theme Valse des Ch’tis which is track number 29 on this release. A lilting and quite melancholy sounding piano performance is centre stage of this piece with subdued strings acting as punctuation and support; these however soon become more prominent the composer increasing the volume of the string section as they glide into a delightfully mesmerising waltz.  The compilation ends as it begun with music from RIEN A’ DECLARER, this time in the form of a concert suite, which includes a number of the scores principal; themes, it is an almost five minute musical pleasure, the themes are interwoven into a resounding and attractive suite and it is a fitting end to a wonderful compilation of quality French film music, this I cannot recommend highly enough and I urge you to add this to your collection as soon as you can, because any self respecting film music connoisseur should not be without it. Presented to the normal high quality that is now normal for music box records, this is a must have release.




The  career of composer Angelo Badalamenti has been a varied and fruitful one he has involved himself with numerous genres and styles of music and has excelled in the film scoring arena creating haunting and dramatic soundtracks for a plethora of motion pictures and television series. My first recollection of his music was in TWIN PEAKS, and more recently I was bowled over by his exquisite score for STALINGRAD. I think, and I am not being disrespectful when I say this, the composer is an artist that at times seems to be forgotten and even sidestepped by collectors of film music, but his contributions to film have been immense and certainly original. Music Box records in France have recently released the composers impressive and alluring soundtrack for TOUGH GUYS DON’T DANCE, the movie which was released in 1987, stars Ryan ‘O Neal and  Isabella Rosselini and contains an intriguing if not some what complicated plot that involves headless bodies and a central character that is prone to alcohol fuelled black outs and because of  a history of excessive drug taking and a life of bed hopping his past begins to catch up with him causing him numerous problems. The music for this crime/drama that also includes tinges of comedy is as diverse and also as absorbing and fascinating as the film it was written to support. Badalamenti has fashioned a score that at times I feel evokes the atmosphere of the soundtracks to movies such as THE LOST WEEKEND, THE MALTEZE FALCON and LAURA and thus dips its musical toes into a style and sound that we experienced during the era of film noir, with composers such as Rozsa, Steiner and Raksin a sound that also made a comeback in later years when Jerry Goldsmith provided the Smokey sounding score to Polanski’s CHINA TOWN.  The central or core theme although simple is an effecting one, and has to it romantic and also dramatic elements, the fullest rendition manifesting itself in the films MAIN TITLE which is track number one of the compact disc release, the theme is melodic and pleasing and has to it a lushness that as I have already intimated is linked with film music from another age. Woodwind opens the track, and establishes the eight note motif, subtle interrupt the woodwind and introduce a lonely sounding horn rendition of the central composition, that is augmented and punctuated by luxurious sounding strings and woodwind that is interspersed by scatterings of harp and piano, with further brass adding their weight t the proceedings with strings finally taking on the theme underlined and enhanced by melancholy horns. His is a beautifully haunting piece, which the composer re-introduces in various forms throughout the work, on each occasion presenting it in a different arrangement or intertwining it with other thematic properties, keeping the piece fresh and vibrant. The score also contains a few cues which are somewhat atonal in their sound and construction,

314caMkeLeL._SL290_Track number 4 for example CACOPHONIC BUGS, begins with low threatening strings that ooze darkness and foreboding, swirling strings begin to gain volume and become more prominent, the composer utilizing strings that are struck or plucked to create a harrowing sound. Track number 5, RENAISSANCE PRINCE to is a more shady sounding affair with chilling voices opening the cue, Badalamenti then underlines these with somewhat subtle woodwind, but then brings into the equation a growl of brass that is an introduction to a brief but effective burst of activity on the harpsichord. The atonal sounds continue in track number six, INFINITYCITY, which is a modern sounding piece for sinewy sounding strings and apprehensive brass flourishes that are further supported by the use of woodwind. Track number seven opens with an urgent and threatening introduction performed by brass and piano, but the urgency melts away after a moment or two, the piece segueing into a more downbeat affair that still remains anxious in its style and sound. The score remains in this mode until track number thirteen, FROM CHEERS TO YOU, which is a delightfully laid back and luxurious arrangement of the scores central theme, this however alters towards the end of the composition with an uneasy atmosphere returning to bring the cue to its conclusion. One of my favourite cues on the CD is track number 15, LOVING EMOTIONS, which is the main theme performed at first on a mournful but also romantic cello, that is accompanied by woodwind and joined by the string section that is supported by a solitary horn. I have to say I was pleased with this score; it is a surprising and delighting work from the pen of Badalamenti, and one that I am sure will appeal to film music fans everywhere. The darkness that he achieves is wonderful, the romanticism is appealing and the at times comical sounding interludes are welcome. It even includes a stirring take on LAND OF HOPE AND GLORY in track number 20, POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE and two affable songs, YOU’LL COME BACK (YOU ALWAYS DO) and REALMAN. Presented to the normal high standard that we have come to expect from Music Box Records with informative notes by Daniel Schweiger and over 45 minutes of music, well worth adding this to your collection.



Composer Georges Delerue was responsible for some of cinemas most romantic and infectious themes, he was one of those composers who had the ability to enhance, support and ingratiate each and every project he worked upon. Since his untimely death his music seems to have become more and more popular if that is at all possible, as the composer  always had a faithful army of followers throughout his illustrious and incredibly creative career. The composer was at ease working within any genre of film and fashioned delicate, melodic and dramatic compositions that fitted each and every situation like the proverbial glove.  Many collectors outside of France were introduced to Delerue’s music fairly late on into the composers career, when he worked upon American movies such as DAY OF THE DOLPHIN, STEEL MAGNOLIAS, CRIMES OF THE HEART and BEACHES. But the composers output was far greater for productions that were filmed by European filmmakers and sadly these were sometimes overlooked. This compact disc is the first release from THE MUSIC BOX RECORDS COMPANY, and is limited to just 1000 pressings. The music on the disc is  taken from two movies. The first is from 1975. L’INCORRIGIBLE, directed by Philippe De Broca and starring the effervescent and charismatic talent of Jean Paul Belmondo. De Broca and Delerue began their creative collaboration in 1960 and  this fruitful partnership  lasted through to the late 1980,s. The composer working on many of the Directors most prestigious and well known examples. L’INCORRIGIBLE is a comedy which has as its central character Victor Gauthier a gentle mannered villain and fairly polite teller of untruths. The second score included on the disc is from the 1976 movie VA VOIR MAMAN PAPA TRAVAILLE,  a little known movie which was directed by Francois Leterrier who himself had very little success as a director of commercial projects.

L’INCORRIGIBLE is typical Delerue, it begins with a short lived but strident sounding piece in the form of the movies main theme, which for me at least sums up perfectly the atmosphere of the films storyline and also the characteristics and personality of the films central figure. Strings, brass and percussion combine to create a rousing fairly brisk sounding piece that is melodic and slightly mischievous, full of light-heartedness and zest.  Track number two is just the opposite TENDRE MARIE-CHARLOTTE, is a tender blissfully melodic and haunting tone poem performed in the central part by piano which is supported by underlying strings that enhance and tenderly underline and caress the central theme, then the composer adds woodwind to the equation further enhancing and delicately carrying the theme forward to the cues conclusion. This type of orchestration can only be Delerue, he was and still remains the master at this creative and pleasing method of bringing emotion and poignancy to the proceedings. Track number three VICTOR TRAITE UNE AFFAIRE, contains the same central theme as track two, but on this occasion the composer arranges it differently and replaces the piano with an accordion creating a typically French ambience to events.  L’INCORRIGIBLE is a score that contains a number of styles within its running time, we are treated to Delerue in richly romantic mood, neo classical flourishes can be heard throughout and there is also an underlying comedic air to the score with roguish interludes, plus a handful of cues that conjure up perfectly an atmosphere that is mysterious and tense at times. One of the highlights of the score is track number 16, THEME D’AMOUR which is performed on piano by the composer, this is a delightfully emotive piece made even more so by the very fact that it is Delerue playing it.

VA VOIR MAMAN, PAPA TRAVAILLE begins at track number 17, this too has the typical sound of Delerue about it, as soon as the track commences one instantly knows what composer is responsible for the music. Lightly struck vibes embellished by a music box effect and harp are further enhanced by underlying strings in the GENERIQUE DEBUT, a pleasing opening to a score that contains compositions that can easily be identified as Delerue through and through, but also a score that contains some up beat examples which have an almost pop persuasion to them as in track number 18, SERGE E MARIANNE, track 21, SURPRISE PARTIE and track 28, FUTURISSIMO, in which Delerue utilises electronic instrumentation effectively but also subtly creating a cue that’s style one would ordinarily associate with composers such as Magne, De Roubaix, Lai or Gainsbourg.

There is also the rather jaunty  AU PARC DE THOIRY which is performed on piano in nickelodeon mode backed with percussion, this segues into a tango tempo taken on by percussion and piano that act as support to accordion.  But for much of the score we are treated to some archetypal Delerue, demonstrated in emotive and haunting interludes that are touchingly beautiful and mesmerising and the odd near classical sounding piece performed by either piano, harpsichord or strings. All in all this is a delightful compact disc that contains two very different but also in some ways similar examples of the work of Georges Delerue. Music Box Records are to be congratulated on selecting this duo of fine scores and saving them from obscurity. Packaged well with edifying sleeve notes filmographies and other information, the disc has very good production values with nice sound and colour stills.