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Two popular television shows from the 1960,s that have both had incarnations of the original ideas hit cinema screens this month are MISSION IMPOSSIBLE and THE MAN FROM UNCLE. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE of course is an already established series and franchise, with ROGUE NATION being the fifth instalment, but the latter title although still having a loyal following from its days on TV has not seen any real attempts by Hollywood or any other studios outside of tinsel town to update the original 1960,s episodes or feature film. Directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Hugh Grant and with a bit part for David Beckham (ya know what I mean). This movie I think is about to become the first in a series of films that tell of the exploits of the guys from U. N. C. L. E. The musical score is the work of Daniel Pemberton, who’s music for the television series THE GAME caught the ear of many a little while back.


Pemberton maybe not the most well known composer of film music but he certainly creates soundtracks that are not only memorable but do their job perfectly underlining and supporting the scenarios on screen. Unlike the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE series the composer or maybe the director decided not to utilise the original MAN FROM UNCLE theme which was penned by the great Jerry Goldsmith over fifty years ago. Many collectors were shall we say a little surprised and put out by this, but for me I think it showed great inventiveness by Pemberton, it would have been easy to arrange an already familiar and popular theme and score the movie with it, instead he has come up with one of the most inventive and tuneful soundtracks of 2015 thus far. Yes it is true to say that he employs a style that is at times pure 1960,s but the themes as far as I am aware are original, the score has to it an almost spaghetti western demeanour the composer creating this with electric guitar, breathy woods and flourishes from the harpsichord and at one point employing a near wailing choir which is maybe a gentle parody of Morricone’s NAVAJO JOE or Cipriani’s BLINDMAN or even MATALO by Mario Migliardi, its that type of sound but fused with this Italian western style there are three other types of sound, firstly a definite nod in the direction of THE IPCRESS FILE or even VENDETTA by John Barry with cimbalom taking a prominent role and then we have an influence or style introduced that could be Piero Piccioni, Gianni Marchetti, Francesco de Masi, Nico Fidenco et al, all of whom were composers active on spy and crime capers from the studios of Cinecitta in Rome during the 1960’s and 1970’s, this style encompasses accordion, Hammond organ, Italian traditional sounding music and easy paced tango rhythms that are supported by cheeky little guitar riffs. Then we are treated to a sound that is akin to the style ,of British composer Edwin Astley, it is a kind of pop orchestral style that Pemberton has fashioned fusing the light and melodic passages with dramatic high octane pieces, but it works so well.
There is even a reference to Morricone’s MAN WITH THE HARMONICA composition, complete with fuzzy sounding guitar present at one point. In other words this is a score that is filled to the brim with infectious melodies, up lifting percussive performances and inventive thematic material that will linger for a long time in the listeners brain.

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The soundtrack album also contains a handful of vocals, OH NO I hear you say!!!! But its ok the score tracks outnumber these songs and to be honest the songs have been chosen well fitting in perfectly with the score cues and adding much to the film I suspect. Vocals are courtesy of performers such as Solomon Burke, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, Louis Prima, Peppino Gagliardi, Tom Ze and Valdez, Luigi Tendco and Gianfranco Reverberi. The compact disc opens with the Roberta Flack song, COMPARED TO WHAT. The first score track however is OUT OF THE GARAGE, which has something of an apprehensive and shady beginning, the composer creating an air of mystery via use of bass, piano and shimmering and icy sounds, this segues into a more upbeat but still sinister and uneasy sounding theme performed on breathy Barry-esque woodwind, this melts away and gives precedence to a more upbeat percussion that acts as support for cimbalom punctuated and enhanced by woods again and a full on upbeat tempo performed by drums, bongo’s and catchy baseline. In some ways this is reminiscent of the early work of Lalo Schifrin or even some of Francis Monkman’s work on THE LONG GOOD FRIDAY and Roy Budd‘s GET CARTER or at least the ending of Budd’s opening theme for that movie, the jazz infused wood wind relaying an atmosphere that oozes uncertainty with bongo‘s punctuating the proceedings.


Track number two, MY NAME IS NAPOLEON SOLO, is for me one of the highlights of the score, but saying this there are really no stand out moments as the entire score is superb, I think its because Pemberton sets the scene for the remainder of the score within this cue, and gives us a taster of the excellence that is to follow. The track begins with a harpsichord or maybe Celeste in a Morricone type chimes composition which can I suppose be compared with the watch melody in FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE, the quiet opening soon builds into something more substantial with electric guitar again taking centre stage and percussion giving weight to the central theme. The composer then brings this part of the composition to an end and again utilises the gravely and breathy woodwind, that is carried along on a wave of inventive percussion giving the piece an infectious and highly original sound, upbeat backing that comprises of drums, jazz infused Hammond organ, and bass is in a word entertaining. Entertaining is a word that I would use to describe the entire score for THE MAN FROM UNCLE, it is infectious, haunting, melodic, dramatic, exciting and a soundtrack that every collector of quality film music should own and EON if you are listening you should buy this also, Pemberton should be the next 007 composer.





Composer Michael Giacchino has steadily risen to the top of his profession, very much like fellow composer Brian Tyler, Giacchino I think in a couple of decades from now will be regarded in a very similar way as composers such as Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams and Elmer Bernstein are thought of today. Giacchino first came to my notice when he scored the video game MEDAL OF HONOUR and has ever since that score been I think earmarked as it were to achieve and be involved with interesting and also high profile projects in film. The new STAR TREK movies coming to mind instantly and also DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES plus there have been some not so big box office hits such as JOHN CARTER which although was not exactly looked upon with a great deal of affection by cinema goers and critics its musical score still served well the images on screen and in fact is probably one of the most memorable things about the movie. The composer has the ability to adapt and alter his style and sound which each and every project that he is involved with. One of his latest scores is in my opinion possibly one of his best or at least his best to date, JUPITER ASCENDING as a movie is somewhat disappointing and has been met with mixed feelings from the press and public alike, sad to say many of the reviews and opinions I have seen have been mostly negative, due mainly to performances of certain actors, which is a shame because if the film fades into obscurity then so at times does its score and anything else to do with it. The soundtrack is a mammoth and magnificent work, Giacchino literally pulling out all the stops, it is a sweeping and lush soundtrack filled with rich and vibrant thematic material and enhanced by driving action pieces that are supported and enriched by choir and solo voice performances, plus there is a lot of music here, the soundtrack being released as a 2 disc set. The first disc opens with four movements of music from the movie, well I say from the movie, these were actually composed before any film had been shot, Giacchino writing his wonderful themes in 2013, the opening four tracks which have a duration of nearly 18 minutes are gloriously thematic the composer being able to create them without any restrictions of timings etc, the opening cue or first movement beginning with a fanfare of sorts purveyed by brass underlined and supported by percussion and timpani, sounding like a grand announcement that could rival the opening for 20TH Century Fox. The brass flourishes fade and give way to a calmer and more subdued and tranquil atmosphere which is given a serene and near celestial mood by the composers use of choir and boy soprano, the soprano sounding slightly nervous and uncertain as if it is worried about being part of this grand affair that is about to commence.


The second movement is a plaintive and emotive piece at its outset, a lilting and haunting theme being performed at first by solo violin that oozes with fragile melancholy and tenderness, the theme is then taken on and given a fuller working by the string section where we hear it begin to fully develop, the strings then hand the theme to the choral section and finally to a solo woodwind performance underlined by restrained strings. The third movement is in my opinion the most appealing with Giacchino evoking an atmosphere and sound which is exciting and exhilarating and very much akin to the style that he employed within his scores for the STAR TREK movies, at times abrasive brass stabs and driving unrelenting strings combine with booming percussion, martial timpani and Omen like dark malevolent chanting to create a piece that is not only imposing, fearsome and stimulating but one that also remains attractive and enticing throughout. The final movement too is attractive and beguiling, with Giacchino employing rich melodious adagio type strings that are warming and full combining these with heavenly choral contributions. At first the piece is fragile, apprehensive and delicate but soon builds into a romantic and highly emotional composition, the strings being enhanced by choir and further underlined by subdued brass, the boy soprano returns and creates a solitary and slightly darker atmosphere with the three note motif that later in the score will develop into the theme for the central character Jupiter, this gentle but slightly unsettling vocal leads the cue to its conclusion. After these four introductory movements we dive headlong into the composers glorious and affecting score which turns, twists and drives forward with a forthright intenseness that is hard, powerful and fast, during the work we hear again in various guises all of the principal themes that the composer introduces in the first four cues, but he develops and elaborates these further creating a score that is simply enormous. Saying this the score does also have its more romantic and wistful moments, flyaway strings, harmonious brass and woods at certain points creating a Williams-esque sound and also a sound that is so reminiscent of the late Jerry Goldsmith it is uncanny, but I have to say although there are similarities here and we all will obviously make comparisons between Goldsmith, Williams and even Barry (track number-10 THE TITUS CLIPPER) we are treated to all of this plus there is still the originality and the individual musical voice and fingerprint of Giacchino shining through all the way. As in the powerhouse cues SCRAMBLED EGGS, THE HOUSES OF ABRASAX, I HATE MY LIFE and THE ABRASAX FAMILY TREE to name but a handful. The score is emotive and also forebodingly forthright a listening experience that should not be missed. This is an essential purchase so do not hesitate go buy it NOW…….. images (28)