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 Post subject: June 2007
PostPosted: Tue Nov 10, 2009 2:37 pm 
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There's a really cool feature on the new 2-DVD set for THE SAND PEBBLES.

If you're on top of this score you've got the expanded Varese Sarabande CD, probably their earlier re-recording as well. Maybe even the old LP. We're talking classic stuff.

Anyway, the cue when Steve McQueen first sees the San Pablo is missing from every album. It's a short piece but vital to the music's architecture. In the score proper, it's the initial link between
the already heard love theme and the not yet heard ship theme, both joined forever by a common opening four-note phrase before going off in their own directions.

The scene. Sailor Jake Holman steps out of his cab, descends along the dock, finally reaches his future home. Jerry Goldsmith does what he does best, both identifies the ship on screen and establishes tone underneath. Nothing grand. The mood's tender, subdued. It's complex.

Solo French horn, sparse strings, muted trumpet. Subtle colors. Lonely ones with nods to a military backdrop. In subtext, this life, indeed this very ship, is Jake's only real home. Goldsmith tells us all this in a single moment of music!

It's a profound example of scoring both what we do and don't see on screen.

So that really cool new DVD feature? The cue plays for us at last on an isolated score track! And it gets better. It plays in stereo! Finally, all those subtle colors, the gentle stroke of chimes, the lonely horn line - without those footsteps, without that dialog.

It's been a long time coming!


We plan on releasing our third 2-CD anthology from AMAZING STORIES this coming Tuesday. Artwork, contents and sound samples will show up on our site Monday evening. We'll be happy to take orders at that time - and after that time, too!

For those not fully aware, this is the volume that carries the John Williams score for Steven Spielberg's THE MISSION. The picture, starring Kevin Costner and Keifer Sutherland, boasts a half hour of dynamite music. Highlighting is one of the composer's most spectacular finales - in a career packed with big finishes. Powerhouse action segues into incredibly moving, complex music of wonder, then builds into a glorious climax as only Williams seems able to offer. It's a moving wrap for our six CD series, all of them spotlighting some of the best music ever written for TV!


I like to think we've done some reasonably important albums, at least for our tiny little corner of the industry. But it's hard not to think helming a Spielberg/Williams collaboration is as good as it'll get. For ham 'n' eggers like me, anyway.

The score John Williams writes for "The Mission" is up there with his best. And it's almost as long as a feature film score! Sometimes it seems the French horn was really invented just for him to monkey around with. But then he does sensational things with all those other instruments, too. Anyway, how he manages to build up that long brass & percussion ostinato during the final cue and conclude it with such power is a musical wonderland only he inhabits. At least us listeners get to reap the rewards. And in this one, there are many!

If edgy, aggressive brass and maniacal strings are your thing, Michael Kamen's "Mirror, Mirror" should tickle your fancy. Or stab it, anyway. It's almost as long as some film scores, too. And I shouldn't sell Alan Silvestri's work on "Go To the Head of the Class" short, either. It's his scary vision of crypts and cemeteries and things that go bump in the night courtesy a barrage of synthesizers. And yes, it's a long one, too!

A lot of people worked hard to make these six AMAZING STORIES CDs a reality. I think it was worth the effort. And for once, saying "there's something for everybody" doesn't sound like an exaggeration.

By the way, on this new Anthology Three, sharp ears may notice a brief snippet of Billy Goldenberg's "Amazing Falsworth" in Bruce Broughton's "Mr. Magic", possibly due a brief extra cue anticipated during editing of "Mr. Magic" that was drawn from Goldenberg's sessions held just a few days earlier.

TV music never had it so good as AMAZING STORIES. I seriously doubt we'll ever see the likes of it again.


Still catching up on orders. We've been releasing a lot of stuff lately. But we're playing CDs while we work. One we played today frustrates me so I'm taking a moment to vent. After the rousing finish to the first FANTASTIC FOUR album made my best of the year list, this new second installment wraps with... well, in a word... a big letdown. (Okay, in three words.) Anyway, gone is the fanfare and flourish of the first CD, gone is the rousing theme reprise, gone is... well, you get the idea.

It's no secret, I'm just not very big on scores (or albums) that end on whimpers. It's one thing to have subdued endings. James Horner does it all the time. But they're real endings to the scores they conclude, part of the architecture. They work! Since FANTASTIC FOUR had such a stunner of a coda I had high hopes for this sequel. Sorry. Hope doesn't always spring eternal!


Our first John Barry release is one of the best he's done. Certainly one of my top five Barry scores, anyway. It fits snugly in the same glove with THE LION IN WINTER which won an Oscar and understandably gets more attention. But THE LAST VALLEY, done two years later, takes similar period flavor ideas into much wider territory.

THE LAST VALLEY has a rhythmic main title as does the other work. Both have chorus pitted against the orchestra. But Barry expands VALLEY to include action music where LION necessarily focuses on drama. Set during a time of plague, LAST VALLEY is considerably darker. It's more intense.

And for extra measure, Barry supplies it with a gorgeous "Last Valley" theme that actually bridges his highly distinct but unorthodox thematic writing of the sixties with his then-incoming lush, even passionate warmth. It's almost as if you're hearing the soon-to-come melodies of OUT OF AFRICA and SOMEWHERE IN TIME merging with the repeating brass motifs of long-ago THUNDERBALL and GOLDFINGER!

In terms of musical importance, THE LAST VALLEY sits near the top of Barry's totem pole. And in a body of work that covers everything from 007 action and Beat Girl rock to African landscapes and the smoky American south - that's no easy feat!


To those of you whom enjoy spending time on our forum, we hope things will be up again soon. Our "host" is presumably working on the problem but is proving to be very elusive. Our own webmaster is actually out of town for a few days. With our one other tech support person on vacation, that kind of makes for a "perfect storm" of sorts.

I'm not the "go to" guy for challenges like as this. Want to know whether you're hearing a celeste or a glockenspiel - I'm your man. Want to know what's keeping our forum on the blink - I'm useless.

Jeff, George and Wendy have their hands full keeping the packages coming and going. Which, of course, leaves only the hamsters. I'm not quite ready to let them start trouble shooting. So I thank you for your patience while we weather our little storm.


Personality trait. I'm big on trumpeting stuff that impresses me. I'm quiet with criticism. It's not that I like everything, it's just the lens through which I view life in general. My kids love that. And so it'll continue with my observation for today.

WAIT UNTIL DARK. (Don't worry, no big spoilers.) Blind lady, tough but true-loving husband, old army buddy, the kid next door, assorted villains, you name it. Frightening tale with a bravura finish. Enter Henry Mancini.

Not your slasher strings here - not once. Mancini goes elsewhere. First up, a lullaby-ish main theme wandering over de-tuned piano. Something's off. Then the tune plays via whistler, piccolo. It's not just off, it's un-nerving. And so goes Mancini's musical setup.

Now, for that bravura finish. There's not much precedent for the cue, no one's done a good imitation since. It's unique. When the terror kicks in, Mancini tips his hat with a signature autoharp sting, then goes for sheer terror - with nary a slashing downbow on board! We first hear forte basses, tympani in unison. Cellos, trombones add weight, things build. As the scene unfolds Mancini increases the terror not through motion but rather density. The harmonic scheme grows complex, the notes continue to increase in weight. They climb upwards, Mancini stacks more notes on top, everything builds upwards, everything crescendoes and we get... well, the sound of sheer terror. Mancini avoids gimmicks per se. With intelligent bravado of his own, he scores not what we see on screen but what we DON'T see. Wow! It's one of the most intense - and original - pieces of scary music I can think of. After years of having composers imitate Herrmann's PSYCHO before, and after more years of hearing it all degenerate into mere synth punches and whatnot since, it's a joy to get Mancini's tour-de-force 1968 take on terror in dynamic stereo sound on the new FSM release. What a great CD! What a great score!

And thus my genial nature continues.

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