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 Post subject: April 2010
PostPosted: Wed Dec 23, 2009 10:53 am 
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4/2/10

North! Silvestri! Two goodies that merit your support.

My stack of unplayed CDs is pretty tall right now. It's an architectural wonder here in my office. But part of the reason for being behind - ok, I'm always behind - anyways, part of the reason right now is I can't stop playing either of the two new La-La Land goodies: DRAGONSLAYER and ERASER. Both have been available before but now they're given the "definitive" treatment. North's DRAGONSLAYER sounds crisp and punchy and having that previously unreleased little blast of brass when they forge the lance puts a cherry on top of one of the greatest musical sundaes of the eighties!

And in the case of ERASER, getting all of that great action music for the final dock showdown that was missing from the earlier CD is... well, great! This was always in my top five Silvestri scores. It still is. (A terrific finale to the score helps a lot.) Anyway, I'll play it even more often now.

4/9/10

With two more new Intrada CDs coming up this Tuesday (April 13), I'm enjoying reading various "guesses" on the Forums with respect to just what they are. Roger runs point on the "clue games" so I try not to muddy the waters.

That said, I'm excited to point out that one of our titles, a restoration of something that's already been done twice (but in truncated form both times!) FINALLY includes one of the most important cues of the score... for the first time ever. In addition, some assorted other new cues plus a previously unreleased complete assembly of the end credits music gives this terrific score the proper release it so richly deserves. There are 3000 copies of this limited edition to go around.

Our other title introduces a lengthy action-adventure-fantasy score spread across 2 CDs. We only have 1000 copies of this limited edition on hand.

Both new releases will be posted for ordering on Monday (April 12) and will begin shipping on Tuesday (April 13). I hope you find one or both of them of interest to you!

4/23/10

Soundtrack piracy!! My opinions on a situation getting out of hand... namely how soundtracks have been hijacked by the listening public... or perhaps the producers making them.

Once upon a time we used to get "albums" of film music. Sometimes they were re-recorded, often they were brief... but they were presented in musical fashion by composers or producers who worked with the composers and whatnot. In the sixties and seventies I recall being thrilled with new "albums" as varied as THE GREAT ESCAPE, TARAS BULBA, MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY, EL CID, CAST A GIANT SHADOW, DOCTOR ZHIVAGO, IN HARM'S WAY, HATARI, GOLDFINGER, CLEOPATRA, THE WAR LORD, THE GOOD THE BAD AND THE UGLY, PATTON, THE OMEN, CAPRICORN ONE, THE SWARM, JAWS, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND, THE TOWERING INFERNO, ROCKY... literally an endless list of "albums" that I played over and over again. I think of these as really great listening experiences... as truly classic "albums".

Soon the eighties followed, the compact disc came about and, with it, longer playing times.

And then the pirates took over.

Just what are the pirates? And who? Interesting questions. Read on.

Somehow, the era of truly classic "albums" has been dropped in favor of CDs. The two are separate entities. I think of great "albums" as musical presentations of a score be it highlights, re-edited cues, whatever... with emphasis on musical architecture over literal film sequence. An assembly that puts the music in its best light.

CDs have taken over. And they are not always "albums". And hereith enter the piracy. All of the soundtrack labels - Intrada included - have either become hijackers or have had their product hijacked. I can't be sure which occurred first.

Fact: CDs made by soundtrack labels are in great supply, offering all sorts of music that was never before available. All sorts of it! Opinion: But these labels aren't making very good albums. At least, not very often.

We have complete presentations of the scores, with virtually everything as neatly tied up in film sequence as possible, with a variety of edits, alternate cues and whatever. Bonus tracks fill out the few moments left available on each CD. But are these great "albums"? To me, they are not. They are simply archival preservations of the recording sessions, including material never intended for repeated listening. It's kind of like having a director shoot 7 & 1/2 hours of footage to make his two-hour action film, with difficult scenes shot from multiple angles, retakes to clean up problems with actors missing a mark or gaffed dialog or whatever... and then have someone else come along and edit everything together into a 7 & 1/2 hour "movie" that no longer has any flow, pace or whatever... but offers everything that was shot for whoever might enjoy that experience. I generally wouldn't.

And so it has become with soundtrack CDs, at least those from the soundtrack specialty labels. The major labels still mostly provide "albums". Hans Zimmer puts together ANGELS & DEMONS the way he feels is the most musical, James Horner prepares THE PERFECT STORM and THE MASK OF ZORRO in musical fashion and so forth. In fact, back in those sixties and seventies, one could grow used to some of the artistic decisions made by various artists: Jerry Goldsmith loved to end the first side of his LPs with action cues. Hence, "Raisuli Attacks" concludes side one of THE WIND AND THE LION, "Hot Water" wraps side one of OUTLAND, "Helicopter Rescue" ends side one of THE CASSANDRA CROSSING, "Bees Arrive" ends the first side of THE SWARM, "Breakout" finishes side one of CAPRICORN ONE, "Broken Ice" wraps side one of DAMIEN: OMEN II and so forth. None of these great "albums" were complete, none of them followed the chronology of the films, often cues otherwise unrelated were edited together to make longer pieces and all that stuff. But the artists put together musical "albums". And I played them endlessly.

But that art seems gone now, at least amongst the labels that specialize in this very music. Just about anyone can edit together every cue in sequence and paste on at the end all the various cutting room floor stuff. But real musical creativity sure is lacking. Soundtrack labels are just putting together archival discs to preserve everything. Good listening is not necessarily the goal.

And as I posed earlier... just who caused this musical piracy? Was it the listeners - totally spoiled now by the ease of which everything is made available - demanding more and more before being satisfied? Or was it the producers who started filling out CD running times with every take they could locate, throwing good listening out the door in the meantime and force-feeding their listeners with the non-musical results?

To be sure, some scores deservedly sit on pedestals. Expanded editions are both welcome and necessary. PLANET OF THE APES originally clocked in at 27 minutes and managed to omit the most celebrated cue of the entire score! And I wouldn't part with my expanded STAR WARS discs, nor those longer James Bond CDs, or the Rhino versions of BEN-HUR and HOW THE WEST WAS WON, either. But certainly not every score sits on a pedestal.

As to solutions? I don't know. The public has become rather spoiled. At the producing end, I don't think there's a driver at the wheel anymore. Maybe we can prepare musical "albums" like in the earlier days and supplement them with all the other stuff for hardcore purists to play with on their own. Maybe we can leave some of the cutting room floor stuff where it belongs. Or maybe we can just keep on archiving everything. Complaints from someone will happen no matter what is done.

Anyway, if soundtrack producing simply stays on the archival course, I think we'll have lots of CDs to store but a lot fewer classic "albums" to enjoy. Food for thought.

4/25/10

One new limited Special Collection CD and one new MAF series (unlimited) CD will be yours for ordering Monday evening, April 26. Shipping will begin on Tuesday the 27th. The limited title represents classic music from a classic picture by a classic composer. And "classic" truly defines all three categories. The MAF title is really cool action-oriented music for something a bit more recent. Happy listening!


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