Published on June 27, 2006
THE DA VINCI CODE – Music by Hans Zimmer; conducted by Richard Harvey – Decca B0006479-02:
The film didn’t live up to its hype, but it had some unique moments. How many main characters in an action movie say at an urgent life-and-death moment “I’ve got to get to a library!”? The music is the expected choral, polyphonic, Gregorian-chant-influenced, spooky stuff with much Latin for words. Better get used to it – something like this will be heard on a lot of films and TV series for awhile till the industry gets over its spiritual crisis. Actually it’s not bad for that sort thing, and the sound is excellent – highly reverberant when called for.
Tracks: Dies Mercurii I Martrius, L’Esprit des Gabriel, The Paschal Spiral, Fructus Gravis, Ad Arcana, Malleus Maleficarum, Salvete Virgines, Daniel’s 9th Chapter, Poisoned Chalice, The Citrine Cross, Rose of Arimathea, Beneath Alrischa, CheValiers de Sangreal, Kyrie for the Magdalene.
SUPERMAN RETURNS – Original Score by John Ottman – Enhanced CD – Rhino [release date: June 27]:
Fans of the original John Williams music for the earlier Superman feature will be sure to enjoy this new score because it keeps repeating William’s highly positive, soaring, flying main theme here and there throughout. In the movie Superman comes back to Earth “after a mysterious absence of several years.” The new music by Ottman – performed by a 97-piece orchestra – is of a quite high caliber, but sort of overshadowed by the nostalgia for Williams’ music…interesting, seeing as how the second cue on the CD is titled “Memories.” Ottman says he could see an apparition of John Williams, like Obi Wan Kenobi, waving his fingers and mouthing :Don;t screw this up.” The Enhanced video content consists of three movie trailers plus a featurette on Behind the Scenes at the recording of the movie’s score. It automatically came up on my Mac screen, but quite small; by going into the “assets” folder I could click on the Quick Time files and enlarge them to double size, which looked fine on my 20-inch flat screen. Not many CDs offer the Enhanced feature anymore; more’s the pity.
Tracks: Main Title, Memories, Rough Flight, Little Secrets, Bank Job, How Could You Leave Us, Tell Me Everything, You’re Not One of Them, Not Like the Train Set, So Long Superman, The People You Care For, I Wanted to Know, Saving the World, In the Hands of Mortals, Reprise/Fly Away.
CARS – Motion Picture Soundtrack to the Disney/Pixar Movie. Music by Randy Newman with guest artists. Walt Disney Records (No #):
Pixar animated features never disappoint, so this one – which just opened in theaters – has to be a winner. Randy Newman, fresh from his Grammy, penned the score, and the eight opening tunes are performed such guest artists as Chuck Berry, James Taylor, John Mayer, Brad Paisley and Sheryl Crow. Newman’s instrumental music seems to be ideal to fit the anthropomorphized car population of the film – it’s tuneful, reminding one of various pop hits, but never corny.
Tracks: Real Gone, Route 66, Life is a Highway, Behind the Clouds, Our Town, Sh-Boom, Route 66 again, Find Yourself, Opening Race, McQueen’s Lost, My Heart Would Know, Bessie, Dirt is Different, New Road, Tractor Tipping, McQueen and Sally, Goodbye, Pre-Race Pageantry, The Piston Cup, The Big Race.
JARHEAD – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack Music by Thomas Newman – Decca B0005983-02:
Music plays an important part in this drama about the Gulf War. Some of Thomas Newman’s past scores have been for Scent of a Woman, The Shawshank Redemption, and Cinderella Man. In addition to Newman’s score, the soundtrack makes use of the hits Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin, O.P.P. – rapper Naughty By Nature, Fight the Power – Public Enemy, Bang a Gong – T-Rex, and Soldier’s Things – Tom Waits.
Tracks: Welcome to the Suck, Raining Oil, Battery Run, Mirage Bedouin, Don’t Worry Be Happy, No Standard Solution, 8 Men 5 Camels, Full Chemical Gear, Unsick Most Ricky-Tick, Morning Glory, Band a Gong (Get it On), Desert Storm, Desert Sunrise, Zoomies, Horse, Pink Mist, Jarhead for Life, O.P.P., Dickskinner, Per4mission to Fire, Dead Anyway, Scuds, Listen Up, Fight the Power, Soldier’s Things.
MUNICH – Music composed and conducted by John Williams – Decca B0006093-02:
The recent suspense-thriller imagined the process by which an Israeli squad of men tracked down and killed some of the terrorists who had planned the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics. The general theme of the music seems to be one of desperation. The leader of the team eventually questions his involvement in the vengence operation. Authentic Palestinian music is used in some sections, also oud and cimbalom. Even the straighter orchestral segments contribute a feeling of the Orient – even though most of the film takes place in Europe. Williams seems to be striking out in more original directions in his recent film scores and this is one of his best.
Tracks: Munich 1972, The Attack at Olympic Village, Hatikvah, Remembering Munich, Letter Bombs, Prayer for Peace, Bearing the Burden, Avner and Daphna, The Tarmac at Munich, Avner’s Theme, Stalking Carl, Bonding, Encounter in London and Bomb Malfunctions, Discovering Hans, The Raid in Tarifa, Thoughts of Home, Hiding the Family, End Credits.
YES – Soundtrack for the Sally Potter Film – Variety of sources incl. 4 tracks by Sally Potter & Fred Frith – Edge Music (DGG) 00289 477 5387, 66:00:
Potter wrote her screenplay for Yes as a response to 9/11. She wanted to respond to the demonisation of the Arab world in the West and the parallel of hatred against America. The film focuses on the affair of a woman (played by Joan Allen) with an exiled Lebanese surgeon working as a cook in London. In coming to terms with their lives and losses they travel to New York, Havana and Beirut. Potter created several of the tracks on the soundtrack for the film, working with guitarist-composer Frith – a previous collaboration. Their music is mixed with everything from Chopin and Brahms waltzes to BB King and Eric Clapton. Santaolalla – the composer of the soundtrack music for The Motorcycle Diaries – also contributes some cues. A hip, very international musical sampler, though perhaps a bit chaotic if you haven’t seen the film.
Tracks: Paru River (Philip Glass), CHOPIN: Waltz in C Sharp Minor, Ten Long Years (BB King), Iguazu, Norketsou Bar, Pink Shoes, RACHMANINOFF: Piano Concerto No. 2, 1st mov’t, SATIE: Gnossienne, Run, BRAHMS: Waltz in A Flat Major, El Carretero, Sweet, Yeghishi Bar, 12/12 (Kronos Quartet), Fawn.
Nominated for an Oscar as Best Foreign Language Film last year, Joyeux Noël was based on a true incident of the First World War. At several of the trench-warfare battlefronts on Christmas Eve of 1914 the guns were silenced and the soldiers on both sides crossed No Man’s Land to visit their enemies and shake hands, exchange chocolate and cigarettes and to wish Merry Christmas – all to the accompaniment of shared music of the season. The music bridged the gap between the opposing sides. The 21 cues on the CD of course include Silent Night and Adeste fideles, but some of Rombi’s instrumental music is original and very moving, such as the Overture, War, and the War Adagio. The recurring Fraternizers’ hymn is most stirring, even you haven’t seen the film. (And I haven’t, though I think this would be the perfect Christmas movie to rent this coming Yuletide.)
Cues: Ave Maria, Overture, Fraternizers’ hymn (piano), Anna & Nikolaus, War, Soldiers’ burial, Bist du bei mir, Silent Night, Jonathan’s letter, Ponchel’s memories, The football match, The bishop’s sermon, The soldiers’ mail, War Adagio, The Absence theme, Fraternizers’ hymn, Adeste fideles, Invitations, Anna & Nikolaus, Aria for violin and orchestra, Fraternizers’ hymn.
THE RETURN – Film by Andrey Zvyagintsev; Music by Andrey Dergatchev – ECM 1923, 50:26:
This is a powerful Russian film of elemental, almost biblical simplicity, combining elemental nature photography with a spare story about a father who returns to his wife and two sons after an unexplained ten-year absence. The landscape images reproduced in the disc note booklet are a perfect match for the sort of minimalist photography which has been ECM’s stock-in-trade for many years. There are almost no signs of civilization, and time flows as in real life, not as in cinema.
The creator of the soundtrack has been a light and sound designer, musician and actor as well as composer. His accompaniment to the haunting images on the screen derives from Armenian, Georgian and Duduk folk music contrasted with sound effects of today’s Russia – dogs barking, voices of people on the streets, wind and rain, doors slamming. But many of them are modified with musique concrete-type manipulation. The opening cue surely contains a slowed-down sound source, because it has a super-low-frequency tone that will set your subwoofer jumping. If you also have a sub-sonic transducer, and are feeding your lowest front-channel frequencies to it, watch out! The cue is titled Underwater and it proves a disturbingly accurate impression of sounds heard underwater without any high frequencies. It accompanies a scene of one of the sons being fearful of jumping off a tower into dark waters. The CD is practically a film in sound all by itself; one needn’t have seen the actual film, though I’m looking for it actively now that I’ve heard the score and seen the impressive stills from it.
Cues: Underwater, Old Man, Shorty, In the Bedroom, The Road, Mugam, Titles-Run, Japan, Bekhtovo, Port, Mozart (excerpt from the Requiem), Rehearsal, Culmination, Piano, Georgians, Final Titles, Rain.
THE PRODUCERS – Original Film Soundtrack Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks – Nathan Lane, Matthew Broderick – Sony Classical 82876-74691-2, 67:31:
Here are 23 tunes straight from the soundtrack of the film and the DVD we recently reviewed Here. Great fun, but it’s so much more fun with the images, or even the DVD of Brooks’ narration of this album’s recording session, that this optical disc would probably rate as the bottom of the heap of all four Producers-associated discs (including the original movie).
Tracks: Overture, Opening Night, We Can Do It, I Wanna be a Producer, Der Guten Tag Hop-Clop, Keep It Gay, When You Got It Flaunt It, Along Came Bialy, That Face, Haben sie Geurt des Deutsche Band?, You Never Say Good Luck on Opening Night, Springtime for Hitler Pt. I, Heil Myself, Springtime for Hitler Pt. II, You’ll Find Your Happiness in Rio, Betrayed, Til Him, Prisoners of Love (B’dway), Prisoners of Love (Leo & Max), There’s Nothing Like a Show on Broadway, The Hop-Clop Goes On, Goodbye!, The King of Broadway.
conducted by John Williams. Cello Solos by Yo-Yo Ma; Violin solos by
Itzhak Perlman – Sony Classical 82876747082:
John Williams keeps turning out the major film scores and they seem to
be getting more original-sounding in recent years. In 2005 alone, in
addition to this film, he also did Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of
the Sith, War of the Worlds, and Munich. Both Ma and Perlman
collaborated with Williams before on previous scores – Perlman of
course remembered for the moving violin solos on the soundtrack for
The story is of a poor Japanese girl taken from her family to work as a
maid in a geisha house, prior to WW II. She blossoms into a legendary
and accomplished geisha who is haunted by her secret love for a man out
of her reach. Williams’ score blends both Japanese and Western musical
elements as well as included some Japanese instruments in the symphonic
fabric. The movie’s main theme is quite lovely, though on the
music-only disc it may seem repeated a bit too often.
Cues: Sauri’s Theme, The Journey to the Hanamachi, Going to School,
Brush on Silk, Chiyo’s Prayer, Becoming a Geisha, Finding Satsu, The
Chairman’s Waltz, The Rooftops of the Hanamachi, The Garden Meeting,
Dr. Crab’s Prize, Destiny’s Path, A New Name…A New Life, The Fire
Scene and the Coming of War, As the Water…, Confluence, A Dream
Discarded, Sayuri’s Theme and End Credits.
FATELESS – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack composed, arranged and conducted by Ennio Morricone – Soloists on panflute, dulcimer & synth + vocalist/Chorus and Orchestra of Hungarian Radio – EMI 724386 033123:
Morricone continues to turn out terrific film scores for a huge variety of features, and all are quite different from one another. He was in tears after being shown this film about a 14-year-old Hungarian Jewish boy who is caught up in the random deportation of Jews in Budapest to a concentration camp during WW II. After liberation the boy has problems fitting into normal society again. Morricone created some melodies which really tug at the heart strings, even if you haven’t seen the film. The score is based on three simple themes, all derived from folk music. The panpipes and dulcimer add a nice folky touch to the arrangements. A lovely score that stands alone without the original film.
Cues: Fateless, Return to Life, The Field, Home Again, The Beginning of the Tragedy, A Song, At the Table, Psychological Destruction, About Solitude, To Return and to Remember, A Voice from the Inside, A Mirror, About Solitude II, Voiceless, Fateless II.
GHOSTBUSTERS – Original Soundtrack Album – Music from Ray Parker Jr., The Bus Boys, Alessi, The Thompson Twins, Air Supply, Laura Branigan, Mick Smiley, The Trammps & Elmer Bernstein – Arista/Legacy 82876 75985 2:
Who you gonna call? from 1984 in a new remastered reissue, including a bonus 6-minute remix of Ray Parker’s title tune which won a Grammy award that year. The zany comedy about four paranormal investigators hell-bent on ridding New York City of all things otherworldly mixed horror elements, wisecracking and action sequences for an exuberant entertainment. The soundtrack also mixed a variety of pop music of the period, plus two short cues from film score veteran Elmer Bernstein. You even get 11 minutes of Disco Inferno by The Trammps, which wasn’t on the original release. Seeing this was 1984, I’ll bet some of still have this on LP, right?
Cues: Ghostbusters, Cleanin’ Up the Town, Savin’ the Day, In the Name of Love, I Can Wait Forever, Hot Night, Magic, Main Title Theme, Dana’s Theme, Ghostbusters (instrumental), Disco Inferno, Ghostbusters Remix.
ROCKY IV – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – (Songs by Survivor, John Cafferty, Kenny Loggins and Gladys Knight, Vince DiCola, James Brown, Robert Tepper, Go West, Touch) – Volcano/Legacy 82876 75989 2:
And from l985 we have the fourth in the five-film series on Rocky Balboa, the underdog boxer who comes from behind to defeat one after another of his stronger and more vicious opponents. And with the lyrics of the songs on the soundtracks delivering the message behind the on-screen action. In this edition, Rocky’s good friend is beaten up by a Russian so Rocky saves his country’s honor and has his revenge. Of course. The reissue includes Man Against the World by Survivor, which was written originally for the film but was left out of the final cut. There’s a little snippet of the main Rocky theme from jazz composer Bill Conti. Except for James Brown I’ve never heard any of these performers or tunes and could care less about boxing movies, but you’re obviously different or you wouldn’t be even reading this. So dig it!
Cues: Burning Heart, Heart’s On Fire, Double or Nothing, Eye of the Tiger, War/Fanfare from Rocky, Living in America, No Easy Way Out, One Way Street, The Sweetest Victory, Training Montage, Man Against the World.
A LITTLE TRIP TO HEAVEN – Original score by Mugison (Album title is “Little Trip”) – Ipecac Recordings IPC 71:
The slogan of this record label is “Making people sick since 1999.” Mugison is an Icelandic band and the director of this noirish thriller starring Forest Whitaker is also from Iceland, so keeping in mind Björk and company, one has a rough idea what’s afoot here. The film is supposed to be fairly gritty and bleak, but the music for it is generally warm and fussy countryfied folky instrumentals with a couple vocals, including the title tune by Tom Waits. The band features trumpet, trombone, piano, guitar, drums and percussion. A most listenable album even if the film – which has mostly played film festivals so far – never comes your way.
Tunes: Petur Gretarsson, Go Blind, Little Trip to Heaven, Watchdog, Mugicone, Piano for Tombstones, Clip 10, Alone in a Hotel, Rush, Petur por Ben, Watchcat, My Nobel Prize, Along in the Office, Mugicone Part 2, Stiff, Sammi & Kjartan
THE EGYPTIAN – First Digital Recordings of the Film Score by Bernard Herrmann & Alfred Newman – Moscow Symphony Choir & Orchestra/William Stromberg – Naxos Film Music Classics 8.557702, 71:30:
The score to this epic Cinemascope production of 1954 was unique in being a collaboration between two of the top Hollywood film music composers – but with quite different styles and approaches. This 20th Century Fox production followed after epics such as The Robe and Land of the Pharaohs, and had a mystical aspect to the story of Sinhue, who sought live’s true meaning and wrote his story on scrolls that date as far back as 2000 B.C. It earned an Oscar for Best Color Cinematography and had Victor Mature, Jean Simmons and Peter Ustinov in the cast, but the lead was contract player Edmund Purdom, who was rather flat.
The original over 100-minute score was edited, restored and reconstructed by film music expert (and composer himself: Starship Troopers 2) John Morgan. The reason for both top composers working on the music was that Alfred Newman was already working on several different scores at Fox when Darryl Zanuck asked him to take on The Egyptian. Newman developed some of the main themes for the film and then brought in staff colleague Bernard Herrmann. The two ended up collaborating equally. The 30 cues are credited to one composer or the other.
Cues: Prelude, The Ruins, The Red Sea & Childhood, The Nile & Temple, Her Name was Merit, The Chariot Ride, Pursuit, Akhnaton – One Deity, Taia, Party’s End, Nefer-Nefer-Nefer, The Rebuke, The Deed, The Harp & Couch, The Perfection of Love, Violence, Valley of the Kings, The Homecoming, Hymn to Aton, Sights Sounds & Smells, Live for Our Son, Am I Mad?, The True Pharaoh, The Tomb, The Holy War, Dance Macabre, Death of Merit, Death of Akhnaton, The New Pharaoh, Exile & Death
MIGHTY JOE YOUNG (and other Ray Harryhausen animation classics: 20 Million Miles to Earth, The Animal World) – Music by Roy Webb, Mischa Bakaleinikoff, Paul Sawtell, and The Columbia Pictures’ music library – Radio Symphony orchestra of Slovakia/ Masatoshi Mitsumoto – Monstrous Movie Music MMM-1953, 61:48:
The first thing you might notice about this CD is the highly detailed 40-page note booklet written by David Schecter, which is packed with historical information about the films, their music and their composers, complete with photos and even some examples of the actual scores. The goal of this soundtrack-specialist label is the re-record scores from past horror, fantasy and sci-fi films and to make them as faithful to the originals as possible. The label records the restored music scores using a smaller orchestra than the standard symphony, because that is what was used for Hollywood film score recording. However, they beef up the string section because that was the one area that sounded very sparse on the older tracks.
One of the interesting facts in the booklet is that since cues created by any staff composer became part of the studio-owned music library, the same cue was frequently re-used in entirely different films, sometimes again and again for popular cues which were listed under descriptive titles. For example, some of Roy Webb’s music for Mighty Joe Young was re-used years later in Return of the Fly and Curse of the Fly. There are even some cues in here by David Raksin, the composer of the “Laura” soundtrack. The notes also cover the puppet-animation special effects of Ray Harryhausen’s career since Harryhausen created the giant ape in Mighty Joe Young, as well as the creatures in the 1957 sci-fi film 20 Million Miles to Earth.
Of course the concept of the 1949 MJY was inspired by the tremendous success of the 1933 King Kong, but the story was different in many ways. For one thing, the big ape doesn’t die at the end, but returns to Africa with some human friends as a hero after his dramatic rescue of endangered children from a burning orphanage. One theme which is repeatedly heard is rather surprising – Stephen Foster’s Beautiful Dreamer! It’s the tune that Baby Joe hears on a music box as a baby ape and then waxes nostalgic about throughout the film. Another interesting musical aspect is that Ray Harryhausen, who had no serious connection to music in his career, was brought in to crash cymbals at a few places in the score – which he greatly relished. The composer had a thankless job of having to achieve climax upon climax for all the improbable action scenes in the Ape2 movie, plus the music budget was only 2% of the total film budget. Great fun anyway, and since all these folks – both then and now – put all their hard work into this stuff, the least we can do is listen to their efforts. There are 66 tracks here!
Tracks: MIGHTY JOE YOUNG: Main title/A Good Trade & A Surprise for Dad, Beautiful Dreamer/Baby Joe and Transition to New York Pt. 1, Baby Joe and Transition to New York, African Camp, Joe and the Lion, Joe and the Ropers, Tragedy Averted Pt. 2, Jill Meets Gregg, Night Club Fanfare, African March, African Dance No. 1, African Dance No. 2, Fanfare No. 2, Beautiful Dreamer, Curtain Fanfare, Fanfares 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, Tenth Week, Joe Breaks Loose, Joe Runs Amok 1 & 2, Joe Knocked Out, Rough House, Jill and Gregg Pt. 2, Chase Pt. 2, Chase Pt. 3, Joe Eludes the Cops Pt. 2 & Fire Pt. 1, Fire, Parts 2, 4, 6, End Title.
20 MILLION MILES TO EARTH: Schneer’s Emblem & Heaven, Pa Warns Rudolph, Sicily, Comet, Jericho’s Arrist, Certainly, Substance, Galley Fire, He Is Dead, The Birth of the Creature, My Gloves & The Cage, Next Morning, Village, Bookworm, Trailer & Fisticuffs, Trial and Escape, Stunned, Meet One Trouble, Evil Deed, Bite, My Gloves II, Throws Stone, Creature, Moon Mystery and End Title.
THE ANIMAL WORLD: Survival? & The Ceratosaurus
BONUS TRACK: Heaven (Frederick Hollander)
THIS ISLAND EARTH (and other alien invasion films – War of the Satellites, Earth vs. The Flying Saucers, The Day of the Triffids) – Music of Herman Stein, Hans Salter, Henry Mancini, Ron Goodwin, Walter Greene, Daniele Amfitheatrof – Radio Symphony Orchestra of Slovakia/ Masatoshi Mitsumoto [Triffids cues conducted by Kathleen Mayne] – Monstrous Movie Music MMM-1954, 60:12:
As above. A good time will be had by any retro sci-fi fan. Again, the 40-page note booklet is packed with interesting stuff. This Island Earth of 1955 was one of the best of the 1950s sci-fi movies – on a par with Forbidden Planet. The main problem was that most of the movie took place on earth with only the last eight minutes on the planet Metaluna – severely unbalanced. Also three composers – including Mancini – contributed to the scoring, so no one composer is associated with it. This was the first 50s sci-film re-recorded for CD release with up-to-date sound by anyone. There is just one cue each from War of the Satellites and Earth vs. The Flying Saucers – both films directed by Roger Corman.
It was British composer Ron Goodwin’s score for The Day of the Triffids (1962) that caught my ear here. I remember the BBC radio series, which used a movement from Borodin’s First Symphony very effectively. The music for the film didn’t work out as well because the studio decided to re-shoot a major part of it with an entirely different plot and brought in composer Johnny Douglas for that scoring. The mix of the two composers’ work is a mishmash and confusing, as was the actual final film. Still, John Wyndham’s novel is a classic and anything connected with it is worth seeing/hearing.
Interesting how these Eastern European and Russian orchestras do such a bang-up job performing these restored film scores. Especially since most films from that region had execrable sound until recently. Perhaps it has to do with sufficient rehearsal time allowed at the more reasonable rates for the players to really get into the music. It just wouldn’t be possible to record this sort of thing in the U.S. due to the high rates.
Cues: THIS ISLAND EARTH: Main Title/Jet West, Color Blind/From Unit #6, Interocitor Montage/Eerie Remains, Robot Plane/Haven’t We Met?, Exeter’s Mansion/Wrong Girl, This Way Doctor/Secret Meeting, Neutronic Rays/ConversionTube, Vermont Memories/ Transformation, Shooting Stars/ Meteor Battle, Metaluna Tunnel/Metaluna Transport, Metaluna Catastrophe Parts 1 & 2, Flight from Metaluna, Amorous Mutant, Down to Earth/ End Title, End Cast.
THE DAY OF THE TRIFFIDS: Main Title, Greenhouse, A Sight for Sore Eyes, Hospital Awry, Doctor Steps Out, Plane Crash, Triff Riff, Lost/Susan and Bettina, Turning on the Lights, Fatal Foliage, Escape & Coker’s Death, Spanish Square, Here Come the Triffids!, Leaving Town/ On to Cadiz, Triffid Attack, End of the Triffids.
WAR OF THE SATELLITES: Main Title
EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS: Main Title.
– John Sunier