‘ONLY GOD FORGIVES’ IS THE TOP PICK FOR JULY, 2013
Also worth picking up COMPANY OF HEROES 2, THE GAMBLER, THE IDOLMAKER, THE LAST OF US, THE WARIORS and WOLVERINE
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD cover
THE TOP PICKS
1) BEYOND THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE / THE GAMBLER (1,000 edition)
What is it?: Jerry Fielding was a composer who set a new high bar for tough guy expressionism in film music, taking an uncompromising, and often primally dissonant approach for such seething orchestral blood rites as “The Wild Bunch,” “The Outfit” and “Lawman.” Now the new releases of “The Gambler” and “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure” offer a rich contrast in Fielding intensity, subduing his voice for a modern classicist, and then pouring on the danger for the Master of Disaster.
Why should you buy it?: If Gustav Mahler had become a film composer, it’s arguable that his often brooding, string-heavy style might have sounded something like Jerry Fielding’s – which makes the latter all the more ideal to adapt Mahler’s for 1974s “The Gambler.” Twisting about “Symphony No. 1” to use as the film’s score was but one of the many audacious choices that Karel Reisz made to embody screenwriter James Toback’s autobiographical anti-hero, a literature professor with a self-destructive taste for betting. It’s music full of tumultuous romance and sometimes snarling attitude, a perfect fit for an academic who’s chosen to surround himself with criminal types. Fielding is right at home with both the character, and the far more erudite Mahler, giving a passionate rendition of this towering work. Fielding’s own, far lighter jazz chops can be heard with the easily listening twang and urban funk of the prof’s lowlife associates in a source section that also offers a pleasant, extended bit of Fielding tickling the ivories. Quartet’s impressive release of “The Gambler” shows off Fielding’s hand as a master of adaptation for this daring, and wholly successful exercise in adapting a classical piece to the boundaries of film scoring, capturing a character’s romance with his dark side, while allowing a composer also in love with it to seamlessly slip his own trick cards into the mix – a collaboration incisively revealed in John Takis’ liner notes.
Extra Special: A sequel that’s not as bad as you’d think, but still not in the same league as the iconic original is 1979s “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure,” which had Irwin Allen (now in the director’s chair) returning us to hell upside down, with Michael Caine’s self-centered privateer getting far more stray passengers than booty on his salvage mission. But perhaps the biggest challenge lay in wait for Jerry Fielding, who had to face the ghost of John Williams’ Oscar-nominated score. While retaining its spirit of combining doom and gloom with never-say-die, ever-surging bravery, Fielding took his own route down to the topside. For his last major studio film score, Fielding would also be tasked with writing way more music this time out, especially given that “Beyond” was far more of an straight-up action film given its gun battles with a nefarious Telly Savalas. For all of its winding passageways and compartments, Fielding’s score is straight up in its orchestral approach, brass, eerie strings and bubbling percussion providing a sense of waterlogged claustrophobia, with strings and a mournful horn signaling empathy. While the brooding, oppressive spirit that signaled Fielding’s breakthrough work is very much present, it’s nice to know that his studio run would end here with an overall sense of swirling bravery amidst the gloom, with one theme even sounding a bit like “The Morning After.” While Jeff Bond does a yeoman job of chronicling Intrada’s complete release of the score, “Beyond the Poseidon Adventure” is worth getting for Nick Redman’s liner notes as much as the score itself. A gripping journalistic presence on what seems to be just about every Fielding album, Redman wraps up the composer’s too-short career with a loving, hard-broiled touch that makes you feel like he was the composer’s drinking buddy. Redman’s work stands as the most personable liner note depiction of a man’s man whose all-consuming dedication ultimately did him in – though not before leaving behind a worthy legacy represented on these two under-the-radar releases.
2) DESPICABLE ME 2 / THE SMURFS 2
What is it?: Perhaps there’s just a natural, festive spirit of his country’s carnival celebrations that’s in the musical genes of Brazilian composer Heitor Pereira. Rapidly making a name for himself in family-friendly scoring, Pereira’s work for the likes of “Curious George,” “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and “The Little Engine That Could” comes across as being just plain “nice” in the most fun, melodic description of that word as possible – especially when dealing with a cartoon supervillain on the mend, or munchkins with playfully bad attitudes for two sequel scores that actually improve on Pereira’s original, bouncy work.
Why you should buy it?: Having shown sympathy for Mr. Vengeance with his score for “Despicable Me,” Pereira does a great job of continuing with a rambunctious, satirically sinister vibe for Gru that helps keep the edge in the character, even if he’s now determined to be the good guy. Going for the dark, retro jazzy brass suspense of Bondian spy music, the super-science electronic rhythms of secret weapons and the exclamatory orchestrations of world-conquering plans afoot, Pereira nails exactly why this unexpectedly wonderful series is a crossover hit – namely because it plays to both adult and kid sensibilities without being condescending to either, something especially tricky as the accordion-laced Gru tries to be a caring dad to a bunch of adorable orphans. Without making his approach cartoony, Pereira captures a seditiously sophisticated sweetness to “Despicable Me 2” that works equally well for tenderness, pokey lurking and comic evildoing, all with a catchy sense of rhythm, with particular fun to be found in Pereira’s raging Latin Luchador music for El Macho. Back as well is the funkily upbeat, Stevie Wonder-esque songs of Pharrell Williams. Full of the hand-clapping optimism, one can imagine Gru gleefully incinerating songs like “Just A Cloud Away,” “Happy” and “Fun, Fun, Fun,” which makes them all the more ironically enjoyable. It’s also impossible to resist the adorable, high-pitched gibberish of the Minions’ mangled takes on “I Swear” and “Y.M.C.A” making them easily the cutest high-pitched characters to achieve mass popularity since The Chipmunks.
Extra Special: The other big toy-generating franchise that Pereira is lucky enough to score (likely sans a cut of the merchandise) are those ever adorably annoying Smurfs, who are spun off into the “Naughties” this time out. But while many adults might even less merciful than Gargamel when confronted with by these bizarro versions of the Smurfs, the addition of these mutant elves prove to be another delightful playing ground for Pereira, who embodies these even more demented elves with music approximating the sound of broken-down music boxes, all while the Smurfs are given a nicer bell sound. And with its Parisian setting, Pereira is sure to have fun with the accordion in a complete different way than when that instrument’s applied to Gru. But while “Smurfs 2” is tuned for a younger set than “Despicable Me’s,” Pereira is perhaps even more cheerfully creative, and cartoony here, turning fights into Scottish jigs, using lots of blarting brass, of course with inappropriately sexy cat-calls for Smurfette. “Smurfs 2” also impresses with set pieces or sorcerous choral action, and of course the judicious use of the original Smurf cartoon theme. Like “Despicable Me 2,” one senses how the sumptuously performed “Smurfs 2” is trying to achieve some truly lofty musical goals for a “kid’s” soundtrack, as can be said of Pereira’s thoroughly pleasant work in the genre.
3) ONLY GOD FORGIVES
What is it?: Most times, a composer’s job is to support the emotions of an actor’s performance, not become the performance. But where any other musician might be condemned for overstepping the boundaries of good taste, Cliff Martinez deserves a medal for brilliantly providing just about the only humanity for Nicolas Winding Refn’s lavish exercise in artsy sadism. Far more in the realm of the filmmaker’s “Fear X” than his infinitely more accessible “Drive,” Refn’s bitch slap of unending, beyond-explicit revenge is actually more of a fight club for staring. Given endless stretches of unblinking silence in between its bursts of brutality, Martinez is faced with having to fill in the feeling where the only other sound is crickets chirping. But given “God’s” beyond-muted tone, getting too emo could only push the movie further into self-parody. Yet coming from the dojo of Steven Soderbergh, Martinez can proudly wear a black belt in conveying feeling with inventive subtlety. It allows Martinez to enter “Forgive’s” zombified fray with all of his Zen emotional power, the score achieving a level of hypnotic beauty that Refn’s blankly gorgeous imagery otherwise falls bloodily flat with.
Why you should buy it?: Where Martinez’s work for Refn’s “Drive” was about pulsating, ethereal poetry that reflected modern LA noir, “Only God Forgives” is the dreamily sinister slow burn of a Thai opium den, with all doom-laden points directing us to the inevitable “If thine (fill in the body part) offend thee, pluck it out” biblical payback. Martinez’s trademarked Crystal Baschet instrument provides the gossamer, Oriental flavor, while dark synths waft about rumbling percussion. An ultra romantic, Herrmann-esque melody deceitfully sets up longing, incestuous sympathy for the ultimate she-devil mother. A horn, organ and drums become the terrifying roar that announce the unstoppable, machete-wielding justice of a cop who makes Dirty Harry look like Frank Drebin. But while shrieking music adds a whole level of Ligeti-esque insanity to a scene that will live in torture porn infamy, Martinez’s score is far more often the calm before the storm, especially in a grievously unfair fight with the lawman where Ryan Gosling’s drug dealer experiences the delusions of his kickboxing grandeur, which are brought low in a showdown between pulsating synths and a raging organ that’s retro ear candy for fans of 70s prog-rock horror scoring. But the best thing about “Only God Forgives” is the enormous playing field of blankness that lets Martinez create one of his most delicately provocative and thematic scores, music that makes a wanton exercise in feel-bad into a work of musical poetry. For where some can only see bleakness in the human soul, Martinez finds lyricism, as ethereally twisted as it might be here.
Extra Special: No stranger to Southeast Asia himself, Martinez’s own, far less evil time spent soaking up its anything-goes environs allows him to indulge in some spot-on, wickedly kitschy tunes for the Thai Karaoke club where the film’s monster cop repairs to after a hard day of dismemberment. Bits and pieces of Martinez’s score variations also fill Milan’s lovingly produced LP edition of “God,” which ends with Proud’s striking “You’re My Dream,” its lullabye bells erupting into rapturous symphonic strains that send “Only God Forgives” out with the kind of tuneful passion it so lethally lacks otherwise. Fortunately, there’s nothing to pardon Cliff Martinez about here. Only to praise him.
4) THE LAST OF US
What Is It?: When it comes to video game scoring, it’s often the bigger, the better. And there’s nothing wrong with that, especially when the composer is mostly trying to make an impression amidst shattering spaceships, cannon-blasting world wars, dragon-slaying sword battles and zombie holocausts. Though “The Last of Us” deals with the latter, it’s on a far more human scale that’s ennobled a strikingly stripped-down score from Gustavo Santaolalla that just might be the least amount of “music” ever done for the genre. But then, having Naughty Dog hire the Oscar winning composer of “Brokeback Mountain” and “Babel” to do to a raging, rock and roll orchestra score would seem a bit like overkill, especially if their intention was to find a musician who could get the job done with a guitar chord to the brain – horror that doesn’t happen all that much for a soundtrack that’s far more about wandering a moral wasteland.
Why You Should Buy It?: From “21 Grams” to “The Motorcycle Diaries,” Santaolalla’s soundtracks have always stood out for their spareness, reverbed guitar strumming and percussion carrying an inseparable sense of loneliness, as well as rustic beauty that’s as suited for travelling around the composer’s Latin American environs as it is our country’s southwest. Here the setting is post-apocalyptic Atlanta, not that there’s anything particularly regional about the game’s characters. But like the similar approach taken by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis’ score to “The Road,” Santaolalla’s chamber-chord sound is a great way of portraying the end of days as a reversion to the Wild West, where outlaw human behavior is as dangerous as the undead. While danger certainly prowls thought the score’s haunting themes, what most concerns Santaolalla is the bond between a grizzled soldier of fortune and the teenage girl under his reluctant charge. It’s this feeling of compassion amidst the carnage gives “The Last of Us” an emotional wallop more powerful than any souped-up weapon. Santaolalla’s music is the getting-to-know you music as this ersatz father-daughter team travel though evocative landscapes of abandoned cities and snow-filled forests, a sole violin or dulcimer giving the journey a lyrical sense of intimacy, much like the dying embers over a campfire conversation. It’s the thrumming, feedback and bouts of experimental percussion that tells us far more terrifying things than natural predators are lurking just out of range.
Extra Special: Perhaps the highest, backhanded compliment that can be paid to Santaolalla’s work is that it doesn’t play like any video game score you’ve heard before. In fact, “The Last of Us” is as least as mesmerizing, and memorable as his better cinematic work, which has sometimes suffered for its simplicity. But here the chamber approach is positively inspired, conjuring soulfulness for the poor zombie bastards you’ve got to put down by arrow, gun, knife or crowbar. “The Last of Us” is a mournful elegy for what the living used to be.
5) THE WARRIORS
What is it?: Walter Hill’s 1979 gang fantasia was far more an exercise in style than exploitation, even high-minded enough to base its noble punks’ journey back to their home turf on Xenophon’s Spartan adventure “Anabasis.” Not that “The Warrior’s” ancient source material mattered to legions of fans still enthralled by the movie’s eye-catching vision of such thematically costumed bad-asses like The Baseball Furies. If anything, Hill’s odyssey from Central Park to Coney Island played more like some futuristic urban action movie, its surreal atmosphere propelled by the rocking synth rhythms of Barry DeVorzon in a score that defined the era’s invasion of electronic music – now representing in its full glory on La La Land’s deluxe edition of DeVorzon’s classic score.
Why you should buy it?: “The Warriors” has one of the great rhythmic opening titles of all time as a subway propels its anti-heroes to Cyrus’ fateful gang gathering, the main titles zooming into the audience’s face with a 3-D effect that real D has yet to beat. Just as tied into cult memory is DeVorzon’s escalating, cool rhythm and blues, as propelled along by a buzzing, grinding, horror-ready synths, metal guitars and a slight disco beat that’s all about attitude. Now finally started by the eerie twinkling that accompanied Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel, DeVorzon’s opening title rocks out in its full 6:50 glory. That’s but just one of the cool revelations to DeVorzon’s art of blending the synth’s more chilling reaches with a pop beat, the soul guitar-sax rhythm theme that’s introduced in “Graveyard” turning to icy drones, or a “Night Run” propelled by a groove that sounds like “Shaft” as pursued by vampires – a combo that’s not so absurd when you look at how Hill depicts the pursuing gangs as phantasmic figures of the night. DeVorzon’s uses his electronics like piercing sound effects in “Luther Shoots Cyrus,” while the keyboard work of “Train Walk” and “Riff Learns Truth” gives a measure of pensive sympathy to tough guys who are more sensitive than they look. But when it comes down to it, “The Warriors” is all about the rocking main theme, a groove that’s truly kick ass when taking on the snarling overlays of The Baseball Furies. There’s grace as well to the eerie, mournful melody of the “Skater” that turns to a ripping, guitar driven roller boogie beat-down in a subway bathroom. Alternating between atmosphere and action, DeVorzon’s score remains a still-hip highlight in the 80’s fusion of rock and synths for the urban nightmare action film to beat.
Extra Special: As they’ve done on many of their “ultimate” score releases, La La Land is cool enough to include the original “Warriors” album, which offered DeVorzon’s theme-based score pieces with a great collection of r & b and rock songs that would pre-figure Hill’s rockabilly tune tastes for his second great gang movie “Streets of Fire.” With the memorable voice of a gangsta Tokyo Rose offering a DJ countdown on The Warriors’ progress, the soundtrack is a tour of the downtown streets, starting the chase with “Nowhere To Run,” making a sexy pit stop with Mandrill’s “Echoes In My Mind,” use roadhouse blues to urge the Warriors along with Johnny Vastano’s “You’re Moving Too Slow,” and paying them honor with Desmond Child’s power ballad “Last of an Ancient Breed.” While DeVorzon and Joe Walsh’s “In the City” became the standout Eagles hit, “The Warriors” arguably best song is Genya Ravan’s “Love is a Fire.” Playing during a memorable make-out session gone wrong with The Lizzies, the hot guitar build and Rayan’s Donna Summer-like voice provide a building bump and grind that’s at once seductive and angry, a siren-like chorus unleashing their true intentions towards the Warriors. An album with equal parts danger and coolness, “The Warriors” finally gets to show off all that’s great about the rocking synth armies of the night, with Eric Lichtenfeld and Tim Grieving’s excellent liner notes going into the film’s production and controversy, as well as interviewing DeVorzon himself on the creation of his still-hip soundtrack.
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
. COMPANY OF HEROES 2
Imagine if “Red Dawn’s” score was on the side of the Russkies, and you’ll get an idea of the powerful Mother Russia patriotism that fill’s Cris Velasco’s exceptional real time strategy game score campaign against the Nazi bastards on the Eastern front. You’d be hard pressed to think that Stalin himself didn’t commission this score from the prolific videogame composer whose excelled in the battles of “God of War 3,” “Darksiders” and “Warhammer. Velasco’s march-or-die orders inspire a dynamite symphonic performance that salutes the valor of the snow-swept homeland, unleashing powerhouse broadsides of heroic, militaristic energy, replete with Soviet choral anthems and empathetic strings that cut to noble core of its soldiers. Blasting, breathless percussion conveys the tank-on-tank mayhem, while chilling strings evoke a war-wracked landscape of frozen doom. Velasco certainly makes the Supreme Leader, not to mention Sergei Prokofiev and Basil Poledouris, very proud here. But set aside Red politics, and you’ve got a score that salutes the desperate heroism of any soldier fighting against a monolithic invading force. It’s music that delivers the joystick mashing goods as well as depicting a very real sense of sacrifice that cost its country millions of lives in combat that was anything but a game. Velasco’s terrific score wears that Medal of Honor proudly.
Though it barely got a release, 1985s 1971 road trip movie would go down as one of the latter decade’s most-loved cult movies, inspiring the admiration of “groovers” the world over. And while much of Alan Silvestri’s exceptional score would get left on the way to Mexico in favor of exceptionally used Pat Metheny tunes, “Fandango” stands as a landmark in the composer’s career as his first major venture into orchestral scoring. Thankfully Intrada knows where Silvesti’s symphonic champagne bottle is buried with this effervescent release. Joining Kevin Costner’s draft-dodging road trip after the electronic percussion heavy scores of “CHiPs” and “Romancing the Stone,” Silvestri hits the road running as he captures sense of romantic, manly adventure for a group of college friends’ last fling before real, Vietnam-era adulthood. Emotion is amplified into soaringly rugged strides and lofty emotion, a bold mixture of fun, sadness and Americana grandeur that resonates as one of Silvestri’s most poetically nostalgic works. Now-period electronics still remain a big part of “Fandango,” capturing both the rhythm of a car speeding down back country gravel, as well as a twinkling, dream like vision of desert magic. “Fandango’s” executive producer Steven Spielberg was obviously impressed enough to kick Silvestri’s career into high gear with “Back to the Future,” whose thrillingly youthful spirit is also very much apparent here, with all. “Fandango” showed the way that Silvestri would take from the melancholy simplicity of “Castaway” to the pokey comedy of “Mouse Hunt” and the full throttle action of “The Mummy Returns.” This is the beautiful soundtrack where it all truly started, its rock-pop western wedding dance and noble brass saluting the male bonding of a movie whose popularity, and musical resonance has never hit the brake, let alone failed to open a parachute.
. HAMMERSMITH IS OUT / WOMAN TIMES SEVEN (1,000 editions)
Quartet Records continues their mission of putting out swinging comedy scores from the 60s and 70s from Burt Bacharach’s “Casino Royale” to John Addison’s “The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders.” These entries don’t get more deliciously hep than when they’re playing the devil, or the devil as a woman. 1972s “Hammersmith Is Out” is a full-on Faustian lark as Richard Burton’s satanic asylum inmate gains egress via Beau Bridges’ country bumpkin orderly – a pairing of ancient evil and American hayseed that allows Dominic Frontiere to go for a swinging combo of Baroque stylings with country twang. Having played the supernatural straightforwardly in “The Outer Limits,” Frontiere goes hog wild in a jokey bachelor pad of jazz-organ swank, Shagadellic rock, swooningly romantic strings and harmonica, as ruled over by a playfully malefic theme for fuzz guitar and harpsichords that signals a with-it old scratch. But while its forked tongue is in lava lamp cheek, Frontiere’s score is fully in on its jokiness without being goofy about it, providing a genuinely cool listening experience with surprisingly good moments of dramatic scoring thrown into its overall, na-na-na grooviness, whose vocals threaten to break out into the “Batman” theme. Riz Ortolani would be slightly more romantic than antic as he scored the sexy Shirley MacLaine vignettes of 1967s “Woman Times Seven,” his memorable theme taking on, and stripping off its dresses in the shades of swooning strings, romping Vegas brass, John Barry-ish sax jazz and oompa brass among its many delightful styles that never get tired for all of its starlet’s sensual workouts. A beyond-prolific Italian composer who was adept at such international productions as “The Yellow Rolls-Royce” and “The Biggest Bundle of Them All” Ortolani brings out the multiple stories’ Neapolitan charm in spades (even if the movie’s set in France), casting a genuine romantic spell that’s all about the kind of full-hearted melody that continues to make these sometimes Shagadellic period scores irresistible.
. THE IDOLMAKER
Taylor Hackford’s 1980 feature debut was an auspicious start for this musically inclined filmmaker and producer, whose love for old fashioned r & b rock shone through “White Nights,” “La Bamba,” “Ray” and “Chuck Berry Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n Roll.” Based on the starmaking life of Bob Marcucci that saw the discovery of Frankie Avalon and Fabian, “The Idolmaker” attempted the difficult task of creating “new” versions of classic jukebox tunes that would be just as rocking to then-contemporary youth tastes. It says something about how well Hackford succeeded in that we’re now seeing Varese do a rare “song” album release that spiffs up the soundtrack vinyl for “The Idolmaker’s” first release on CD. While Hackford couldn’t get Phil Spector, legendary album producer Jeff Barry (“Be My Baby,” “Do Wah Diddy”) insured that just about every “Idolmaker” number was a spot-on recreation that you could imagine as a top-charter back in the bobbysoxer era, covering all the bases of those halcyon, music-making days from the mid-50s to the early 60s. Spector muse Darlene Love’s “Oo-Wee Baby” has the doo wop rhythm to spare of any proto Supremes, while the mild country sound of Colleen Fitzpatrick’s “I Can’t Tell” evokes the more soulful development of female singers to come. Rocking doo wop for guys and gals hit their strut with “A Boy and A Girl,” while “Sweet Little Lover” is swinging bubble gum stuff, For instrumentals, “Come and Get It” and “I Know Where You’re Goin'” have a sexy horn strut to spare that’s perfect for a backseat rumble at the drive in. Timeless power pop like Jesse Frederick’s “Here Is My Love” is just as topical as Rick Springfield’s “Jesse’s Girl.” And when “However Dark the Night” builds with the gusto of Neil Diamond (as performed by actor Peter Gallagher), you can positively see the sweat dripping from the singer as teen girls clammor about him, ready to rip those sequins off. But the most passion comes from the stirring solo piano and rising orchestra that mirrors the gut-ripping affirmation of “I Believe It Can Be Done” (sung by tragic star Ray Sharkey), which is also heard as a soulful, jazzy score piece on a bonus track. Still one of the great “rock” soundtracks from the retro film era that produced the likes of “The Buddy Holly Story” and “American Hot Wax,” “The Idolmaker” is spot-on musical nostalgia that still shines. Now here’s hoping that Varese continues releasing these great American movie songbooks on CD.
. INTO THE WEST
Taking the idea of a family’s American expansion with all the Cinemascope passion afforded to “How the West Was Won” (but shrinking the screen just a bit for TNT), executive producer Steven Spielberg’s 2005 Emmy-lauded miniseries took home a music award for composer Geoff Zanelli. Yet in a slap to the creative face that would make an Indian shed a tear, the only album to get a release was one of those “inspired by” song jobs. Now, justice has finally come to the frontier with La La Land’s two-CD release of Zanelli’s beautifully evocative score. What makes his epic work all the more impressive is just how un-“western” it mostly is. So don’t expect any Morricone-isms, soaring Moross-ian Big Country music or rousing Bernstein heroics here. For in linking the vision quests of Anglo and Lakota clans, Zanelli goes for a melodic orchestral wash, his music revealing a new frontier at once filled with optimism, and the sad realization of land’s end. There’s a real poetry to Zanelli’s richly dramatic score, where bold orchestrations for the relentless push forward of wagons, cavalry and train meets the solemn nobility of a people who aren’t about to back down, as represented by impressive use of ethnic flutes, voice and drums. Meanwhile, the more modernistic, and subtle use of electronic percussion never allows the score to sound antiquated. It’s a measure of how politically advanced the western has come that by settlement’s end we don’t get the rousing exhilaration of a trek well done for all the sacrifices it entailed, but a moving sense of tragic pride in how an entire race was sacrificed for the dream of manifest destiny. It’s a lushly moving, and original solemnity that’s the true feather in Zanelli’s headdress, whose majestic unveiling has been a long time coming.
. THEN CAME BRONSON
NBC’s 1969 one-season series had Michael Parks as a freewheelin’ journalist who goes on the road down Route 66, and a whole lot of other byways, as mostly driven by the liltingly romantic music of George Dunning – whose soft, string musings comprise the first CD of this unexpected, but very welcome Intrada release. No dirty, rock and rolling Easy Riders here for the primetime sensibility, just a nice guy cyclist finding kindred spirits on the road. One can certainly see album producer Lukas Kendall’s affinity for Dunning’s sweetly gentle approach, as his scoring here could easily be mistaken for such romantic Classic Trek Dunning episodes as “Metamorphosis” and “The Empath.” But there’s still a bold, sweeping sense of wanderlust to “Bronson’s” strikingly lavish sound, especially with one of those themes that are particularly great for having its notes exactly match the vowels in the show’s title. While there’s just a bit of period jazz to Dunning’s work, “Then Came Bronson’s” second platter is a bit more of a wild one in terms of its more adventurous and jazzy approach, from. “Angels From Hell’s” Stu Phillips getting to show off his gentler biker side with restrained funk, while John Parker swings with sultry big band arrangements, his magical ride with wild horses jumping into nutty cartoon comedy that makes you think the soundtrack had switched to “Gilligan’s Island.” Tom McIntosh uses a siren chorus, as Richard Shores ambles with a sultry trumpet and Phillip Springer grooves with Burt Bacharach-like brass. Such is the varied, entertaining journey of “Bronson’s” musical trip on the mild side, one that thankfully wasn’t out to rebel against the kind of melody that makes old school television scoring still stand out.
. THE WOLVERINE
For a composer with muttonchops when it comes to horror scoring, Marco Beltrami has shown his talent for playing supernatural superheroes with the likes of The Crow and Hellboy. Taking multiple stabs at his second Marvel character after his berserker score for “Blade II,” Beltrami actually ends up giving powerful restraint to his take on Weapon X for “The Wolverine.” Dealing with a mutant whose powers of self-healing and longevity were God-given before his protruding finger-razors were souped-up with adamantium, Beltrami is more musically interested in playing a bub battling with his own inner demons, a man who’d far rather be left alone then being shanghaied to Japan to take care of some long-past personal business. The result is a score that doesn’t start off screaming as most soundtracks of this summer type are wont to do, but instead has a real psychological build to it. Eerie bells and trembling strings convey Logan’s haunted, wounded soul, one that’s full of the kind of strikingly warped percussive effects that Beltrami excels at. And when he does what he does best, those Taiko drums blast away with bestial fury, first in the knowingly named cue “Logan’s Run.” However, the score is also less “Japanese” than you’d expect. Its most clever surprise is using a Morricone-esque harmonica that captures Logan’s man-with-no-name persona. It’s a simmering vengeance that finally takes on muscular flesh for a siege on “The Hidden Fortress,” and doesn’t let up through the raging, brass and string-blasting workout of the next several cues, giving Beltrami his second great action workout this year after “Good Day To Die Hard.” Going out with an unusually, and powerfully reflective finish of a haunted drumbeat and harmonica, Beltrami impresses with an unusually complex comic book score that’s more about inner tsuris than big razor blades, while still delivering the musical blood and thunder the fans are expecting.
CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, Screen Archives and Varese Sarabande