Soundtrack Picks: ‘THE RAILWAY MAN ‘ is one of the top soundtracks to own for May, 2014
Also worth picking up BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY, FILTH, THE GERMAN DOCTOR, THE MACHINE, SHE-DEVIL, SOLAR CRISIS, UNDER THE SKIN and more!
To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD
THE TOP PICKS
What is it?: 2007’s “Lair” stands as a videogame that simultaneously allowed the booming industry to take off and crash to the ground. The big downdraft came from a “Sxixaxis” PS3 control system that was supposed to allow you fly giant lizards with the ease of a dragon rider from Pern. However, it ended up being so frustratingly faulty that thousands of users let fly their controllers towards their television screens (mine included). While players would have to wait for an analog update to truly enjoy the game’s graphic virtues, the one area that immediately met “Lair’s” grand ambitions, and then some, was in its truly amazing score by John Debney, which showed how the genre could truly fly with the kind of symphonic force given to a Hollywood blockbuster – in this case music with all of the grandeur of John Williams.
Why should you buy it?: Consider the thrilling, massively symphonic twists and turns of “Lair” as the score to a “Star Wars” or “Indiana Jones” movie that never was, and you’ll get an idea of just how well Debney assumed that maestro’s style in capturing the thrill of a trained dragon under one’s saddle. No Scottish bagpipes here, but incredibly thematic score that weaved the thrill of flying with the adventure of epic battle. “Lair” deliberately had a feeling of pure, big screen adventure – as harnessed for a past time seeking to capture a young multiplex audience. John Debney has certainly done massively fantastical scores, in particular “Cutthroat Island,” “The Scorpion King,” “Zathura” and “Iron Man 2.” But it’s the sheer exuberance of “Lair” that’s made this a standout for any entertainment medium as its soundtrack is supercharged with the enthusiasm of a composer being given a game-changing opportunity to show the industry that what many viewed as kid’s stuff could hold this kind of bold musical power. The melodies of “Lair” sing with the noble goodness versus militaristic evil, as soaringly performed by a 90-piece army of orchestral players at Abbey Road studios in London. While their exhilarating symphonic approach could take place in any time period involving a bullwhip or light saber, Debney and additional composer Kevin Kaska (a frequent orchestrator for the musician) also give this epic work an exotic touch, with age-old ethnic instruments, and Lisbeth Scott’s evocative vocals distinctly placing the soundtrack in a sword and sorcery realm. But whether you experienced “Lair’s” score through a console or not, its musical storytelling that lets us imagine a knight and his dragon pitted against overwhelming odds, delivering one fire-blasting action cue after the other to show that game scoring was worthy of this kind of musical scope.
Extra Special: Where “Lair” has been available as a downloadable score since the game’s release, La La Land now unleashes Debney’s masterwork in the physical format it deserves, showing off the score’s majesty across two CD’s. A glossy booklet highlights the game’s beautiful art design, with Jeff Bond’s liner notes giving “Lair” its well-deserved place in the major evolution of video game scoring, one that showed how top Hollywood talent would be eager to bring all their big screen might to help the gaming industry’s sonic aesthetic take off on the cliffhanging leaps and bounds provided by the wings of dragons -– if not necessarily their controls.
2) THE RAILWAY MAN
What is it?: David Hirschfelder has long shown his talent for playing the sweep of historical drama from the darkly regal “Elizabeth” to the epic saga of his homeland in “Australia.” But he’s just as capable of hauntingly intimate, character-oriented scores, whether it’s solving the murder mystery behind “The Weight of Water” to helping a mentally drained pianist unlock the greatness within himself for “Shine.” Hirschfelder’s abilities join like never before in tracking the path from atrocity to forgiveness with “The Railway Man,” a devastatingly powerful, true-life film about a WW2 POW coming to terms with the atrocities visited on him and his comrades by the Japanese who enslave them to creating the Burmese railway. It’s a reckoning he must make before the past destroys him, a journey forward that Hirschfelder charts with moving subtlety, even as his anguished music revisits the past’s horrors that have grown to become too much too bear.
Why you should buy it?: “The Railway Man” begins innocently enough with the unlikely romance between a buttoned-down train watcher (Colin Firth) and an attractive schoolteacher (Nicole Kidman), their growing bond captured for all of its charm by a bucolic, classically-oriented strings and angelic bells – yet with a slightly strange choral quality that tells us something is amiss. As his growing present-day anger segues between flashbacks of barbaric treatment, Hirschfelder balances sad, tense orchestral rhythm with impactful symphonic statements that convey the awful, lashing weight of man’s inhumanity at its worst. It’s music that powerfully contrasts the outrage of POW treatment with one man’s desperate struggle to survive both in body and mind. Military timpani is pitted against Asian winds and percussion, creating a score constantly under Japanese guard, with the threat of dark punishment meted out at any moment. While it doesn’t take long before the niceties that Hirschfelder began with become a distant memory, the composer always keeps a melodic center within even the score’s most frightening moments, showing both war criminals and their victims affected by cruelty, emotion that’s no more powerful than when a Latin chorus, elegiac strings and tolling bells creates a biblical sense of humiliation and outrage.
Extra Special: Though “The Railway Man” gets unbearably sad, healing is this score’s ultimate destination. To get there, Hirschfelder has created a truly beautiful main theme, one varied with slow moving strings and Japanese instruments to connect both Western and Eastern musical styles, inexorably linking both captive and regretful torturer to find peace within themselves. It’s a tremendously moving melody that’s elicits emotion without being obvious about it – the trademark of any great dramatic score that’s certain enough in its effectiveness to let the actors’ performances do the heavy lifting. One of the strongest films and soundtracks so far this year, “The Railway Man” is a work of exceptional, transformative soulfulness, building a melodic bridge of peace from hearing humanity at its worst.
3) SHE-DEVIL (1,000 edition)
What is it?: Before Howard Shore became the thunderous orchestral king of serial killers, fantasy epics and heavy duty drama, the Canadian composer (and former SNL music director) did indeed have a funny bone to his body early in his Hollywood career, as can be evidenced by “After Hours,” “Big” and even “Moving.” Sure these scores might have been sandwiched between the Cronenbergian likes of “The Brood” and “The Fly,” but humor has always provided Shore with some of his most purely enjoyable scores, especially when taking on the harlot-housefrau battle between Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr in 1989s “She-Devil.” “
Why you should buy it?: Desperately Seeking Susan” director Susan Seidelman helmed this cat fight that likely sounded better on paper than it played in forced execution, but the right, over-the-top notes were certainly hit by Shore in this delightful score that’s finally getting its day in the sun from France’s Music Box Records. Consider this score the warm up to 1994s “Ed Wood,” as Shore uses his orchestra to go for hilariously overwrought emotion and retro kitsch, complete with cooing Esquival-esque singers. Like the horror score of a woman scorned, Shore contrasts “Night on Bald Mountain”-esque wrath with romantic melodies so grandiose that they’d send Alfred Newman running for cover – which is dead-on for conveying the attraction of Streep’s Harlequin superstar writer, whose ultra-feminine wiles steal away Barre’s husband. Shore’s score is the embodiment of this playful devilishness, chronicling the blonde man-eater and her black-haired righteous payback with lurking harps, sinister strings and growingly psychotic violins – all driven by a playfully antic theme that towers right up there with Mount Doom in Shore’s repertoire.
Extra Special: “She-Devil” also stands very well in the company of John Williams’ “Witches of Eastwick” as a playfully hellzapoppin showcase in how to use the immediately identifiable music of Old Scratch in energetically capturing the suburban destruction wrought by heartbreak. You can certainly hear the delight that Shore had in taking the intensity of bug men, killer kids and perverted twins he was dealing with at the time and giving their intensity a melodically rollicking dose of overwrought laughing gas for this wonderfully seditious score that stews the cauldron of righteous payback.
4) SOLAR CRISIS
What Is It?: I may have been the only person to see this intended sci-fi epic on the big screen back in 1990, let alone enjoy the loony virtues of Alan Smithee’s (i.e. Richard Sarafian’s) voyage to bomb the sun, a mission pre-figuring “Sunshine’s” by almost two decades. Powered with impressive effects by “2010’s” Richard Edlund, this 50 million dollar Japanese-American co-production was filled with stars like Tim Matheson, Jack Palance, Peter Boyle and Charlton Heston (because you can never end the Earth without him). But perhaps the most impressive passenger aboard “Solar Crisis” was Maurice Jarre, who’s catch-all style score was especially well suited for an all-over-the-place story involving a beautiful test tube astronaut intergalactic espionage and Paul Williams as a talking computer. Unfortunately, “Solar Crisis” ended up in a theatrical black hole in the States, essentially throwing Jarre’s impressive work into the void along with it. But thanks to Intrada, who’ve recently been putting out every relatively obscure work of the composer’s from “Prancer” to “Distant Thunder,” fans can enjoy this virtually unknown, yet sparkling highlight in Jarre’s career.
Why You Should Buy It?: Jarre was especially active in the sci-fi landscape during the 80s as he veered between the sumptuously romantic orchestral scoring of “The Bride,” the percussively ethnic post-apocalypse landscape lying within “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome,” and the unearthly synthesizers that created a “Dreamscape” – let alone scores that combined all of these styles to a powerful, otherworldly effect like “Enemy Mine.” A new decade’s start (which would also yield the alternately romantic and terrifying soundtracks to “Ghost” and “Jacob’s Ladder”) made “Solar Crisis” a powerful summation of Jarre’s best genre attributes. Always a composer at home in the desert, Jarre powerfully evokes the blasted environment of Earth with powerful brass, swirling action and exotic orchestrations, while keyboard percussion adds fuel to the incident-fraught spaceship racing to Earth’s salvation, music full of pounding, futuristic impact and metallic samples, buffeted by Jarre’s electronic solar winds. Yet some of “Crisis” most impactful moments revolve around the human sacrifice that makes for any disaster film worth its salt, as a mournful cello and steady heartbeats have an astronaut give his to save humanity. Finally, a “Carmina Burana”-esque chorus enters as to blow out the sun’s earth-killing spark, complete with what might be the most crescendos given to a climactic orchestral piece.
Extra Special: Where Jarre’s work, which was haphazardly cut about about the film and given an imperceptible mix to boot, his original musical intent is crisply restored here, with Jim Lochner doing an impressive job of describing the film’s crazy-quilt production. Now we can only hope that Intrada will release Jarre’s even more insane sci-fi score for “Solar Babies” to complete the composer’s tributes to global warming.
5) UNDER THE SKIN
What is it?: There are WTF scores. And then there are WTF scores, soundtracks that take an approach so utterly bizarre and unique that their composers don’t seem to have originated from this planet. On that note, someone had better do a major physical examination of Mica Levi, a seemingly come-from-nowhere musician – at least if you aren’t aware of her alternative career in Micachu and The Shapes. But given this young, classically trained artist’s stunning, and startling scoring debut, you just might assume her place of origin is another star system. For how else to describe the sound mass that’s likely what stands for scoring, as heard through alien ears? More impressively, the fact that this experimentation somehow works as music for the extremely open-minded Terran listener is a tribute to one of the most original sci-fi scores, let alone film scores, to arrive on this planet in years.
What is it?: While much “modern” classical music tends to be dissonantly shrieking sound masses whose pretentious point seems to be see how much a concert hall listener can be pushed before they start begging for some semblance of melody, “Under the Skin” is an excellent example of how extremely unconventional music is best first experienced within a motion picture – giving viewers a visual lifeline to then appreciate sad music on its own merits. There’s no doubt that the ghost of Krystof Penderecki, Gyorgy Ligety and their Avant garde ilk are hovering under the “Skin” of Levi’s skittering, insect-like string effects or the heartbeat pulse that leads to an eerily sensuous motif, all before sinking into a ghastly void below. It’s hard to figure out just what kind of organic, or electronic instrumentation that Levi is using here, other than imagining his work being created by some nightmarish biomechanical orchestra. But then, there’s no small inspiration given by the completely unsettling vision of director Jonathan Glazer, whose last (albeit terrible) theatrical film “Birth” created a similarly unique career-making score from Alexander Desplat. Yet the whole experience of “Under the Skin” doesn’t even seem like a movie as it does some documentary that follows a shapely alien about as she makes goo of her unlucky admirers, a filmmaking approach that demands something else than a typical horror sci-fi approach from its music. Levi certainly delivers an ultra-intellectual take on the shrieking, standard stuff, getting to the point of dissonant fingernails on a blackboard, yet pulling back just at the right moment. As one ventures through his “Skin,” the score reveals itself as surprisingly motivic, the sharp, stabbing effects and piercing coos giving the idea of an extra-terrestrial trying to communicate its come-hither love cry in notes that were once music.
Extra Special: At times almost unbearably busy, and at others nearly devoid of sound, Levi’s unsettling, experimental work goes way beyond being strange for strangeness’ sake. It fits brilliantly as an approximation of a character struggling under a human’s skin, desperately trying to feel something – a “warming” process to experiencing actual love. Its emotion that Levi finally gives to the score, an eerily melodic approach that brings to mind the similarly, human-trapped (if far less lethal) visitor of “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” While that film’s brilliant musical collage still awaits release, “Under the Skin” comes across for lack of better description as the seductive love child between Penderecki and Brian Eno, signaling a major birth of talent in Mica Levi, who’s now been given license o be as bizarre as she wants to be. Indeed, hearing something remotely normal from him would almost be a bit of a let down after inhabiting the terrifying, tantalizing place he hears “Under the Skin.”
ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:
. BETTER LIVING THROUGH CHEMISTRY
Few comedy-minded composers are bridging the gap between the days of future alt. rock and the past’s pop kitsch like Andrew Feltenstein and John Nau, especially when it comes to all-out spoofs that allowed the free for all of jazz, psychedelic and Mexican music in “Casa di mi Padre” or the 70s funk fest and shark love songs of “Anchorman 2.” But what makes “Living” better, and more challenging is that instead of uproarious pop culture and movie jokes, this scoring duo is tasked with rampaging through regular day suburbia, if still completely jacked up on illicit sex and drugs. Their “Chemistry” album gets off to a giddy start with their specialty in upending 60s-style cocktail music, complete with a brassy Bossa Nova beat, Novachord and cooing voices – music that’s would fit perfectly into Don Draper’s bachelor pad. But “Better Living” gets even catchier when it goes to a relatively stripped down, and even emotional sound for Feltenstein and Nau, as guitar, bells and marimbas get across a hapless, sad sack pharmacist gradually going to the dark, career-ruining side in the arms of a neighborhood sex pot. Spastic, hallucinatory rhythms create the rush of raiding the drugstore, as balanced by the sympathetic tunes of conformity lost. “Better” stretches the duo creatively with wacked-out thrills, sweet poignancy and uneasy anticipation, giving new energy to their already jacked-up style. Ending the album is a wistful piano and synth song that takes Feltenstein and Nau into Jon Brion territory – a nice RX in a cabinet of musical happy pills that threaten to only get peppier.
. DENNIS THE MENACE
While he was a maestro of nearly every musical style, the one genre that Jerry Goldsmith never quite seemed to master was straight-up, non-genre comedy, particularly in such oddball scores as “The Lonely Guy,” “Fierce Creatures” and “Mr. Baseball.” Maybe it was because the melodies got all sentimental when confronted with straight-up romance, as opposed to playing the hijinks of gremlins and psycho neighbors. While he might not have horns, the devilish mischief of 1993s “Dennis the Menace” does much to rectify the Goldsmith comedy curse, especially since the romance here is giving a yucky kiss to Margaret Wade. “Dennis” impresses by tapping into the satirical heartland flavor that filled the likes of Goldsmith’s “Gremlins,” a bucolic sound full of bird-tweeting flutes, gently gamboling strings and tender pianos. It’s a pleasantly melodic, theme-filled backdrop to the musical pratfalls at hand, as Goldsmith uses tip-toeing brass, imposing “Peter and the Wolf” Prokofiev-isms and smart-aleck electronic percussion to set up one military-minded “Home Alone”-esque prank after the other. While he might not be as antic as Carl Stalling in playing smashed heads from set-up to painful payoff, there’s a wonderful, catchy energy that sweetly plays a larger-than-life outrage for a little kid. Special note can be given to the marvelous harmonica playing of the legendary Tommy Morgan. A Goldsmith regular from “Lilies of the Field” to “Stagecoach” and “Magic” (not to mention riffing for other composers on the likes of “High Plains Drifter,” “Westworld” and “Rosewood”) Morgan’s work on “Dennis” plays Hank Ketchum’s comic strip character with all the verve of Huckleberry Finn. One could only imagine this as the soundtrack to the Mark Twain adaptation that could have been.
Clint Mansell has a rocking way of descending into madness, whether it’s a math savant drilling a hole in his head to solve an impossible equation, having the savior of the great flood become convinced he’s got to sacrifice a first born, or manically playing a bunch of junkies hallucinating their way to hell. Fuel his style of using rhythmically intensifying waves of electric guitar and symphonic psychosis with the drug-addled imagination of “Trainspotting” author Irving Welsh, and you’ve got a powerfully unhinged recipe for one very bad Scottish lieutenant in “Filth.” The twisted cop’s nationality cleverly accounts for the bagpipes that show up amidst the gnarled acoustical chords, deceptively calming strings and piano patterns that build to a emotional epiphany, percussion hammering away like the climactic drum solo before one’s self-destructive explosion. Yet given just how far Mansell has gone out on stuff like “Pi” and “Requiem for A Dream,” the composer’s “Filth” isn’t quite the purposefully crazy mess of excess you’d expect, managing to be quite melodically pleasing as it ventures between the peaks and valleys of melancholy meditation to humorous junkie frenzy. The effect of Mansell’s escalating approach is no more evident than during the ruthlessly determined 15 minute climactic cue, which shows his intense way of ever-so-slowly supercharging a memorable theme, the instruments gradually adding onto each other to a reach a plateau of psychological, and musical intensity that’s nothing less than gripping. “Filth” once again shows there’s no composer who can make the wallow of a bad trip as musically good, or mesmerizingly intense.
. THE FINAL MEMBER
Whether it was a mildly horny teen in “The Way Way Back” a guy getting it on with his dream girl through a good number of the “(500) Days of Summer” or a high school senior MacDaddy facing “The Spectacular Now,” Rob Simonsen has scored more than a few films where using one’s penis is of vital importance. The difference with “The Final Member” is that it becomes a detachment contest among three particularly giving guys who want to donate their Johnson to the Icelandic Phallological Museum, the preeminent (and only) penis museum on the planet that needs to complete their collection with a homo sapien male’s most pleasurable part. Simonsen’s score is also a small work of wonder, one that’s about as eccentric as you’d expect given the subject. You might even call it a sly satire of the quirkily flowing documentary music that one could hear from “Tim’s Vermeer” to “The Unknown Known.” Except here, this thoroughly enrapturing tapestry of styles is dedicated to finding out just why one would donate a penis, especially one donor would still be walking about. But while there’s rhythmic quirkiness to spare (especially as there’s something naturally mirthful about Iceland), Simonsen’s range from classical melodies to waltzes, tender piano, a yearning violin and eerily enticing bells is a whimsical observer, as opposed to going for easy laughs. In the end, Simonsen’s “Member” is quite beautiful and even touching, purposefully playing against subject matter that would have any other self-respecting penis owner holding onto their members for dear life. Errol Morris and Ken Burns would be happy to possess Simonsen’s versatile and enticing “Member.”
THE GERMAN DOCTOR (Wakolda)
While history itself never allowed us the satisfaction of Auschwitz’s “Angel of Death” being brought to justice, that hasn’t stopped the movies from imagining what happened to Joef Mengele during his decades-long sojourn in South America. Now Nazi-friendly Argentina offers their take on this legendarily evil figure with “The German Doctor,” which finds the physician brought into the fold of an unsuspecting family, whose daughter he takes a potentially dangerous shine to. But if you’re expecting the rousing Bavarian strains of Jerry Goldsmith’s “The Boys from Brazil,” or the menacing, slithering darkness of Michael Small’s “Marathon Man,” then composers Andres Goldstein and Daniel Tarrab defy immediately classifiable musical villainy with this intriguing, low-key score. Taking a chamber approach that veers between jazz, a mournful Diduk and acoustical lyricism, the duo’s “German Doctor” doesn’t so much suggest a Nazi hunt as it does a sadlu soulful road trip caught somewhere between the Latin-inflected, evil-within tangos of Elia Cmiral’s “Apartment Zero” with a Guastavo’s Santolalla’s psychologically perfective guitar work in “The Motorcycle Diaries.” This is a good musical “Doctor” indeed, a driving, uneasy soundtrack that isn’t interested in portraying a cackling devil as much as it is trying to understand what drives a seemingly pleasant physician to horrifying barbarity. It’s a melancholy, even poignant work whose real tension comes from when this betrayal of trust will be unmasked, even with the tension of an Israeli pursuer at hand to most definitely qualify this as a uniquely suspenseful score. Released on Quartet Records under the title of “Wakolda” last year, you can also track down the soundtrack’s English identity on iTunes as well.
. THE MACHINE
Among the wave of big-budget sci-fi scores using the latest in music high-tech to capture a lo-fi mid-80s electric sound, “The Machine” resurrects the ghost in the synth to notable effect. Making his feature debut after numerous shorts (one tellingly titled “The British UFO Files”), Tom Raybould nails a hybrid approach between the coldly determined rhythms of John Carpenter, the more ominous sonic masses of Vangelis and the organic tonalities of a gentle, and just as effective piano and guitar. Put these together, and you’ve got an impressive recipe for creating musical artificial intelligence with a heart. Such is the beautiful, but deadly robot conjured within an underground base for this well-reviewed genre film, a story whose isolation, moral dilemma and bouts of action is made all the more atmospheric by Raybould’s mesmerizing score. While there aren’t overarching themes as such, Raybould knows the tricks of his forbearers, make each selection its own musical entity, the score swinging between humanity and killing machine to create equal parts tension and empathy. It’s a score construct of continual rhythmic and ethereal interest that goes beyond its retro-perfection to find a chillingly unique voice that refreshingly retrofits old, potentially cheesy synth parts into a sensual score, a cool blast from past sci-fi score constructs that you can’t take your ears off of.
. MUPPETS MOST WANTED / THE MUPPETS
Animation has been a particularly well-suited realm for Christophe Beck to practice his melodically energetic way of giving an orchestra the frisky, bright vibes of pop music, a Pharrell-ish feeling of optimism as well as playfully ominous danger that’s recently helped to propel The Mouse House’s short “Paperman” to an Oscar win before assisting in “Frozen’s” feature-length CGI-toon gold – a movie that’s made Beckthe box office champ of cartoon scoring as well. And if Beck can give animation the sensation of infectous happiness, than why not felt? Such is the antically pleasant spin he’s given to two Muppet movies, whose delighftul undercores are now gathered for the studio’s latest hardcopy partnership with Intrada Records. If there’s a reason that Jim Henson’s creations hit it big with audiences of all ages, then it’s due to the smart-assed humor he gave to what could’ve been child’s play, a rambunctiously dry vibe that Beck translates to these real-world toons. With Kermit mistaken for a doppelganger jewel thief in the “Muppets Most Wanted” tracks the lead off the album’s first half, Beck plays up the danger of the police pursuing our gang with archly mysterious melodies, the moaning choruses of a Russian Gulag, as well as the heartfelt strains of a pig just trying to get her green amphibian to commit. It’s broadly comic suspense and cliffhanging energy, all the speedy fun without the goofiness. Yet within the ludicrous context of pairing puppets with famed guest stars, Beck’s got the brassily dramatic conviction of the characters’ hand-controlled antics. The composer’s auspicious franchise start with “The Muppets” is a somewhat lighter hearted affair, capturing a let’s-put-the-band-back together groove with a nicely distinctive main theme. Mix in spy-bop jazz and pokey pizicattos into the emotional through line, and “The Muppets” not only brings across the love that these iconic fuzzballs have for each other, but also the endearing emotional bond that audiences have had for the colorful gang for decades – as understandably hipped up for two wiseguy reboots in an kid movie circuit where knowing saire is increasingly king.
. THE RESCUE
Intrada follows up their release of Bruce Broughton’s classic score to “Young Sherlock Holmes” with music for a just slightly more jingoistic youth adventure that’s sure to go down as one of Kim Il Jong’s least favorite entertainments. But for Broughton fans, 1988s Touchstone movie “The Rescue” is a flag-waving, anti North Korean blast of nutty musical fun from the composer, if only to hear Broughton unfurl symphonic action combos of all-American funk and evil Asian percussion. But then, blasting commies was the rage in a decade that saw Basil Poledouris take down the Russians on U.S. soil for “Red Dawn” and James Horner bringing back our boys from the Vietnam in “Uncommon Valor” (both albums maybe not so coincidentally released by this label). But what makes “The Rescue” stand out is how Broughton brings a kid’s-ear sensibility to a mission to save their SEAL fathers from behind enemy lines. A composer of such beautifully lyrical scores as “The Boy Who Could Fly” and “Harry and the Hendersons,” Broughton has a poetic way of conveying a sense of innocence for lush strings and gossamer percussion, elements that are thrown full-bore into militaristic, flag-waving bombast, exotically sinister Oriental percussion and pop rhythms. Fans of Broughton’s rousing string suspense and brass-blasting heroism in such scores as “Silverado” and “Tombstone” will certainly get their fill here as he skillfully builds the teens’ break into a North Korean prison, then unleashes exhilaratingly adult scoring that can stand with the best of his work. Crossing his Disney-friendly orchestral sound with Cold War fury in one of the odder movies to ride a box office wave from Disney, “The Rescue” shows just how well Broughton can turn toy solders into the real, orchestral blazing deal with his mix of kid-friendly melody and balls-out Commie killing orchestral vengeance, with a boisterous “A-Team” worthy-theme and a rock guitar riff on “The Star-Spangled Banner” to boot. Intrada’s red-and-blue colored booklet offers Broughton’s own humorous reminisce on his alternately aggressive and sweet work in the entertaining liner notes by Tim Grieving, which also features an interview with acting rescuer Ned Vaughan.
. WHO IS KILLING THE GREAT CHEFS OF EUROPE?
All the dining metaphors in the world can’t do justice to Henry Mancini’s delicious mystery-comedy score for Ted Kotcheff’s equally delectable 1978 film that took cinematic food porn to new, mouth-watering heights. A composer who knew how to blend suspense, romance and humor with an escapist touch, Mancini starts the ovens rolling with a rollicking, Baroque theme that captures the pomp of haute culture. Eschewing “Pink Panther”-esque jazz in favor of a classical, continental approach, Mancini ooh’s-and-aah’s over the highly edible creations with perky brass and lush strings, while providing an unexpected melancholy bite in his love theme for Jacqueline Bisset’s chef and George Segal’s definitely not over her ex. It’s music that recalls Mancini’s effervescent mix of attraction and playful Hitchcockian danger from “Silver Streak” just two years before, with the clever bombe plot musically coming to a symphonically suspenseful rhythmic boil for “The Final Feast,” followed by a heartbreaking requiem for how caloric deprivation can lead to a gastronomic body count. However the opposite couldn’t be truer for Mancini fans at the time of “Chef’s” release, as the vinyl album began a long-awaited era when the composer’s full scores were offered, as opposed to the recreations that had filled his past, though certainly pleasant soundtrack releases. Even then, you had to have a turntable for the past 33 years to enjoy “Chefs’” music. Now this wonderful score now finally hits CD as the auspicious premiere release of Varese’s Sarabande’s Vintage Soundtracks label, which will hopefully be serving the many worthy titles deserving of the digital age. But for the moment, this piece of Mancini mignon couldn’t be more welcome.
CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Intrada, iTunes, Movie Score Media, Screen Archives and Varese Sarabande