Archive for August 10th, 2012
Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on notable albums and the reissues they may someday see. Today’s installment looks back at the mighty career of the late Marvin Hamlisch and how his best songs might be compiled into a truly “Essential” release.
On Tuesday morning, August 7, news broke that composer Marvin Hamlisch had unexpectedly died the day before, at the age of 68. The worlds of music, theatre and film were all shocked, as Hamlisch’s latest musical, The Nutty Professor, had started performances in Nashville, Tennessee, and the busy conductor had continued to fulfill his concert appearances. Barbra Streisand reflected, “I’m devastated…he was a musical genius, but above all that, he was a beautiful human being.” Her sentiment was echoed by many with whom he had worked. Rupert Holmes, his lyricist on The Nutty Professor, commented, “The music of Marvin Hamlisch is invariably compassionate, charming, tender, uplifting, classy, delightful and profoundly moving. The world has not lost a note of his genius. His music will live on. What I have lost as his devoted collaborator is a friend who was invariably…compassionate, tender, uplifting, classy, delightful and often profoundly moving.” Robert Klein, star of Hamlisch’s musical They’re Playing Our Song, admitted, “He was inscrutable in some ways, but was a loving collaborator who composed the most beautiful melodies, and thankfully we are left with them. It is sad to think of all the beautiful music he would have composed in days to come.” Liza Minnelli, a childhood friend, summed it up: “I have lost my lifelong best friend, and sadly we have lost a splendid, splendid talent.”
The best way, of course, to celebrate Hamlisch’s life is with his music. Surely the man who wrote “The Way We Were” and “One [Singular Sensation]” is deserving of a retrospective collection. And so we’ve created one, Reissue Theory-style! A box set would seem most natural, with one disc devoted to his orchestral soundtrack work, another to his Broadway musicals, and a third to his pop music and hit film songs. But would it be possible to distill the essence of Marvin Hamlisch onto one disc? His was an enormously versatile talent; there’s not a signature Marvin Hamlisch sound the way there is a “Burt Bacharach sound” or a “Henry Mancini sound.” What Hamlisch’s compositions have in common is an unerring sense of melody, an open heart and a true positivity. And you’ll certainly hear some musical trademarks on these tracks.
For our not-yet-a-reality The Essential Marvin Hamlisch, we have attempted to bring together the best of all three of Hamlisch’s musical worlds, with both hit songs and some pieces which might be unfamiliar. Some amazing tracks had to fall by the wayside, all of which are every bit as worthy as those we have chosen: “At the Ballet,” from A Chorus Line, perhaps that score’s most thrillingly visceral moment. “At the Fountain,” the heart-stopping soliloquy from Sweet Smell of Success. The yearning “Disneyland” from Smile. “Sunshine, Lollipops and Rainbows,” the Lesley Gore pop hit. “Life is What You Make It,” from the film Kotch. “Cause I Believe In Loving,” an affecting song that closes Woody Allen’s Bananas in a version performed by singer Jake Holmes. The dramatic cues for films like Sophie’s Choice and Ordinary People. The list goes on and on. Hamlisch even wrote a number of songs for performers who might not usually be associated with him. The young Paul Simon recorded a demo of the song “Flame.” The Chambers Brothers, Stephanie Mills, Tevin Campbell and Peter Allen all recorded music by Marvin Hamlisch.
You can read our full tribute to Marvin Hamlisch here. Or hit the jump for our hypothetical track listing to The Essential Marvin Hamlisch, with track-by-track “liner notes” and complete discographical information as to where you can find each of these remarkable songs! Read the rest of this entry »