Archive for the ‘John Williams’ Category
La-La Land never fails to amaze when it comes to Black Friday. The soundtrack label often saves some of its biggest and highest-profile titles for announcements on the shopping weekend (see 2010, 2011 and 2012) – and this year is no different, with two premiere releases of acclaimed scores, an expanded edition of a superhero sequel and a box set devoted to one of the biggest action film franchises of all time.
First up: call them slobs, call them jerks, call them gross – just don’t call them when you’re in trouble! Officers Mahoney, Thompson, Jones, Martin, Tackleberry, Barbara and Hightower (plus the reluctant Lt. Harris) were the misfit newbie cops in the 1984 comedy Police Academy, starring Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, Michael Winslow and Bubba Smith – and while the series is perhaps best known for the increasingly madcap sequels it never seemed to stop spawning (the seventh film in the series bowed in 1994), its score by Robert Folk has long been in high demand. Now, for the first time, enjoy every cue from the film, including the unforgettably jaunty march for the recruits, and even Jean-Marc Dompierre and His Orchestra’s ”El Bimbo,” a source cue that scores a classic gag in the unforgettable Blue Oyster Bar. LLL’s release is limited to 3,000 units.
Russian-born composer Dimitri Tiomkin was a master of the Western film score (hear his work on High Noon for definitive proof), and one of his greatest achievements, the score to John Sturges’ Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957), is finally available on CD in a 2,ooo-unit pressing. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas’ Hollywoodized portrayals of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday didn’t teach anyone facts about the real event, but it sure made for some great genre entertainment. This lengthy disc features the complete score in mono, with eight bonus stereo cues, source music and demos of the classic title song, originally sung by Frankie Laine but covered here by both singing cowboy/Disney voice actor Rex Allen and Bob Hope/USO sideman Tony Romano. Laine’s recording is, of course, also included and in fact opens the album.
After the jump, a trio of men of steel and some of their most iconic music!
In 1976, John Williams was between Oscars – for Jaws and Star Wars, to be exact. The year was filled with great film scores from the future legend – among them, Family Plot, Black Sunday and Midway. Another of his fine works during America’s bicentennial year was for Arthur Penn’s western The Missouri Breaks, headlined by Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. The actual score tracks heard in the United Artists picture have never been released, either on LP or CD; Williams re-recorded his compositions for an album, much as his old friend and mentor Henry Mancini frequently did. And so the release of Williams’ original Missouri Breaks music would be cause enough for celebration, but its upcoming limited edition 2-CD presentation also marks another “first”: the first appearance from John Williams on the Kritzerland label. The new Missouri Breaks is a deluxe edition befitting the ambitious film. The label will present the original score recordings with bonus material on the first disc, and a completely-remastered edition of the familiar soundtrack LP on the second disc.
Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, The Miracle Worker) assembled a top-notch cast to bring Thomas McGuane’s screenplay to life, also including Randy Quaid, Frederic Forrest and Harry Dean Stanton. Nicholson portrayed Tom Logan, leader of a gang of horse thieves being pursued by Brando’s Robert E. Lee Clayton. Penn was no stranger to the western genre, having directed such films as The Left-Handed Gun (1958) and Little Big Man (1970), and McGuane had recently written the contemporary comic western Rancho Deluxe (1975). The production was in the shadow of Brando’s eccentric behavior as well as some unfortunate mishaps that resulted in the death of one horse and the injuries of others. Though a hotly-anticipated film, The Missouri Breaks ultimately became a box office disappointment best remembered today for the bold performances of its stars.
For his score, John Williams didn’t write in the symphonic style with which he soon became closely associated. Instead, he composed for a small ensemble including guitars, electric bass, harmonicas, and mandolin. Kritzerland describes Williams’ evocative score as follows: “Williams had already done big, brash, outdoorsy Americana before with The Reivers and The Cowboys. But The Missouri Breaks wasn’t big and brash, and so required a different kind of score – smaller in scale, but one that would capture the characters and the drama as well as the period and the feel of the film. And, of course, Williams delivered a perfect score (albeit atypical for him during this period), mostly composed for guitars, harmonica, percussion, and a handful of other instruments. Williams never wants for coming up with an instantly memorable and beautiful theme and The Missouri Breaks has a beauty in its love theme – never overused, always right. His main title music sets the mood with tense bass notes, and off-kilter harmonica and guitar – it’s wonderfully evocative and haunting. There are up-tempo infectious cues and cues for Brando that are really off-kilter. It’s Williams doing what he did (and still does) better than anyone, and it’s a score that’s completely unique to him.”
After the jump: more specs on what you’ll find on Kritzerland’s new release, plus the full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »
Last week, Intrada debuted an expanded edition of the score to Brian DePalma’s modern suspense picture, Dressed to Kill (1980). Nancy Allen plays a call girl who witnesses a murder, and Michael Caine is the victim’s psychologist, who might have more of a connection to the murder than meets the eye. DePalma’s controversial film owed more than a little to Alfred Hitchcock and Psycho in tone and subject matter, but Pino Donaggio’s score was worlds apart from Bernard Hermann’s fearsome soundtrack to that film. Donaggio commands a full orchestra with an almost romantic main theme contrasted throughout by rhythmic passages representing the suspense and murder throughout.
For this release, Intrada greatly expands upon the original Varese Sarabande LP, featuring nearly an hour of music, nearly all of it newly mixed from the original multitrack session masters, which turned up after years of vault searching. Fans of Donaggio’s work for DePalma will not be disappointed by this one.
And La-La Land delivers a special treat for fans of John Williams: an expanded edition of his score to 1997′s Rosewood. Comparably obscure to his works for Steven Spielberg, big-budget fantasies or even the dramas of auteurs like Oliver Stone, this John Singleton film dramatized a racially-motivated violent event in Florida in 1923, bringing together Ving Rhames and Jon Voight as an unlikely team who sets out to fight against the racists who are attacking the titular black community. Williams, of course, handled things with typical grace and gravitas, utilizing a choir for the haunting “Look Down, Lord” and infusing passages with period color, including light blues and gospel shadings.
Rosewood‘s expanded presentation, limited to 3,500 units, includes two discs – one featuring the original mix and edit of the score as heard in the film, the other featuring the original Sony Classical soundtrack album. Mike Matessino, who co-produced with Sony Music’s Didier C. Deutsch, masters the disc, and Jeff Bond writes a powerful set of liner notes. Also exciting: Rosewood is first in a planned series of scores from LLL celebrating the 90th anniversary of Warner Bros. Pictures – and it’s one of many titles you can get through the label’s current dads-and-grads/Memorial Day sale, where everything is 20% off with a coupon code featured on La-La Land’s website.
After the jump, you can order your copies of both titles and check out the track lists!
Review: John Williams, “Jurassic Park: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – 20th Anniversary Edition”
Really, it’s almost pointless to speculate why John Williams never received an Oscar nomination for his score to Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park (1993). The composer’s CV features several of the most iconic scores in the history of movies with synchronized sound. Five of his projects – an adaptation of the music to the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof and four originals (JAWS (1975), Star Wars (1977), E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Schindler’s List (1993)) have won gold statuettes, and he has more nominations than anyone alive in the film business. (He recently moved up on the all-time list, sandwiched between reigning champ Walt Disney and his fellow composer and mentor Alfred Newman.)
Such is the praise for Williams that it’s tempting to avoid even posting more about his work for the year’s top blockbuster, and still one of the highest-grossing films of all time. But in the 20 years since the sterling Spielberg-Williams partnership has grown and changed, the music of Jurassic Park is an astounding throwback to a very different era for both men. It was Spielberg’s last blockbuster before his “serious” phase of Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan and last year’s Lincoln, and one of the last times Williams took his tried-and-true approach – lush, lyrical themes and soaring fanfares against the backdrop of often dazzling visual effects – and made it work in an original context. (Outside of three scores and an iconic theme for the Harry Potter film series, Williams’ biggest blockbuster scores are tied to familiar franchises, from Star Wars to, indeed, Jurassic Park.)
Perhaps to a certain generation, Jurassic‘s bag of tricks pale to the rush of the themes to Superman or Raiders of the Lost Ark – but it’s worth noting that the musical themes in a film about dinosaurs wreaking havoc in a zoo-like setting (a brilliant high-concept piece if ever there was one) are as poignant to modern viewers as the Star Wars themes were to their parents. I once observed a group of high schoolers selecting Jurassic Park in a video store, loudly emulating both the lilting five-note pattern of the film’s main theme and the whimsical secondary fanfare used to establish the park as they left with their film for the night. Like the low-end terror strings of JAWS or Raiders‘ triumphant march, this is a score that works.
And just as it’s a pleasure to see audiences gear up for a 3D reissue of the film this weekend – a new way to view a picture that’s lost little of its technical ecstasy or Spielbergian popcorn-film charm, even 20 years and two (soon to be three) sequels later – it’s a pleasure to see Williams’ iconic score gussied up in a newly-expanded edition (Geffen, no cat. #).
How does this new edition stack up? We investigate after the jump.
Well, this one snuck up on us like a pack of velociraptors: in honor of its 20th anniversary and impending 3-D theatrical reissue, Geffen has quietly snuck out an expanded, albeit digital-only, reissue of John Williams’ score to the 1993 blockbuster Jurassic Park.
Michael Crichton’s 1990 technothriller novel asked an astounding question for a new decade of popular science: what if geneticists could extract preserved DNA of dinosaurs and recreate them in the present day? As is typical of Crichton fare (think Westworld with stomping predators), a trip to an as-yet-unopened theme park devoted to these re-engineered animals goes horribly awry, captured in a deft mix of rock-star science and good old-fashioned scares.
It was, of course, the perfect fodder for a big-budget movie, and, in the words of Jurassic Park’s creator John Hammond, Hollywood spared no expense. Steven Spielberg and a fine cast anchored by Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough (whose Gandhi bested Spielberg’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for a Best Picture Oscar) bought the fictitious world of Jurassic Park to life – and a supporting cast of groundbreaking dinos (both lifelike animatronics by the Stan Winston Studio and digital creations by Industrial Light & Magic) propelled the film far beyond mere blockbuster status. For four years, it was the world’s highest-grossing film, and it won all three Oscars it was nominated for in the fields of Visual Effects, Sound Mixing and Sound Editing. It also spun off two sequels, with a third set for release next summer.
While Williams’ 12th score for a Spielberg film was not nominated for an Oscar (he in fact won his fifth that same year for Spielberg’s other film that year, the acclaimed Holocaust drama Schindler’s List), it still stands as one of the best and most beloved in the Spielberg-Williams canon. Two beautiful primary themes anchor the film, an E.T.-like motif with soaring strings to signify the majesty of the prehistoric creatures, and a trumpet fanfare for the overall sense of island adventure. But there are great atmospheric score moments throughout, from the dangerous percussion of “Dennis Steals the Embryo” to a woozy four-note motif that scores the raptor attacks in the last act of the film.
The generous 70-minute soundtrack album has been expanded with 11 minutes of additional material, including the humorously-titled “Stalling Around,” music that accompanied a light-hearted cartoon in the film explaining how dinos were recreated (a fine hat tip to Looney Tunes composer Carl W. Stalling) and some great subdued cues from the first third of the film.
While it is a bummer that this JP expansion is digital-only and, thus far, exclusive only to iTunes in North America, it is a pleasant surprise for both new and old fans of this “adventure 65 million years in the making” to have a brand-new edition of this classic score. A humongous hat tip to good friend of The Second Disc Charlie Brigden for informing us of this release through a review from his excellent Soundtrek column at Lost in the Multiplex, which discerning score fans would do well to bookmark.
Check out the track list after the jump!
The past week has been a boon to fans of A-list composers of the Silver Age of film scoring. Intrada has unearthed two unreleased scores (one entirely unused) by two of the most beloved composers of recent memory, while La-La Land has put back into print one of the most underrated scores by another genius of the same vintage.
James Horner had one of the best years of his career in 1989, scoring Field of Dreams and Glory that year and earning an Oscar and Golden Globe nod, respectively, for those works. He also lent his talents to In Country, a drama by Norman Jewison based on Bobbie Ann Mason’s novel. It tells the story of a Kentucky teenager (Emily Lloyd, a recent breakout performer from the film Wish You Were Here) who uncovers the mystery of her father, who died in the Vietnam War, with the help of his brother (a Golden Globe-nominated Bruce Willis), a fellow veteran with whom she lives. A tender score with some military undertones, Horner’s In Country was never released, an LP program having been scuttled in post-production. Now, Intrada and Warner release that album with another eight tracks, presenting the complete score in its entirety.
Not to be confused with the Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe film, 1992′s Gladiator was a little seen sports drama about the friendship between two young men (James Marshall and Cuba Gooding, Jr.) trapped by circumstances in an underground boxing circuit. While the released film’s music wasn’t much to write home about (a solid electronic score by Terminator composer Brad Fiedel, a strange compilation album on CBS Records featuring tracks by C+C Music Factory, 3rd Bass and Warrant), the original plan featured a score by legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith. Featuring full orchestra with synthesizers and percussion on display, the results were classic Jerry – and perplexing that the cues are only making their debut now. But it’s the full score, direct from the original session mixes and produced by longtime collaborator Bruce Botnick – and it’s yours to order from Intrada.
After the jump, John Williams scares the daylights out of you with the sound of The Fury!
What do a beloved Broadway musical and an iconic sci-fi epic have to do with dance music pioneer Boris Midney? Plenty, as it turns out. Midney, a producer and arranger who came to prominence in the disco era with his expansive 48-track productions, recorded under a number of guises: Caress, Beautiful Bend, Masquerade, Double Discovery, to name a few. And The Demon Music Group’s Harmless Records imprint indeed does have a double discovery! On January 26 in the U.K. and one week later in the U.S., an expanded reissue of two era-defining disco platters will arrive in one package: 1979’s Evita, recorded under the Festival name and known to many simply as Disco Evita, and the following year’s reinvented The Empire Strikes Back, released under Midney’s own name.
Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s 1976 concept album Evita, based on the life and times of Argentina’s controversial First Lady Eva Perón, starred Julie Covington in the title role. Covington led a cast that also included Mike d’Abo and Paul Jones of Manfred Mann, future Les Miserables star Colm Wilkinson, pop crooner Tony Christie and actress/singer Barbara Dickson. The success of Evita was immediate, with Covington earning the No. 1 spot on the U.K. pop charts with her stirring rendition of “Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina.” A stage production directed by Harold Prince and starring Elaine Paige followed in the West End in 1978, and Prince’s production arrived in New York the following year with Patti LuPone in the title role. Impresario Robert Stigwood, an early champion of Lloyd Webber and Rice’s work, produced Evita in both London and New York, and through his RSO Records, had further designs on the musical.
Stigwood enlisted Boris Midney to create a disco version of the Evita score, which was released on RSO in 1979 under the name of Festival. Festival’s Evita continued the musical’s success streak, becoming a No. 1 Billboard Disco Album and yielding 12-inch, club-ready mixes of a special medley (over 20 minutes, spread on two sides of a single) and of “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.” Harmless’ reissue appends both sides of the “Evita: Special Dance Music Version” as well as the 7-inch mix of “Argentina” and the song’s Mexican 12-inch mix. Due to the success of the so-called Disco Evita, Stigwood enlisted Midney to turn his attention not to another rock opera, but to a space opera instead.
Mike picks up the story of Midney’s The Empire Strikes Back after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »
Wow! Was it just over a year ago when a rather dubious report began circulating (that, shockingly, was picked up by many otherwise-reputable publications) that proclaimed the death of the CD was secretly scheduled by the major labels for 2012? Well, 2012 has come and (almost) gone, and it might have been the most super-sized year in recent memory for reissues, deluxe and otherwise, from labels new and old. Here at the Second Disc, we consider our annual Gold Bonus Disc Awards a companion piece to Mike’s own round-up over at Popdose, and we endeavor to recognize as many of the year’s most amazing reissues as possible – over 80 worthy, unique titles. We also hope to celebrate those labels, producers and artists who have raised the bar for great music throughout 2012. As we’re literally deluged with news around these parts, these ladies and gentlemen prove, week after week, the strength and health of the catalogue corner of the music world. We dedicate The Gold Bonus Disc Awards to them, and to you, the readers. After all, your interest is ultimately what keeps great music of the past alive and well.
With that in mind, don’t forget to share your own thoughts and comments below. What made your must-have list in 2012? Without further ado, let’s celebrate 2012′s best of the best. Welcome to the Gold Bonus Disc Awards!
Which releases take home the gold this year? Hit the jump below to find out! Read the rest of this entry »
Here at The Second Disc, the holiday season is the perfect time to do what we love to do best: share the gift of music. For the second year in a row, we have we reached out to some of our favorite reissue labels and we’ve teamed with them to play Santa Claus to our awesome and faithful readers. It’s called – what else? – Second Discmas, and it’s going on now through Christmas!
The fourth day of Second Discmas is a real treat for all you soundtrack fans out there! For2012, their tenth year in business, La-La Land Records reissued and unearthed some of the most exciting and collectible titles of the genre. The prize pack from one of our favorite labels of the year includes expanded editions of Hook by John Williams, the triple-disc edition of Jerry Goldsmith’s score to Star Trek: The Motion Picture and even more surprises!
How can you make this prize yours? Click on the graphic up top to head over to Contest Central for the complete rules! And there’s still more great free music coming your way, only at The Second Disc!
One of the most beloved holiday traditions around Second Disc HQ is the annual unveiling of La-La Land Records’ Black Friday titles. Typically, the soundtrack reissue label saves some of their heaviest hitters for the end of the year, and this year is no exception. On December 4, fans will be able to order not only a mammoth box set of all the music from the original Star Trek series, but three beloved soundtracks from three legendary contemporary composers – all with a humorous “crime” theme to them.
Up first is John Williams’ score to the 1992 holiday flick Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Williams’ surprisingly deep score to the original John Hughes/Chris Columbus comedy in 1990 remains a holiday staple (and was brilliantly expanded by La-La Land for the film’s 20th anniversary in 2010). Much like the sequel itself, which essentially transplants Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) and his bumbling nemeses Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) from Chicago to The Big Apple, Williams HA2 score traverses on familiar ground, but new themes and arrangements (particularly the melancholy “Christmas Star” and the joyful “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas”) make this a keeper.
LLL has gone the extra mile with this title, both featuring a new remaster from Mike Matessino (who also wrote liner notes and co-produced the set with Nick Redman) and even a bit of extra music not featured on Varese Sarabande’s out-of-print 10th anniversary presentation in 2002. Extras include some holiday source music, an alternate of “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas” and the original presentations of “Christmas Star” and the Alan Menken/Jack Feldman-penned “My Christmas Tree,” both featured on the original soundtrack CD by Fox Records. Topped off by a package designed by Jim Titus that complements LLL’s Home Alone expansion, this set is limited to 3,000 units.
Next up, another sequel score set in the big city: Michael Kamen’s explosive soundtrack to Die Hard with a Vengeance, a limited edition at 4,000 units. In the third installment of this iconic action series (with a fifth due out next year), Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back on his home turf, attempting to stop a string of terrorist attacks committed by the nefarious Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons), the brother of his nemesis from the first Die Hard film. Featuring a greatly expanded presentation from the original RCA Victor soundtrack (while retaining The Lovin’ Spoonful’s classic “Summer in the City” as an album opener), the label has now helped provide an expansion for the scores to all of Kamen’s Die Hard scores. (La-La Land expanded Varese Sarabande’s pressing in their last Black Friday batch, and Varese themselves expanded Die Hard 2 just last month.)
Finally, the label remasters and expands Ennio Morricone’s Oscar-nominated score to The Untouchables. Brian DePalma’s crime drama told the real life story of Elliot Ness (based on his autobiography), whose team of Prohibition agents in 1920s Chicago took on the baddest gangster of them all, Al Capone (Robert DeNiro). Morricone was one of four nominees from the project, which netted Sean Connery an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as the incorruptible agent Jim Malone. This two-disc set, capped at 3,500 copies, features the premiere release of the score in its original film mix and sequence, and is complemented by a remastered version of the original, Grammy-winning A&M Records soundtrack album and seven bonus cues, including an unused arrangement of themes from the film by composer Randy Edelman.
Stay tuned to this post next Tuesday when links go live on all titles; in the meantime, check out our track breakdown on these three new releases!