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Release Round-Up: Week of August 19

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Posies

The Posies, Failure (Omnivore)

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Omnivore expands the 1988 debut album from power-pop heroes The Posies.  The new Failure restores the album’s original 12-track running order (preserved on cassette but cut down by one song on vinyl) and adds eight bonus tracks. Many of these are sourced from a long out-of-print 2000 box set and a 2004 reissue of the album proper, but one, a demo of “At Least for Now,” is being heard for the first time on this disc.  The deluxe configuration is available on CD, and the original 12-track album on vinyl plus the bonus tracks on a download card.  Even better, the first pressing of the LP will be green vinyl!

Professor

Professor Longhair, Let’s Go to New Orleans: The Sansu Sessions (Fuel) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Fuel continues to raid the catalogues of Allen Toussaint’s Sansu and Dessu labels with a compilation of Toussaint-helmed sides for New Orleans’ great piano man Professor Longhair.

On the Town - London

Original London Cast Recording, On the Town (Masterworks Broadway)

In conjunction with the upcoming Broadway revival of the classic Leonard Bernstein/Betty Comden/Adolph Green musical, Masterworks Broadway brings the 1963 Original London Cast Recording to CD-R and DD for the first time.  Elliott Gould, Don McKay, Franklin Kiser and Carol Arthur star in this recording of the production directed and choreographed by Joe Layton.  Available exclusively at MasterworksBroadway.com for a limited time.

Smokey

Smokey Robinson, Smokey and Friends (Verve) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Okay, this isn’t a catalogue title, but we couldn’t resist putting the spotlight on Smokey Robinson’s new studio collection!  Smokey puts his own spin on the now-de rigeur duets album, featuring many of his famous Motown hits in new versions alongside Elton John, Sheryl Crow, John Legend, James Taylor, Steven Tyler and more!

Bitter Tears Revisited

Various Artists, Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited (Sony Masterworks) (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

This isn’t a reissue, either, but rather a tribute to The Man in Black’s 1964 concept album which daringly shed light on the plight of Native Americans.  This 50th anniversary set presents Kris Kristofferson, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, Bill Miller, Gillian Welch, David Rawlings and veteran of the original LP Norman Blake as they reinvent Cash’s original songs with producer Joe Henry.  Look Again to the Wind is also a companion piece to the new documentary film We’re Still Here: Johnny Cash’s Bitter Tears Revisited, chronicling the story of Bitter Tears and this new recording.

Spider - Kritzerland

Soren Hyldgaard, The Spider: Original Soundtrack Recording (Kritzerland)

Pre-orders are now being accepted for Kritzerland’s latest offering: Soren Hyldgaard’s spellbinding score to the 2000 Danish miniseries The Spider, a noir set in Copenhagen in the wake of World War II.  This 1,000-unit limited edition release improves on an earlier CD release in Denmark, upping the running time from around 44 minutes to nearly 79, mastered from the composer’s complete score tapes. The disc will ship by the last week of September, but pre-orders directly from Kritzerland usually arrive three to five weeks ahead of schedule.

Blow Out OST

Pino Donaggio, Blow Out: Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack (Intrada)

Intrada has pre-orders open for this reissue of the soundtrack by Pino Donaggio (Carrie) for Brian DePalma’s 1981 thriller starring John Travolta, Nancy Allen, Dennis Franz and John Lithgow.  Though the haunting score was previously released on CD in 2002, Intrada corrects errors in track titles and sequencing, and otherwise upgrades its presentation for a new group of listeners who might have missed out on the first, now out-of-print release.

Friday Feature: Roy Budd’s “Phantom of the Opera” Score Premieres For Classic Film

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Roy Budd - Phantom

Welcome to the return of the Friday Feature, in which we turn the Second Disc spotlight onto classic film soundtracks and their various releases!  Today, the Friday Feature is the 1925 Universal horror classic The Phantom of the Opera, and the rarely-heard score is by the late Roy Budd!  Cue Mr. Budd’s music of the night…

When author Gaston Leroux introduced Le Fantôme de l’Opéra as a serialized novel in the pages of newspaper Le Gaulois in 1909, it was hardly likely that the former journalist could have imagined the role his creation would play in popular culture around the world. Since the novel’s debut, The Phantom of the Opera has conquered nearly every medium imaginable, most notably motion pictures and the stage, where Andrew Lloyd Webber’s adaptation has become one of the most successful musicals ever. From a young age, composer Roy Budd (Get Carter, Soldier Blue, Flight of the Doves) was taken with the tragic tale of a phantom haunting the Paris Opera House, hideously deformed and tormented by his love for the beautiful young soprano Christine Daaé. Budd was spellbound by Lon Chaney’s portrayal in Universal Pictures’ original 1925 silent movie produced by the studio founder Carl Laemmle. Before his tragic death in 1993 at the age of 46, Budd completed a full symphonic score for the still-iconic horror film. This landmark work from the late composer has now made its debut on CD and DVD from Mishka Productions.

Much like The Phantom himself, Roy Budd made his mark in a variety of media. A child prodigy, Budd parlayed his skill into an acclaimed career as a jazz pianist. Like another young artist, vocalist Matt Monro, Budd was championed by the pianist Winifred Atwell who had the very first U.K. piano instrumental chart-topper with 1954’s “Let’s Have Another Party.” Budd made his debut at the London Coliseum in 1953, and earned the attention of pianists and composers including Liberace, Oscar Peterson, Dudley Moore, and Antonio Carlos Jobim; the latter two gentlemen would become lifelong friends. When he formed The Roy Budd Trio at the age of 16 with Chris Karan and Pete Morgan, he was beginning an association that would last for decades.

Budd broke into film score composition with 1970’s Soldier Blue, director Ralph Nelson’s controversial western starring Candice Bergen, Donald Pleasance and Peter Strauss. Budd’s work was well-received, but the best was yet to come with 1971’s Get Carter. Budd’s memorable music was central to the success of the crime drama directed by Mike Hodges and starring Michael Caine and Britt Ekland. Years later, Budd’s hard-hitting score for the gritty Carter would be celebrated by a younger generation of musicians from bands like Portishead, The Human League and Stereolab. Tyler Bates, composer of this summer’s space epic Guardians of the Galaxy, even paid homage to Budd’s original score when creating his music for 2000’s Get Carter remake.

Roy Budd went on to compose over 30 scores for motion pictures and had even composed for the opera stage. But one of the projects closest to his heart was his work on Phantom of the Opera. In 1991, Budd purchased a rare 35mm print of the original Universal film, committing himself to its restoration and to penning its very first complete symphonic score. Arranging and conducting himself, as usual, Budd recorded his score in Luxembourg with over 80 musicians. It was to premiere in a live setting at London’s Barbican with Budd conducting in September 1993; he tragically and shockingly passed away just over a month before the scheduled date, beginning a journey to its release for a wide audience that is only culminating now.

In the ensuing two decades-plus since 1993, other symphonic scores have been written and performed for Chaney’s Phantom, but Budd’s was the first such score to be composed, and through the dedication of his widow Sylvia, it’s finally available as a limited edition CD as well as on DVD, synchronized to the original movie. As of now, the Budd-scored Phantom of the Opera is only available on all-region PAL DVD, but even if you can’t enjoy the music with its accompanying visuals, it’s still a striking and dramatic listen on CD.

After the jump, we’ll take a closer look at the music of Roy Budd’s Phantom!  Plus: order links and track listings! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 8, 2014 at 10:13

Posted in DVD, News, Roy Budd, Soundtracks

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Once Upon A Dream: Walt Disney Records Unveils Legacy Collection’s “Sleeping Beauty”

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Sleeping Beauty - Legacy Collection

Earlier this year, Walt Disney Pictures scored a runaway hit with its unlikely reinvention of one of the studio’s most frightening villains as an unlikely heroine. Maleficent enchanted audiences to the tune of a $234 million-plus gross with its retelling of the fairy tale Disney first dramatized in 1959’s Sleeping Beauty. A highlight of the 2014 film’s soundtrack was Lana Del Rey’s haunting rendition of “Once Upon a Dream,” penned for Sleeping Beauty by tunesmiths Sammy Fain and Jack Lawrence (with a little help from Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky). Come October 7, Mary Costa’s original version of the song will be heard on the latest volume of Walt Disney Records’ deluxe Legacy Collection series. The Legacy Collection: Sleeping Beauty follows releases for The Lion King and Mary Poppins, and will feature on two CDs the original soundtrack to Walt Disney’s classic animated film plus a Lost Chords presentation (vintage demos and new, fully-produced recordings of the songs) and other rare bonuses.

When Walt Disney envisioned Sleeping Beauty as an animated film, he knew that he wanted to incorporate the music of Tchaikovsky into its score. The Russian composer (Swan Lake, The Nutcracker) had completed his Sleeping Beauty ballet in 1889, setting to music the same story by Charles Perrault, La Belle au bois dormant (1697), from which Disney drew inspiration. (Disney also drew upon The Brothers Grimm’s version of the tale.) It fell upon George Bruns, a mainstay of the studio’s music department since 1953, to adapt the classical compositions for use in the film. Bruns, a four-time Academy Award nominee and co-writer of such Disney fare as “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” and “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me),” proved himself more than up to the task. He composed the orchestral score, and contributed to the songs, as well. Other songwriters including Fain and Lawrence, Winston Hibler and Ted Sears, Tom Adair and Erdman Penner all made contributions to the song score.

Much as Sleeping Beauty broke new ground visually – it was the first animated picture to be shot in the Super Technirama 70mm widescreen process, as well as the second full-length animated picture to be released in anamorphic widescreen – it innovated musically, as well. Disneyland Records’ Tutti Camarata was so impressed with the orchestral score, recorded in Germany, that he wanted to present it on the soundtrack album along with the songs. (Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is recognized as birthing the first commercially released soundtrack album, but as became common for most musical films, the album only contained the songs.) Camarata’s practice became the standard at Disneyland (today Walt Disney Records) and elsewhere.

What will you find on The Legacy Collection volume? Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 5, 2014 at 13:56

He Was The Bravest Of Them All: Kritzerland Pairs “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” with “Donovan’s Reef” On CD

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LVIn a long and illustrious career, filmmaker John Ford only made two movies for Paramount Pictures.  Both starred his frequent collaborator, John Wayne, and both were scored by the relatively unknown English composer Cyril J. Mockridge who nonetheless received an Academy Award nomination in his distinguished career (for 1955’s Guys and Dolls) which encompassed both film and television.  Kritzerland celebrates the Ford-Wayne-Mockridge team with the upcoming, world premiere release of the scores to both of Ford’s Paramount productions on one CD: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Donovan’s Reef (1963).

Though the former’s music is best-remembered today for the Burt Bacharach/Hal David “exploitation song” that wasn’t actually in the motion picture (and therefore isn’t a part of this presentation), in which David succinctly captured the essence of the film in a brief pop lyric, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance boasts a distinctive score courtesy of Mockridge.  The composer wove source music as well as a cue from Alfred Newman (with whom he often worked while serving as a staff composer at Twentieth Century Fox) into his score.  The action-comedy Donovan’s Reef, shot on location in Hawaii, had a very different feel than the western Liberty Valance, but Mockridge again delivered with a score incorporating traditional music of the islands.

If ordered directly from Kritzerland, the 1,000-unit limited edition release of The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance/Donovan’s Reef will ship by the second week of September, but the label has been averaging three to five weeks early in terms of shipping ahead of the official ship date.

After the jump, you’ll find full details on both scores courtesy of Kritzerland’s press release, plus the complete track listing and order link! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

August 4, 2014 at 13:43

Varese Treks “Into Darkness” for Latest Expanded Score

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Star Trek Into DarknessLast week, Varese Sarabande boldly went with yet another deluxe edition of a Star Trek soundtrack: the most recent film, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness, featuring music composed by Michael Giacchino.

Following 2009’s astounding film reboot, Into Darkness pits Kirk (Chris Pine), Spock (Zachary Quinto) and the crew of the USS Enterprise against a rogue Federation officer, John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), part of a traitorous plot to engage in a war with the Klingon Empire. We won’t spoil the by-now obvious twist if you’ve not seen it, but Harrison is not who he seems – one of the Federation’s most formidable foes, whose power drives Kirk to his limits as captain.

Like its predecessor, Into Darkness featured a stirring score from Oscar winner Giacchino, featuring a propulsive original theme for the series as well as nods to Alexander Courage’s original series theme tune. Initially released as a brief 44-minute soundtrack, the deluxe edition of the sequel score, limited to 6,000 copies and packaged similarly to the expansion of the 2009 film, expands the offering to two hours!

As always, full specs and a link to order from the label are after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

August 4, 2014 at 13:33

Release Round-Up: Week of July 29

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Allman Brothers - Fillmore BoxThe Allman Brothers Band, The 1971 Fillmore East Recordings (Mercury/UMe)

The four shows in March 1971 that made up the band’s legendary breakthrough album are presented in full for the first time, along with the group’s closing set at the Fillmore East that following June. The Blu-ray version features the material in both stereo and 5.1 surround sound.

6CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
3-BD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
4LP Highlights: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Dream Academy - Morning LastedPeggy Lipton, The Complete Ode Recordings / Gene Rains, Far Away Lands — The Exotic Music of Gene Rains /How to Stuff a Wild Bikini: Original Stereo Soundtrack / Cass Elliot, Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore Plus Rarities – Her Final Recordings / Dee Dee Warwick, The Complete Atco Recordings / The Shirelles, Happy and in Love/Shirelles / The Dream AcademyThe Morning Lasted All Day — A Retrospective (Real Gone Music)

This diverse Real Gone set includes a compilation from underrated ’80s synthpop group The Dream Academy and recordings from Peggy Lipton, star of The Mod Squad; she covers the songs of Carole King, Laura Nyro, Brian Wilson and Tony Asher, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, and Jimmy Webb on this release, which has liner notes from our own Joe Marchese!

Peggy Lipton: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Gene Rains: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Wild BikiniAmazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Cass Elliot: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Dee Dee Warwick: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Shirelles: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
The Dream Academy: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Deep Purple Mark 1Deep Purple, Hard Road: The Mark 1 Studio Recordings 1968-1969 (Parlophone U.K.)

Deep Purple’s first three albums get the box set treatment with bonus tracks and stereo and mono mixes of the first two albums. (Amazon U.S.Amazon U.K.)

Get On UpJames Brown, Get on Up: The James Brown Story – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Polydor/UMe)

In honor of the new film opening this week, Universal’s got a new JB compilation, naturally featuring a pair of unreleased live tracks from 1966. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

The BreezeEric Clapton and Friends, The Breeze (An Appreciation of J.J. Cale) (Bushbranch/Surfdog)

The legendary bluesman and some famous friends (Tom Petty, Willie Nelson, Mark Knopfler, John Mayer) pay tribute to the late blues singer-songwriter on this new album.

Standard Edition: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD Box Set: Surfdog Records
4LP: Surfdog Records

LC CookeL.C. Cooke, The Complete SAR Records Recordings (ABKCO)

This anthology collects the complete recordings of L.C. Cooke for his older brother Sam’s SAR Records label, including one complete shelved album produced and largely written by Sam, plus alternate takes, unreleased tracks, session chatter and bonus recordings from the Checker and Destination labels!  Musicians include Bobby and Cecil Womack, Billy Preston and “Pink Panther” saxophonist Plas Johnson! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

I Hope We Get to Love in TimeSilver Convention, Get Up and Boogie: Expanded Edition / Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., I Hope We Get to Love in Time: Expanded Edition / Phyllis Nelson, Move Closer (Big Break Records)

Big Break has three more R&B classics arriving on CD this week  including the first post-5th Dimension album from Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. featuring their smash “You Don’t Have to Be a Star (To Be in My Show).”

Silver Convention: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Marilyn & Billy: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
Phyllis Nelson: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Super ChiefVan Dyke Parks, Super Chief (Yep Roc)

Yep Roc reissues Van Dyke Parks’ 2013 “orchestral fantasy” on standalone CD (previously only available as part of a Record Store Day vinyl package) for the first time! (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

GOTG SoundtrackVarious Artists, Guardians of the Galaxy: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack/Awesome Mix Vol. 1 (Hollywood Records)

Here’s the only collection approved for listening by The Star Lord! This indeed-awesome all-catalogue mix includes vintage cuts from The Jackson 5, The Raspberries, David Bowie, The Runaways, Blue Swede, Rupert Holmes and more – all but one of which (Norman Greenbaum’s immortal “Spirit in the Sky”) play key roles in the Marvel blockbuster-to-be! Also available as part of a 2CD or 2LP deluxe edition also including the film’s orchestral score by Tyler Bates!

CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2CD: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.
2LP: Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.

Essential NSYNC*NSYNC, The Essential *NSYNC (Jive/Legacy)

This two-disc set from the late ’90s/early ’00s boy band lives up to its name for fans, featuring all the great hits (“Bye Bye Bye,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” “Pop”) plus a myriad of rarities from compilations, soundtracks and international pressings. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Ghostbusters_SoundtrackVarious Artists, Ghostbusters: Original Soundtrack Album (Arista/Legacy)

A sequel of sorts to the Record Store Day single co-produced by our own Mike Duquette, this is a straight reissue of the original soundtrack, newly remastered for vinyl. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)

Kritzerland Celebrates “Summer” With Jerome Kern and Alfred Newman, Goes “Hollywood” With Neal Hefti

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Centennial Summer OSTAt first blush, Kritzerland’s two new releases don’t have much in common – though one celebrates the Golden Age of Hollywood and one is actually from The Golden Age of Hollywood. But both titles hail from celebrated and influential composers, and both of these scores are making their first-ever appearances on soundtrack albums. The composers are the legendary Jerome Kern and the big band great-turned-swinging sixties theme titan Neal Hefti, and the films are Centennial Summer and Won Ton Ton: The Dog Who Saved Hollywood, respectively. And since two Heftis are better than one, the label is pairing the latter title with another treat from his pen: his score to the screen adaptation of (are you ready?) Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mamma’s Hung You in the Closet and I’m Feelin’ So Sad.

1946’s Twentieth Century Fox musical Centennial Summer turned out to boast the final score by Jerome Kern (1885-1945). By the time of the film’s production, Kern had already advanced the art of the musical theatre with his groundbreaking work on musicals such as Show Boat. His work on Broadway and in Hollywood with a variety of talented lyricists turned out a catalogue of standards still performed today, including “The Way You Look Tonight,” “Ol’ Man River,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes,” “I Won’t Dance,” “A Fine Romance,” “Pick Yourself Up,” and “All The Things You Are.” Though the first part of his career was largely dominated by writing for the stage, Kern had spent several years in California before permanently settling there in 1937 and concentrating on motion pictures. He penned his final Broadway score in 1939 with Very Warm for May but continued to write for the movies.

Centennial Summer, based on Albert E. Idell’s novel, was intended to capitalize on nostalgia in much the same escapist manner as MGM’s Meet Me in St. Louis had two years earlier, in 1944. Otto Preminger directed Jeanne Crain, Cornel Wilde, Walter Brennan, Linda Darnell and William Eythe in the story of one Philadelphia family’s exploits at the city’s 1876 Exposition. Kern was tapped to write the score, with lyrics from luminaries Oscar Hammerstein II, E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, and Leo Robin. He died in November 1945 the age of 60, but not before completing a score that would net him a posthumous Academy Award nomination for the song “All Through the Day,” written with Hammerstein. The film’s underscore and musical direction were both handled by the studio’s chief music man, Alfred Newman, who also received an Oscar nomination for his work on the picture.

Kritzerland’s Centennial Summer, featuring both Newman’s score and Kern’s songs including “Cinderella Sue,” “In Love in Vain” and “Up with the Lark,” is the first authorized release of the Centennial Summer soundtrack. The score has been transferred from original ¼” elements housed at Fox and newly restored by Mike Matessino. Kritzerland’s release is limited to 1,000 units, and is scheduled to ship by the first week of September, though pre-orders placed directly through the label usually arrive three to five weeks early.

Won Ton Ton OSTNeal Hefti (1922-2008) didn’t come to Hollywood from Broadway but rather from the big band world. Serving in the mid-1940s in Woody Herman’s First Herd, trumpet player Hefti became a prolific composer and arranger, moving on to the Count Basie band in 1950. With Basie, Hefti came into his own. He composed and arranged Atomic Basie, considered the great pianist’s finest record, and scored at the Grammy Awards for the album. Hefti’s great gift during this period was the ability to tailor inventive arrangements to the identities and skills of the band’s members, and earned the praise of Miles Davis and Frank Sinatra for his ingenious work. Hefti diversified his efforts working on television with stars like Kate Smith, and when The Chairman enlisted him to arrange and conduct at his Reprise label, he answered. By the mid-1960s, Hefti was in demand in Hollywood as a soundtrack composer, turning out his arguably his two most memorable themes – for the soon-to-arrive-on-home-video Batman television show and for both the movie and sitcom The Odd Couple.

Kritzerland has the first-ever soundtrack release of Hefti’s final film score, for Paramount’s 1976 satire Won Ton Ton, or the Dog Who Saved Hollywood. The label’s Bruce Kimmel explains, “Won Ton Ton seems almost the end of an era. The cast included a huge number of cameos by an amazing array of Hollywood veterans, over fifty of them. The leading cast featured Bruce Dern, Madeline Kahn, Teri Garr and Art Carney, and a brilliant performance by Augustus von Schumacher as Won Ton Ton. To the filmmakers, it must have seemed like a film that could not lose. The film came out, received middling reviews, and disappeared until the advent of home video and cable allowed people to find it and enjoy it for what it was – a fun, celebrity-filled lark with some truly amusing sequences. And the producers could not have made a better choice of film composer than the great Neal Hefti.”

After the jump: more on Won Ton Ton, plus the full track listings and pre-order links for both CDs! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

July 21, 2014 at 10:22

Soundtrack? Yes, I Know: La-La Land Preps “Naked Gun” Reissue

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Naked GunYou’ve read the ad, you’ve seen the movies – now for the first time, La-La Land Records will release the complete scores to all three of the hilarious films in The Naked Gun trilogy, as composed by Ira Newborn.

Detective Lieutenant Frank Drebin of Police Squad made a small but dedicated group of people laugh in Police Squad, the short-lived (six brilliant episodes!) ABC television series created by Airplane! masterminds Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrams and David Zucker. Leslie Nielsen’s unflappable member of the force would be resurrected by ZAZ and Paramount in 1988 with the film The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! The combination of accessible slapstick and rapid-fire wordplay, plus great performances by Priscilla Presley, Ricardo Montalbán, George Kennedy and O.J. Simpson, made the film considerably more successful than the show from which it came, and two sequels followed in 1991 and 1994.

Ira Newborn, musical director for The Blues Brothers and composer for several John Hughes productions (Sixteen Candles, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), had made a splash on the original Police Squad with his brassy, throwback theme song, and was called to reprise his work on each subsequent film, which packed memorable themes alongside humorous cues, snazzy source music and even a few popular tunes used for great effect: Peter Noone re-recorded Herman’s Hermits “I’m Into Something Good” for the first film, Nielsen sings to varying effect on the first two films (“The Star-Spangled Banner,” “Besame Mucho”) and Pia Zadora covered Steve Allen’s “This Could Be the Start of Something” for the third film.

Varese Sarabande released a compilation featuring music from the first two films in 1992, but this triple-disc set features just about all of the three scores, including the premiere of any music from The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult, all beautifully restored (check out this amazing in-depth article about said restoration). Limited to 2,000 copies, there’s a 50/50 chance that it might still be available by the time you click the link after the jump. But there’s only a 10 percent chance of that.

(Special thanks to Charlie Brigden of Films on Wax for the headline inspiration!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

July 15, 2014 at 15:04

Shaken, Not Stirred: Ace Mines “The Secret Agent Songbook” With “Come Spy with Us”

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Come Spy with UsFor many, the sound of John Barry epitomizes the sound of the spy thriller. It’s no surprise – with 12 James Bond films under his belt, the late, great British composer imbued his melodies with the right amount of adventure, humor, tension, sophistication, and well, sex. It’s fitting that Barry opens Ace Records’ superlatively entertaining new anthology Come Spy with Me: The Secret Agent Songbook, collecting 25 samples of swinging music from spies and secret agents (and even a handful of detectives!) released between 1962 and 1968, the heyday of the genre.

Come Spy with Me opens with “A Man Alone,” Barry’s 1965 instrumental theme to The Ipcress File. Perhaps his second-most recognizable spy theme after his arrangement of Monty Norman’s “The James Bond Theme,” it inventively utilizes the cimbalom, a type of hammered dulcimer, to achieve its singular sound. Matt Monro had sung the first-ever vocal James Bond theme with Lionel Bart’s “From Russia with Love” as heard in the second 007 film, the first for which Barry provided the score. “Wednesday’s Child,” from 1967’s The Quiller Memorandum, is all the evidence one needs of the rich-voiced crooner’s deep affinity with Barry’s absorbing melodies. The lyrics, incidentally, were written by Mack David; his younger brother Hal would later collaborate with Barry on songs including “We Have All the Time in the World” from the Bond adventure On His Majesty’s Secret Service.

It was Barry, serving in the capacity of arranger, who gave shape to Monty Norman’s composition “The James Bond Theme” for Bond’s screen debut in Dr. No. It set the template for all spy music to come. While the original of the track, with Vic Flick’s indelible guitar part, isn’t here, a fine stand-in is Johnny and the Hurricanes’ 1963 surf-inspired version with prominent tenor sax and organ adding new colors. The most famous artist associated with the music of James Bond is Shirley Bassey. While her showstopping “Goldfinger” might be the quintessential spy song, she’s instead featured belting Lalo Schifrin and Peter Callander’s theme to “The Liquidator” in her most divinely bombastic style. Bassey wasn’t the only one to mine the success of “Goldfinger,” however. Susan Maughan’s “Where the Bullets Fly,” from songwriters Ronald Bridges and Robert Kingston, hails from the 1966 film of the same name, and incorporates about as much of “The James Bond Theme” and John Barry sound as the law would allow! This rarely-heard nugget is a fantastic treat.

Scott Walker not only sings, but co-wrote The Walker Brothers’ Barry-inspired “Deadlier than the Male” from the 1967 film of the same name which starred Richard Johnson and Elke Sommer. Walker’s resonant, haunting baritone meshes beautifully with Reg Guest’s evocative arrangement. (Spy music connoisseurs take note: Walker made a rare return both to traditional melody and the spy genre with his understated performance of David Arnold and Don Black’s sad, achingly gorgeous “Only Myself to Blame” in 1999. The song was written and recorded for the Bond film The World Is Not Enough, but was sadly unused in the actual motion picture; it did, however, appear on the soundtrack album.

Keep reading after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »

Soundtrack Watch: La-La Land Rebuilds “Empire,” Gets Creepy and Kooky

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Empire of the SunTwo heavy-hitters were announced for release from La-La Land Records this week, including a major expansion in the Spielberg-Williams canon worthy of the label’s 300th release.

First up, LLL has a single-disc expansion of Marc Shaiman’s score to the 1991 hit comedy The Addams Family. Based on Charles Addams’ iconic New Yorker cartoon strips, The Addams Family film features Gomez and Morticia (Raul Julia and Angelica Huston) and their brood welcoming the return of Gomez’s long-lost brother Uncle Fester (Christopher Lloyd). But is Fester really part of a plot by Gomez’s lawyer (Dan Hedaya) to embezzle the vast Addams family fortune? Shaiman, a composer/arranger who would earn international acclaim writing the Tony-winning score for a Broadway adaptation of John Waters’ Hairspray, turns in a delightfully macabre score that makes good use of Vic Mizzy’s iconic theme to the 1960s television series.

For their 300th release, La-La Land have returned to the Steven Spielberg-John Williams partnership that served them so well before with an expansion of Williams’ score to Empire of the Sun (1987). Based on J.G. Ballard’s autobiographical novel, Empire told the tale of Jim (Christian Bale), a wealthy British boy in Shanghai who ends up in an internment camp in Japan during World War II. As one of Spielberg’s first “serious movies,” and the first which Williams worked on with his longtime friend (Quincy Jones scored Spielberg’s 1985 drama The Color Purple), the score is an underrated triumph, alternately full of wonder and wartime bravado (choral-based piece “Exsultate Justi” remains a staple of Williams’ live conducting). It’s been greatly expanded for this two-disc set, featuring both the original film score and a half hour of unheard alternate cues.

Addams is limited to 3,000 copies, while Empire is 4,000 copies strong. Both can be previewed and ordered after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

June 26, 2014 at 15:04

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