Archive for the ‘Soundtracks’ Category
Kritzerland Celebrates “Summer” With Jerome Kern and Alfred Newman, Goes “Hollywood” With Neal Hefti
At 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.
Neal 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 »
You’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!)
For 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 »
Two 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!
In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun, and – SNAP!
The job’s a game!
-Julie Andrews, “A Spoonful of Sugar,” Mary Poppins (song written by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman)
There’s certainly an element of fun in catalog music, particularly catalog soundtracks, particularly the somehow oft-ignored discography of The Walt Disney Company. Disney’s somewhat passive approach to a catalog initiative (tempered by their licensing deal with the Intrada label) finally made an about face this spring with the announcement of several titles in “The Legacy Collection”: expanded anniversary editions of classic Disney film soundtracks with gorgeous artwork to match. The Lion King was the first title in the line, released this week, and August will see the release of the next: a 50th anniversary edition of the music to Mary Poppins.
As dramatized in last year’s Saving Mr. Banks, Walt Disney was an unabashed fan of P.L. Travers’ series of children’s books about a magical nanny. Travers was reticent to allow her books to be adapted, but ultimately allowed Disney to pursue the idea. The result, though somewhat deviated from the books, was pure Disney magic: Julie Andrews (star of My Fair Lady and Camelot on Broadway but untested enough onscreen to be replaced for the My Fair Lady film adaptation by Audrey Hepburn) as the practically perfect heroine, bona-fide TV star Dick Van Dyke as the everyman/one man band/pavement artist/chimney sweep Bert, great supporting turns by David Tomlinson, Glynis Johns and Ed Wynn, a stunning multimedia presentation (that deftly mixed live action with animation in several key sequences)…and the songs.
Brothers Richard and Robert Sherman were already known quantities in both the songwriting world (“You’re Sixteen”) and on the Disney backlot (Annette Funicello’s Top 10 hit “Tall Paul,” simple, singable and sincere tunes for 1964 World’s Fair and Disneyland attractions) when Walt asked “the boys” to compose a song score for Poppins. But who could have imagined just what a triumph it would be? With instant standards like “A Spoonful of Sugar,” “Jolly Holiday,” “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” (a song this author is proud to have typed from memory) and “Feed the Birds (Tuppence a Bag)” – a song that Walt would often ask the Shermans to play for him, just because – Mary Poppins remains one of the brightest works of art in the Disney canon. Ultimately, the film won five Oscars, including two trophies for the Sherman Brothers and one for Julie Andrews, winning Best Actress over – you guessed it – Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady. (Disney passed away in 1966, leaving Poppins as the company’s last major work he lived to see to completion.)
So how is Disney’s Legacy Collection celebrating this soundtrack masterpiece? Hit the jump to find out!
Real Gone’s Sizzling Summer Features Cass Elliot, Peggy Lipton, Annette, The Shirelles, Dee Dee Warwick and More
Summer is finally here, and Real Gone Music has a bevy of offerings due on July 29 which should make your vacation even sunnier! The label is throwing a beach party, sixties-style, with the original stereo soundtrack to How to Stuff a Wild Bikini featuring screen legends Annette Funicello and Mickey Rooney and “Louie, Louie” rockers The Kingsmen; celebrating true California royalty with an expanded edition of “Mama” Cass Elliot’s Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore (sorry, Cass!) featuring previously unreleased music from the powerhouse singer; and going tropical with the perfect tunes for your Tiki party via an anthology from vibraphonist and exotica hero Gene Rains!
If New York-style soul is more your thing, Real Gone hasn’t left you out, either. Two titles stem from the partnership with the SoulMusic Records label. Dee Dee Warwick’s The Complete Atco Recordings boasts the late, great vocalist’s entire 1970 Atco album Turning Around, the As and Bs of three non-album singles, eight tracks previously released on various compilations, and 12 previously unissued songs! Real Gone and SoulMusic also have The Shirelles’ two RCA albums from 1971-1972 for the first time on CD!
We’ve already filled you in on the first-ever authorized retrospective from The Dream Academy. And that’s not all. Last month, we announced the release of Peggy Lipton’s The Complete Ode Recordings which expanded the Mod Squad star’s Ode solo album with her complete singles and two previously unissued songs. You might have noticed that this release – which features liner notes from yours truly, with the input of, and fresh quotes from, Ms. Lipton – has been delayed to July 29. Why? We’ve found even more music! The Complete Ode Recordings now boasts a whopping eight bonus tracks: four 45s and four never-before-released tracks from the pens of Carole King and Toni Stern (“Now That Everything’s Been Said,” which Peggy performed on The Mod Squad), Brian Wilson and Tony Asher (“I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times”), Burt Bacharach and Hal David (“Wanting Things” from their musical Promises, Promises) and Peggy herself (“I Know Where I’m Going”). Trust me: this lost California pop gem, produced by Lou Adler and featuring the powers of the Los Angeles Wrecking Crew, will be worth the wait.
After the jump, we have Real Gone’s press release with many more details on every title plus pre-order links! Read the rest of this entry »
The classic BBC comedy sketch series, which ran from 1969 to 1974 and made stars of John Cleese, Eric Idle, Terry Gilliam, Graham Chapman, Terry Jones and Michael Palin, has had an immeasurable influence on pop culture ever since, from films (Monty Python and The Holy Grail, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life) to instant quotables and images (dead parrots, silly walks), to music (“Lumberjack Song,” “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life“) and stage (Holy Grail was adapted into the smash Broadway musical SPAMalot). The five surviving members (sans Chapman, who died in 1989) will reunite at London’s O2 Arena for a limited run of sold-out reunion shows (despite some public protests from Gilliam).
Fans who can’t make the shows can at least enjoy a new nine-disc compilation encompassing all of the band’s original U.K. albums from 1970 to 1983. (The U.S. only Live At City Center (1976) is omitted.) Both boxes (the CD edition featuring a folder to keep all the discs in, and the vinyl version replicating each original LP sleeve), according to an official statement,
were cut with an all analogue signal path from the original 1/4″ master tapes where available. Both editions also contain a case bound book with new liner notes with a foreword by Michael Palin, original Monty Python artwork, archive photos and an original Terry Gilliam-designed full colour slipcase.” (The CD edition also features all the included bonus tracks from a series of U.K. reissues in 2006.)
As a special bonus, each version contains a 45 RPM single of Monty Python’s Tiny Black Round Thing, originally released as a flexidisc in 1974 to promote the release of Monty Python Live At Drury Lane.
If this is too much Python for you, however, there’s still products to pique your interest after the jump!
The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night: The Criterion Collection (Criterion)
The first Beatles film gets the luxe treatment for its 50th anniversary – sounds pretty fab!
Iconoclassic remasters and expands the debut album from the band fronted by Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron and Cory Wells! Bonus tracks include two mono single sides and “Time to Get Alone” written and produced by Brian Wilson. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
This fun little release features brand-new bossa nova recordings backing some great original R&B vocals, including Bill Withers’ “Lovely Day,” Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing,” The Isley Brothers’ “It’s Your Thing” and more. A perfect summer party album!
Jersey Boys: Music from the Motion Picture and Broadway Musical (WaterTower Music/Rhino)
The hit Broadway play is now a film, directed by Clint Eastwood, and the soundtrack features both original hits by Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons plus new versions recorded for the film itself. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
The Lion King: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – The Legacy Collection (Walt Disney Records)
Disney’s exciting new “Legacy Collection” line of expanded soundtracks to their classic films kicks off with a 20th anniversary edition of the soundtrack to The Lion King, featuring all the songs you love from Elton John and Tim Rice, over 30 minutes of unreleased score and demo material and striking new artwork created just for this package. (Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K.)
The Entertainer: Marvin Hamlisch’s “D.A.R.Y.L.” Premieres on CD, Features Teddy Pendergrass and Nile Rodgers
It’s appropriate that Marvin Hamlisch’s only children’s book was titled Marvin Makes Music, for making music was indeed what the man did – music for Broadway, music for television, music for the concert hall, music for the silver screen. In any genre, Marvin made music overflowing with melody, wit and heart, and his populist approach earned him the nickname “the people’s composer.” Hamlisch’s film career began in 1968 with the score to the cult film The Swimmer and ended with his posthumously-released work on the HBO motion picture Behind the Candelabra; along the way, he picked up three Academy Awards (all in 1974, for The Sting and The Way We Were) and nine further nominations (between 1972 and 1997). La-La Land Records has recently unveiled the first-ever soundtrack to one of Hamlisch’s less-heralded projects, the 1985 sci-fi fantasy D.A.R.Y.L., on compact disc.
Director Simon Wincer’s film centered on a mysterious little boy named Daryl (Barret Oliver) who comes into the lives of foster parents Andy (Michael McKean) and Joyce (Mary Beth Hurt). Eventually it’s discovered that Daryl isn’t a boy at all, but rather an artificial intelligence named D.A.R.Y.L. (Data-Analyzing Robot Youth Lifeform) who wishes to be human. This contemporary spin on Pinocchio followed the eighties trend of “weird scene” movies aimed at youngsters, but something in the premise clearly inspired Marvin Hamlisch. The eighties wasn’t the best decade for the Pulitzer Prize and EGOT (Emmy/Grammy/Oscar/Tony)-winning maestro; his score to D.A.R.Y.L. proved to be his only Hollywood assignment between 1983 and 1987. D.A.R.Y.L. arrived between his scores to two unsuccessful musicals, London’s Jean Seberg and New York’s Smile. Despite fine scores with some of Hamlisch’s most inventive and effective music, both shows failed to reach their potential. D.A.R.Y.L. is yet one more crucial piece of evidence that Hamlisch’s gifts were still in abundance during this period of his career.
La-La Land’s beautiful presentation offers the score in full, plus three bonus tracks. Two of these bonuses are source cues (of Beethoven and Rodgers and Hart!) but the third is the song that exists at the heart of D.A.R.Y.L., “Somewhere I Belong.” Philadelphia soul man Teddy Pendergrass performs the song with lyrics by Dean Pitchford (Footloose) in a glossy pop rendition with production and guitar by CHIC’s Nile Rodgers that makes its worldwide debut on CD here. (This version is the full 5+-minute version of the song, too, rather than the truncated edit.) Pitchford’s lyrics take Daryl’s point of view while also functioning as a universal love song: “Somewhere I belong/somewhere I can call my home/Open your heart to me/I’ve got the feeling/That your love is leading me home…”
Hamlisch threaded the yearning, reflective melody of “Somewhere I Belong” throughout his heartfelt, often poignant score, beginning with the latter portion of the Main Title (which begins with a languid, wistfully whistled melody that’s quintessentially Hamlisch). Echoing the family film’s various elements of comedy, drama and high adventure, Hamlisch’s score is among his most diverse. Most of it is traditionally orchestral, but befitting the modern science-fiction elements, he also incorporates more cutting-edge sounds. The score’s first major brush with electronics is the brief, synthesizer-led “Baseball Montage” but soon piano and orchestra take over in softer mode. (The bright and brash “Baseball” melody recurs in the buoyant “Turtle’s Homer.”) A far colder, more sterile use of electronics is heard in “TASCOM/I’m Scared” for the sequence in which D.A.R.Y.L. returns to the facility in which he was created.
There’s more after the jump! Read the rest of this entry »
Each year, director Frank Capra’s 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life continues to lend a note of hope and inspiration to those discovering it for the first time. The story of suicidal George Bailey (James Stewart) and the guardian angel (Henry Travers) who shows him what life would have been like had he never been born, It’s a Wonderful Life has transcended its modest origins to become an all-time staple of American cinema. Yet curiously, the music to Capra’s beloved film, composed by the legendary Dimitri Tiomkin (High Noon, The Alamo), has never before appeared on an authentic soundtrack release. The Kritzerland label has come to the rescue with a landmark release: the first-ever Original Soundtrack Recording for It’s a Wonderful Life.
Though nominated for five Academy Awards and recipient of one special Oscar for technical achievement, Capra’s film (based on a short story by Philip Van Doren Stern and featuring a screenplay by Capra, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett with contributions by Jo Swerling) was not a box office success upon its initial release. It’s said to have lost more than half a million dollars for its distributor, RKO, despite placing 26th in box office revenues for 1947 out of over 400 movies. The reputation of It’s a Wonderful Life was burnished in the era of television, when the movie became a staple of each holiday season.
When enlisted to provide the score for the picture, Russian-born composer Dimitri Tiomkin (1894-1979) was in the midst of an illustrious career that would net him four Academy Awards and 22 nominations. Tiomkin’s original score for the fantasy blended original themes with quotes of popular music, but underwent great alterations at the hands of the master director Capra. He cut several cues, preferring those scenes to play without music, and rearranged the sequence of other cues. Furthermore, Capra edited sections of cues, and even added cues from the scores of other films. Though the end result was still memorable, it didn’t represent the composer’s original vision. Kritzerland producer Bruce Kimmel describes the effect of hearing the newly-restored complete score as “a special treat…filled with Tiomkin’s wonderful sense of film and character and drama.”
After the jump, we have more details plus the full track listing and pre-order link! Read the rest of this entry »