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 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 7:00 AM   
 By:   Sigerson Holmes   (Member)

You've all convinced me.

I'm ordering the FSM Rosza box!


(I just said that so I could have the 400th post. I'm saving up for "Spartacus" too.)

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 7:02 AM   
 By:   Rozsaphile   (Member)

Whatever one makes of the love theme "interpretations" by contemporary composers, their existence does constitute a remarkable tribute to Alex North. Has anything similar been done for any other composer? Can you even imagine such a thing? The absence of a version by John Williams does stand out, however, since Williams has made arrangements of material by Steiner, Korngold, Rozsa, Young, etc., for his Cinema Serenade 2 album with Itzhak Perlman. (I don't have no. 1. Did it include anything by North?)

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 7:06 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

In this age of downloadable music (legit and otherwise), the Spartacus package is a very welcome innovation. Aside from presenting North's priceless, magnificent music, the extensive physical nature of the package may also have been one of the ways Varese sealed the deal with the rights holders: by presenting the project as a very special and quite unique beast that could only be fully appreciated corporeally. It's a "unique selling point" that aids the album's desirability over downloads and piracy. But regardless of that possibility, it's a wonderful package in its own right.

Bravo and luck to Varese.


The more I think about it, the more I think it's a bonkers package....two CD's of variations of the love theme!!

 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 7:14 AM   
 By:   SoundScope   (Member)

I am thrilled and beyond describing it! A good buddy of mine and I have loved this score since we first sat in his room over 35 years ago, listening to our recently purchased, shinny new albums. Ever since that day, we pined for a longer, more complete recording, because we knew then that this score was nothing like we had ever heard before. So many films have come and gone, and great scores along with them, but it is always to SPARTACUS and Alex North that I return to. This is number one on my personal list of favorites.

So now, finally, it is here! BROVO! To all of you involved with this gargantuan labour of love, my hat is off to you with my sincere thanks and admiration!

I have skip read many of the posts on this thread, and as usual, marvel and the diversity. Everything from rapture to dismissal. But my utter favorite is: "...mono sound? No thanks."

I had the bootleg and nothing could sound worse. Yet, the magnificence of the score sounded through. There have been other mono only recordings (HAWAII for one) that sound fantastic, rich and full. Such a pissy little standard should not hold anyone back from expolring this amazing work. Knowing the work that Robert Townsend has done in the past, the mono sound will be incredeble in its own right. So, to that person who is so inclined not to purchase this offering: hiss and boo your own self.

THIS is a truly amazing event!

Thank you again!!!!!!!

 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 7:42 AM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

If you wanted a dozen apples, but the shop only sold them with a dozen bananas, a bag of tomatoes and a punnet of strawberries for 3 times the price of the apples alone...well, you get the point.

And what of it? If you want Rozsa's "The Red Danube," you have to buy the $180 FSM Rozsa box, regardless of your interest in the other scores. Love Schifrin's "Pussycat, Pussycat I Love You"? You had to buy a big box of MGM soundtracks by all sorts of composers. To go one step further, my wife just bought a new car, and since the options all come in packages, she had to buy all sorts of things she didn't want in order to get the ones she did.

This is the way of things. Hardly some new scheme by Varese.

 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 7:43 AM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

Purchasing this set just to collect sounds very irrational to me.

To me, too. But I'm buying this to listen to. I have no interest in collecting.

 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 8:05 AM   
 By:   SchiffyM   (Member)

When aren't things "limited" to "people with disposable income"?

Exactly! It reminds me of an early "Simpsons" episode, where Homer's brain alerts him to the basic fact that "Money can be exchanged for goods and services." If Homer can fathom this, why is it so hard for some others?

 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 8:21 AM   
 By:   Ron Pulliam   (Member)

I'll pass. This SPARTACUS SET is a great oportunity for collectors, speculators and the rich ones, not for fans and people who appreciate scores. Purchasing this set just to collect sounds very irrational to me.

TADLOW can make this better and for a reasonable price.


So anyone who buys it isn't a TRUE fan and cannot possibly appreciate score?

And who here has said they bought the set "just to collect"?

How pathetic to insult everyone who buys this score because it's a dream come true for them.

How sad, unfortunate, pathetic and SHAMEFULof you, Dr. Lao, to post something so ludicrously nonsensical AND hateful.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 8:49 AM   
 By:   Ed Nassour   (Member)

This release is a huge disappointment for me. North's score for "Spartacus" is one of my favorite film scores of all time. So like most of you I waited years, even decades to hear it complete and in full stereo. What we get is pretty much half the score in stereo with the entire score in mono. And from the samples of the mono, filled with artificial reverb as well as synthetically spread out to simulate stereo.

This release is overpriced, is way too padded with material not in my opinion needed plus some stereo cues that were easily available from the actual six track M&E masters were left off the first stereo CD. Cues such as the "Entre'act" and "Desolation Elegy" are free of sound effects. "Desolation Elegy" is provided in mono, but missing the wordless female chorus. If one listens carefully to the sample, you can hear them way in the background. That track was done on a separate stem which I must assume was lost. But the cue is in stereo in the film.

"Spartacus" was recorded at the famed Goldwyn scoring stage using at times nearly 80 musicians. Universal opted for that stage since cramming that many musicians into the cramped Universal stage would have resulted in abysmal sound.

The tracks were recorded onto 35mm magnetic three-track film with several separate 35mmthree- track recording units running at the same time. Then everything was mixed down and then spread out to fill the six channel print master used for the 70mm release.

Sadly, it appears that over the years the actual 35mm stereo magnetic masters were either lost or disintegrated, turning to that dreaded 'vinegar syndrome' that plagued so many magnetically coated film units.

I worked at Fox when the "Cleopatra" 35mm magnetic masters were copied over to multi-track. In some cases the sound transfer people needed breathers since the machine room was filled with a toxic order. Ditto that when the 35mm magnetic masters to "The Blue Max" were copied over. With that score they copied it just in the nick of time. I remember music mixer Armin Steiner saying the mag was literally falling off the reels. It would cake up on the playback heads causing the sound transfer person to stop the machine in order to clean the heads. They had to bake each reel in a special oven before copying it over.

With "Spartacus," I suspect the stereo material used on the first CD was what had been copied over for the Decca stereo LP release. Originally, Decca planned to release it as a two LP set, but for some reason that was negated so only a single stereo LP came out. At one time when I worked at Universal I discovered the Decca material. It was all copied over raw from the 35mm session masters to magnetic tape. Then it was edited for the album with some artificial reverb introduced. I suspect the Decca raw material all survived which is what Varese used for the first CD which has the stereo material included. Perhaps the Varese liner notes will tell us the actual history.

I wish more stereo cues were used. As I stated earlier, they could have been culled from the film's stereo M&E stems.

Now I'm wondering just what is the state of the scoring masters to another monumental score and I mean Tiomkin's "The Alamo." Like "Spartacus," "The Alamo was recorded at Goldwyn onto reels of 35mm magnetically coated film.

Bottom line is, I will pass on "Spartacus." I already have the entire score in mono. I'll never play the jazz variations. Plus a DVD of people praising the score would bore me to tears. I already know how great and significant it is.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 8:51 AM   
 By:   Morricone   (Member)

Much ado about nothing. Like SUPERMAN we now have a wider choice of how we can get SPARTACUS. Incidentally after some years now it seems, based on how many times I pull it off the shelf, I bought the Blue Box pretty much for SUPERMAN IV and that cool book of great liner notes. But I didn't know it at the time and in no way resented buying it even though personally I could have done without the Ron Jones stuff. Methinks more anger here comes from the economy being what it is rather than real irritation with the presentation. I think it is all good and it wont sell out fast so all who want it will get it eventually.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 9:07 AM   
 By:   CinemaScope   (Member)

It makes you wonder how many stereo music tapes Universal does have. Go ten years forward, do they have them for Airport, another ten years, Dracula. I suppose time will tell.

 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 9:13 AM   
 By:   Grimsdyke   (Member)

This release is a huge disappointment for me. North's score for "Spartacus" is one of my favorite film scores of all time. So like most of you I waited years, even decades to hear it complete and in full stereo. What we get is pretty much half the score in stereo with the entire score in mono. And from the samples of the mono, filled with artificial reverb as well as synthetically spread out to simulate stereo.

This release is overpriced, is way too padded with material not in my opinion needed plus some stereo cues that were easily available from the actual six track M&E masters were left off the first stereo CD. Cues such as the "Entre'act" and "Desolation Elegy" are free of sound effects. "Desolation Elegy" is provided in mono, but missing the wordless female chorus. If one listens carefully to the sample, you can hear them way in the background. That track was done on a separate stem which I must assume was lost. But the cue is in stereo in the film.

"Spartacus" was recorded at the famed Goldwyn scoring stage using at times nearly 80 musicians. Universal opted for that stage since cramming that many musicians into the cramped Universal stage would have resulted in abysmal sound.

The tracks were recorded onto 35mm magnetic three-track film with several separate 35mmthree- track recording units running at the same time. Then everything was mixed down and then spread out to fill the six channel print master used for the 70mm release.

Sadly, it appears that over the years the actual 35mm stereo magnetic masters were either lost or disintegrated, turning to that dreaded 'vinegar syndrome' that plagued so many magnetically coated film units.

I worked at Fox when the "Cleopatra" 35mm magnetic masters were copied over to multi-track. In some cases the sound transfer people needed breathers since the machine room was filled with a toxic order. Ditto that when the 35mm magnetic masters to "The Blue Max" were copied over. With that score they copied it just in the nick of time. I remember music mixer Armin Steiner saying the mag was literally falling off the reels. It would cake up on the playback heads causing the sound transfer person to stop the machine in order to clean the heads. They had to bake each reel in a special oven before copying it over.

With "Spartacus," I suspect the stereo material used on the first CD was what had been copied over for the Decca stereo LP release. Originally, Decca planned to release it as a two LP set, but for some reason that was negated so only a single stereo LP came out. At one time when I worked at Universal I discovered the Decca material. It was all copied over raw from the 35mm session masters to magnetic tape. Then it was edited for the album with some artificial reverb introduced. I suspect the Decca raw material all survived which is what Varese used for the first CD which has the stereo material included. Perhaps the Varese liner notes will tell us the actual history.

I wish more stereo cues were used. As I stated earlier, they could have been culled from the film's stereo M&E stems.

Now I'm wondering just what is the state of the scoring masters to another monumental score and I mean Tiomkin's "The Alamo." Like "Spartacus," "The Alamo was recorded at Goldwyn onto reels of 35mm magnetically coated film.

Bottom line is, I will pass on "Spartacus." I already have the entire score in mono. I'll never play the jazz variations. Plus a DVD of people praising the score would bore me to tears. I already know how great and significant it is.


Thanks Rich !
What I don't get is that at the moment when the mono-mixdown of the complete score was made why didn't they made a stereo-version at the same time as well ??
Was that technically difficult back then ?
Or what was used for the mono-mixdown ?

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 9:17 AM   
 By:   Tall Guy   (Member)

Whatever one makes of the love theme "interpretations" by contemporary composers, their existence does constitute a remarkable tribute to Alex North. Has anything similar been done for any other composer? Can you even imagine such a thing?


We All Love Ennio Morricone

 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 9:38 AM   
 By:   Ag^Janus   (Member)

Whatever one makes of the love theme "interpretations" by contemporary composers, their existence does constitute a remarkable tribute to Alex North. Has anything similar been done for any other composer? Can you even imagine such a thing? The absence of a version by John Williams does stand out, however, since Williams has made arrangements of material by Steiner, Korngold, Rozsa, Young, etc., for his Cinema Serenade 2 album with Itzhak Perlman. (I don't have no. 1. Did it include anything by North?)

On many occasions and to a greater degree. Body & Soul, Invitation, Stella By Starlight and a more modern tune Exodus main theme. I don't think the Spartacus love theme is a standard for improvisers? Still it's a good one worth checking out.

I'm looking forward to the hyped mono quality, as I've already heard a near complete stereo version from who knows where.

Finest score of Hollywood must be bought in every instance of publication, in my book anyway.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 9:47 AM   
 By:   Ed Nassour   (Member)

Thanks Rich !
What I don't get is that at the moment when the mono-mixdown of the complete score was made why didn't they made a stereo-version at the same time as well ??
Was that technically difficult back then ?
Or what was used for the mono-mixdown ?


I suspect the mono material used for this new CD release all came from the 1/4" tapes made for North.

For some reason most composer copies were mono. I once knew Leonard Rosenman and he had copies of his scores done at Warner BRothers, all in mono on 1/4" open reel tape. Those scores were originally all recorded onto 35mm three-track magnetic film. Films such as "East of Eden" played in stereo in theaters during their initial run.

Universal is a studio where maddening things happened.

Case in point:

Back in the 1970s when I worked at the studio in their editorial department, one day I was in the film vaults looking for something. In a corner I discovered in huge cases several 70mm release prints of Universal films. One of them was marked SPARTACUS - "roadshow version." I opened up one of the cases, took the giant reel out and unspooled some of it. The print had faded somewhat to pink which was a problem with Eastman color film. But it looked to be in good shape otherwise. Plus it was the original version that played at the Pantagas Theater in Hollywood. At that time a big film festival was taking place in LA called Filmex. I knew Gary Essert who ran it was searching for a 70mm print of the film so I called him up and let him know about the print I found. He was thrilled. Later, when Gary called up the studio, he was told no such print existed, that all they had was a beat up 35mm print that wasn't even in stereo. Later on when I checked, the vault supervisor told me he received orders to discard all the 70mm prints which included SPARTACUS, AIRPORT, SWEET CHARITY and THOROUGHLY MODERN MILLIE. All went into the trash. It seems Universal execs would rather have them tossed than lend them out.

Like I said in my earlier post, I suspect the actual session masters were either lost or tossed. If they had taken on "vinegar syndrome" then I suspect they were tossed.

The shame here is that many Hollywood studios only got into the restoration business after the advent of home video. Before that they were less inclined to care for their elements.

Warner Brothers never kept any of their stereo scoring session masters done in the 1950s. They didn't even retain any stereo print masters until the early 1960s.

Fortunately, we can now enjoy WB films in stereo form the 1950s since film collectors stepped forward making their cherished 35mm four-track striped prints available. This is why we now hear films like "Mister Roberts," "The Spirit of St. Louis," "East of Eden" and "Rebel Without a Cause" in full stereo.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 10:41 AM   
 By:   CindyLover   (Member)

A dream come true for some.

As for others, it just goes to show that the anonymous person who first said "There's no pleasing some people" is one of the wisest men or women who ever lived.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 10:47 AM   
 By:   Eric A.   (Member)

Thank you Rich for a couple of very enlightening posts.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 10:51 AM   
 By:   haineshisway   (Member)

What! Film score fans were hoping for two CD's worth of Love Theme Variations - the complete score in mono, & a price tag of over $100! I must have missed those posts.

lol. My thoughts exactly, but you put it more succinctly than I seem to have managed.

Incidentally, my main gripe is that Varese have built a huge edifice on these mono tracks like a castle on sand, and now have the temerity to use the phrase "astounding monaural". Are they being funny? No one markets mono material anymore, unless it's some old Lauritz Melchior archival stuff, and then it's usually budget. If only mono tracks were available, they should have been released at a far more reasonable price, without all the appendages and with an explanation such as FSM would have given: "Sorry, guys, we hunted high and low for the stereo tracks but no dice. The mono sounds pretty good though." Had they done so I would still have been hugely disappointed but far less critical. Not critical at all in fact.


Well, let's be clear here - plenty of people market mono material - i.e. material recorded and originally released in mono (or not released, if it's a first release). And some of those older mono albums had superb sound. There was a world before stereophonic sound and it was called mono. Spartacus is, of course, a score that was recorded in stereo, so I understand the ultimate point you're making, but the way you couch your point doesn't help you - it would be like saying no one markets black-and-white films anymore unless it's some old Greta Garbo movie.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 10:54 AM   
 By:   haineshisway   (Member)



Four pages, if you log in.


Two if you change your settings to show 200 a page razz


Incidentally, my main gripe is that Varese have built a huge edifice on these mono tracks like a castle on sand, and now have the temerity to use the phrase "astounding monaural". Are they being funny? No one markets mono material anymore,

Eh, I don't quite get it either, but there are actually people who have a strange fondness for mono. Look at the whole Beatles thing last year, and a number of people even say that some classical jazz albums well known for great sound (such as Brubeck's Time Out) sound better in mono. Yeah I don't know what planet they are from either.

And it's true that the mono tracks here DO sound pretty good, but I think they gave them a very slight echo to let em breath (not quite what FSM does sometimes, just there's a lack of the 'pinchiness' that most mono tracks have)

But yeah, once again, I think the main issue boils down to the whole all or nothing problem. Read through this thread, a LARGE number of people say "yeah I'll buy it, but I won't listen to the covers/watch the DVD (at all/more than once)". It might be a decent price for "what you get', but when the majority of people don't even want that...well that's a problem.

And as others said, they absolutely HAD to know that not everyone could afford it, or be willing to drop an extra $65 (or whatever) for stuff they really don't want. Noone could be so dumb as to think otherwise. Buy it if you want, but please do not say that anyone bitching about the price is simply being a whiner. $110 is expensive no matter what way you cut it.


The Beatles in mono are different mixes than the Beatles in stereo - sometimes significantly so. Of course there's a market for them - some people prefer the mono mixes - if I'm remembering correctly, those were the mixes that they spent the most time on on the early stuff.

 
 
 Posted:   Jun 29, 2010 - 10:57 AM   
 By:   Ed Nassour   (Member)

Thanks Rich !
What I don't get is that at the moment when the mono-mixdown of the complete score was made why didn't they made a stereo-version at the same time as well ??
Was that technically difficult back then ?
Or what was used for the mono-mixdown ?


Copying tracks wasn't difficult. It was routine back then to make a mono copy. Why? I have no idea. Why not protect the original stereo session by copying it over in stereo?

Bottom line is that back then there was no impetus to protect elements as there is today.

 
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