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Wild Bunch, The King Kong: The Deluxe Edition (2CD) Body Heat Friends of Eddie Coyle/Three Days of the Condor, The It's Alive Ben-Hur Frantic Nightwatch/Killer by Night Gremlins
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In this first part, we will focus on four decades of film music scores from the Fabulous Fifties to the Plastic Eighties. 2012 was generous with Clint Eastwood-related scores.
 
SPECIFICATIONS: APART FROM ECONOMICAL FACTORS, THE CRITERIA ARE BASED ON THE FOLLOWING AXIOMS: THE RICHNESS OF THE ORIGINAL RECORDING, THE INTEGRITY OF THE INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC, THE LEVEL OF INNOVATION, THE PACE OF THE CORPUS, THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE, THE COLOR OF THE INSTRUMENTS USE, THE CROSS-REFERENCES.
 
| vintage selection per decade |
All soundtracks are classified in the alphabetical order of the composers. LN means “Liner Notes” and they include authors dealing with cinema/tv and music analysis, track-by-track commentary, vintage LP notes, technical talk.
 
1. Film Music
 
1950's Soundtrack (1)
Herrmann
North by Northwest (Intrada) (LN: Frank K. DeWald, Lukas Kendall)
 
Notes
North by Northwest is the ultimate masterpiece by Bernard Herrmann and Intrada’s greatest achievement. There are so many details to comment so I will pick a couple. The tour de force track of the recording is the outtake entitled “The Streets” which is a steady rise of cosy tension that plays the same ostinato but with different instruments. The track “The Station” exploits again the same rise in a blunt way featuring an unexpected and intrusive little brass use. The added value to this release is the general improvement over the 1995 Rhino edition: long tracks made out of combined cues, the source music at the end of the CD, an alternate take for “The Crash” and a better sound quality. At last, you can experience a full blast of instrumental intensity. The Man from FSM Lukas Kendall is part of this release as a CD reissue producer along with his sidekick Neil S. Bulk.
 
 
1960's Soundtracks (7)
Bernstein
The Rat Race (Kritzerland) (LN: Bruce Kimmel)
Glass
Lady in a Cage (Kritzerland) (LN: Bruce Kimmel)
Goldsmith
Warning Shot (La-La Land) (LN: Jeff Bond)
Komeda
Rosemary’s Baby (La-La Land) (LN: Scott Bettencourt, John Takis)
Mancini
Hatari (Intrada) (LN: John Takis, Douglass Fake)
Charade (Intrada) (LN: Jeff Bond)
Schifrin
Coogan’s Bluff (Intrada) (LN: Scott Bettencourt, Douglass Fake)
 
Notes
The Rat Race is a score that belongs to the jazz-oriented corpus of Elmer Bernstein: see The Man With the Golden Arm, Sweet Smell of Success, Anna Lucasta. The peculiar use of brass in the main title reminds the thematic style from Johnny Staccato. Oddly enough, the leading characters from The Man With the Golden Arm (drummer), Johnny Staccato (part detective, part pianist) and The Rat Race (saxophonist) are musicians. Beyond the sax-driven music and the main theme, you can appreciate a dramatic score with a wide array of shades. The soundtrack CD features ten bonus tracks: source music, two alternate versions and two demos.
The Lady in a Cage is an interesting dissonant and semi-atonal score that is “close” to the early 60’s work of Leonard Rosenman and David Amram (see the harpsichord use a la The Manchurian Candidate) and even is a companion piece to The Twilight Zone. On the whole, it’s an ambience work with a twisted and melancolic leaning because of the strings-dominated music but it includes a nasty flute and sometimes a low-end piano, drum and cymbals, conga, a jazzy doublebass and an acid brass section. Listen to these two tracks for better examples: “Man of Tomorrow/Music Box” and “We’re Gonna Kill Ya”.
Warning Shot is a rare and minor score by Goldsmith in the vein of Our Man Flint (1966) for the hectic part (hip mod music with flute, distorted electric guitar and organ) and from Seconds for the lowkey side: see “Damaging Testimony” (see cue #1 “Valens Suspended” with its sad piano and harp). It’s a pure exercice of style combining various directions (crime jazz, pop, avant garde) and Goldsmith also toys with an archeo-synthesizer called Novachord to provide some depth. The best tracks are strangely atmospheric as “The Gasser”, “Diggin’ for Caesar” (featuring a buzzing organ) and “Finale”. This soundtrack contains two versions of the score: the short original recording culled from the film’s music stem and a very short compilation album conducted by jazz bandleader Simon Zentner. The Man from FSM Lukas Kendall is credited as executive producer.
Rosemary’s Baby is, now, presented complete: the album and the film score with the source music and bonus tracks. The album is a crazy mixed bag with high contrasts: the obsessive lullaby (“la-la-la”) hummed by actress Mia Farrow (“Lullaby From Rosemary Baby, Part 1”, “Main Title”), the unbridled satanist sect incantations and insane climat (“The Coven”, “Dream”, “What Have You Done to Its Eyes”), silky or sirupy easy listening jazzy tunes a la Michel Legrand (“Moment Musical”, “Christmas”), free jazz-oriented pieces (“Panic”, “Through the Closet”) reminding Don Ellis’ dissonances and distortions, hippie rock music (“Rosemary’s Party”) reminding The Pigeon-Toed Orange Peels from Coogan’s Bluff, melancolic chamber music (“Happy News”). The original recording is just an extented version. Among other things, composer Christopher Komeda arranges the album, Richard Hazard alias Lalo Schifrin’s 1960’s arranger has a double credits: conductor for the album version and orchestrator for the film score. The CD is produced by The Man from FSM Lukas Kendall along with LLL Gerhard and Verboys.
Hatari is a revelation and a good surprise because it is the original recording. I find it is a good supplement to the African scores by Mandel (Cf. the 1963 Drums of Africa) and Schifrin (Cf. the 1964 Rhino!). The score starts full force with the fast-paced safari upbeat (“The Sounds of Hatari”) that returns many times (“Swift Animal Chase”, “Leopard and Buffalo”, “Wildebeest Hunt”) and the ethnic main melody (“Main Title”, “Trip to Masi Wells”, “Dead Elephant”, “The Crocodile”, “More Rhino”). As usual, in Mancini’s realm, you get a share of easy listening (“Burnt Fingers”), silky smooth West Coast jazz pieces (“Nightside”, “Dallas Has a Plan”, “Indian Comes Home”, the superb “Crocodile, Go Home!”, the vibraphone-oriented “Big Band Bwana”, “Ice Bucket Blues”), humorous tracks (the country “Your Father’s Feathers”, the notorious “Baby Elephant Walk”, “Search for Dallas”) and even lowkey tracks (“Brandy Sniffer”, “Monkey Suits”, “Elephant Scare”). The soundtrack contains one song: “Just for Tonight”. The Man from FSM Lukas Kendall is credited as a production consultant. The liner notes are interesting because it gives you the details of the unusual instruments that are part of the score: Howard Hawks’ African instruments (mbira, shell gourds, seed pod shakers), many hand drums and mallets (among them, the lujon—later integrated by Richard Markowitz in “The Night of the Sudden Death” from The Wild Wild West and Jerry Goldsmith in Planet of the Apes), detuned piano, Portuguese guitar and a mandolin.
Charade is, at last, presented in its original form and the main interest lies in the insidious sinister tension-filled music in the line of the mad killer thriller Experiment in Terror (“Positive Identification”, “Confide in Me”, “Don’t Trust Him” that concludes with an unexpected Parisian jazz interlude at 03:17, “Hook Fight”, “Poor Dead Herman”, “Gideon Goes Down”, “Son of Metro Chase”) and chase music too (“Stamps”, “Metro Chase”, “Game Over”). You’ll also find a potpourri of various styles: jazz, muzac, sirupy faux-classical music tapestry, Parisian folklore encapsulated by the cliché accordion. And the inevitable song is present: “Charade” (track #21).
Arizona Deputy Sheriff Coogan: “How did he get this LSD in jail?”
New York Police Lt. McElroy: “We serve it everyday like peanuts at the cocktail hour.”

Coogan’s Bluff is an amazing versatile and contradictory score that can be defined as urban western in which the character theme of Deputy Sheriff Coogan is reworked frantically: “Coogan’s Wild Ride”, “Capture The Chief”, “Main Title Part A”, “Main Title Part B”, “The Big Apple”, “Small Talk”, “End Title & End Cast”. To evoke the New Yorkers hipness of the late 1960’s, Schifrin injects Eastern Indian tabla and sitar: see “The Big Apple”, “Coogan Raga”, “Ringerman’s Chase”. Other colourful instruments like the psaltario and the tiple are integrated into the composition. Two tracks (“Wrong Number” and “Looking For Jimbo”) contrast sharply with the main theme and focus on a dissonant musical line and are related to the sleazy character of Pushie. The score is conceived as Bullitt because of its collection of urban moods from action-packed, love music (“Song To Julie”, “Tell Me About Arizona”) and melancoly (“Five Minutes”, “Green Worms”) to suspense-laden (“Looking For Jimbo”), fast-paced chase music with intense percussions and source music (the radio music of the cheap Golden Hotel in “Getting Better”—Schifrin did that for a 1968 score from Mission: Impossible entitled “The Contender”). The country part of the score use the same instruments (banjo, guitar and percussions) as Cool Hand Luke but in an opposite direction. The soundtrack CD contains many typical or sociological gems like the two hippie songs (the psyche-rock “Pigeon-Toed Orange Peels” and “Everybody”) performed by the band called The Pigeon-Toed Orange Peels, deleted tracks (“Coogan’s Wild Ride”, “Capture The Chief”, “Cartoon Background”, “End Title”) from the finished film and a series of eight extras which feature, among other things, three unused tracks, actress Susan Clark’s humming “Song To Julie”. Note that Universal television music department head Stanley Wilson is credited as music supervisor and even conducts the three Radio Spots from the extras and the orchestrations are not only by Lalo Schifrin but by composer Richard Hazard (see Mannix, Mission: Impossible but also his input on Bullitt, Kelly’s Heroes, Telefon).
 
 
1970's Soundtracks (11)
Barton
High Plains Drifter (Intrada) (LN: Scott Bettencourt, Douglass Fake)
Gaye
Trouble Man, 40th Anniversary (Motown) (LN: Andrew Flory, Joni Mitchell, Cameron Crowe, George Tillman Jr.)
Guercio
Electra Glide in Blue (Quartet) (LN: Randall D. Larson)
Fielding
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Quartet) (LN: Nick Redman)
Goldsmith
Chinatown (Varèse Sarabande) (LN: Robert Townson)
Grusin
The Friends of Eddie Coyle/Three Days of the Condor (Film Score Monthly) (LN: Scott Bettencourt, Lukas Kendall)
Herrmann
It’s Alive (Film Score Monthly) (LN: Jeff Bond, Frank K. DeWald)
Jarre
Posse/The Last Tycoon (Intrada) (LN: Jeff Bond, Douglass Fake)
Kraft
Avalanche (Buysoundtrax) (LN: William Kraft)
Lambro
Los Angeles, 1937 (Perseverance) (LN: Gergely Hubai)
Rosenman/Goldsmith
The Last Hard Men (Intrada) (LN: Mike Matessino)
 
Notes
Sarah Belding: “Be careful. You’re a man who makes people afraid, and that’s dangerous.”
The Stranger: “It’s what people know about themselves inside that makes ’em afraid.”


High Plains Drifter is a premiere score by a rare composer named Dee Barton who used to write three film scores for Clint Eastwood and even ghost write music for the Dirty Harry saga. The general leaning is heavily influenced by mannerist composer Ennio Morricone but redirected with a psychedelic rock bent or should I say hard rock western: just notice “Target Practice”, “Preparations”, “Shooting Stacy”. Sometimes the oddball arrangements anticipate the style of Claudio Simonetti working for Goblin’s Dawn of the Dead (see “Ai margini della follia”) or Barry de Vorzon’s The Warriors: see the two dreamlike tracks “Vision of Marshal” (The Stranger dreams in his hotel room) and “Whipped to Death” (dwarf Mordecai’s trip down memory lane) and “Hotel Explodes”. It’s an experimental, distorted and creepy western score that sounds almost like a horror score designed for 1970’s hip youth audience that enjoy Universal’s macabre anthology Rod Serling’s Night Gallery (see the western segment “The Waiting Room” as a reference). As with the original Dirty Harry score, you can notice the use of long dissonant synthesizers (“Main Title”, “Whipped to Death”, “Callie”, “Dynamite”) and a female voice as dramatic devices. In the liner notes, you can read the list of instruments and notice two Moogs and one ARP but a bizarre harmonica, a wide array of percussions—including a waterphone—and four mean electric guitars—including the use of Jimmy Hendricks’ wah wah pedal—overwhelm the string section. On the other hand, you also find wild fast-paced ride music tinted with hard western funk: see “Dummy Wagon”, “Target Practice”, “Gunfight in Lago”. It’s one of the four Eastwood film scores from the early 1970’s that was very shadowy and twisted: see Lalo Schifrin’s The Beguiled (unreleased), Lalo Schifrin’s Dirty Harry, Dee Barton’s Play Misty for Me (unreleased). At the end of the CD, you find some exquisite extras: an unused song for the main title and a series of moody stingers that encapsulate the (haunted) spirit of the film. It’s another must have from Universal along with the two Mancinis and Schifrin’s Coogan’s Bluff.
Trouble Man: 40th Anniversary is a 2-CD set containing the album version followed by the outtakes (nine tracks) from the “T” sessions and the original recording with a bonus track (“‘T’ at the Cross”) and this is the main reason to get it once more. The real sound of the film is rough, gritty, low-key, urban and dry and features just one popular song (“Trouble Man”) performed by Marvin Gaye as if he was talking on the street with a buddy and the score tackles groovy fat funk, blues, traditional jazz and melancolic or threatening state and even sounds at times like The Omega Man. The film score tends to repeat key cues as transitions and beacons. From the album, the most effective tracks remain “‘T’ Plays it Cool” (Moog-handclaps-percussions galore and with an arch drumbeat ostinato—described as “a loop of a four-measure phrase”—and a sad but not soppy background saxophone) and “‘T’ Stands for Trouble” (arranged by jazz trombonist J.J. Johnson). Perhaps, one of black Neo Noir’s best film score ever because of the dense instrumental composition: see “’T’ Cleans Up/Police Station”.
Electra Glide in Blue is a reissue of the United Artists LP and still doesn’t include the Stagecoach piano tune. This short soundtrack is a mixture of six beautiful instrumental music tracks (the solemn “Morning”, the laid-back funk jazz “Prelude”, the heroic “Overture”, the groovy “Jolene’s Dance”, the funky fast-paced “The Chase”, the slow solemn “Monument Valley”) and five popular songs (two country music songs performed by Mark Spoelstra, one doo-wop song performed by The Marcels, one fusion rock live song performed by Madura and one sad song performed by Terry Kath). The annoying side of this soundtrack is that it contains dialogues in “Morning” (in the last part), “Free From the Devils” (in the last part), “The Chase” (in the first part). It’s a good memento.
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia contains the previous Intrada materials and thirty minutes of bonus—8 tracks: two alternate versions of tracks (“Bring It To Me” and “Requiem for Alfredo”), two Mexican songs (“The ‘Hacienda’ Suite” and “Rachero Duet”) and four rare tracks with a tribute to the Fielding’s (“Jerry and Camille”)—which is the reason why I order it. I am fully satisfied by this expanded edition despite the fact that the introduction music by the lake is missing. The music itself is modernistic and Mexican-flavored with a dominant rough, melancolic and dry guitar in the line of The Wild Bunch. Among this somber score, only one track entitled “On the Road” strikes as an upbeat percussions-oriented one. At last, we have the equivalent of the complete soundtrack for The Wild Bunch and it feels like its companion piece because of the villagers flavor (see “The Hacienda Suite” that has the taste of Agua Verde) and actors Emilio Fernandez and Warren Oates. The added value of the soundtrack is that some cues will be re-worked for the 1974 series Kolchak: The Night Stalker: see tracks “Night Dig” and the esoteric delay-laden “Goodbye Elita” that land in “Firefall”—you can even imagine the voice-overs of Carl Kolchak himself (“I wasn’t getting any sleep, but at least Ryder was”). As usual, Fielding is supported by his faithful orchestrators tandem: Greig McRitchie—who scores one episode for Kolchak: The Night Stalker, by the way—and Lennie Niehaus.
Chinatown is a long and dense melancholic score of a rare beauty that I consider as Goldsmith’s Seventies masterpiece because it’s filled with gloomy modernist techniques. Some tracks shine better than others like: “Noah Cross”—see the weird dark passage from 00:55 to 01:17—, “The Last of Ida”, “The Captive”—calls the future score for Breakheart Pass—which shows the triumph of a trumpet solo combined with strings (played straight, col legno, pizzicato), harp, bell, low-end piano, guiro and waterphone. You can sense the influences of Michael Small’s Klute—see the brief passage (from 00:04 to 01:04) of track #11 (“J.J. Gittes”) due to a slow piano keys effect—and Bernard Herrmann. There is one dusty song (“I Can’t Get Started”, track #5) that breaks the mood and two songs presented without vocals (“Easy Living” and “The Way You Look Tonight”)—originally Goldsmith was against any uses of redundant vintage materials. It’s not the original recording, by the way, and no deep sound restoration has been achieved on this new edition from the 31 minutes album.
“They put your hand in a drawer... then somebody kicks the drawer shut. Ever hear bones breaking? Just like a man snapping a shingle. Hurts like a bastard.” Eddie Coyle to Jackie Brown.

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is a divine surprise and a premiere release. A previous score by Grusin entitled The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (one cue inside “Alone Again” and “Drop Out”) almost prefigures this Eddie Coyle score and The Nickel Ride will extend it. This is FSM’s second film score from a film by Peter Yates (Cf. Bullitt) and actor Robert Mitchum (Cf. The Yakuza). The main theme of the underworld—i.e., the friends—is slow, cool and melancolic all at once and appears four times: tracks # 1, 4, 10, 12. On the whole, the orchestration is quiet complexe, interwoven, pointillistic, insidious and silky. For the record, the fast-paced electric guitar-laden hard funk-rock “Clean Cut” is used in the film as a radio source music that is heard at a low level inside the car of Eddie Coyle delivering handguns at night at the trailer of robber Jimmy Scalise. Apart from the jazz-funk fusion leaning, two instruments are injected cleverly in the background: the echoplexed flute (tracks # 3, 4, 7, 9) and the waterphone (tracks # 1, 4, 7, 9, 12) which is associated with the character of banker Mr. Partridge. The character of yellow car-driving gun seller Jackie Brown has his theme—an upbeat slick funk tune—that comes and goes three times: “Mr. Connection”, “Jackie Meets Pete and Andrea”, “Shopping Center” (unused in the finished film and I think it is a wise decision because the additional saxophone is redundant and heavy-handed). Two tracks feature an unexpected shift of pace—wild and hectic one: “Baylis Robbery” (at 01:49) and “The Stakeout” (at 00:50). The second and fast-paced part of “The Stakeout” eventually returns in “Eddie is Hit”. The longest and richest track remains “Partridge Robbery/Take a Walk” with 7 minutes 40 on the clock. The most beautiful musical passage that recaptures the full spirit of the smooth robbers starts at 01:02 inside “Whalen Robbery”—it used to be tracked by The Criterion Collection to illustrate the DVD menu of the film. There is a blatant difference between the film mix and the original recording because some instruments are highlit or covered in another way.

Three Days of the Condor is presented now complete for the first time. It starts with the 28 minutes hybrid and mainstream album that contains two irrelevant songs (the popular “I’ve Got You Where I Want you” tracked as source music in the film and the sirupy “Silver Bells”) that you should be put at the end of the CD—the “I’ve Got You Where I Want you” song invites itself at the end of the album version: see track #24. Oddly enough, the first part of the score plays like a laid-back jazz-fusion album of Herbie Hancock (see Man-Child), jazz-New Age electric piano player Lonnie Liston Smith (see Watercolors) and Grover Washington, Jr. (see Mister Magic and Feels So Good) because you can spot the hippie atmospheric gimmicks. Moreover, the recurring love theme doesn’t work owing to its omnipresent, lazy, corny, slow-moving saxophone and, worst, can ruin a good track like “We’ll Bring You Home”. From the Capitol album, I will save “Condor!”, “Yellow Panic” (notice the pace change and the bass guitar imprint at 01:03), “Flight of the Condor”, “Out of Lunch”, “Flashback to Terror” (that starts with the Eddie Coyle theme) and “Sing Along with the C.I.A.”. The additional material is the main interest because we get 15 minutes of extra tracks never before released and that’s when the real McCoy takeover—listen to “More Flight/Sing Along with the C.I.A., Part I & II” and “Carrion Search, Part II/Higgins Caper, Part II”—but, unfortunately, a hokey song is also part of the package: “Jingle Bells”. A word to the wise, the best way to fully appreciate the instrumental flow of Three Days of the Condor is to program it without the source songs: a real delight. The cream of the crop remains The Friends of Eddie Coyle and we’re lucky this is the first score of the double header because it is the best vintage release of 2012. Period!
It’s Alive is a “muffled” horror score, as opposed to Sisters, that has an archive sound quality because of the noise and the lack of dynamics which makes the listening experience strenuous. This anachronistic score is reminiscent of the sneaky dreamlike music from the Golden Age like The Wrong Man and is also the blue print for Taxi Driver (tambourine and percussions). Herrmann tries to simulate the weirdness of the killer baby with a gloomy Moog synthesizer—notice the glissandi—coupled with an organ, a rattling tambourine and an electric bass guitar that structures some of the best tracks: read the instruments list on page 7. To recapture the sadness, he couples the viola d’amore with the Moog. It’s a slow listening and the orchestration of this extremely sparse, subdued and sybilline score is fabulous and detailed: it plays like a collection of background moods. Only “It’s Alive (Main Title)” and “Kill It/Sad Reunion/End Title” are almost tense like Sisters.
→ Posse is an unusual martial western score that exploits the echoplexed trumpet distortion a la Patton—with an additional flute—but not in the same context: it is designed for the sheriff character in order to ironically emphasize on his delusion of grandeur. The track “Strawhorn” focusing on the bandit character translated by a slow and sad ballad also contains a counterpoint: the sheriff theme with its patriotic anthem. On the whole, the music is dominated by military fanfares with heavy brass but also a peculiar use of cimbalom.

→ The Last Tycoon is a slow-moving melancolic and nostalgic score that makes a good companion to Chinatown: both are period piece films. One track has arrangements derived from Grand Prix: see “Alone in Their Own World”. Both Jarre’s soundtrack scores were supervised as project consultants by The Man from FSM Lukas Kendall and his sidekick Neil S. Bulk.
Avalanche is a fine modernist score that resemble some of Jerry Fielding’s early seventies scores like the disturbing Straw Dogs and its French horn use but, above all, some arrangements are similar to Leonard Rosenman and Laurence Rosenthal of that era. William Kraft has a knack for subverting glissandi. The Main Title is a good example of versatility, has the French horn direction almost derived from four tracks from Straw Dogs (see “Prologue”, the first part of “The Hunting Party”, the first part of “I Got’Em All”, “Epilogue”) and it comes back in “Bruce Skiing/First Avalanche” and “End Credits”. Among the most representative and picturesque tracks, find “To The Rescue” (tense and on the razor’s edge), “Tina’s Hysteria” (a musical tempest that sounds like the dissonant cacophony produced by a symphonic orchestra when it tunes up the instruments), “Sleigh Ride” (nicely bucolic), “Snowmobile Race” (Fieldingian to the core and Straw Dogsian to the bone), “Bruce and Annette” (cute piano-n-flute-dominated jazz piece), “The Avalanche” (an atonal Rosenmanesque chaos), Death of Mark” (ultra-brassy). The soundtrack features extras consisting of six outtakes. Highly recommended.
Los Angeles, 1937 is the rejected score for Chinatown. It’s a good semi-experimental score filled with devices like the scrapped cymbal: see “Main Titles”, “Tailing Hollis”, “Finding The Captive”. The main titles track is a trip down memory lane that reminds Dominic Frontiere/Robert Van Eps’ “Don’t Open Till Doomsday”. The melancolic main theme pops up three times: “Main Titles”, “One Night With Evelyn”, “Forget It, Jake”. One track entitled “The Boy on a Horse” is an exercice of pure dissonance. In the liner notes, we learn that Goldsmith’s approach was similare to Lambro’s (“…the results were actually not that far away from Lambro’s sound”).
The Last Hard Men is presented with both Leonard Rosenman’s rejected western score and Jerry Goldsmith’s series of re-recorded cues culled from previous scores (the bulk is from 100 Rifles with additional ones from Rio Conchos, Morituri, Stagecoach) but conducted by Alfred Newman. Back to Rosenman’s score which is described by Matessino in these terms: “His trademark contemporary brass clusters and ascending dissonant pyramids (…)”. Despite the fact the film is a western, the music is not and the composer was asked to write “avant-garde music” by the director. Furthermore, this solid score anticipates Prophecy (1979). Nuff said. Absolutely recommended for Rosenman’s heavy atonal addicts like your host: White Rook Out!
 
 
1980's Soundtracks (3)
Mellé
Borderline (Intrada) (LN: James Phillips, Douglass Fake)
Rózsa
Eye of the Needle (Varèse Sarabande) (LN: Christopher Palmer)
Small
The Postman Always Rings Twice (Intrada) (LN: Scott Bettencourt, Douglass Fake)
 
Notes
Borderline is an electro acoustic score that foreshadows the lyricism of The Last Chase (see the dominant strings in “Borderline Titles”, “Fight for Survival” and “Final Chase”). At first glance, I have a mixed feeling about this music. The electronic texture is much too standard, cold New Wave rock and even FM radio and lacks of the composer’s early and edgy experimentations and this electro tapestry gives you a foretaste of the austere World War III. The score hasn’t aged well. This strange entity undergoes many influences and, among other things, may sound at times like the bizarre Dawn of the Dead by the Italian group Goblin and the acoustic afro-cuban materials seem derived from the band Santana (see “Tijuana Bar”, “Tijuana Trouble”). Anyway, my favourite track remains “This is The Place” because of his shift of style but still led by Mellé’s melancolic strings signature. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting score designed for the completists of the composer who is still under-represented and it shows the direction of jazz fusion in the decade to come, especially the bass guitar use. For the record, demiurge Mellé built a singular instrument called the clam which really looked like a giant black mollusk—I wish I could see that! Seafood for the ears?
Eye of the Needle remains typical of Miklós Rózsa’s sound, in short, it’s a superb and anachronistic Golden Age score illustrating a Bronze Age film. The riveting and panting theme of German agent Faber (see “Prelude”) is a reminder of the fast-paced tone from The Power because of its heavy brass section blended with high strings. Two tracks deserve to be underlined: “The Blonde Agent” and “Camouflage”. It’s not the original recording and this album was recorded in Nürnberg, West Germany. As Bernard Herrmann, Rózsa never sold out.
The Postman Always Rings Twice is the first score by Small for director Bob Rafaelson and I used to order it for that particular reason: Intrada released the dense Black Widow in the previous decade. The actual score is a departure from Small’s minimalistic work because it is graceful, tragic, romantic, sentimentalo-pastoral, melodic and even refers to Bernard Herrmann in some subtle touches. Two details are striking: the haunting crime motif (see “Main Title”, “Frank In Room”, “Going to Chicago”, Fuse Box”, “We Do It”, “They Leave the Courthouse”, “End Credits”) and the cimbalom that is discreetly injected to emphasize the dark atmophere produced by the couple: see “Frank in Room”, “Got to Have You, Frank”, “Fuse Box”, “Please Don’t Leave Me”, “Murder and Push Car”, “We Do It”, “They Leave the Courthouse”, “Suspense on Stairs”. I enjoy a shift of pace inside “They Leave the Courthouse” at 02:11. On the whole, the score is robust and flawless: the best of the three 80’s CDs. The soundtrack ends with 17 minutes of bonus tracks: three alternate versions (“Kitchen Love”, “Beat Each Other Up”, “Cora Spits”), one long version (“Got to Have You, Frank”) and three album versions (“Thinking of Cora”, “They Marry”, “Last Drive”) of previous tracks and two Opera excerpts by Verdi and Mozart arranged by Small. Music-wise, is it the equivalent of Chinatown? The CD is produced by The Man from FSM Lukas Kendall and Neil S. Bulk. In the booklet, you can read the list of instruments and among them, two unusual Middle East folkloric instruments: the oud (a lute) and the zills (finger cymbals).
 
 

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Comments (5):Log in or register to post your own comments
2012 was a deceptively good year for vintage score releases! I'd forgotten about North by Northwest--that's how good a year 2012!

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is the release of the year for me, though.

I'll have to give "Alfredo Garcia" another listen for those all-important (future) KOLCHAK musical references. I know the score to Firefall well and the scene with Ryder Bond's car cutting Markoff's funeral procession is pure Fielding!

A very nice selection, Thomas.

I didn't even know that Trouble Man had been released in an expanded version, so I'll have to check that out.

As you know, I'm having trouble feeling the love for Coogan or Drifter, but I'd certainly go along with most of your other selections.

I wonder what 2013 will bring :D

2012 was a deceptively good year for vintage score releases! I'd forgotten about North by Northwest--that's how good a year 2012!

The Friends of Eddie Coyle is the release of the year for me, though.

I'll have to give "Alfredo Garcia" another listen for those all-important (future) KOLCHAK musical references. I know the score to Firefall well and the scene with Ryder Bond's car cutting Markoff's funeral procession is pure Fielding!



EDDIE COYLE is really THE ultimate Neo Noir release of 2012!
I wonder what other score can top that?

Listen to the best track from ALFREDO GARCIA entitled: "Goodbye Elita"—Fielding's at his creative and atmospheric best! I adore the sense of ellipsis with the delay effect. It has a low-key bitter sweetness that announces an ending.

A very nice selection, Thomas.

I didn't even know that Trouble Man had been released in an expanded version, so I'll have to check that out.

As you know, I'm having trouble feeling the love for Coogan or Drifter, but I'd certainly go along with most of your other selections.


I'm biased because I adore both the films and the scores for COOGAN or DRIFTER and I know every damn scenes in relation to the music. COOGAN was never released properly on home video: the studio kept on editing the film. So far and in the last three decades, I watched three edits.

Put the DRIFTER CD in a car and cross a city: it's wild, Simon, it's wild. ;)

I enjoyed reading your comments, Thomas. However, it just made me realise how much my soundtrack purchasing has dropped this year (2012) due to a rejuggling of priorities. I have bought a grand total of THREE of the CDs on your list.

But I have made a Christmas list (our Santa doesn't come until the 6th of January) and, if I'm lucky, that total will shoot up to four.

Signing off for this evening - HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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