Film Score Monthly
Search Terms: 
Search Within:   search tips 
You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 12:39 AM   
 By:   Lukas Kendall   (Member)

I want to write a little bit about our recent CD of The Yakuza. Usually I don't do this kind of self-promotion because I think we do a good job as it is of publicizing our CDs, and I think the collectors here do a great job in understanding what is available. But this is a CD I'm especially pleased with just as a fan myself of a very fine film and an exceptionally intriguing score.

A lot of our CDs happen to be worthwhile scores for movies which are not esepecially noteworthy. A lot of our other CDs are done by well-known composers where the reputation of the movie doesn't really matter in selling the album. The Yakuza is special in that it is a really exceptional '70s film with a first-rate composer (Dave Grusin) doing a really terrific score. The only possible way I could describe it, without being insulting, is that it is as good as Goldsmith's "ethnic" scores in its use of melody and mood (western forms with eastern colors), although it does not have the kind of action music that usually accompanies Goldsmith's "guy" movies. However this is by no means due to a deficiency on Grusin's part but due to the meditative and sophisticated nature of Sydney Pollack's movie, which has some violent scenes but is never cartoony. Grusin also is a first-rate jazz artist and that sensibility permeates the subtly contemporary approach (for the period).

This CD took over a year to produce as the mix became quite complicated (necessitating a composite of different tape sources), and we were fortunate to receive the contributions of NIck Redman and Jon Burlingame for the liner notes, who had to take time out of their busy schedules, but are the foremost experts on this movie and score. I didn't really learn until after we did the license with Warner Bros. that this was a sort of dream project for each of them, and I could not have been more thrilled with their contributions, and eager to defer to their judgment when it came to matters of design, assembly and presentation. Fortunately we were all on the same page and I can't think of anything they wanted to change in the mix and master.

Outside of the die-hard fans of this film I don't see this CD getting a lot of attention, and I wanted to see if anyone wanted to discuss it here. It's really a gorgeous piece of work with many noteworthy cues...a chance for music to live in the mood and nostalgia of a film and sort of stand aside in the "action" moments (though the colors Grusin uses are brilliant). The cue "20 Year Montage" alone is a gorgeous piece of work and benefits also from the brilliance of orchestrators Leo Shuken and Jack Hayes, as well as Grusin's own formidable skills as a composer, orchestrator and all-around artist.

Thanks for listening.

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 12:59 AM   
 By:   quiller007   (Member)

I'm ordering this cd sometime this
month, along with 633 Squadron.

I agree with all of your comments regarding
the score and film - irritatingly not
available yet on dvd. I've always felt
The Yakuza was a direct influence on
later films such as Black Rain and
The Challenge, only better. It features
one of Robert Mitchum's best performances
(actually nearly every movie he made
in the 70's featured his best work, imo).

One reason you may be getting little
feedback on this score, is that it
is rarely ever shown on tv anymore,
and is not readily available for home
viewing. Perhaps if TCM were more inclined
to broadcast more films from the 70's
or if the Encore Network could run it for
a while, you might see more sales.

I always considered it one of Grusin's
most beautiful works, and I rank it
on his best list with Three Days Of
The Condor, Winning, Mulholland Falls
& The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter.

One only needs to listen to the
selected tracks you have picked,
and they'll hear what a masterpiece
it is. Thanks to Lukas, Nick and Jon!


 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 1:01 AM   
 By:   Jim Wilson Redux   (Member)

,,,and then there's the Bob Peak artwork on the booklet....

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 1:45 AM   
 By:   Jon A. Bell   (Member)

Lukas and everyone,

Well, some excellent commentary on this score comes from Intrada's Doug Fake (a composer in his own right), who wrote:

"Original soundtrack from exceptional Sydney Pollack tale of honor, commitment, starring Robert Mitchum, Takakura Ken. Dave Grusin takes listeners to Japan with requisite Far Eastern color, then goes so much further. Taceting brass save French horn, Grusin uses variety of woodwinds, percussion, strings plus sax in exquisite settings, gentle lines, remarkably transparent ideas. Harmonies (both minor, major) are often implied rather than spelled out. Interesting meld of expectant shakuhachi with traditional flute (both standard and bass) adds rich timbre to orchestra. When juxtaposed with low strings and piano, the ideas are striking. Suspense takes back seat to haunting, genuinely complex material: solo arpeggios for harp, delicate lines for oboe, figures for waterphone, orchestra bells, what-have-you. Top-drawer FSM production standards are further enhanced by particularly insightful notes, impeccably clean sonics. Repeated playings will yield many rewards. Dave Grusin conducts. Knockout!"

I was unfamiliar with the film and its score, but when it was posted and I heard the sound clips, I ordered it immediately. I'm a sucker for this kind of "East meets West" sort of sound, and I also love this kind of 1970s intricate, intimate scoring -- it's a sound you simply don't hear very much these days.

So, at the risk of sounding like an FSM shill, I heartily recommend this score to everyone!

-- Jon

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 1:56 AM   
 By:   Alexborn007   (Member)

I usually check out most of the new FSM titles whenever they are announced and this one caught me completely off guard. I'm also a big fan of anything that fuses eastern sounds and the track "Tokyo Return" had to be a direct inspiration for Joe Hisaishi and his score to "Hana-Bi". The shimmering strings and deicate melodies just grabbed me by the throat and I ordered it immediately.

Just about every risky soundtrack purchase I've made has been through FSM and the rewards are always amazing. I found out about Goldsmith before Star Trek, Hugo Friedhofer, Ron Goodwin, Dimitri Tiomkin, and am doing my best to find out about Ron Grainer wink

I can't imagine it's easy to bring all these titles out, but FSM has really helped me get past looking at just Best Buy's soundtrack selection.

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 2:17 AM   
 By:   Alexander Zambra   (Member)

Thanks FSM for this one. Although does not have "great action cues" as Lukas says, is absolutely FANTASTIC!!
The film did not need BIG action scoring, just a "wise" sensibility, and as usual Grusin delivers the "goods".
IMO the reissue of the year!!

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 3:28 AM   
 By:   GoblinScore   (Member)

For what it's worth, I never would have thought about it, don't have any Grusin (nor have heard any yet I really cared about having), wasn't familiar with the film (which is happily sitting on my table for viewing tomorrow eve!! Glad I could find a copy), yet I love this disc and the labor of love really shows through on it. It does sound like 'The Challenge Lite', and even the long jazz source cues are fantastic. I wish I had managed to find a copy of the film beforehand, as I know how it ends, but am looking forward to watching it tomorrow.

And don't let Lord Jim/The Long Ships slip under the radar! Another fantastic Kaper score, and those pseudo-Russian 'men at work' cues in Long Ships are hopelessly addictive.

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 3:29 AM   
 By:   Ford A. Thaxton   (Member)

I want to write a little bit about our recent CD of The Yakuza. Usually I don't do this kind of self-promotion because I think we do a good job as it is of publicizing our CDs, and I think the collectors here do a great job in understanding what is available. But this is a CD I'm especially pleased with just as a fan myself of a very fine film and an exceptionally intriguing score.

As well you should be..

It's one of the best and most interesting releases you've done to date.

I've always enjoyed the film and Grusin's score works quite well apart form the film as pure music.

The source cues are really good and it's a unexpected and most enjoyable surprise.



Ford A. Thaxton

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 3:30 AM   
 By:   David in NY   (Member)

I don't purchase as many cd's as I used to even 5 years ago, but in this case it's a no-brainer. I first saw 'The Yakuza' on L.A.'s infamous 'Z Channel' back around 1975 or 1976 and I remember to this day how evocative and sensous Gruisin's Score was. Haven't seen the film since, but Message Board Members - take a gamble on this release, you won't be disappointed!

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 4:34 AM   
 By:   Lukas Kendall   (Member)

Thanks for your thoughtful replies, and for your nice words, Ford, it's always nice to get a compliment from someone in the field. The track "Tokyo Return" was a real surprise and a huge delight as the scene itself was cut from the film, but I must have played that track 80 times.


 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 4:46 AM   
 By:   Lukas Kendall   (Member)

I'd like to write about something else, which is the comparison between The Yakuza and the Grusin/Pollack project that came right after it, Three Days of the Condor. I had never heard Three Days of the Condor but got it from the Japanese SLC label (rest in peace, Hiro Wada, you were great and ahead of your time!) while at college in probably 1993/94 and played it 800 times. A very short album (26 min?) with some source cues (the rock song and "Silver Bells") but I absolutely love Grusin's colors and early "smooth jazz" R&B, a very unusual take on a spy thriller completely at odds with our gloom and doom expectations. Obviously The Yakuza is a very somber score next to the incongruously upbeat Three Days of the Condor but they share a lot of similar musical ideas especially in the string writing, which I think benefited from orchestrators Shuken and Hayes' expertise even though Grusin himself is a true genius, and it's really not fair to try to attribute aspects of the orchestration to one person or another -- though Shuken and Hayes were as good as they come. But there are some coloristic similarities that made me especially disposed to like The Yakuza when I first saw that film some time later.

I'll tell you an interesting anecdote from mixing The Yakuza. We largely worked from the 16-track 2" masters which is really the first-generation recording -- it doesn't come any more "unmixed" than that but the fidelity is outstanding. It was a big project to recreate the wizardry of Dan Wallin in the mix and originally I asked our engineer, Mike MacDonald, to use as a reference the three-track 1/2" mixdowns which we also had transferred from the WB vaults. However, those 1/2" mixdowns were done fairly "dry" as per film custom and the first attempts at mixing tracks just did not sound "right" to me...not just the lack of reverb, but the nature of it. I actually brought in the Three Days of the Condor CD to have Mike listen to it to hear the kind of sound that similar orchestration had in it -- to soak up the idiom (even though that score was recorded in a different place and is quite different). After going back and forth on this and not really getting anywhere I asked Mike what the heck they actually used in the '70s before digital editing and he said it was probably a plate reverb -- literally they would re-record the score by bouncing it from speakers off of a metal plate suspended in a room (someone correct me if I am wrong) to create the reverb. Mike said that ProTools (which we use) has plenty of reverb plug-ins that have plate reverbs as an option rather than simulated concert hall acoustics (which we traditionally use). Sure enough he tried that and immediately the score (The Yakuza, that is) had the correct, somewhat "electric" (metaphorically) twang to it that I associate with '70s film scores.

You learn something every day!!


 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 5:06 AM   
 By:   Chris Malone   (Member)

plate reverb -- literally they would re-record the score by bouncing it from speakers off of a metal plate suspended in a room (someone correct me if I am wrong) to create the reverb.


Correct! Plate reverb was achieved by literally inducing vibrations into a steel plate by a speaker-type driver. One or more microphones mounted along the plate recorded the vibrations. Plate reverb is certainly one of the best sounding but the real thing is not very portable, usually about 8 feet (or more) in size!

Plate reverb is partly responsible for giving the 60s and 70s Bond scores from CTS their characteristic sound (especially on the old albums).

Chris Malone

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 8:09 AM   
 By:   Stefan Miklos   (Member)

By sheer curiosity and in the hope of discovering something new, I ordered two Dave Grusin CDs in August 2005:
"Three Days of the Condor"
"The Yakuza"

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 11:28 AM   
 By:   TomD   (Member)

It's really a gorgeous piece of work

Yes, it is, and it is yet another score I wanted after hearing it in the film, but presumed that I would never get. Thanks FSM.

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 11:45 AM   
 By:   DeviantMan   (Member)

This is the kind of thread that should happen more often. This score is the kind that collector's dream of because it HITS you from out of nowhere. A fantastic creation forgotten over the years that was routinely chosen for restoration turns out to be one that imbeds itself into your head. The additional "gushing" over this particular project is more than welcome, in fact encouraged.

It is why we all are here.

Thank you again Lukas!

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 12:04 PM   
 By:   Jehannum   (Member)

By sheer curiosity and in the hope of discovering something new, I ordered two Dave Grusin CDs in August 2005:
"Three Days of the Condor"
"The Yakuza"

I've ordered "3 Days" too. If I like it (I remember seeing the film 20 years ago and liking that) then I'll get The Yakuza.

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 12:26 PM   
 By:   Stefan Miklos   (Member)

I've ordered "3 Days" too. If I like it (I remember seeing the film 20 years ago and liking that) then I'll get The Yakuza.

To tell you the truth, I listened to 5 audio clips from "Three Days of the Condor" at Amazon and I liked it:

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 2:03 PM   
 By:   Jim Lochner   (Member)

I'd like to congratulate Lukas and company on another fine release. I haven't watched the movie yet but am certainly looking forward to seeing it after hearing the score.

I can't recommend the CD highly enough. It's one of Grusin's strongest scores, the sound is pristine, and the typical FSM care has been taken with all aspects of the production.

For those of you who get Cinemax, it's playing at the following dates and times (EST) in August:

August 7, 11:45am, Action Max
August 16, 10:50am, Action Max
August 26, 2:10pm, Action Max

Kudos all around.

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 2:33 PM   
 By:   haineshisway   (Member)

What I find more than fascinating about this thread is that we have lots and lots of people who now love this score and CD, but I cannot recall one of them who said so outside of this thread. All that was being discussed was The Long Ships sound quality and the merits or lack thereof of Lord Jim. I'm glad people are finally piping up, but Lukas should not have had to kick-start a thread to make that happen, IMO. I'm sure someone spoke of it in some thread I may have missed, but it was minor, and not like this thread.

Grusin is a great film music composer, and he hasn't ONLY written two scores, The Yakuza and Three Days of the Condor (wonderful CD - import, I think - of course, I always find it shocking when people have no clue about a score like Condor, which is from a film that was quite a big hit, and is quite available). The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter is a terrific Grusin score, as are Tootsie, Mulholland Falls (one of his best, and a great CD listen), On Golden Pond, Absence of Malice, Heaven Can Wait, The Goodbye Girl, Bobby Deerfield, Murder by Death, and on and on.

 Posted:   Aug 9, 2005 - 4:07 PM   
 By:   Bond1965   (Member)

I just love being admonished for not voicing an opinion on something.

As for Mr. Grusin, he's one of my favorites. I have almost all of his LPs and a lot of his jazz works. Just because I don't bring it up here doesn't mean I'm not enthusiastic about his work or the fact that we're getting THE YAKUZA on CD.

You have to remember, unless it is about a "popular" composer and/or film score, no one gives a damn and sometimes you have to lead the horse to the water and give him a drop before he'll drink.

It'd be nice if we could get a domestic CD re-issue of HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER (that Japanese one is out of print and expensive), as well as, CD re-issues of BOBBY DEERFIELD, THE CHAMP, ON GOLDEN POND (WITHOUT the damn dialog), WINNING, DIVORCE AMERICAN STYLE and the TV movie ERIC (which was only released on LP in Japan).

A problem with a lot of his unreleased scores is their length. They are quite short and would have to be coupled up with something to make a decent CD. HEAVEN CAN WAIT is probably less than 20 minutes, as is his Oscar Winning score to MILAGRO BEANFIELD WAR (which has surfaced in re-recordings). Everyone is foaming at the mouth for THE GOONIES, as it fits into that genre that is popular on here, but I'd like a complete RACING WITH THE MOON, FALLING IN LOVE or LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL.

And don't forget his popular TV themes/scores: MAUDE, GOOD TIMES, BARETTA, etc.


You must log in or register to post.
  Go to page:    
© 2024 Film Score Monthly. All Rights Reserved.
Website maintained and powered by Veraprise and Matrimont.