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|CD Reviews: Brubaker and Varese Celebration Volume 2|
|Posted By: Ian D. Thomas, Cary Wong on December 9, 2003 - 10:00 PM|
CD Reviews: Brubaker and Varese Celebration Volume 2
Intrada Special Collection Volume 10
33 tracks - 65:11
If variety is the spice of life, then Lalo Schifrin is one spicy dude.
He's a whole lot more than the guy who wrote the Mission: Impossible theme. While
most readers are probably familiar with the wide variety of styles that
he is capable of writing, a few of you might still need convincing. And
for those of you, there's Intrada's new release of Brubaker.
While it's true that the public mostly avoided this Robert Redford
vehicle back in 1980, the score is definitely worth spinning today.
"Theme from Brubaker" has a familiar '70s pop vibe to it, with guitars
and harmonica trading places in the spotlight against an easy, breezy
backing. And if you like your country music old-fashioned, you're sure
to be pleased with "So Far From Love," a vocal track that wouldn't
sound out of place blasting out the window of an old rusty pick-up
"Country Living" is a catchy instrumental with energetic players who
all seem to be having a blast trading licks. "Fiddles &
Broomsticks" features a similar combo bangin' out the crazy hillbilly
jams of a real barn-burner. Hold on a minute -- isn't Lalo Schifrin
from Argentina? So, where the heck did he learn this stuff?
But wait, there's more. How about some down-home blues like in
"Wakefield Blues." And if you want some R&B to go with that, try
listening to "Out of Town." It's got a sexy groove with a hot, sultry
sax soloing over a small combo's urban funk. Say, did someone say funk?
Well, that's on another track called "Relations." It features that
early '70s organ combo sound with funky guitars and drums backing a
cool stereo Hammond B3.
And yes, there's even more. The more traditional symphonic compositions
take up about a third of the album, and feature interesting cues like
"The Man on the Bottles" with it's repetitive strings and sinister
brass. And let's not forget the big band number! Oh, you get the idea...
While it's not unusual to find film scores that feature wide ranges of
music, they're usually compilations of various artists with some
original score thrown in. Brubaker,
on the other hand, is all Schifrin. And even with all the styles tossed
together, the cues manage to work together and still sound like he
wrote them. If you like a lot of variety in your film scores, then
buying this CD is a mission you should accept!
-- Ian D. Thomas
Varèse Sarabande – A 25th
Anniversary Celebration, Vol. 2 **** 1/2
VARIOUS (58 composers)
Varèse Sarabande – VCL 07031021
Disc One: 18 tracks - 75:48 Disc Two: 19 tracks -
76:59 Disc Three: 18 tracks - 75:32
Disc Four: 19 tracks - 77:37
A few years back, singer Joni Mitchell released two retrospective CDs:
One was called "Hits" and the other "Misses." The "Misses" album was by
far the more interesting, since it was comprised of songs Mitchell
liked but that never caught on with the general public. This second
volume of Varèse Sarabande's 25th Anniversary Celebration could
also be dubbed "Misses," and strange as it may seem, it too is the
better the other volume -- at least so far as serious score collectors
will be concerned.
Collecting and appreciating movie scores is a highly specialized hobby,
and much of the time it's the enjoyment of the esoteric that makes it
all so fun. Producer Robert Townson had a huge task on his hands with
the first volume of four CDs -- it had a wide release targeting not
only film score fans but those casual listeners who might be attracted
to the low price and huge amount of music. As Townson writes in his
liner notes, this second volume has no such pretense. This one is for
music he loves, regardless of the popularity or recognizability of the
movie or its score.
And boy, was he right about that. For one, this set features the same
number of Joel Goldsmith cues as it does Jerry Goldsmith. And just look
at the back cover -- these entries could be a who's who of late, late
show movie repertories. Yes, there are a couple of hits. Umm, Alien 3 was a hit, wasn't it? I
think Cruel Intentions and Vertical Limit made some money,
right? The Linguini Incident.
Who was in that one again? Sky
But that has always been the charm and reliability of Varèse
Sarabande. I mean, who else would even think to release William Ross'
score to My Dog Skip? And
thank goodness they did, because it's one of the most charming scores
of the last few years. There are many similar gems in this second
compilation. In fact, a great deal of my all-time favorites are here,
along with several treasures I had yet to discover.
Some personal favorites include Basil Poledouris' dreamy piano score
for It's My Party, Danny
Elfman's moody Dolores Claiborne,
Ray Cook's beautiful Careful He
Might Hear You, and (I swear Cliff Eidelman is not paying me to
be this score's cheerleader) the epic Christopher
Columbus: The Discovery, which closes the collection with a
rousing finish. Also worth mentioning -- composers overlooked in the
first volume make a showing here, (including Elliot Goldenthal, John
Ottman, Ennio Morricone and Bruce Broughton). One odd choice, however,
is the first cut of the collection, Korngold's Kings Row, which seems to have been
chosen to demonstrate how similar the theme is to John Williams' Star Wars. However, the short cue
ends abruptly with a sonic glitch.
There also seems to be more rhyme and reason to the ordering on these
CDs as well. There's a run of animal movies on Disc One, a jazzy
stretch at the end of Disc Two, and an Asian motif taking over toward
the end of Disc Four. The best grouping, however, is the action section
at the beginning of Disc Two. It begins with what's probably the most
recognizable score of the collection, Trevor Rabin's Deep Blue Sea. This theme has been
used in so many movie trailers, it may soon surpass the champ, Randy
Edelman's Dragon. From there,
you get a fun theme from John Powell's
Evolution, followed by a wonderful cut from Jerry Goldsmith's
out-of-print The 'Burbs. And
how wonderful to also have a selection from John Williams' contribution
to the Amazing Stories TV
series, "The Mission."
This is an amazing CD collection for film score fans, but it can only
be purchased through the Varèse Sarabande website, and will only
be available until the end of 2003. It costs slightly more than the
first volume ($26.99), but it is worth it. It's an embarrassment of
riches. -- Cary Wong
|Today in Film Score History:
|Bill Wyman born (1936)
|David Bell records his score for the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode “Sacrifice of Angels” (1997)
|Ernest Irving died (1953)
|John Frizzell born (1966)
|Merl Saunders died (2008)