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QUICK-CLICK REVIEWS (Vol. 25)

Apocalypse World War II
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Music from the Batman Trilogy
The Possession

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Snowpiercer
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Captain America:  The Winter Soldier
Rio 2

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First Impressions

August 1999

 

August 25, 1999

Endurance by John Powell

FIR - 9/10

 

(RCA/ Victor)  

John Powell, with a little help from Hans Zimmer, hit the mark with this effort.  I had not heard a word about this film or score until I found it sitting inconspicuously on the CD rack at my local score-pusher.  No pomp. No hype, but this is a very good score and CD release.  HDCD technology is employed in the recording for a great sound.  As for Powell's score, it is top notch.  Expecting some Power of One-isms, I am shocked at how enjoyable the score is and it not sounding anything like TPOO.  At times it sounds more Middle-Eastern and at others Far Eastern than African.  However, these are authentic Ethiopian instruments, vocals, and rhythms.  There are moments of sadness and loneliness contrasted with spectacular tracks of joy and triumph- my initial favorites being the Main Titles (track 2) and The Final Race (track 15).  Unfortunately, the final track (My Son) doesn't flow too well with the rest of the CD and is a bit repetitious.  Other than that, this is a winner.

 

Zork: Grand Inquisitor 
by John Beal 

FIR - 5/10

 

(Opus Pocus Records - Promo)  

Veteran composer John Beal's work for this video game is best described by the games director, Laird Malamed, "...funny, but with enough to seriousness to still be dramatic."  As gametracks go, I would say this was a fair work.  It is prototypical John Beal and is unmistakably music composed for a computer game.  Most of the time it is comical, but there are a few moments that are a bit more mellow and easy to listen to; however, they are very short instances...as a video game would dictate.  While Zork isn't likely to be a score someone listens to over and over, it does demonstrate John Beal's gift with the synth.

Close Encounters: The Essential John Williams Film Music Collection 
by John Williams 

FIR - 8/10

 

(Silva) 

Continuing their wonderful "Essential Film Music Collection,"  Silva may have produced their best one yet.  In compiling selections from Mr. Score, John Williams, Silva has managed to place some of his best known alongside of some never heard outside of their film-hosts.  Each track is skillfully played by the City of Prague Philharmonic and conducted by Bateman and Raine. Who else?  A varied but accurate sampling of William's work is found on this 2 CD set.  Some of my favorites have been redone superbly: Indiana Jones, Hymn to the Fallen, and The Towering Inferno.  Some pleasurable surprises for me were: Amistad (better than the OST - as the chorus wasn't so nasally irritating), and The Rare Breed; however, the greatest joy was the suite from Black Sunday (An eerie precursor to many of the themes found in Star Wars.) The only draw backs to this release is Close Encounters and the two tracks from the Star Wars Trilogy.  These are a part of that group of scores that can only be done by the maestro himself, but I give Silva and the CPPO credit for the attempt.

 

Elizabeth 
by David Hirschfelder 

FIR - 7/10

 

(Polygram)  

This powerful score from David Hirschfelder was one of the best scores of 1998.  It's power and haunting atmosphere immediately make their presence felt with the opening track and Hirschfelder's high quality music continues through track 13.  As haunting as the overture is, the Love theme is equally forceful in its simple beauty.  Aside from Hirschfelder's marvelous scoring, pieces from Byrd, Elgar, Susato and Mozart are incorporated...and done so seemlessly.  This is more of a tribute to Hirschfelder's ability to produce a score that can stand shoulder to shoulder with these classical composers as well as to the movie's director.

August 21, 1999

The Reel Burt Bachrach 

FIR - 6/10

 

(Hip-O)

A revival of "the music your parents listened to" or maybe it is music that reminds you of your childhood - the music of Burt Bachrach appears to be back.  This compilation CD not only highlights some of his greatest vocal pop hits but contains instrumental versions of  some of his most familiar  themes: Raindrops keep fallin on My Head, The April Fools, A House is not a Home," The  jazz style of the sixties is unmistakable and Bachrach was won of the best of his era.  Collaborating with artists such as B.J. Thomas, Tom Jones and Herb Alpert, Bachrach helped to define the trademark sound of the sixties.  The liner notes are superb and informative, but the recording is sub par. However, his works from 80's have been recorded with much greater clarity. While not a traditional score compilation this release by Hip-O Records pays homage to a many deserving of recognition for his contributions to the world of film music.  

The Reel Quincy Jones 

FIR - 8/10

 

(Hip-O) 

A true pioneer of film and television scoring, Quincy Jones has composed for some of the most honored films and well television shows of the last thirty years.  From jazz, to blues, to funk, to the epic African score to Roots, Quincy Jones not only went where few African-Americans did in the sixties, but help to make film and television music listenable and memorable.  One can hardly keep from "getting' jiggy widit" when listening to Money Runner, Rack 'Em Up, or They Call Me Mister Tibbs.  Contrast that with his B.B. King performed "you Put It on Me," or the distinctly Brazilian jazz piece "Soul Bossa Nova," and one can see the great range of this composer. Once again, this is not the typical film score compilation, but like Hip-O's compilation for Bachrach and Schifirin, a worthy effort.  The notes, once again, are extensive, but the recordings as a whole are a bit cleaner than the whole of The Reel Burt Bachrach.

The Reel Lalo Schifirin 

FIR - 8/10

(Hip-O)

Continuing in their jazz/big band flavored series, Hip-O has compiled some of Lalo Schifirin's smoothest works for film and television.  Like the other two in The Reel Series, Burt Bachrach and Quincy Jones, this CD audibly brings the listener back a few decades.  Schifirin's work helps to demonstrate how versatile the film music can be.  Sharing a common jazz root with Bachrach and Jones, Schifirin made his own mark on the film and television music world. The big band of "Coney Island" from the Sting II and mildly contemplative guitar of Cool Hand Luke show off Lalo Schifirin's wide spectrum of ability.  Thankfully, some of the most familiar of his works are to be found on this CD, including: Mannix, Mission: Impossible, and Dirty Harry's Creed.  Sharing impressive graphical layout, intriguing liner notes and along with The Reel Quincy Jones, this release upholds the high class standard set by the other two compilations in Hip-O's The Reel series.

August 14, 1999

Durango by Mark McKenzie 

FIR - 8/10

(Intrada) 

Mark McKenzie delivers a delightful surprise with his score for the Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie, Durango.  Combining Horneresque elements with a bit of John Williams' Far and Away...and even a nod to some of Trevor Jones' work, McKenzie creates a easy to listen to (and appreciate) score.  Intrada has provided a good amount of the score to enjoy, including a wonderful suite of themes that begins the CD.  If you love Braveheart, the above mentioned Far and Away or even The Last of the Mohicans, then this score has something to offer to you.  

The Mummy by Jerry Goldsmith 

FIR -6/10

(Decca) 

Listening to Goldsmith's score to the special effects spectacle, The Mummy, was a surprisingly underwhelming experience.  To begin, the liner notes for The Mummy are of the sort that you open once and never again.  Enough said.  Next, from time to time, I thought I was listening to The Prince of Egypt (Zimmer) and at other times I expected to hear the heartily used Klingon theme to break in at any moment.  The Mummy is not a bad score, by no means.  Goldsmith continues in his patented style - demonstrated by crisp brass and strings, explosive percussions and haunting vocals.  However, the variation in style of  themes is not as numerous as Zimmer's late '98 Egypt-score and The Mummy, as released by Decca,  falls a bit short of the animated films' score simply due to the fact that it is almost entirely of the action/suspense variety.

Hitchcock Presents: 
Signatures in Suspense 
by Various 

FIR - 7/10

(Hip -O) 

The Maestro of Suspense, director Alfred Hitchcock, was fortunate to have some of greatest composers of the 20th century to work with: Tiomkin, Waxman, Hermann.  This compilation CD showcases some of the best  collaborations between director and composers.  Most of the recordings are 30-45 years old and the antiquated sound helps to keep the Hitchcock nostalgia alive.  From the sentimental theme from I Confess to the jazzy Juke Box #6, to Hermann's hypnotic-pulsating theme from Psycho, this compilation serves a musical buffet.  The release even contains some previously unreleased material from Bernard Hermann- his rejected score for Torn Curtain. Also, a bit of John Williams' Family Plot is included, which was recently released on Silva's John William's compilation CD.  The black and white packaging is simply terrific.  There are great photos of the director and an extensive set of liner notes detailing the history of each track.  This is certainly a worthy release from Hip-O.

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