The soundtracks discussed below were discs that I purchased within the last few weeks. Alphabetically, these albums should have been discussed in previous posts, so I’m highlighting them now. I’m also going to go back and edit the previous posts so that these soundtracks still appear in the correct place. Eventually, I’m probably going to want to set up an index to these reviews, so it seems wise to keep them in order.
99 44/100% Dead! (Henry Mancini, 1974): Intrada recently released a limited edition CD of the soundtrack to this 1970s John Frankenheimer comedy. Henry Mancini’s score is upbeat and fun with a very jazzy style. The music is mainly performed by a relatively small ensemble, sometimes supplemented by electronic instruments.
The main title music gets the score off to a fast paced start with a tune that, somewhat surprisingly for Mancini, has something of a soft-rock beat to it. The next cue, “Hangin’ Out”, shifts the music in more of a jazzy direction in a tune that mainly features piano, horns, and solo whistler. That theme is reprised in “Bon Voyage”, the score’s concluding cue. The score takes on a somewhat darker edge during some of the later cues, consistent with descriptions of the film (which I haven’t seen) as having a mix of comedy and drama.
As was common with Mancini’s scores, one of the central themes is built around a song. In this case, the song is entitled “Easy Baby” and is a soft jazz number performed on the soundtrack by singer Jim Gilstrap. The song features lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, who were frequent collaborators with Mancini. The soundtrack also includes a “single version” of the song that has more of a 70s disco beat than the film version.
Intrada’s soundtrack presents the score and song in mono, but the sound quality is generally very good. In addition to the complete score, the soundtrack also includes a number of bonus tracks, including one all-electronic cue (closer to sound effects) and a few source cues. Three of the source cues are carousel music versions of “Man on the Flying Trapeze”, “Over the Waves”, and “Listen to the Mockingbird”. The bonus tracks also include a few alternate score tracks.
Around the World in 80 Days (Victor Young, 1956): When I wrote up my comments about the Trevor Jones score to the 2004 remake, I noted that I didn’t have a copy of Victor Young’s score in my collection. Some quick research found that a deluxe soundtrack release of that score from Hit Parade Records was pretty readily available and I ordered a copy from Amazon.com.
Young’s score is a highly melodic, very brassy adventure score with a main theme that is instantly recognizable. Even without previously having owned this soundtrack, the main theme was extremely familiar to me from compilation albums, pops concerts, and even radio play. I suspect that even those that aren’t film music fans would probably find the tune to be familiar, even if they have no idea where it is from.
As expected from the film’s subject matter, there is definitely some ethnic styling to some of the cues. In particular, the middle eastern and Indian influences are extremely evident in “A Princess in Distress (Pagoda of Pillagi)” while “Royal Barge of Siam” features low-pitched male wordless vocals that definitely are evocative of the Asian setting. The lengthy “Sioux Attack” cue contains a lot of traditional American western music, eventually ending with quotes from “The William Tell Overture” and “Yankee Doodle”.
The Hit Parade soundtrack CD contains a little over 70 minutes of music, including an Overture, intermission music, and the exit music. Due to the length of the film, this probably isn’t the complete score, but it definitely is a substantial representation of it. The music is in stereo, but it does have a somewhat harsh, kind of thin sound that is fairly typical for recordings of that age.
The A-Team (Alan Silvestri, 2010): It came as something of a pleasant surprise that Alan Silvestri was chosen to score the new film adaptation of the well-known 1980s action series, which was definitely a guilty pleasure for many of my generation. The film seemed like a more likely project for someone from the Hans Zimmer factory or for a more song-driven soundtrack.
Silvestri’s approach to the score is primarily synthesizer and percussion driven, but with some orchestral support. The use of synthesizers is more prominent than is typical for Silvestri (although continues the approach he introduced with G.I. Joe last year), with some portions even having a techno sound. Action is definitely the main focus of the score and the music is pretty consistently fast paced and adrenaline pumping in nature. Most of the score is generally non-melodic, but Silvestri occasionally introduces some more melodic themes, with a primary one introduced at the end of “Court Martial”, which are generally fully orchestral and have a relatively high impact.
Stylistically, parts of the score do sound pretty consistent with 1980s action films, which is likely what the filmmakers were looking for based on reports that the film stayed pretty true to the tone of the original series. Other portions are pretty distinctly modern in style, though, giving the score a bit of a disjointed quality. The more orchestral action music shifts more to the forefront in the last part of the score album, particularly in the very lengthy “The Docks Part 1” and “The Docks Part 2”.
The original TV series theme composed by Mike Post and Pete Carpenter is only used on the album during the opening and closing cues. The opening cue ends on a very short statement of the theme while the ending finally provides a very welcome, complete presentation. The theme isn’t otherwise directly incorporated into the score, although there are suggestions of it that occasionally poke through.