Soundtrack News & Reviews

March 7, 2011 | By

Just uploaded are three new soundtrack reviews, although I before I get to the links, recently reported composer Mark Isham has established his own soundtrack label, and is releasing the score to The Mechanic in three formats: EP versions of cues from the score, the complete original score, and a 2-disc edition with both soundtrack versions.

What’s intriguing is that years ago, when Isham recorded an audio commentary track for the Blade (1998) DVD, he mentioned the eventual release of the electronic music in EP / dance club versions. Now, that edition never happened, but it is interesting that The Mechanic seems to be a fulfillment of that concept of creating two versions of a soundtrack: film score, and a version that’s unfettered by the time constraints of a specific scene, with room for improv and development.

Isham’s background includes electronics, orchestral writing, and jazz – he’s recorded non-film, jazz fusion albums in the past, not to mention composed jazz cues for Little Man Tate (1991), Cool World (1992), and Quiz Show (1994) – and it’s not unusual for composers to reinterpret film works as standalone concept albums.

One could argue the edited album versions of scores conceived by Jerry Goldsmith for The Boys from Brazil (1978) or Poltergeist [M] (1982), for example, qualify, if not re-recorded albums with different cue arrangements, like John Williams’ Jaws (1974), but three distinct examples of genuine concept albums come to mind:

Malcolm X (1992), where Terence Blanchard released a score and jazz improv couplet (each very different from the other).

El Topo (1970 ) – Alejandro Jodorowsky’s score was released by Apple Records (and reissued by Anchor Bay in their Jodo boxed set), whereas jazz fusionist Martin Fierro crafted his own (and frankly awesome) theme extrapolations for the album Shades of Joy.

The Sweet Smell of Success (1957) – Elmer Bernstein’s score (with heavy theme repetition) was released on its own, as was the full Chico Hamilton + Fred Katz jazz combos, although in the case of the latter, the B-side was one long improv collage of the pair’s own themes.

Note how these three all share jazz elements, which is perhaps why Isham felt it was not unusual to extrapolate material from existing themes.

In any event, if a theme can go through various permutations and cover versions, there’s no reason why a composer can’t re-explore some work he felt might have been restricted by the limits of a film’s edited and mixed soundtrack.

Now then, just uploaded are reviews for a trio of scores from La-La Land Records: Dominic Frontiere’s The Rat Patrol [M], John Debney’s The Young Riders [M], and James Horner’s Jade [M].

Of the three, Frontiere’s is the most satisfying, and I’m frankly stunned that so much care went into recording the series’ music in stereo in Munich. The score elements sound pristine, and this is my favourite archival release of 2011 so far.

Now if only La-La Land could release a multi-disc set of The Invaders, featuring Frontiere’s original scores (about 2 or 3 of Season 1’s episodes featured full scores) plus those composed by newcomers for Season 2.

If I say it three times, it will happen: The Invaders. The Invaders. The Invaders.



Mark R. Hasan, Editor

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