CD: Little Shop of Horrors, The (1960)

August 7, 2012 | By

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Rating: Excellent

Label: Kritzerland Records / Released: April 27, 2010

Tracks & Album Length: 16 tracks / (33:59)


Special Notes: 8-page booklet with liner notes by producer Bruce Kimmel / Limited to 1000 copies..


Composer: Fred Katz




Best known today as one of the key members of the Chico Hamilton Quintet, Fred Katz was involved in scoring just a handful of film projects, but it’s rather odd his best-known work – the original Little Shop of Horrors (1960) – is really comprised of cues assembled from prior Corman films for which Katz wrote the music – A Bucket of Blood and The Wasp Woman (both1959).

Katz’ classical music background (which preceded his entry into jazz) gave the composer a strong dramatic style, yet in listening to the Shop album it’s clear he could’ve remained in film, scoring dramas, period film, comedies, and subject matter than mandated some avant guard writing. A good sampling of Katz’ modern composing style is evident in the lengthy jazz suite on the B-side of the jazz combo LP for Sweet Smell of Success (1957), his first foray into film, but the Corman films allowed him to have fun, gamble on some unique writing, and find his own identity outside of the Quintet, with which he also appeared on several memorable Decca jazz LPs.

Kritzerland’s CD is mastered from pristine mono elements, and producer Bruce Kimmel thankfully dumped the dialogue excerpts which Rhino Records interpolated into their 1984 LP release. Katz’ score isn’t filled with micky-mousing cues; there’s drama, suspense, irony, and sadness, and aside from some great jazz source cuts, the music shows Katz treated the original corresponding films with complete sincerity. The writing in “Mushnick and Audrey Junior / You’ll Get Yours” is filled with neat tonal experimentation, whereas the “Main Title” music (derived from Bucket) still works as a theme for a social misfit who gets in over his head and is consumed by his addiction (further human chum in Little, and social acceptance in Bucket).

Pity the CD doesn’t feature more music from Katz’ Corman years, but perhaps one day a compendium will emerge, neatly arranging the cues in their original filmic and chronological order.

Note: for further info on Fred Katz, check out Randall Larson’s 1983 interview with the composer, originally published in CinemaScore.



© 2012 Mark R. Hasan


External References:

IMDB Soundtrack AlbumComposer Filmography


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