Soundtrack Picks: “Conan The Barbarian” is one of the top soundtracks to own for December, 2012

By • December 21, 2012

Soundtrack Picks: ‘CONAN THE BARBARIAN’ IS ONE OF THE TOP SOUNDTRACKS TO OWN FOR DECEMBER 2012

Also worth picking up: CALL OF DUTY 2: BLACK OPS, A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM, HAWK THE SLAYER, THE HOBBIT, JACK REACHER and THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK


To Purchase the soundtracks from this list, click on the CD

THE TOP PICKS


1) CONAN THE BARBARIAN (3 CD)



Price: $29.99


What is it?:
What is best in life? How about getting just about every note of one of the greatest film scores ever written, as spread over three CD’s. Ever since the 1982 LP on MCA (also included here), just about every label from Varese to Milan has been trying to solve The Riddle of Steel with fits and starts of additional music, most recently with an admirably inclusive re-performance by Tadlow Records. But it’s Intrada that has gloriously mustered the full scope and lusty power of the Might that is Poledouris, his operatic work finally singing with all of the Prokofiev-like glory that so wonderfully influenced his barbarian score to rule them all.

Why you should buy it?:
Where just about every film before and since “Conan” that had a guy in a loincloth swinging a big sword offered a slightly condescending attitude towards its source material, it’s a measure of the epically serious solemnity that writer/director John Milius gave to Robert E. Howard’s creation that allowed Poledouris to unabashedly play “Conan” as the stuff of heroic myth, a la Prokofiev’s score to “Alexander Nevsky.” Better yet, Milius was unafraid to leave long passages of “Conan’s” quest for vengeance all but silent in his travelogue across the Hyborian Age, giving Poledouris the space to not only flex his muscles in the service of music as pure storytelling, but also as a way to hear the poetry inside of a monosyllabic barbarian’s mind. Beyond showing that he could turn the lush melodies that filled “The Blue Lagoon” into blood and thunder, Poledouris also proved that Cimmeria was indeed the musical birthplace of Russia. Slavic rhythms, ethnic music and chanting choruses accelerated battles into violent, joyful dances, or sensuously laid the groundwork for an attack on a cannibal orgy. But beyond showing his love of the landmarks of 20th century orchestral music in his swings between the lyrical and the primitive, Poledouris also drew on the theme-drenched style of Miklos Rozsa that infused the likes of “El Cid” and “Ben-Hur,” giving “Conan” the kind of musical grandeur that’s almost unimaginable today, and continues to remain unmatched.

Extra Special:
It’s long been told that Poledouris was unhappy with the sound of the two Italian orchestras that first recorded “Conan.” But the music sounds terrifically vibrant here, or at least way better than what Jerry Goldsmith got when he recorded “Inchon” in an Italian wine cellar. Not only does “Conan” offer the complete score, but over twenty minutes of alternates as well, with Nick Redman offering a heartfelt liner note tribute to the lasting impact as one of film scoring’s great, unapologetic melodists who could wield the sword of the symphony like few others in the business of pop culture myth-making.


2) HITCHCOCK



Price: $9.99


What is it?
If Gus Van Sant’s near frame-for-frame modern recreation of “Psycho” ranks as one of the most unneeded and unnecessary remakes of a classic ever, at least it allowed Danny Elfman the opportunity to do a slavishly spot-on re-performance of Bernard Herrmann’s infamous score. Now in supreme act of meta-composing, Elfman gets to go behind the curtains of the Bates Motel to musically unmask the “real” master of suspense and the tense production of his pet project, with a voice that echoes Herrmann’s as much as it does Elfman’s own penchant for blackly ironic comedy.

Why should you buy it?
Far more in the spirit of Tim Burton than Alfred Hitchcock, Elfman’s peppy percussion and strings suggest a waltz macabre, or at least the ticking gears that are constantly whirring about in brilliantly warped imagination. But as opposed to the menacing noir sound that Philip Miller painted for the filmmaker in the far more unforgiving HBO “Birds” making-of “The Girl,” Elfman musically sees “Hitchcock” in loveably Gothic terms, with an overall bright, bell-lined tonality that sees the cineaste as a droll prankster who thinks scaring his audience witless is the best trick of them all. There’s certainly darkness to be had in the alternately stormy, and subtle music for Hitch’s creative possession by real psycho-killer Ed Gein, as well as his perceived marital woes with Alma- domestic tsuris that nicely recalls Elfman’s score for the twisted mother-daughter relationship of “Dolores Claiborne.” The composer also takes particular delight at spinning Herrmann’s romantic, string-heavy sound into some interesting, and playfully modernistic directions that likely would have the composer turning about in his grave (though not as angrily as his wholesale appropriation for “The Artist” likely did). If this “true” story of “Hitchcock” seems as fancifully sweet and lightweight as a Doris Day picture with a butcher knife (if still infinitely better than that “Psycho” redo), hearing Elfman work his Gothic kinks out once again is always reason to celebrate.

Extra Special:
If the slashing strings of “Psycho” didn’t immediately identify Herrmann (with the shower scene music thankfully not repeated here), then the orchestral version of pianist’s Charles Gounod’s “Funeral March For A Marionette” comes in second as the signature theme for “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” a darkly droll piece that’s wittily used to wrap the album up with.


3) THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY (Special Edition)



Price: $19.99

What is it?: Probably the best reason to celebrate Peter Jackson’s plodding return to Middle Earth is that it gives Howard Shore a chance to once again make the aural trek from Hobbiton for “An Unexpected Journey.” The fact that listeners will feel they’ve already been on this familiarly epic road for a good long time makes for a welcome sense of return to the dictionary’s worth of musical vocabulary that Shore had so painstakingly set up in the previous “Lord of the Rings” saga. Now “The Hobbit” more than proves the axiom that if it something ain’t broke, then there’s no reason to try and fix it. Rather, Shore spruces up his musical mythmaking with pleasing, and often thrilling results.

Why you should buy it?:
Like some cos-play convention as soundtrack, “The Hobbit” rings with the warmth of fans running into their old dungeons and dragons friends. In this case, it’s making merry with any number of the themes that filled the last three scores, from the footloose and free motif of the Hobbits to the magical chorus of “The White Council” and the ferociously throttling rhythms of Orcs on Wargs. With Middle Earth not yet in full-on danger from Sauron, there seems to be a more adventurous touch to this prequel soundtrack. But then, can one can even dare to say that about a score saga whose densely packed leitmotifs and brassily booming, near-constant orchestral sound will likely make it our answer to Wagner’s “Ring” cycle? While there are new themes aplenty, Shore’s committed work is all part of a glorious wash that’s pretty much on par with what’s come before it, climaxed with a stupendous “Out of the Frying Pan” and “A Good Omen,” a cliffhanging battle with the fiery forces of evil given the deliverance of a majestic, eagle-delivered chorus that arguably delivers a bigger bang than Shore’s rescue of Frodo from Mount Doom.

Extra Special:
Continuing in the winning tradition of writing captivating fantasy songs, Shore comes up with a cute “Blunt the Knives” and the stirring dwarf anthem “Misty Mountains,” which gets a radio ready version for the end titles. The “Special Edition” of the soundtrack truly delivers the goods with extra score cues that are anything but afterthoughts, along with a guided liner note trek-along of Shore’s work by “Rings” music authority Doug Adams.


4) LOS ANGELES, 1937 (1,000 edition)



Price: $13.95

What Is It?: As Peter Best was to The Beatles, Phillip Lambro is to film scoring history, the musician who could have been a contender if only it was felt that he had the chops to accompany an iconic act. In Lambro’s case, that historically elusive prize was 1975’s “Chinatown,” whose soundtrack he’d labored on before director Roman Polanski and producer Robert Evans summarily tossed the score after a teen-filled test screening (a similar fate that happened to Gabriel Yared years later on “Troy”), leaving Jerry Goldsmith a scant ten days to whip out what’s arguably one of the greatest scores ever written for a Hollywood classic. Where “Chinatown” would be one of the many stellar feathers in Goldsmith’s classic-filled cap, Lambro would best be remembered in cult soundtrack circles for “Murph the Surf” and “Crypt of the Living Dead” – yet retain popularity in film cognoscenti circles as the guy who did the first score for “Chinatown.” Now the rejected score that every hardcore fan wanted to hear is finally revealed under the guise of “Los Angeles, 1937,” a title that makes a point fool no one with the follow-up “The Unused Score of a Film by Roman Polanski.” But if Lambro’s work doesn’t hit the heights of Goldsmith’s, it’s also not a half-bad score, especially given some similarities to the final soundtrack that one might not expect.

Why You Should Buy It?:
Where Goldsmith went for a lush film noir main title to smoothly bring in his classic theme, Lambro announces his woozy jazz theme over a surfeit of weird, impressionistic dissonance, weird string and brass effects that likely mystified audiences. Lambro indeed takes the title to heart, using Asian gong and brass effects to conjure an atmosphere of inscrutable mystery. Like Goldsmith, Lambo uses string sustains and staccato suspense, going from a militaristic hint in “Mariachi Square” to a piano pounding, brass snarling “Orchard Chase.” At his most successful, Lambro’s femme fatale theme for “One Night With Evelyn” beautifully captures the doomed romanticism of Polanski’s vision. But in the end, the basic question fans will have if Lambro’s “Chinatown” is as good as Goldsmith, or if it deserved to get thrown out in the first place? The answer to the first question is a definite “no,” which doesn’t mean that Lambro’s score isn’t as interesting, or worthy in an era when experimentally minded composers like, Michael Small and Jerry Fielding were trying to redefine the rules. Lambro’s misfortune was perhaps being too interesting, in interesting times, and it’s doubtful “Chinatown” would be remembered today had it gone out with his far eerier score that more often than not seemed better suited for Rosemary Woodhouse than Jake Gittes.

Extra Special:
After trying an ersatz Kickstarter campaign years ago to finance a new recording of Lambro’s “Chinatown,” Perseverance has been able to release the real deal, joining the label’s other releases of “Crypt” and ”Murph” in giving some deserved love to this overshadowed, and talented composer who never made the big leagues (and who was pissed enough about it to write a book about the “Chinatown” experience called “Close Encounters of the Worst Kind”). In addition to all twenty-two plus minutes of what Lambro recorded (as opposed to the near-hour of music that Goldsmith composed that will hopefully get its own proper release one of these days), “Los Angeles” fills out its album with a number of interesting, experimental modern classical pieces that helped get Lambro the job, along with “Chinatown’s” trailer music, the only work of his that did get into the movie in a fashion after it was judged that Goldsmith didn’t write anything that would fit the coming attraction. When it comes to offering an appreciative last word on the stuff that rejected score legends are made of, “Torn Music” author Gergely Hubai offers an appreciative recounting of Lambro’s efforts, which are accompanied by appropriately Kafka-esque artwork by Melinda Surga that capture every composer’s worst nightmare of seeing their shot at a major career go up in smoke.


5) THE UNTOUCHABLES: LIMITED EDITION



Price: $24.98

What is it?: Ennio Morricone has never been better then when composing for Sergio Leone’s epics of American gangster-ism, whether it was committed in dust busters for “Once Upon A Time in the West,” or in the flashy 30s hood attire of “Once Upon A Time in America.” So it seemed only natural when the Italian maestro finally pulled a job for crime-obsessed director Brian De Palma, whose 1987 take on “The Untouchables” remains not only one of the best TV-to-film translations ever, but a picture where De Palma’s stylistic swagger was a perfect fit for Morricone’s, propelling him to made man status in Hollywood with a box office hit and an Oscar nomination for Best Score.

Why you should buy it?:
1930s Chicago seems like it could just as well be the Old West in how Morricone plays these “modern” day outlaws and sheriffs going to war, villainy presented by a squint-eyed harmonica and dark, calculating rhythms that go in for the kill, all while nobility takes on trumpeting heroism with music that’s absolutely convinced in its sense of soaring justice. The amount of memorable themes that Morricone goes for in “The Untouchables” are almost dizzying, let alone when music box bells bringing on the “Battleship Potemkin” train station shoot-out for “Machine Gun Lullaby.” Morricone is in slow motion synch with De Palma’s Hitchockian-Eisensteinian staging as the delicate sound of innocence is gradually overwhelmed by the composer’s trademarked used of near-dissonant string counterpoint. But if there’s one melody that truly rips your heart out, then it’s the “Death theme,” the score hauntingly showing the terrible, human cost of Elliot Ness’ fight as the toll among his gangster squad rises, it’s power no more gut-wrenching then when accompanying the death of Sean Connery’s old school cop. As it captures every bit of his blood-choking sacrifice in Ness’ arms, Morricone goes beyond even this on screen anguish to capture the emotion of watching one of the screen’s great, invincibly heroic icons finally meeting his end in a scene ranks as one of the composer’s most emotionally devastating moments.

Extra Special:
Spread over two CD’s (which include the original A&M soundtrack presentation), this complete presentation “The Untouchables” really brings home the score’s Prohibition sound for the Chicago Way, especially as it contrasts the carousing jazz of Al Capone’s den of sin with the fatalistic, noir-sax sound of Ness. A bunch of alternates also kill off the Celeste and sax from the station shoot-out and rooftop chase, the album ending with the premiere of “Love Theme Form ‘The Untouchables.” “Come See the Paradise’s” Randy Edelman was charged with putting words to Morricone’s Death Theme for a song that inevitability, if valiantly, offers far more sadness than romance


ALSO FOR YOUR CONSIDERATION:



. CALL OF DUTY: BLACK OPS 2

When so many kill-crazy videogame scores are basically comprised of rock guitars blasting over shock waves of electric percussion, it’s nice to have one mega-popular franchise offering far more than you’d expect from the usual musical campaign. Not that there’s any less of the shredding action stylings that have become as popular on consoles as theater screens. But it’s just how interesting Jack Wall makes the nearly 2 ½ hours of score offered on “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” that merits attention, especially when divorced from the game’s bazooka-level sound design. A hardened warrior of such weapon-packed games as “Splinter Cell” and the first two editions of “Mass Effect,” Wall brings in an assured orchestral sound to the fray, Arabic rhythms going for the old-school action swagger of “Lawrence of Arabia” while electro-pulses recall a high-tech “Tron” future while Latin drumming does battle in the jungle. It’s a broad canvas afforded by the game’s clever time jumps that go from the ‘Nam to Afghanistan, Nicaragua and the mecha-weapon future of 2025, sent into motion by a menacing, razor-sharp theme by Trent Reznor that builds his “Dragon Tattoo” sound into the kind of heroism that’s about kicking ass instead of saluting the flag. Wall also brings voices into play for some of the album’s coolest bits, particularly as Azam Ali’s Arabic vocals join with techno beats and pounding orchestras for a Pakistan run. You never know which musical war zone Wall is going to throw you into with his ever-building, and surprisingly thematic action cues. It’s a feeling of surprise that makes “Black Ops II’ particularly exhilarating. And when’s the last time you’ve heard a delicate Spanish song of lost love in an album like this, let alone eight minutes of Mozart? Far more musically satisfying and brainier than scores dedicated to blowing yours out with pure metalhead frenzy, “Black Ops 2” delivering the goods.


. CONDORMAN

For a studio who’s goofier late 70s / early 80s live action efforts involved a cat from outer space, an astronaut in King Arthur’s court and a midnight treasure hunt that tried to rope audiences in by offering a real prize, perhaps no oddball old regime premise was as face-palming as a cartoonist jumping off the Eiffel Tower in a bird suit. But if there was one composer who could turn this kind of Clouseau-esque bumbling into a class act, then it was Henry Mancini, whose score for 1981s “Condorman” had a feeling of swooping, bold comedic adventure that’s made this truly odd duck in his repertoire one of the composer’s most oft-requested scores. Now after showing the musical glory of such crazed Disney flesh and blood efforts as “The Black Hole” and “The Last Flight of Noah’s Ark,” Intrada finally unfolds the truly glorious wings of Mancini’s “Condorman,” an album that starts out with the most rousing main title to repeatedly sing a character’s name this side of Leonard Rosenman’s theme for “Robocop 2.” And whether it was an incompetent French inspector, Santa Claus or a comic book artist trying to be a wing-flapping superhero, Mancini invested a real sense of dramatic adventure into the silliest of premises. “Condorman” is truly rousing stuff beyond its lyrics, bending the unexpectedly powerful theme into the stuff of Bondian action with brass-driven thrills for a super-cool car that shoots laser beams, jolly yodeling exoticism for a trip to the Matterhorn, and swashbuckling rhythm for a speed boat chase. And of course, no Mancini score would be complete without a sensually lush romantic theme, which is positively sophisticated here in Barbara Carerra’s company. The extras offer a surfeit of nutty ethnic offerings from the Arabic percussion of “Mummy Tummy” to the balalaikas of a “Russian Party Dance.” This complete “Condorman” is manna from heaven for Disney golden turkey cultists as well as Mancini lovers.

. A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO THE FORUM (1,000 expanded edition)

In the annals of musical comedy theater, few productions remain as joyfully historic as 1962’s “A Funny Thing Happened On the Way To the Forum,” wherein “West Side Story” composer / lyricist Stephen Sondheim and writers Burt Shevelove (“No No Nanette”) and Larry Gelbart (“M*A*S*H”) drew from the farces of the ancient playwright Plautus for a toga-switching, cross-dressing, door-slamming farce that showed Romans did indeed have a sense of humor when not weren’t staging far-less funny fights in the Coliseum. Hilariously adapted for the screen in 1966 by Richard Lester, the king of such antic English films as “Help!” and “The Knack,” the cinematic forum was wise enough to retain Broadway lead Zero Mostel in the lead role of the wily slave Pseudolus, along with Phil Silvers (originally intended for the role, and later to essay it on stage) and future Broadway Phantom Michael Crawford. Sondheim’s bouncy songs are delights of ribald rhyming that are as hilarious as they are tuneful, no more so than in Mostel’s knowingly expository “Comedy Tonight,” Michael Horden giving the wistful reasons of why “Everybody Ought To Have A Maid,” Leon Greene’s imperious lusting for “My Bride,” and the genuinely “Lovely” duet between Crawford and Annette Andre. But if Quartet’s wonderfully expanded “Forum” is really about paying tribute to the film’s unsung star, then it’s arranger and composer Ken Thorne, who’d win an Oscar for his efforts here. Having paired with Lester and The Beatles on “Help!” (and most of the director’s movies to come), Thorne did what every Broadway-turned-movie adaptation should, namely giving the limited resources of a pit band the soaringly lush melody of a full orchestra, a much harder task than imaginable given that Crawford was the only actor who could actually sing. Not nearly as tune-filled as you might expect for a celluloid show of this sort given Lester’s paring down of the songs to make “Forum” more of a movie, the freewheeling styles allowed Thorne to be far more than a slave to Sondheim’s work, not only instrumentally adapting it, but also running with his own energetic score that seamlessly fit into Lester’s crazy-quilt structure. Thorne has jaunty fun employing such Roman-sounding instruments as the Tibia (played by Lester himself), cymbal and the recorder, belting out authentic dances that don’t so much recall Rome as horn-romping Medieval England, as well as a bit hep jazz. But the highlight of Thorne’s work is a chariot chase done with rousing classical rhythm (a la Mozart), until the race turns into a rousing rendition of “Comedy Tonight.” With Randall D. Larson’s excellent liner notes featuring a delightful new interview with Thorne as part of a lavish, picture-filled booklet, Quartet’s “Forum” is indeed a worthy tribute to the Caesar known as Sondheim, and his troubadour Thorne.


. HAWK THE SLAYER (1,000 Edition)

There’s perhaps no finer smell of cult cheese then an 80s so-bad-it’s good sword and sorcery movie, a genre that Buysoundtrax seems to love above all other labels as they follow up “The Sword and the Sorcerer” with this hilariously entertaining gem that started off that decade. But where Albert Pyun’s movie drew from the Hammer ranks by getting “Vampire Circus’” David Whitaker to compose a classically symphonic score, “Hawk” director Terry Marcel had “Lust for A Vampire’s” Harry Robertson (who also produced the picture itself) melds disco with an orchestra for a score of immense guilty pleasures. Though made in England, you’d swear you were listening to some Italian knockoff given how dexterously Robertson wields a “Saturday Night Fever” funk beat with a cool heroic theme, all topped off with a repeating “bird” motiff for electronic and flute- a repeating cry that instead comes across as the wolf whistle for some Spaghetti western. Though it’s all incredibly silly, there’s also real heart to “Hawk the Slayer’s score, earnestness that’s backed up with true melodic valor, period flutes, cimbaloms and strings as channeled through all of the era’s gloriously goofy synth-rock excesses. “Hawk the Slayer” is crystal ball dance globe as heroic fantasyland, and a score that’s infinitely more listenable and entertaining than many of today’s far more straight-faced scores in the genre.


. JACK REACHER

If you’re thinking of the musical roller coaster excitement that filled last Xmas’ “Mission Impossible” picture, then you don’t know “Jack.” That’s because Tom Cruise means business as an ex-homicide military detective with his own brand of law. As a result, Joe Kraemer’s darkly intriguing score resonates with near-continuous, tightly-clenched brooding that plays like the wind-up to a gut punch. Pretty much absent from the big screen after delivering a noteworthy, cult score for his pal Christopher McQuarrie’s “Way of the Gun” back in 2000 (not that Kraemer hasn’t been busy since on stuff like “Femme Fatales” since then), it’s a testament to the filmmaker’s loyalty not to go for the bigger, usual composing guns. As opposed to vanilla, “Jack Reacher” has real musical character that takes no prisoners. Reminiscent of Howard Shore’s sinister work in “Silence of the Lambs” and “Seven,” if a tad more heroic, “Reacher” also touches on the suspenseful, conspiracy-filled sound of 70s cinema. Strings and brass are always eyeing the surroundings for evil, with no typical “action” music to speak of. Yet Kraemer has a good, tense theme that maintains your interest amidst the threatening orchestrations, his score finally rising to neo-patriotic heights for the most stirring end credit roll this side of “Argo.” More then adding the remaining 10 inches and 90 pounds to comfortably fill Tom Cruise’s physique into “Jack Reacher’s” literary frame, Joe Kraemer proves himself as this year’s best bad-ass musical makeup artist, one who will hopefully be committing far more major Hollywood crimes to come after this.


. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

     

If this golden “Playbook” had a dangerous sense of unpredictability that gave its lunatic love story a real edge, then part of that credit goes to filmmaker David O. Russell’s surprisingly whimsical choice in music. And one particularly inspired choice was giving Danny Elfman, a composer best known for ghoulish black comedy, the chance to go for positively sunny quirk. Think John Lennon in Elfman’s peace and love guitar stylings, beatific chorus and quirky percussion that keep addled time with Bradley Cooper’s bipolar trash bag runner, almost reciting his screwed-up positive mantra to get his life back on track. There’s real poetry to Elfman’s stripped-down acoustic approach, piano and bells also resonating with a life lost to mental illness, and the longing for love that isn’t going to arrive the way his character imagines it. It’s a headspace that’s eccentric without being condescending, showing off the man behind the manic rhythms of Oingo Boingo as being equally adept in a far folksier musical realms. And it’s the fact that his style is just about impossible to recognize here which the biggest testament to his diverse talents. While Elfman’s complete, if short underscore is available on iTunes, you can also hear some choice cuts of his in the “Linings” song-soundtrack which is also worth getting, especially for Russell’s use of Stevie Wonder’s cheerful “My Cherie Amour” as a fire alarm to its protagonist’s ears. Russell’s picks are all over the place in an interesting, hip way, ranging from the defiant country rock of Alabama Shakes to the Dave Brubeck Quartet’s hand-clapping and the Tiki kitsch of Les Paul & Mary Ford. The winningly eclectic vibe is also apparent in CrabCorp’s dry as toast take on “Monster Mash,” the soulful strumming of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash’s “Girl From the North Country” and the saccharinely upbeat pop of Jessie J.’s “Silver Lining.” Playing like a grab bag station that’s going through an addled mind, “The Silver Lining Playbook’s” two soundtracks offer unpredictable surprises of the best kind.


. WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN (1,000 edition)

By 1971, the question asked by most over-the-hill Hollywood starlets was “Whatever happened to?” or “What’s the matter?” as their onscreen romantic glamour was traded in for roles as homicidal harpies. In the latter query about “Helen,” it’s Debbie Reynolds’ dancing teacher who wants to know what the heck is up with her partner Shelly Winters when their dance school for Shirley Temple wannabes starts to hit the bloody skids. Devilish camp humor was a big part of the appeal of watching Grande Dames shrieking whilst holding blunt instruments, “hagsploitation” that marked the studio swan song of “Laura” composer David Raksin. Having begun his own career in the 30s with the likes of “Wings Over Honolulu” and “Hollywood Cavalcade,” Raksin delights in playing the murderously seamy core of the bottom rung of the child star machine. After using the sprightly piano tune “Goody Goody” for the litter tappers, Raksin goes psycho by turning from the keys to overlapping militaristic rhythms, then brings in a deliciously twisted jazz feeling to the manic Depression surroundings. But while he indulges in the droll camp atmosphere, his music also cares about this odd couple trying to pull their lives together after the sins of the past, a sad sax and string fondness that just as quickly turns to shrieking, panicked dissonance and drum rolls as the body count grows. Raksin’s “Helen” is tragedy by way of the dream machine gone wrong, with the composer as the campy enabler for the big, bloody breakdown.

CLICK on the album covers to make your hardcopy or download purchase, and find the soundtracks at these. com’s: Amazon, Buysoundtrax, Intrada, iTunes, Perseverance, Screen Archives and Varese Sarabande

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