2009 Oscar Nominated Music / Upcoming Score Notables

Before I get into the next batch of nominated talent for shorts and music, now’s also a good time for a quick soundtrack update with regards to newly announced goodies that will make you wish you didn’t buy the fat Rozsa box from Film Score Monthly. (Don’t these labels know we can’t get into the black from Xmas binging until spring?)

Intrada’s latest limited CD duet are Gil Melle’s still extraordinary electronic score for Robert Wise’s The Andromeda Strain (1971), a great procedural virus thriller that the makers of the 2008 remake bungled when they added a bonehead reporter to fill out the story’s running time for a two-part TV movie.

Andromeda first appeared on the old KAPP Records as a hexagonal platter that actually came with a warning telling music lovers to lower the tone arm *gently* to ensure the needle wasn’t decapitated. The LP was nestled in a set of silver petals with info about the score and film, and that pressing remains a top collectible.

That status, as well as the utter stagnation of the KAPP catalogue in Universal’s vaults meant no one could hear Melle’s music commercially, unless they bought the hexagonal platter from a dealer, collector, or auction, or the standard round LP that followed after. It’s a pity Melle’s score is brief (I frankly can’t recall if the album actually represents the full score), but I hope Intrada added some detailed liner notes to place the score and its brilliant (and neglected) composer in their historical context.

Melle was an amazing combo of talent: jazz musician, composer, album art director & artist, film composer, and more. To jazz fans, he’s best-known for his arresting music – which wasn’t always easy to decipher – whereas film fans will recognize his name from feature as well as many TV productions, like the chilling Deliberate Stranger.)

Whereas Andromeda is limited to 1500 copies, the other Intrada CD – Jerry Goldsmith’s Players (1979) – is set for 3000 copies. Frankly, I’ve never heard of the latter film, but we’ll find out soon enough how the music stacks up in Goldsmith’s fat C.V.

Film Score Monthly also announced last month John Williams’ Black Sunday and Goldsmith’s Islands in the Stream were coming on CD. Black Sunday rocks; it’s one theme beaten to death through addictive variations that keep changing according to the intensity of the terrorists advancements in enacting their plan to explode a cluster bomb from a blimp over the Super Bowl. The score has been around as grubby bootlegs likely taken from tape sources for years, so this legit release is long overdue.

Islands in the Stream, on the otherhand, has appeared in weird incarnations. There was a bootleg LP from the 70s or 80s that featured half the score on one side, and The Reincarnation of Peter Proud on Side B; 53 mins. of stereo score material from the infamous Soundtrack Library CDR during the 90s, and Goldsmith’s own superb re-recording of his score for Intrada, done in 1986 when the label was emerging as a prominent player in soundtrack production and distribution.

(In 1986 the LP was only available in Canada via Masters Film Music. The guy who ran the company – some dude named Robert Townson up in Whitby, if I recall - later moved on to become an integral component of some unknown label called Varese Sarabande.)

The only legit commercial release of the original score was as a wonky isolated music track on Paramount’s laserdisc, so FSM’s CD finally makes what’s arguably Goldsmith’s most harmonically beautiful score available. FSM’s run for each CD is 5000 copies, so they shouldn’t disappear in a blip the way Intrada’s Inchon vanished in one day.

Inchon, for Pete’s sake.

Not a career highpoint.

Other notables coming out soon include Andre Previn’s Elmer Gantry (1000 copies) from Kritzerland. The CD features the LP cues, bonus cuts, and cues in chronological order as they appeared in the original film mix.

Tadlow Music, who crafted the amazing 3-CD set of Miklos Rozsa’s El Cid (which Silva Screen released as a non-limited set, minus the bonus 3rd disc) are releasing two of Maurice Jarre’s best ethnic scores.

Jarre’s hardest detractors felt he wrote music out of tune; his supporters likely love everything he’s ever written. I’ve always been in the middle, because he was a composer whose style only clicked every so often with a film, but where he often fell into perfection was in writing music drawn from specific ethnic heritages, of which his forays into Arabic epics were his apex.

Best-known for Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Jarre also crafted some dynamic music for Moustapha Akkad’s two epics, Lion of the Desert / Omar Mukhtar: Lion of the Desert (1981), and the Oscar-Nominated score for The Message / Mohammad: Messenger of God (1976). The scores first appeared on LP, and then as a double-bill Silva CD. Tadlow’s release will feature The Message LP master, and the full Lion score with alternate and source cues.

The CD will also include a recording of Jarre’s “Giubleo,” which seems to be an orchestral and choral suite of music based around themes from Lion, his rejected River Wild score, and Solar Crisis (a film and score badly in need of proper releases). I really want to hear this thing, because the thematic material comes from a film about persecuted Arabs, thugs holding river rafters hostage, and an apocalyptic sci-fi epic about a solar flare that will fry the Earth unless Charlton Heston and ex-model Annabel Schofield save us.

Please absorb that combo and reflect on the possibilities.

Both Lion and Message are listed in the Medved Bros.’ book “The Hollywood Hall of Shame” as pricey stinkers, but I think in spite of each film’s flaws, unlike the book, the movies lived on as glossy epics that still entertain, so the late director managed to establish a bigger legacy in spite of the Medved’s trashing. (The book, however, is exceptionally funny, with Inchon among the hallowed members.)

When Tadlow’s 2-CD set comes out, I’ll pair the score reviews with film reviews, since Anchor Bay released special editions of each film a few years ago. (I haven’t watched them nor listened to Akkad’s commentary tracks, but now I’ve an excuse to blow 8 hours of my life on the DVDs. Wait. That’s more than 10 hours if you count the CDs.)

Now then.

Below are the Oscar-nominated scores and songs, with links to release info as available at Soundtrackcollector.com, and Amazon.com (where applicable).

2009 82nd Oscar Nominations for Film Music

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)
"Avatar" (20th Century Fox) James Horner
"Fantastic Mr. Fox" (20th Century Fox) Alexandre Desplat
"The Hurt Locker" (Summit Entertainment) Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
"Sherlock Holmes" (Warner Bros.) Hans Zimmer
"Up" (Walt Disney) Michael Giacchino

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)
"Almost There" from "The Princess and the Frog" (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
"Down in New Orleans" from "The Princess and the Frog" (Walt Disney) Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
"Loin de Paname" from "Paris 36" (Sony Pictures Classics) Music by Reinhardt Wagner, Lyric by Frank Thomas
"Take It All" from "Nine" (The Weinstein Company) Music and Lyric by Maury Yeston
"The Weary Kind (Theme from Crazy Heart)" from "Crazy Heart" (Fox Searchlight) Music and Lyric by Ryan Bingham and T Bone Burnett



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