Soundtrack Reviews and Upcoming Releases

This blog actually covers a number of soundtrack pieces uploaded over the past week, starting with a review of Tribute to Basil Poledouris, a concert DVD that offers both the composer’s final concert appearance in 2006, as well as a poignant documentary on his career as an underrated artist perhaps ripe for a rediscovery by newcomers and old fans alike.

Poledouris was one of the first composers I followed eons ago. I never cared for Red Dawn, one of his earliest score LPs (something about John Milius’ jingoistic claptrap always annoyed me), but I kept reading in magazines that Conan the Barbarian was an outstanding score. (If memory serves correct, it may well have been Leonard Maltin’s review on Entertainment Tonight, back when he was the show’s resident film reviewer.)

I think the first Poledouris score I bought may have been RoboCop (1987), which came out on vinyl on the U.K. label TER, and was far shorter than the new Intrada CD that features almost an hour of music, and considerably improves the album’s thematic variety.

The Conan album was hard to find because it was an import LP that seemingly no one in Toronto was carrying. In the late eighties, a number of MCA LPs just didn’t get distribution up here, be it new recordings, reissues, or budget-level reissues of classic scores (like the MGM albums, of which only a few were distributed north of the 49th parallel). MCA put out its own domestic versions of new and catalogue material, but for some annoying reason, classic titles like Spartacus (1960) or new releases like Conan the Barbarian (1982) were tough to find.

It took a trip to Detroit to get the album, and there’s something to be said about an era where you had to cross an international border in order to buy music no one else cared to special order.

Pretty sad, eh?

Halfway through the opening titles, I knew this was a remarkable work by a composer whose sense of melody and grasp of orchestral might were profound. When the CD came out from Varese, it featured additional music, but the sonics of the original tapes weren’t very dynamic. (A good comparison is the album for the sequel, Conan the Destroyer, which features crisp sound, although it’s wasted on a score whose music budget was considerably smaller.)

Quartet Records’ DVD features Poledouris conducting an excellent suite of themes, with good sound and decent picture materials culled from available broadcast and private sources of that evening. The DVD is also an excellent follow-up to the 1997 FSM doc, Basil Poledouris: His Life and Music, which covers the composer’s career up to his then-latest work, Starship Troopers.

In addition to the DVD review, I’ve added a review of Intrada’s RoboCop, and in keeping with the theme of superheroes and comic book worlds, there are reviews of James Newton Howard’s The Last Airbender (Lakeshore Records), and Nelson Riddle’s Batman: The Movie and Christopher Drake’s Wonder Woman (both from La-La Land Records).

Lastly, here are the latest soundtrack releases, current, imminent, and announced, up to this week:

Cometa Edizione Musicali (Italy)

Tre nel mille / Tre nel 1000 (Ennio Moricone) --- 500 copies

DigitMovies (Italy)

Misteria / Body Puzzle (Carlo Maria Cordio) --- July

African Story (Francesco De Masi) --- July

Fatevi vivi la polizia non intrverra (Piero Piccioni) --- July

Le 4 giornate di Napoli (Carlo Rustichelli) --- July

Dutton Vocalion (US)

Movies ‘N’ Me (John Dankworth)

GDM (Italy)

Ad ogni costo (Ennio Morricon) --- expanded / July

La mogile giappinese (Nino Oliviero) --- expanded / July

Kritzerland Records (USA)

A Time to Every Purpose / The Name of the Game is… Kill / The Meal (Stu Philips) --- July / 1000 copies

Kronos Records (EU)

Aragosta a colazione (Piero Umiliani) --- July / 500 copies

La-La Land Records (USA)

Edge, The (Jerry Goldsmith) --- expanded

Speed 2: Cruise Control (Mark Mancina)

Legend (Italy)

Ulysses (Alessandro Cicognini --- expanded / July

La spina dorsale del diavolo / The Deserter (Piero Piccioni) --- expanded / July

Madison Gate Records (USA)

Karate Kid, The (2010) (James Horner) --- on-demand CDR

Water Tower Music (USA)

Inception (Hans Zimmer) --- July


Mark R. Hasan, Editor


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