Soap Music II

Back in March, La-La Land Records released a 2-disc set featuring music from Days of Our Lives [DOOL], the venerable daytime soap that’s been on air since 1965. The set features music composed by D. Brent Nelson and Ken Corday, and I’ve just uploaded a great interview with Nelson, who speaks quite eloquently about writing for a medium that is largely ignored by the general public (and cynical critics) because the music is regarded as canned, or just not very good.

As my review of the album clarified, the DOOL cues are really, really good, and represent the kind of quality writing that goes into a daytime series. The music is atmospheric, kinetic, soothing, and very affective in the way the composers conjure moments of solemnity in some of the softer character themes.

In addition to the Q&A, Nelson has also provided us with a quintet of unreleased cues that readers can listen to. Just look for the musical note symbol in the right margin, and you’ll be treated to some tunage.

Music for soaps – even in prime time – has a bit of an image problem in that everyone knows the main theme, but can barely recall original music specifically composed for the show.

My daytime soaps from eons ago consisted of General Hospital (just as Demi Moore was leaving the show), and Coronation Street. (Yes, technically it’s an evening show, but it the first thing on TV when I used the set as a makeshift alarm clock before doing a deadly dull Sunday shift, back when I was working at a book store 10 years ago).

Nighttime efforts included the usual standards: Dallas, Knots Landing, Dynasty, The Colbys, and something called Emerald Point N.A.S. that no one remembers, except maybe three other people on planet Earth. (Check out the cast, because it was quite good.) Like Dynasty and Colbys, Emerald Point was scored by Bill Conti, and while I remember most of the themes from those shows (I’m pretty sure Emerald Point used a march that had some cast members in mock-salutes for their credit rolls), there’s no memory of the scores.

Wait, that’s incorrect. There are some memories of Dallas having a year where the music was oddly eerie, and its spinoff series, Knots, had a roughly 2-year period where everything was simply amazing: story, characters, bitches, double-crossing bastards, and eerie music. During that prime period, Alec Baldwin played a psycho priest before he broke into the big screen, Nicolette Sheridan provided a fine dose of self-centered bitchiness in spite of being under the shadow of Donna Mills and her sharply drawn mascara, and Peter Reckell took time away from DOOL to enjoy a great stint playing a scoundrel from ’88-89, annoying the heck out of Sheridan’s character.

Some of the DOOL actors also flirted for a while to prime time, though perhaps the most high profile is Deidre Hall, who played a mom to Shannen Dougherty in Our House (1986-1988), with Wilford Brimley playing grandpa (and telling the world eating Quaker Oats is ‘the right thing to do’).

While a second CD set of more DOOL music is deserved (and I would imagine fans would certainly be clamoring for more), I’d also argue owners of the aforementioned series should take advantage of the avid fan bases out there and reward them with carefully produced collections of themes, be they suites from unique episodes, or an assembly that mimics a feature-length journey for core characters.

The Network label in the U.K. has been going through the ITV catalogue for a while now, and is not only releasing long unavailable series, but boxed sets of music from shows like Danger Man, S Department, The Saint, Randall and Hopkins (Deceased), and The Prisoner.

I’ll have a review of the 3-disc Prisoner set in mid-August, but these releases represent the hard work of album producers, engineers, sequencers, and fans determined to free good music from the vaults.

One would think by 2010, most of the good stuff has come out on disc, but these new releases make it obvious there’s a lot more out there to enjoy.

Mark R. Hasan, Editor


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