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  • Composed by Danny Elfman
  • La-La Land Records / 2011 / 49:20

Richard Donner’s retelling of A Christmas Carol (with Bill Murray playing the tv network executive at the centre of it all), Scrooged was a reasonably well-received film on its release at Christmas 1988, gaining praise in particular for the outstanding Murray.  It was a noteworthy film too for composer Danny Elfman, near the start of his film music career.  He had already done strong work in the early days of his now-legendary collaboration with Tim Burton (Beetlejuice had just been released, with much success, at the time) but it was arguably Scrooged which presented him as a real force in the field.  His score is fun and sometimes funny, but there’s actually a strong dramatic undercurrent through it all, the composer deftly reflecting the difficult relationship the audience needs to have with Murray’s character, hating him but at the same time believing that he could ultimately be turned around.

The opening cue contains so many of the composer’s instantly-recognisable mannerisms, it’s like his early music in a microcosm.  The la-la chorus, the darkly delicious main theme, the frenetic pace and constant enthusiasm – it’s wonderful stuff.  Elfman builds much of the score from the ideas established during that wonderful opening, adding a wonderful, tender little keyboard theme later on.  He interpolates plenty of Christmassy tunes at various points (everything from “Jingle Bells” to “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy”) and does this very well.  While the score is a little bit too bitty (it runs for about 33 minutes, made up of 21 tracks, many of those combined from even shorter ones) to be entirely satisfying on album, this new release is still an entertaining one, filling an important gap in the Elfman discography.  *** 1/2

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