- Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
- BSX Records / 2012 / 76:44
In times past, before the incredible proliferation of soundtrack releases of the last decade or so, compilation albums served a very useful purpose, frequently offering the only opportunity to hear all sorts of great film music. They also offered the chance to talented producers to come up with some really fine concept albums, with their own spin on classic themes. I think it’s a shame that they seem to have largely gone away, with the speciality labels understandably concentrating most of their efforts on releasing original recordings (when it comes to the third or fourth release of the same score, it becomes less understandable, but that’s a thought to hold for another day). One label that does remain active in the re-recording business in BSX, and their latest collection is an album of Jerry Goldsmith music, for the most part not including the usual suspects but much less well-known music.
The disc features mostly synthesised recreations of the composer’s music (a handful of the tracks have been previously released as part of other projects) and opens with Goldsmith’s trailer music for Judge Dredd. After recording it he had to leave the film because of a scheduling conflict, but his exciting, ballsy, macho cue offers a tantalising glimpse at what might have been. Following that is what I suspect will be the album’s highlight for many people, a recreation by Dominik Hauser of the entire 12-minute score for 12 Days in May, a martial, gritty score written entirely for two pianos and ten percussionists. It’s the first time the music’s ever been released and it’s very nice to finally have a recording of it. Four great pieces of noir follow, with Goldsmith’s themes from Chinatown, The Detective, Shamus and 2 Days in the Valley. Roy Weigand’s trumpet solos are nice and these pieces enforce a side of the composer’s musical personality that isn’t often acknowledged.
The album’s strangest moment comes in The List of Adrian Messenger, a very unusual take by the composer’s grandson Chaz Grossman on the great theme (to what I think is by far the finest unreleased Goldsmith score left) which adds a lot of modern synth stylings to the vintage melody. The more conventional arrangement of Sebastian add a reminder of yet another score from the composer that hasn’t been released on CD yet (but hopefully will be). A great piano performance by John Rosenberg highlights the end title from The Vanishing, by far the finest piece in that score and this a really nice, jazzy recreation of it. Rosenberg returns for The Sum of All Fears, which doesn’t work so well, the main theme receiving a slightly dated-sounding light pop arrangement.
Two of the composer’s most well-known love themes are given nice arrangements by Hauser next – A Patch of Blue and The Sand Pebbles – while I suspect most Goldsmith fans already have countless recordings of those two pieces, it’s nice to have fresh takes, and Peggy Baldwin’s cello solo makes the latter in particular a real treat. Mark Northam’s solo piano performance of the love theme from Players is wonderful (for my money the best track on the album), highlighting another lesser-known gem from the composer’s palette. Much better-known is Papillon, in fact my favourite Goldsmith theme of all, and Hauser’s arrangement is faithful to the original.
A real treat follows, “Toccata for solo guitar”, the album’s only piece not written for a film. In fact, the composer wrote it in 1958 at the very start of his career. It’s a colourful piece given a nice performance by the talented Gregg Nestor, who also plays the lovely theme from Rio Lobo. A wonderfully full-bodied recreation of Rio Conchos by Chuck Cirino follows, before the disc’s western section is rounded off by the great theme to the little-known Brotherhood of the Gun from 1991.
The album’s final section focuses on the composer’s fantasy and horror. I’ve never been a particular fan of Warlock, but Joohyun Park’s pretty radical re-imagining is actually very enjoyable, perhaps more successful than the similarly radical Psycho II arrangement. There’s a nice version of the love theme from The Omen before Katie Campbell’s performances of the vocalise from The Illustrated Man and the familiar “Carol Anne’s Theme” from Poltergeist. As with most compilations, it can be slightly hit and miss, and everyone will have their own likes and dislikes, but the number of rarities here make this an easy recommendation for Goldsmith fans. ***