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VCL 0306 1048

Album cover copyright (c) 1961 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation; review copyright (c) 2006 James Southall



Waxman returns to an old favourite 


When producer Jerry Wald made a sequel to his wildly successful soap opera Peyton Place, based on Grace Metalious's bestseller, the only significant contributor to the original that he managed to entice back (apart from Metalious herself) was composer Franz Waxman, one of the Golden Age's most popular and enduring composers, with an almost endless stream of fine scores behind him by that stage.  Nothing about the film was as successful as the original had been (Hollywood's bizarre obsession with making inevitably-inferior sequels to well-loved films isn't a new one), but Waxman was once again able to craft some very fine music.  The composer was a master of numerous genres, but perhaps it's fair to say that he exhibited his best, most intelligent facets on more "talky" dramas such as this one (I'm not saying the film's more intelligent than some of his better-known fare - it clearly isn't - but he seemed to latch onto something in these types of films that somehow inspired him more than on others).  The only available release of Waxman's brilliant score for Peyton Place is a re-recording on the Varese Sarabande label conducted by Frederic Talgorn, which is excellent; and now, the same label's CD Club has released the original, stereo tracks from the sequel.

If truth be told, there is much in common between the scores, chiefly (of course) the main theme, which opens this album in a new vocal, with Rosemary Clooney crooning her way through Paul Francis Webster's intelligent lyrics.  It's the sort of song that is not only not made any more, but rarely even played (some of the kids might be impersonating Sinatra, but only his big band stuff) but even to someone in the prime of his youth such as myself, it's a delight to hear this sort of über-melodic, completely charming song.

The score itself alternates between the sweepingly romantic side, usually embodied by string-laden performances of the main theme, and tense music in which Waxman somehow fetches real drama from the film's melodrama.  The early track "Raffaella" is one of the finest, the composer working wonders to create the dramatic atmosphere through clever orchestration and always-inventive melody.  For sure, the sunnier, happy-go-lucky sections of the two surrounding cues, "Conversation" and "Selena Leaves" are the kind of old-fashioned thing which means a score like Return to Peyton Place is unlikely to appeal to those younger listeners brought up on Hans Zimmer and John Powell, but to this listener, it's a delight to hear music like that from an age which always seems so much more innocent.

The dramatic high point probably comes in the sequence of tracks "Allison and the Picture", "New York" and "Curtains", in which Waxman suddenly introduces a smokey, jazzy atmosphere which is half way Streetcar Named Desire and halfway Double Indemnity.  The latter piece is especially noteworthy, as a piano version of the love theme gives way to an unorthodox, semi-comedic section of drama, with Waxman demonstrating all of his powers.  The source "Raffaella's Beguine" is an absolute delight; and perhaps best of all is the exquisitely beautiful "The Book", in which Waxman somehow plots a smooth course from an affecting, solo violin version of the main theme to some ballsy, brass-laden action music - with a brief reprise of the solo violin at the end.  It's an oustanding piece.  More fine action music follows shortly thereafter, in the brilliant "Don't You Think About Anything But Sex?", before the lovely conclusion (and Clooney's return).

Indeed, the whole album is very good - probably a notch down from Peyton Place, but there's no shame in that, and on its own terms this is certainly fine music.  Sound quality is pretty much as recordings from this period tend to be, and the package is completed with delightfully witty and incisive liner notes from Julie Kirgo, and excellent package design from Matthew Joseph Peak, including a stunningly beautiful photograph on the album's back cover.  A winner all round.


  1. The Wonderful Season of Love Rosemary Clooney (3:41)
  2. Allison Typing (1:23)
  3. Conversation (4:50)
  4. Raffaella (5:17)
  5. Selena Leaves (4:01)
  6. Allison and the Picture (1:54)
  7. New York (1:45)
  8. Curtains (3:22)
  9. You Can't Love Em All (1:09)
  10. Connie's Kitchen (2:21)
  11. Raffaella's Beguine (2:09)
  12. Boy Meets Girl (1:40)
  13. I've Got Something (:51)
  14. The Book (5:04)
  15. Leaving Rossi's Office (:35)
  16. Don't You Think About Anything But ex? (4:11)
  17. Stepfather (2:53)
  18. Jackman (3:09)
  19. End Title (3:09)
  20. Main Title (alternate) (3:03)
  21. End Title (instrumental) (1:47)
  22. Theme from Peyton Place (demo) (1:49)
  23. Main Title (demo) (4:04)