NEWS ARCHIVE - JULY 2009



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AUDIOBOOK REVIEWS





27th July 2009

EVENTS NEWS

Co-creator David Lloyd will be signing copies of the new Absolute edition of V For Vendetta at Forbidden Planet's shop at 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, SE1 OUP between 6 and 7pm on September the 24th. Signed copies can be ordered on 020 7803 1900. The book's RRP is 59.99. More details can be found at Forbidden Planet's website.

Graphic artist and comic-book illustrator Kevin O'Neill has an exhibition of original artwork from projects like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Marshall Law, Nemesis the Warlock and Judge Dredd running at The Illustration Cupboard, 22 Bury Street, St James's, London, until August the 8th. More info' at their website.


20th July 2009

INCOMING

Bazillions of titles have been added to our Incoming database in the last week or so. Some of the highlights are...

...a gazillion different versions of Terminator: Salvation (namely the DVD, HMV Exclusive DVD and Steelbook DVD editions, and the Blu-ray and Steelbook Blu-ray editions); a Director's Cut edition of Charlie Brooker's zombie series Dead Set; a 25th anniversary edition of This Is Spinal Tap, with special Marshall Amp packaging (available on DVD and Blu-ray); long-overdue releases for Michael Winterbottom's kinky Butterfly Kiss and Twilight Zone: The Movie (which appears to be exclusively available via HMV); a three-disc special edition version of Hot Fuzz (also available in some shape or form on Blu-ray); three different editions of the Mighty Boosh - Live - Future Sailors Tour (a Limited Edition version, a Normal version, and a Special Edition version); Night at the Museum 2 (on DVD and Blu-ray); Henry Selick and Pete Kozachik's wonderful stop-motion fantasy Coraline (in 3D!) on DVD and Blu-ray (a more modest - cheaper - DVD edition is also being released); X-Men Origins - Wolverine on DVD and Blu-ray; and Angels and Demons on DVD and Blu-ray.

Forthcoming back-catalogue Blu-ray releases include An American Werewolf in London; Easy Rider; Guy Ritchie's Snatch; and Jim Henson classics The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth.

Newly-added highlights from Network include the fondly-remembered detective series Sergeant Cork; Andrew Marshall and David Renwick's savage sitcom satire on tabloid newspapers, Hot Metal; a Blu-ray release of Le Ballon Rouge (The Red Balloon); and stand-alone releases for ITV plays Ready When You Are, Mr McGill and Another Sunday and Sweet F.A. (both previously available in the Jack Rosenthal at ITV box set).

This week's additions mean that there are now more than eleven thousand titles in the Incoming database, so now would seem to be a good time to offer special thanks to Graves for his sterling contribution over the last few months. Thanks, too, to all those who have worked on the database over the last few years, especially Ceri, Ian and Ben.


13th July 2009

SOUNDTRACKS

FSM has been especially industrious recently, and has released a number of new CDs that I'd like to draw your attention to.

The label has pressed an unusually small number of copies - 1500 - of Angela Morley's impressive score for M-G-M's 1969 fantasy Captain Nemo and the Underwater City, so my advice is to not hang around, if you're inclined to buy it.

The film was, as all good Doctor Who fans know, co-written by hack scribes Pip and Jane Baker), and directed by The Avengers veteran James Hill (who was, coincidentally, for some time attached to the aborted 70s Tom Baker / Vincent Price Doctor Who movie project). Indeed, the whole production has a distinctly British feel about it because, although it starred The Wild Bunch's Robert Ryan and The Rifleman's Chuck Connors (the exceptionally poor man's Kirk Douglas), the movie was shot at Borehamwood, and is thus, of course, largely populated by British cast members, including bumbling comedy villains Kenneth Connor and Bill Fraser. Italian Thunderball redhead Luciana Paluzzi and Britain's premiere posh totty Nanette Newman provide the glamour.

The film had a healthy budget, but exhibited little artistry. The score, by Oscar nominee Angela Morley (then billed under her pre-op name, Walter 'Wally' Stott) is one aspect of the film that really excels. It's full of rich textures, often suggestive on being underwater, as you might expect from someone who later went on to orchestrate for some of John Williams' most popular scores. There's more than a touch of Russell Garcia's The Time Machine about the score, with its bubbling woodwind, shimmering harp, and the ever-effective ondes Martenot. The Brahms-influenced music also appears to weave The Skye Boat Song into Martineau and Organ. It seems pretty plain to me, but it's not mentioned by Jeff Bond and Alexander Kaplan in their excellent twenty-page sleeve notes, so I'll just suggest it, and move on!

FSM's disc offers the complete hour-long score, sourced from the half-inch three-track scoring masters, which includes a piece of Morley-composed source music, All Seas Day.

The 1965 World War II action film None But The Brave has earned itself several footnotes in the history of cinema. Firstly, as the only film directed by Frank Sinatra (who, unsurprisingly, also has a supporting role in the movie). It was also the first American / Japanese co-production (it was made by Sinatra's production company in association with a sub-division of Toho Film, for distributors Warner Bros). Finally, it, along with John Goldfarb, Please Come Home, marked the transition from television to feature films for rising star John Williams (then still billed as Johnny Williams - a convention that FSM rather sweetly - if not, perhaps contractually - perpetuates).

The film tells of the conflict of two bands of soldiers, both stranded on an un-named Pacific island. Both groups have their own tonal representation in Williams' score, with several oriental-flavoured cues. The score features many brooding and melancholy cues, some reminiscent of his work on the Lost in Space TV series, others show signs of his later mastery (a flash of The Witches of Eastwick in Uneasy Peace / Okuda and Craddock, for example).

FSM's Silver Age Classics disc presents the complete score, in virtually pristine stereo, from the original half-inch three track scoring masters. Bonus tracks offered include Williams' music for the film's trailer, and a choral version of the main theme, which was released as a single at the time of the film's release - the only music from the film that has been released until now. The single's B-side, a syrupy David Raskin-penned song from the film Sylvia, is also included. FSM have licensed 3000 copies of this disc. Several previous 3k edition Williams FSM discs are now sold out (and, it might be noted, fetching three figure sums when they do show up for sale), so this isn't one you'd want to put off buying indefinitely, if you're a Williams fan, or if you're trying to build a complete collection of FSM discs. The disc features the clever original poster art of Jean Mascii, and comes with a sixteen-page booklet featuring notes and track analysis by Jeff Eldridge.

There's not an awful lot of Arthur B. Rubenstein's music available on CD, so FSM's release of his cheery score for John Badham's 1981 euthanasia drama Whose Life Is It Anyway? - about an artist (Richard Dreyfuss) recovering from a paralysing car accident - is very welcome. The film marked the first of many collaborations between composer and director, perhaps most notably on Blue Thunder and War Games.

Rubinstein aimed to bring a good deal of energy to the film with his restless, busy, elegant woodwind-led Baroque score, whilst also remaining upbeat, going against the somewhat depressing subject of the film.

Recorded under less-than-idea circumstances, FSM's CD has been carefully re-mixed in stereo from the original half-inch three-track elements kept by Warner Bros. Bonus tracks include a sharp, upbeat interpretation of the popular hit Jump in the Line (Shake, Senora) - used more memorably in Beetlejuice - demo tracks, and alternate versions. Sleeve notes, with new comments from Rubenstein himself, are by Jeff Bond; the very detailed track-by-track breakdown is by Alexander Kaplan and Jonathan Z. Kaplan.

I'd somehow got it into my head that Richard Mulligan's 1965 biographical Inside Daisy Clover was a full-fledged musical - a genre I'm not particularly interested in - rather than a drama that simply included a couple of songs.

The film starred Natalie Wood as a teenager who dreams of - and achieves - overnight Hollywood stardom in the 1930s. The film, telling of Daisy's meteoric rise to fame, and equally rapid fall from grace, boasts a stately score by Andre Previn, in what was one of his last Hollywood assignments.

Mulligan's had a long-standing relationship with composer Elmer Bernstein, but chose Previn for this project, perhaps swayed by his twelve Academy Award nominations, which included two for original songs. The composer was asked to create three songs for Inside Daisy Clover, which he wrote in collaboration with his wife, Dory. In the event, only two of the songs, You're Gonna Hear From Me and The Circus is a Wacky World appeared in the film: a third, A Happy Song, hit the cutting room floor. All three, of course, feature on the new CD, in various versions (in the film Wood's vocals were replaced by an un-credited Jackie Ward).

I can't possibly more succinctly paraphrase the disc's technical notes, which offer a concise explanation as to its contents, and how the two-disc set has been arranged, so here's the relevant section:

This premiere CD of Inside Daisy Clover has been newly remixed and re-mastered from no less than 34 rolls of half-inch four-track tapes at Warner Bros. (Usually the fourth track is blank but occasionally contains a vocal or instrumental solo.) The recording, engineered by Dan Wallin, arguably represents the pinnacle of live three-track orchestra recoding for film (prior to the introduction of multi-track tape in the 1970s). With Alexander Courage doing the arrangements for the songs, the recording presents a rare juxtaposition of classical M-G-M musical orchestrations (Courage was one of M-G-M's finest staff musicians) with the bright acoustics of the Warner Bros. scoring stage. Disc 1, tracks 1-27 offer a chronological presentation of Previn's score in its most complete form; disc 1, tracks 28-34 feature song alternates. Disc 2 features the Warner Bros. Records LP sequence [tracks 1-12] plus demos, early (and alternate) recordings of the film's songs, and source cues [tracks 13-28].

A handful of short inserts recorded by Previn at the final recording session (on, presumably, a "35th" scoring reel) could not be located. These missing fragments were mostly designed to shorten cues, so if anything had to be lost, this was the best possible outcome.

Fans of the film, or of films of the era in general, should be bowled over by the new FSM Silver Age Classics CD, which is surely a labour of love. The sound quality is outstanding, and the thought and care that's gone into the presentation is obvious. The disc comes with a thirty-two page booklet, which features a fascinating look at the making of the film, by Scott Bettencourt, and detailed track notes by producer Lukas Kendall.

I'm on much more familiar ground discussing another of the jewels in FSM's catalogue: their excellent new expanded CD of Jerry Goldsmith's score for Twilight Zone: The Movie.

If you're a Goldsmith fan, or a fan of the movie, then the new FSM is an essential purchase. As well as including an additional eight minutes of score from the film, the new disc offers more than twenty-five minutes of additional music, including two source songs from the Time Out section of the film, and alternate versions of several cues, reflecting changes in the running order of the film's segments.

Previously only available on CD as an European import, with cues joined together to form suites from each of the film's segments, the new CD offers radically improved sequencing, much better sound (it's been remixed by the original recording engineer, Bruce Botnick, from the original 24-track elements). The new disc has also been arranged so that you can program the original album presentation, if you wish to do so. The extensive liner notes are by Mike Matessino and Jeff Bond. Botnick and co-Director (and de facto musical producer) Joe Dante also contribute their memories, both paying tribute to the maestro.

It's a wonderful disc, and unquestionably worth upgrading to, if you have the old Warner Bros. version.

The latest release from FSM is Quincy Jones' The Split, which was written for Gordon Flemyng's groundbreaking 1968 crime drama about dishonour among thieves (based on one of the Parker novels by author Donald E. Westlake). The film made movie history, as the first ever to receive an R-rating from the MPAA.

The Split finds Quincy Jones at the top of his game (during production he received two Oscar nominations, including one for heist drama In Cold Blood, and he'd just completed work on In The Heat of The Night). Considerable effort was apparently made at the time to capitalise on Jones' growing fame and reputation, but plans for an LP release were ultimately shelved.

The new CD presents Jones' pulsating jazzy score ("angular, funky and irresistible", according to the blurb), in its entirety, mastered from the original half-inch three track stereo masters. It includes three original songs: The Split, It's Just a Game, Love and A Good Woman's Love. This is another disc with a smaller-than-usual print run of 1500, so don't be too surprised if it sells out quite quickly.


9th July 2009

EVENT NEWS

It's becoming Torchwood Central around here this week! Here's the press release for two signing sessions taking place next Friday...

John Barrowman, Eve Myles and Gareth David-Lloyd celebrate the DVD and Blu-ray release of the action-packed Torchwood Children of Earth with two signing sessions on Friday 17th July:

* The first at HMV's flagship store on Oxford Street in London's West End between 12.30 - 2pm*

* The second at HMV Cardiff, 53-57 Queens Street, Cardiff between 5 -6pm

Our heroes will make a typically Torchwood arrival to their native city. Keep a watchful eye on the skies as the Torchwood team will jet in to Cardiff by helicopter landing on top of the Torchwood hub itself in the Oval Basin.

In the spectacular third series the team face their greatest threat yet, - one which throws the future of Torchwood and the entire human race spiralling into danger.

An ordinary day becomes a world of terror, as every single child in the world stops. A message is sent to all the governments of Earth: "We are coming". But as a trap closes around Captain Jack, sins of the past are returning, as long-forgotten events from 1965 threaten to reveal an awful truth.

Torchwood are forced underground, as the government takes swift and brutal action. With members of the team being hunted down, Britain risks becoming a rogue state, with the mysterious and powerful 456 drawing ever closer. Captain Jack, Gwen and Ianto are helpless, as events escalate until mankind faces the end of civilisation itself.

Packed with extras, Torchwood Children of Earth is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 13th July.

*Fans can pick up free wristbands at HMV which allow entry to the signing. 250 wristbands will be available only from HMV London from 9.00am on Friday 17th July onwards. One wristband per customer maximum, in person only, while stocks last, subject to availability, at participating store only.


7th July 2009

INCOMING

Hundreds of new titles have been added to our forthcoming releases database in the last week or so, thanks to stalwart contributor Graves.

We're starting to see titles that are aimed at the Christmas market, including lots of "Complete" series box sets.

Notable new additions include Robot Chicken - Series 1-3; Moonlighting - Season 5 and Moonlighting - The Complete Series; Wild at Heart - Series 1-3; Oz - The Complete Collection; Ashes to Ashes - Series 1 & 2; a Monty Python - 40th Anniversay box set; I Dream of Jeannie - The Complete Series (bypassing individual series releases, it seems); Roseanne seasons 5 & 6, 7 & 8 and 9; a sixth collection of Lynda La Plante's crime drama series Trial and Retribution; Crank 2: High Voltage on DVD and Blu-ray; a 25th anniversary edition of The Jewel in the Crown; Lewis - Series 1-3; Kavanagh QC - The Complete Collection; The Royle Family Album - The Complete Collection; the animated Spider-Man series from the 1960s; the early 80s Granada drama series A Kind of Loving, from Network; ; the second series of Flight of the Conchords; the Rolling Stones' Gimme Shelter; The Wilde Alliance; the Dan Brown blockbuster Angels and Demons, on DVD and Blu-ray; and The Banana Splits Adventure Hour - Complete Season 1.

Newly-added Blu-ray catalogue titles include: The Wizard of Oz, Lawrence Kasden's excellent 80s western Silverado, Terry Gilliam's mind-bending 12 Monkeys, and Clive Barker's influential horror classic Hellraiser.

Finally, both Amazon and Play have a new date for the Blu-ray release of The Prisoner: September the 21st. Play have also added the number of discs it will be on (five). Despite this, the title still hasn't been officially announced, so, until then, take this with a pinch of salt.


Last month's Zeta Minor News can be viewed here.

Previous Zeta Minor News entries can viewed here.


 

 

   

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