Yes at last! Thrilling Jerome Moross soundtrack finally premieres complete on CD!
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Doug's Tech Talk
Yes at last! Thrilling Jerome Moross soundtrack finally premieres complete on CD! Scoring elements for near-legendary music to 1969 cowboys vs. dinosaurs actioner with dazzling stop-motion effects by Ray Harryhausen have long been missing in action, landing album on wish lists going back half a century! Charles H. Schneer produces, James O’Connolly directs, James Franciscus stars with starring support from Gina Golan, Richard Carlson. Filmed in Dynamation with Harryhausen also serving as associate producer. After exhaustive search, suitable mono music elements were assembled including two rolls of session print takes on 1/4” tape plus numerous highlights preserved by composer and provided by daughter Susanna Moross-Tarjan as well as music-only tracks from D/M/E elements vaulted by Warner Bros. With audio restoration made by Chris Malone and Douglass Fake, entire score was finally available for presentation, free of dialog, including several unused alternates and bits not heard in finished film! Cool additional discovery: Various elements yielded every one of the “Breckenridge Wild West Show” source music as well, including an unused alternate version of Gina Golan’s “Grand Finale Pt. I” cue, all composed and conducted by Moross at his sessions. For completists, both gypsy flamenco guitar source pieces by Ronald Harker appear in the extras as well. Even the Moross-scored music box theme for the Eohippus survives intact. Golly! 71 minutes of music in all! As was customary with Harryhausen pictures, numerous fantastic stop-motion creations inspired composers (famously Bernard Herrmann) to write colorful, fantastic music. Gwangi is no exception! But adding to the good vibes: a fantastical American-west setting which inspires legendary Americana composer Moross to offer rousing tribute to his own beloved western vernacular immortalized with The Big Country. As a result of two wildly diverse elements grounding the film - fantastic beasts vs. cowboys on horseback - Moross gets opportunity to write thrilling monster-style action music AND sturdy outdoor western music… for the same movie! Highlights abound for both: “Pterodactyl” is jagged, violent orchestral showpiece, “The Capture Of Gwangi Pt. I” is nearly 8-minute tour-de-force with emphasis on brass - note the trombones! On the other side are rhythmic western set pieces anchored by “Gwangi Main Title”. Here Moross grounds everything with his trademark low strings & brass rhythmic punctuation under wide open-spaced theme for trumpets. In classic Moross style, no filler harmonies are needed: theme plays lean and mean without harmonization while aggressive rhythmic parts provide all the harmony necessary. Ditto rowdy lasso-time round-up music for “The Eohippus Escapes”. Fabulous signature sounds! Handsome booklet designed by Kay Marshall includes fabulous original Frank McCarthy poster campaign on cover plus detailed notes by fantasy-film authority Jeff Bond, detailed cue assembly details with slates, accurate cue sheet titles and array of color stills, all courtesy of Warner Bros. and WaterTower Music. Dream-come-true for Harryhausen fans, western movie score fans, monster-movie score fans… and anyone in between! Soundtrack recorded in London, Gary Hughes orchestrates, Jerome Moross conducts. Intrada Special Collection CD available while quantities and interest remain!
Additional Score and Alternates
25. Gwangi Main Title (Original) (2:19)
26. Pterodactyl (Original) (4:00)
27. The Capture Of Gwangi (Section 1 Alternate) (2:49)
28. The Capture Of Gwangi (Section 2 Alternate) (1:55)
29. Dissonant Organ Chord (0:37)
30. Gypsy Flamenco (Ronald Harker) (0:55)
31. Gypsy Guitar (Ronald Harker) (1:25)
Additional Score and Alternates Time: 14:12
Breckenridge Wild West Show Music (Jerome Moross)
32. Entrance March No. 1 (2:49)
33. Cowboys And Indians (1:15)
34. T.J.’s Act (1:03)
35. Grand Finale Pt. I (Original) (1:38)
36. Grand Finale Pt. I (Revised) (2:03)
37. Grand Finale Pt. I (Second Part) (0:08)
38. T.J.’s Exit I (1:00)
39. Entrance March No. 2 (2:15)
40. Elephant Polka (0:49)
41. Fanfare (0:13)
42. Gwangi’s Act (0:06)
43. T.J.’s Exit II (0:52)
44. Gwangi End Credits (0:46)
Breckenridge Wild West Show Music Time: 15:13
Tech Talk From The Producer…
To release Jerome Moross’ entire score for The Valley of Gwangi on CD, Intrada had to do a considerable amount of work to find suitable elements. We ultimately located material from several mono sources, all fortunately free of any dialog or effects. These included: two brief reels given to this writer some 30 years ago by Tom O’Steen of the Starlog label; numerous surviving cues from the sessions kept by Jerome Moross and generously provided to Intrada by his daughter, Susanna Moross-Tarjan; and the entire score on music-only stems from the film’s D/M/E tracks, vaulted by Warner Bros. After performing audio restoration with the expert assistance of Chris Malone, everything was matched as closely as possible in terms of levels and EQ and sequenced in film order—with one exception.
There are several sequences in the film with lead actress Gila Golan performing wild-west circus stunts for her character’s T.J. Breckenridge Wild West Show. For these, Jerome Moross composed and conducted original marches, parades and fanfares, played by an onscreen “circus band.” We have placed these (plus an unused alternate) in a separate section, following the score presentation, where they play complete as opposed to the truncated versions heard in the film.
We also included several unused score alternates, such as the original “Main Title” (track 25) which differs slightly in rhythm and content during its central portion and was later revised to the version heard in the film (track 2), as well as alternate takes of certain action cues. In this portion of the CD, we placed the decidedly non-musical cue which Moross simply titled “Dissonant Organ Chord” (track 29) for the climactic scene of Gwangi rampaging in the cathedral during his flaming demise and two Spanish-flavored cues (tracks 30 & 31) composed by Ronald Harker for the gypsy scene in reel 4 of the film.
The Valley of Gwangi has been one of the most requested titles in Intrada’s three decades. None of these original tracks have ever been released before. Happily, while surviving only in mono sound, this magnificent soundtrack is largely complete and intact, with only a few bars having needed editorial work to preserve and present them.
Jerome Moross’ distinctive—indeed, definitive—Americana musical style was most befitting for a “western” film packed with cowboy heroics. Add the striking aspect of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion dinosaurs, and listeners get a rare treat indeed.