Finally! Complete score by Basil Poledouris from 2" 24-track masters! Limited release of 2000 copies!
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Doug's Tech Talk
Finally! World premiere release of complete Basil Poledouris masterpiece from 2" 24-track session masters, courtesy of MGM. (All previous releases used 1/4" elements of varying quality.) Poledouris creates epic score for Paul Verhoeven tale of 16th century warfare, starring Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Burlinson. One of his own personal favorites, Poledouris always wanted to re-mix "mid-range heavy masters" (his words), elaborating that trombones, tuba, certain solo woodwind colors were somewhat buried in original 1985 mix. With discovery of complete 2" 24-track session masters, complete remix was now possible! Adding to good vibes, Intrada had access to all original engineering paperwork, including hand-written notes by composer and engineer Eric Tomlinson as to take preferences, particular edits, audio decisions. This allowed us to present complete score in sequence for first time with best-ever clarity in audio! At last, hear pounding tuba pedal tones that double with bass drum during main title plus crisp trombone work during battle music, much more! Dynamic "The Box" for stirring battle scene is powerful highlight. Film itself includes short tenor drum cadences during cue to mirror shots of young boy sounding battle drums as alarm to galvanize defending forces from formidable approaching army. Since these percussion segments were recorded by Poledouris for synchronizing to action, they were happily present on session masters as well. As such, Intrada premieres final film version plus includes familiar original version so listeners can choose their favorite. Complete "Plague Dog" sequence another dramatic highlight! Basil Poledouris conducts London Symphony Orchestra. Intrada Special Collection release limited to 2000 copies!
The Extra 24. The Box [With Percussion Overlay] (5:27)
Tech Talk From The Producer…
The score for Flesh+Blood easily ranks as one of
composer Basil Poledouris’ greatest achievements. It is a treasure trove of orchestral color,
period splendor and—ultimately—power.
The initial Varese Sarabande LP and CD releases of this spectacular score were prepared
from ¼” two-track mixes made by engineer Eric Tomlinson during February of 1985.
For those albums, Poledouris selected 39 minutes of highlights out of his 68-minute score
and presented them in picture sequence without further editing of the individual cues.
Poledouris maintained a copy of the complete score on ¼” tape and generated cassette
copies of the additional music. A subsequent expanded CD on the Prometheus label
included the original album sequence plus extra tracks from Poledouris’ copy. Unfortunately,
heavy doses of audio processing kept the extra cues from integrating smoothly but
offered a taste of just how significant the extra material was. (Some of the “bonus tracks”
on the most recent CD were actually incomplete takes and rough edits of longer cues.)
Basil Poledouris always praised the performance by the London Symphony Orchestra
but lamented that the two-track mixes were problematic. Made immediately after each
of six recording sessions, Poledouris felt they lacked detail in his array of solo colors and
sometimes left brass, especially trombones, too far in the background. But budgets being
limited, he was unable to re-mix tracks from the actual session masters for the pending album.
Fortunately, the actual 2” 24-track session masters for Flesh+Blood and other Orion
Pictures properties were safely vaulted in the interim.
Enter Intrada and a brief trip down memory lane. I first heard the score for Flesh+Blood
while working with the composer for three days at his home during the assembly of Red
Dawn, our 1985 debut album for Intrada and coincidentally an MGM picture as well. Regina,
my oldest daughter and now a production assistant on our albums, was only a few
weeks old at the time. (A warm photo of Basil holding my then eight-week old in his arms
is touching—and may one day appear in a theoretical coffee table book we talk about
publishing around here.) While listening to the then-brand new score for Flesh+Blood,
Poledouris mentioned its mixing deficiencies, particularly with regards to the solo colors.
Though his score was composed for large orchestra, Poledouris had written numerous
passages for solo woodwinds, particularly flute, oboe and clarinet as well as trumpet
and French horn. Besides a customary battery of snare drum, bass drum, cymbals and tympani, his percussion requirements included everything from chimes and orchestra bells to
finger cymbals and triangle, from gong and tam tam right on through glockenspiel, metal
xylophone and a pair of harps.
Flash forward: With MGM having located the complete original 2” 24-track session
masters, stored in beautiful condition on seven Dolby A-encoded rolls, we were both excited about finally re-mixing the entire score using today’s state-of-the-art technology
and saddened to know the composer never had the chance to revisit one of his favorite
works. Confident that Basil was up there somewhere, acknowledging our excitement, we
proceeded to re-mix virtually every cue, enhancing the solo colors, the distant trombones,
the percussion details, all with an ear to his original wishes.
In working with these elements and guided by MGM paperwork and logs maintained
by engineer Eric Tomlinson, we discovered two versions of both “The Rape” and “Martin
& Agnes Love Theme.” Though the cues were virtually identical in content, takes timed to
click-tracks were recorded for the more explicit “international” version of the film while
“wild” (free-timed) takes were made at brisker tempos to correspond with the shortened
scenes in their U.S. counterpart. As per the choice of the composer on earlier albums, we
are presenting the longer international versions.
One item worthy of spotlight is the incredible action set-piece where Steven’s army
marches forth with a massive wooden structure designed to scale castle walls now protecting
his mortal enemy, Martin. Though “The Box” has always appeared on albums as
written, Poledouris also composed a separate overlay cue for tenor drum to service the
on-screen shots of a young boy playing his drum in alarm for the castle defenders. Though
the drum overlay has always been deleted from albums, Poledouris did compose and conduct
it during his sessions as a cadence that would match the tempo of the orchestra while
appearing to come from the boy’s drum. On the MGM DVD of the movie, this exact section
of the cue featuring the drum overlay is used as an audio loop while the main menu
appears. With that in mind, we elected to present this cue as always during the album and
then as an “extra” with the rare tenor drum overlay as scored by the composer. Other
drum cadences played by the boy for other battles were recorded wild during the sound
effects stage of post-production and are not part of the score.
One final note. Two on-screen vocal and source music cues (“Soldier’s Song” and
“Puppetplay”) were taken from material written by Gregorio Paniagua and have nothing to
do with the Basil Poledouris scoring of the film. As such, they are not included on this CD.
So it’s time to robe yourself with armor and sword circa A.D. 1501 and turn on your
CD player from the future. Basil Poledouris is about to unleash all the power of his mighty