With our remastered release of The Nightcomers ready for this Tuesday, it just felt appropriate to mention where the score stands in my hierarchy of favorite Jerry Fielding scores. At the top. Number one. My personal favorite. We’ve released a lot of his music in the past, the Michael Winner titles, Straw Dogs, a couple of other Sam Peckinpah titles, Beyond The Poseidon Adventure, Gray Lady Down, even his last score, the horror movie Funeral Home… and Straw Dogs comes close, but it’s The Nightcomers that best floats my boat. And of course I greatly admire The Wild Bunch. Fielding has always been one of my very favorite film composers and I don’t slight that masterful 1969 western soundtrack in any way. It and Advise And Consent were my two initial experiences with Fielding’s music.
However, from when I first saw The Nightcomers at a drive-in theater late in 1971, it rose to the top and has remained there ever since. And I can pinpoint just what it is about this incredibly complex work that hits the spot: the harmonic vernacular, especially in the cadences of certain cues. Fielding lets these cues play, weaving in and about with shifting dark, slightly dissonant chord progressions in his strings, then bringing in the woodwinds, he closes them with rich chords exploiting bitonality. It is a horror film of sorts, probably more of a psychological thriller due its literary origins, but bitonality and even polytonality gets into pretty sophisticated harmonic territory. And then, in balance, there are several prim and proper period English-style cues that often feature brass and take us 180 degrees in the opposite direction. It’s not a lengthy score, but an involved one just the same.
I’m likely in the minority, but I love all the Michael Winner films that Fielding scored: Lawman, Chato’s Land, The Mechanic, Scorpio… and The Nightcomers.
Oh, and the film is must-see for Marlon Brando aficionados. Try to catch it if you haven’t already.
It was very sad to awaken this morning to news about the passing of Mike Ross. Our orchestra contractor for the Excalibur recordings, Paul Talkington, circulated a message to our team informing us and expressing his own sadness. Mike Ross, who sometimes went by his full name, Mike Ross-Trevor, was our recording engineer and mixer for our last Kickstarter recording we did with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. In fact, his work with us on The Man Who Knew Too Much and On Dangerous Ground was to be his final salute to the profession.
Years worth of memories could be shared and condensed here as we worked with him professionally, dating all the way back to our Ivanhoe recording in 1994, and earlier if we bring our 1986 release of Islands In The Stream into play. But of all those memories, perhaps standing tallest is one I hold dear from last year when we were all gathering together to record the two Bernard Herrmann scores in Glasgow and Mike asked me personally to assist him in the booth. While I had anticipated being on the floor with conductor William Stromberg, the man who had recorded many a Jerry Goldsmith score and worked in the highest levels of film scoring was now personally asking me to stay at his side. I did. And the many conversations we shared during those sessions will be cherished without equal.
Mike, you mixed a lot of beautiful music that will last forever… but still you shall be sorely missed.
I figured it was time to head off to Colorado for the holidays and take a short break from editing soundtracks. Breathing fresh air a mile above sea level, sharing time with my granddaughter having Christmas as a one year old, mountains, snow on the way… you know, the stuff I can’t find in the Bay Area. In recent weeks we’ve worked on and readied for release a diverse repertoire of soundtracks including scores by such composers as John Barry, James Horner, Marco Beltrami, Christopher Young, Danny Elfman and James Newton Howard to tease about just the most recent group. Anyway, while doing some shopping today, Mary Ann and I dropped into a very small vinyl-only store outside of Denver. As we entered, they were playing Henry Mancini’s RCA soundtrack album from Arabesque. Definitely not an experience I could’ve expected.
So our last release, the complete actual soundtrack for MacArthur by Jerry Goldsmith, is selling very well. One would think the composer is a fan favorite. And it’s a military score… making it one of my favorites! Happily it was the subject of the most recent Goldsmith Odyssey Soundtrack Spotlight podcast in which I as producer and Jeff Bond as liner note author were guests. If you have not yet listened to the show, please just follow this link:
View more at our INTRADA SOUNDTRACK FORUM