Archive for the Featured Composer Category

Stanley Myers.

Posted in Featured Composer on April 12, 2013 by eldiabolik

Stanley Myers














Born in 1930, Myers studied at Oxford University before starting a career in musical theatre. In the early ‘60s, he began writing incidental music for television, most notably for Doctor Who, the theme to Question Time and series of plays directed by a young Ken Loach. Age of Consent movie poster
Myers soon moved into film where he would drift effortlessly between art, exploitation and commercial cinema. Psychotronic film fans will know Myers through his long running collaboration with British exploitation master Pete Walker. Myers composed the scores to Five Pete Walker films: The House of Whipcord, Frightmare, House of Mortal Sin, Schizo, and The Comeback. Myers’ excellent music was always capable of pushing these low budget shockers up a level, giving them an extra touch of class beyond the standard British exploitation films of the time.
frightmare
In 1983 Myers composed the music for Nic Roeg’s crazed epic Eureka, this would form the start of a long and fruitful working relationship between Myers and Roeg that lasted until Mayers’ death in 1993. In the Ten years they worked together, Myers scored Seven films for Roeg. They instantly became became close friends, in fact Roeg wrote Myers’ obituary for the independent newspaper. Certainly, some of Myers’ most interesting work can be found in his work with Nic Roeg; For the 1985 film Insignificance, Myers transposed a Mozart violin concerto from strings to brass, calling in legendary Jazz arranger Gill Evens to help with the brass arrangements.insignificance_poster_285
Stanley Myers will, of course, be best remembered for his composition ‘Cavatina’, the much loved and much covered piece played by classical guitarist John Williams and used for the score of The Deer Hunter in 1978. The track was actually originally composed for the 1970 David Hemmings and Samatha Eggar Polio melodrama The Walking Stick.
Throughout the 1980s – in the British film industries leanest years – Myers continued to work on a series of interesting films, composing for a number of the more interesting British films such as: Wish you Were Here, Prick up Your Ears, Dreamchild, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid, and Three films with the excellent Polish director Jerzy Skolimowski.
Success Is the Best Revenge
His score for Sitting Target is is one of his best and a great example of his enormous range. Rising over the landscapes of gritty ‘70s London is a delicious fusion of Orchestral, electronic, jazz and baroque themes. Has there ever been a better way to see Battersea?
sitting target

Originally written as part of the programme notes to accompany a screening of Sitting Target.

Lord Thames on Laurie Johnson and ‘And Soon the Darkness’

Posted in Featured Composer with tags , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2012 by eldiabolik

Although Laurie Johnson’s contribution to And Soon The Darkness is a relatively small one, it does at least provide us with a chance to celebrate a long and distinguished career.


Johnson’s first film score came in 1957, with The Good Companions, with scores for Girls At Sea, The Moonraker and Tiger Bay – as well as hit musical Lock Up Your Daughters – to follow.

By the 1960s, Laurie Johnson’s name started to become much better known thanks to the rise of commercial television. His recording of ‘Sucu Sucu’ for Associated-Rediffusion’s Top Secret was a chart hit in 1961, and as well as other commissions for A-R, he was also writing for the KPM music library. Many of these tracks became well know, as themes for Animal Magic, This Is Your Life, Whicker’s World and World In Action (the latter theme, ‘Private Eye’, is still in use today as the theme for Michael Apted’s 7 Up documentaries, the latest installment of which has started on ITV this month.)

The middle of the decade saw possibly his most important commissions to date – Dr Strangelove (of which Johnson recalls Stanley Kubrick telling him at the end of the recording sessions it was the best soundtrack to any of his films), and of course The Avengers, where Johnson came up with a gloriously decadent string theme which would last till the end of the series in 1969..

And Soon The Darkness followed soon afterwards, and features many familiar Avengers faces behind the camera, like director Robert Fuest and writer Brian Clemens. Johnson’s contribution is limited to the instantly memorable theme, which later had lyrics added by Alan Price and was recorded by pop-soul singer James Royal (with the help of an excellent arrangement by Keith Mansfield) though sadly with limited success.

Johnson continued to write soundtracks through the 1970s, and added another string to his bow – not only did he furnish The New Avengers with a fantastic military funk theme tune, he also became co-producer with Albert Fennel and Brian Clemens. This partnership would continue with LWT’s The Professionals into the 1980s. Johnson continued as a producer with the revived Gainsborough Pictures, as well as scoring their productions.

In 1997, Laurie Johnson would form the London Big Band, with many familiar jazz and session players in the line-up, including old friends from the Ted Heath days, and he even returned to the charts thanks to the theme from The Professionals being used to advertise the Nissan Almera.

Although And Soon The Darkness doesn’t even merit a mention in Johnson’s autobiography, ‘Noises In The Head’, for me it’s among his best work, almost as much for what isn’t there as what is. The lack of incidental music, normally a minus point for me, only adds to the grim and bleak atmosphere of the film, which is almost in contrast to the relatively upbeat theme See what you think!

These words were taken from the programme notes of the Filmbar70 screening of ‘And Soon the Darkness’ London, 17 May 2012.

Featured Composer: R. D. Burman

Posted in Featured Composer on April 20, 2010 by eldiabolik

Rahul Dev Burman (or Pancham, to call him by his nickname) has got to be one of the most influential of all the great Bollywood composers.

His 280+ film composing career is astonishing, you can find his name on the credits of so many Bollywood classics of the 70’s and 80’s.

For a more detailed information on Burman, check out the Wiki page:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.D._Burman

A documentary on Burman’s life was made in 2008.  I’ve not been able to see it yet, I’m sure it will be fascinating.

Visit the website:  http://www.panchamunmixed.shemaroo.com/

Here’s some classic soundtracks by Burman.

Caravan

Sholay

Shalimar

Manoranjan

The Burning Train

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