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Archive for February 7th, 2011

Elmer Bernstein Duo and “Gone with the Wind” Musical Coming from Kritzerland

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Frankly, my dear, the Kritzerland label has given us even more reasons to give a damn. On Monday morning, the label announced its latest releases: the first-ever CD release of the Original London Cast Recording of Gone with the Wind, the 1972 musical written by composer/lyricist Harold Rome (Wish You Were Here, Fanny, Pins and Needles) and librettist Horton Foote (To Kill a Mockingbird, Tender Mercies, The Trip to Bountiful), along with a two-on-one CD presenting Elmer Bernstein’s scores to Fear Strikes Out and The Tin Star, both from 1957.

Fear Strikes Out and The Tin Star are both 1957 Paramount pictures featuring scores by Bernstein and starring the pre-Psycho Anthony PerkinsFear Strikes Out is the then-recent story of real-life baseball hero Jimmy Piersall (Perkins) and how Piersall overcame a nervous breakdown to enter the major league, signing with the Boston Red Sox in 1948 at age 18. It also marked the first film directed by Robert Mulligan, who later directed many classics including To Kill a Mockingbird (1962).

In The Tin Star, Perkins played a young and inexperienced sheriff opposite seasoned sheriff-turned-bounty-hunter Morgan Hickman, portrayed by the venerable Henry Fonda. This film was helmed by Anthony Mann, known for directing a string of successful westerns starring Jimmy Stewart. The Tin Star was an early western for Elmer Bernstein. He went on to become not only one of the most successful film score composers of all time, but one with a special place in his heart for the genre. Arguably his score to The Magnificent Seven is the most famous such score of all time, while others included The Shootist, The Sons of Katie Elder and the original True Grit. Bernstein’s trademark sound, rich in Americana, is recognizable on The Tin Star even in its embryonic state.

Neither of these Bernstein classics have ever appeared legitimately on CD before. Kritzerland’s release was mastered from the original tapes housed in the Paramount Pictures vaults, and the CD runs a packed 77-plus minutes. Both scores are in mono, and include never-before-heard unused cues or alternates.

Moving from screen to stage, those of you not familiar with the musical Gone with the Wind might be asking “Why?” And while noted critic Ken Mandelbaum asserted that “of all the musicals ever adapted to the musical stage, perhaps none cried out to be left alone as much as Gone with the Wind,” he correctly added that “[what] is surprising about the musical version of Gone with the Wind is that it was rather good.” And indeed, it was.

The cast album reissue, produced by Bruce Kimmel and remastered by James Nelson from EMI U.K.’s original album masters, presents the final stage score of Harold Rome, who began his Broadway career in 1940 and died in 1993. Rome’s score was an underrated, generally superb one and represented a bit of a stretch for the venerable composer, consisting of many lengthy musical sequences from which some melodic, lovely songs could be extracted. (One such song is entitled “Tomorrow is Another Day,” but Rome largely resisted simply aping lines from the novel and familiar film version.) Hit the jump for more on the story of Gone with the Wind, and full track listings and ordering information for both releases! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 7, 2011 at 15:45

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Judy, Judy, Judy: Garland’s “Carnegie Hall” Original LP Arrives on CD in 2012

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Of the 3,165 audience members at Carnegie Hall on the evening of Sunday, April 23, 1961, just how many of them realized that they were witnessing musical history when Judy Garland took the stage? While most probably came to that realization by evening’s end, surely all 3,165 knew by the time Capitol released its recording. Judy at Carnegie Hall remains one of the most acclaimed, beloved albums of all time, live or otherwise. Capturing Garland at her artistic peak, the lavish double-LP spent 95 weeks on the Billboard chart, 13 of them at Number One. When the Grammy Awards rolled around, Carnegie Hall handily picked up five of them including Album of the Year (the first by a female artist) and Best Female Vocal Performance, and the collection has remained in print on the Capitol label since its debut. London’s JSP Records announced last week that it will issue its own version of Judy at Carnegie Hall in early 2012. This release is made possible because the original LP will have expired in U.K. copyright.

In 1987, Judy at Carnegie Hall made its CD debut in an unfortunately abridged single-disc version (Capitol CCDP 7 46470 2). This disc omitted the famous overture conducted by Mort Lindsey, plus “Do It Again,” “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” and “Alone Together.” There was an outcry over the abridgement of the album, and so Capitol’s next CD issue in 1989 (CDP 7 90014-2) presented the LPs in full on two discs and even added some of Garland’s dialogue as a bonus. Yet this reissue wasn’t without its problems, either.  Capitol replaced the original LP track of “Alone Together” with a studio version recorded for the LP That’s Entertainment!; this was because the original recording allegedly couldn’t be found at the time. Capitol was unaware that while tape ran out on one of the two recorders in use during the concert, the song was preserved for posterity on the second recorder’s backup tape.

Enter Steve Hoffman, then at the DCC label. Hoffman located this tape in the EMI vaults, and persuaded Capitol’s powers-that-be to allow DCC to release the first-ever complete Judy at Carnegie Hall, from curtain-up to curtain-down, with all of Garland’s stories and talk intact, and in the correct order. 2000’s 24K Gold release (DCC GZS (2) 1135) quickly became a highly sought-after collectible for both its electrifying performance, complete for the first time, and Hoffman’s pristine mastering. In the DCC liner notes, Hoffman explained that the discs were mastered directly from the original Capitol 3-track “A-set” remote session tapes, and where the original engineers changed reels, a one-second lapse was left in the program rather than artificially smoothing the gap over with applause overdubs. “Rest assured that you are hearing every second of this legendary night,” Hoffman wrote. Capitol based its own complete release in 2001 (72435-27876-2-3) on this edition, though reissue producer Paul Atkinson brought in Bob Norberg to remaster the album yet again at Capitol’s own mastering facilities. Norberg’s remaster, with reverb and other “enhancement” added to the more “pure” Hoffman master in an attempt to capture the “hall sound,” is still available from Capitol. How does JSP’s release differ from previous editions? Hit the jump to find out! Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Joe Marchese

February 7, 2011 at 09:01

Posted in Judy Garland, News, Reissues