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Archive for September 27th, 2011

To Hollywood…and Glory! “1941” Score Locked and Loaded from La-La Land

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The War for Soundtracks rages on, and La-La Land Records’ latest volley is the long-awaited expanded edition of the score to 1941, the 1979 World War II comedy scored by legendary composer John Williams for longtime collaborator, director Steven Spielberg.

Take some of the most talented young comedians of the ’70s, put them in a picture written by two of the brightest upstarts in Hollywood and put the world’s hottest young director in charge. Sounds like a formula for success, right? Maybe most of the time…but 1941 isn’t anywhere near conventional.

Spielberg’s zany ensemble comedy – an exaggeration of the panic on the West Coast in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and the United States’ impending entry into World War II – certainly has some of the funniest players around. Dan Aykroyd leads a bumbling squadron of troops (including early turns by John Candy, Treat Williams and Mickey Rourke) to protect Los Angeles from the evil Axis powers (represented by veterans Toshiro Mifune and Christopher Lee), whose attempt at capturing Hollywood leads to the abduction of a similarly-named Christmas tree salesman (Slim Pickens). And then there’s Wild Bill Kelso, John Belushi’s irascible fighter pilot who finds trouble everywhere he flies. (That doesn’t even count Ned Beatty and Lorraine Gary as a family whose house becomes an unwitting lookout for the troops, Tim Matheson and Nancy Allen as an amorous couple on a B-52 or Robert Stack as a bumbling version of real-life Major General Joseph Stilwell.)

The young Spielberg went characteristically over budget on his feature, turning the smallest gags by writers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale into major set pieces. It was a surprise, however, when the film did not follow his similarly financially-overextended films, 1975’s JAWS and 1977’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, to major success. (Contrary to popular belief, the film was not a box office bomb, but critics were quick to compare the young director’s latest spectacle to the actual tragedy of Pearl Harbor. Nonetheless, 1941 would become a cult classic thanks to a generous amount of special features on the eventual laserdisc and DVD releases.)

One area where 1941 succeeded was, unsurprisingly, the music. Spielberg and Williams had already established their collaboration with three classic scores – 1973’s The Sugarland Express, the Oscar-winning JAWS and the Oscar-nominated Close Encounters – and 1941 marked a major milestone in the pair’s partnership. Williams went all-out for the film’s action scenes, anchoring the film with a march for the cast of characters that was both lighthearted and bombastic. The composer also jumped back into less-traveled territory, namely calling back to his jazzy comedy roots with a Benny Goodman-esque swing piece that scores a fight at a USO dance. (There’s also one of the best jokes of Williams’ musical repertoire: a humorous reprise of the iconic JAWS theme for the film’s elaborate parody of the suspenseful opening sequence.)

1941 got a short but effective LP on Arista records that was later reissued on Varese Sarabande in the CD era. For this release, though, producer Mike Matessino has gone back to the original 16-track score masters to present, for the first time on CD, the complete score as heard in the film. As an added bonus, a second disc includes that original remastered LP appended with source cues and never-before-released alternates and rarities (including a relative rarity in Spielberg-Williams history: a suite composed exclusively for the film’s original trailer).

From bombs bursting in air to sides splitting with laughter, 1941 is a major feather in La-La Land’s cap, from here to Hollywood. And it’s yours to order now, right after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

September 27, 2011 at 16:21

Posted in News, Reissues, Soundtracks

Bruce Springsteen, Tony Bennett, Bob Dylan, Metallica Join Neil Young For “Bridge School Concerts” CD/DVD

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Who but Neil Young could have brought The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, Ben Harper, Eddie Vedder, Paul McCartney, Tony Bennett, and Los Lonely Boys together on the same stage?  Though Young is an easy target for what can appear as a capricious attitude towards his back catalogue – announcing, then delaying or cancelling titles with alarming frequency – one aspect of the man’s great legacy cannot be in dispute, and that is his philanthropy.  Since 1986, Young and his wife Pegi have offered annual support for The Bridge School, an organization dedicated to the education of children with severe speech and physical impairments.  That was the year Mr. and Mrs. Young created The Bridge School Benefit Concert. 

The very first line-up included Young with his friends Crosby, Stills and Nash, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Springsteen, Don Henley, Tom Petty and Robin Williams; the 2004 concert offered the diverse group including Bennett and McCartney.  This year’s shows, on October 22 and 23, will continue the generally all-acoustic ethos, and will offer faces both old and new.  Bennett and Vedder are to join Diana Krall, Dave Matthews, Arcade Fire, Foo Fighters, Los Invisibles featuring Carlos Santana, Beck, Jenny Lewis, and Mumford and Sons.

Held yearly at Mountain View, California’s Shoreline Amphitheatre, The Bridge School Benefit Concerts have welcomed artists including David Bowie, Willie Nelson, Sarah McLachlan, Elton John, Leon Russell, Sheryl Crow, Metallica, Pearl Jam, Brian Wilson, The Who, Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Bonnie Raitt, James Taylor and Bob Dylan.  All of those names (and many more!) appear on The Bridge School Concerts: 25th Anniversary Edition, due on October 24 from Reprise Records in 2-CD and 3-DVD formats.  There has been one prior Bridge School CD (1997’s The Bridge School Concerts Vol. 1) and a number of digital-only offerings, but these sets mark the most comprehensive package of music from the Bridge School’s archives.

Though there is some overlap among the CD and DVD releases (which will be sold separately), each features a unique selection of music.  Contributions from David Bowie, Patti Smith, Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan, Emmylou Harris, Simon and Garfunkel, Tom Waits and Billy Idol only appear on the DVD set.  No Doubt, Jack Johnson, Sonic Youth, Willie Nelson, Tony Bennett, Nils Lofgren, Norah Jones and Jonathan Richman are among those artists only appearing on CD.  Both formats include tracks from Elton John and Leon Russell (“My Dream Come True”), Bruce Springsteen (“Born in the USA”), Brian Wilson (“Surfin’ USA”), Fleet Foxes (“Blue Ridge Mountains”), Metallica (“Disposable Heroes”), The Who (“Won’t Get Fooled Again”) and Paul McCartney (“Get Back”).  Neil Young himself is represented on CD with “Country Feedback” with R.E.M. and “Love and Only Love” with Crazy Horse.  “Country Feedback” reappears on the DVD, along with a Young solo performance of “Crime in the City.”

Whereas the first two DVDs in the set are exclusively devoted to performance footage, the third disc contains bonus material: two documentaries, Backstage at the Bridge School Benefit and The Bridge School Story, along with artist and student interviews.

Hit the jump to watch the video trailer, as well as for the complete track listing and pre-order links!  The Bridge School Concerts: 25th Anniversary Edition hits stores on October 24 from Reprise, and it’s important to note that “all profits from this release go directly to The Bridge School.”  The label has set up an official site for the project here! Read the rest of this entry »

Release Round-Up: Week of September 27

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‘Tis the season! The big guns for the fourth quarter are starting to be drawn.

Elvis Presley, The Young Man with the Big Beat / Elvis Presley: Legacy Edition (RCA/Legacy)

The newest Elvis box set is all about 1956: five CDs of complete studio masters, outtakes, vintage audio interviews and live material. For the casual fan, the Elvis Presley Legacy Edition includes the Elvis Presley and Elvis LPs with the hit non-LP singles of that era. (Official site)

Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon: Experience and Immersion Editions / Discovery Remasters (EMI)

So you have all the basic remasters of every album, and the deluxe and mega-hyper-deluxe editions of Dark Side. Merry early Christmas! (Official site)

Nirvana, Nevermind: 20th Anniversary Deluxe Edition (DGC/UMe)

A lot of ways to celebrate the definitive grunge album for its 20th anniversary. Which one are you getting? (Official site)

The Smiths, Complete (Rhino U.K.)

The most mega of mega-boxes for The Smiths is out now in the U.K., and will be out in October in the States. (Rhino U.K.)

Sting, 25 Years (Cherrytree/A&M/UMe)

A 3-CD/1-DVD overview of Sting’s solo career. If you have all his albums, you’re probably going to want to wait until the price dips below its current Amazon price tag of $110. Like, way below. (Official site)

Wes Montgomery, Movin’: The Complete Verve Recordings (Hip-o Select/Verve)

Did Wes record it for Verve? If yes, it’s here, five discs’ strong. (Hip-o Select)

Davy Jones, David Jones: Deluxe Edition (Friday Music)

No Monkee-ing around here! Jones’ Colgems solo LP, exapnded and remastered. (Sorry about the pun back there.) (Amazon)

Barenaked Ladies, Hits from Yesterday & The Day Before (Reprise/Rhino)

A simple best-of for the Canadian rockers. (Official site)

The Jesus & Mary Chain, Automatic / Honey’s Dead: Deluxe Editions (Edsel)

The next links in the chain of 2-CD/1-DVD reissues! (Another pun! See what I did there?) (Official site)

Buck Owens, Bound for Bakersfield 1953-1956: The Complete Pre-Capitol Recordings (RockBeat)

Another fun one from RockBeat! (Amazon)