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The People Tree: Anthony Newley, Leslie Bricusse and Hugo Friedhofer Classics Reissued by Kritzerland

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Barbarians, Man, God, The Devil… Kritzerland’s latest two reissues sure aren’t shying away from big subjects!  The label began accepting pre-orders today for one never-before-on-CD cast recording and one first-time soundtrack pairing.  Both titles are sure to send your temperatures rising!  Two Golden Age film scores from Hugo Friedhofer, a Kritzerland favorite, are brought together for the first time on one CD with The Barbarian and the Geisha/Violent Saturday, while the legendary team of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse (Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) were the men behind 1972’s London musical The Good Old Bad Old Days.

The partnership of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse dated back to 1961 and the premiere of Stop the World, I Want to Get Off, co-written by the pair, directed by and starring Newley.  Yielding the instant standard “What Kind of Fool Am I?,” Stop the World completed Newley’s transformation into an international star of stage, screen and the concert stage.  Newley and Bricusse followed Stop the World with The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd, another allegorical musical with a fantastic score, this time introducing “Who Can I Turn To?” and “Feeling Good” to the standard repertoire.  Newley and Bricusse also found time to co-write “Goldfinger” with John Barry and work individually, although when Bricusse alone wrote the score to 20th Century Fox’s Doctor Dolittle, Newley was on hand as an actor in the film!  Following their Academy Award-nominated work on Willy Wonka, Newley and Bricusse returned to the stage with The Good Old Bad Old Days.

Bricusse described it as “a modest little saga about Man, Life, Death, God and The Devil, with the history of the world thrown in.”  It tells of Bubba (Newley), who tries to persuade God not to destroy the world, and makes the case for humanity by presenting a pageant of mankind through the ages (including scenes of The Mayflower, The French Revolution, The American Civil War, etc.).  When New York producer James Nederlander declined to continue with the musical, it looked like it might never get off the ground, but reigning West End impresario Bernard Delfont stepped in and booked the production for a tour followed by a London opening in December 1972.  Though it only ran for 309 performances at Delfont’s Prince of Wales Theatre, it left behind a memorable and enjoyable score highlighted by “The People Tree,” also recorded by Sammy Davis Jr. on the heels of his success with “The Candy Man” from Willy Wonka!  (Davis covered a number of songs from the score, including “I Do Not Love You,” “Tomorrow” and “It’s a Musical World. “)

After the jump: more on The Good Old Bad Old Days, plus a Hugo Friedhofer double feature!  We’ve got track listings, pre-order links and discography!

Kritzerland’s 1,000-copy limited edition release of The Good Old Bad Old Days’ original EMI cast recording marks its first ever appearance on compact disc.  It’s joined by a pair of soundtracks from the pen of Hugo Friedhofer:  The Barbarian and the Geisha (1958) and Violent Saturday (1955).  Both albums had been released as sold-out editions years back from Intrada; the former was a stand-alone title while the latter was paired with Leigh (Pinocchio, Snow White) Harline’s Warlock.  Kritzerland returns these soundtracks to print on one new CD.

Based on a story by Ellis St. John, 1958’s The Barbarian and the Geisha was based on a story by Ellis St. John and depicts the life of Townsend Harris, who arrived in 1850s Japan to serve as the first American Consul-General.  Its pedigree was impressive: John Wayne starred, and John Huston directed.  For its studio, 20th Century Fox, Friedhofer had already composed the memorable score to An Affair to Remember; elsewhere, he was responsible for the likes of The Bishop’s Wife and The Best Years of Our Lives.  Reissue producer Bruce Kimmel says of Friedhofer’s score to The Barbarian and the Geisha, “His main theme is heartbreakingly beautiful and is repeated many times throughout the score, and the rest of his music complements and enriches every scene in the film – this is Golden Age movie music the way we remember Golden Age movie music – melodic, dramatic, tender, suspenseful, and evoking a different time and place through orchestral color and knowing how the orchestra can be utilized to also evoke Oriental textures without resorting to triteness.”

1955’s Violent Saturday was based on the novel by W. L. Heath, a thriller about a small-town bank robbery turned deadly.  Richard Fleischer (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) directed a stellar ensemble cast including Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Richard Egan and Victor Mature.  Friedhofer’s short and subtle score (about 20 minutes in length) nonetheless enhances the film; in Kimmel’s words, “It does exactly what film music is supposed to do – propels the film, underscores the scenes that need it, and stays out of the way when music would serve no purpose. There are no classic Friedhofer themes to be found – just music that functions sometimes as subtext, sometimes as suspense, and sometimes as violent as the goings on in Violent Saturday.”

Like The Good Old Bad Old Days, The Barbarian and the Geisha/Violent Saturday is limited to 1,000 copies.  James Nelson has remastered the albums.  Both CDs are scheduled to ship the first week of May, but those familiar with Kritzerland know that a pre-order from the label usually means an arrival time of usually four weeks earlier!  You’ll find pre-order links just below!

Hugo Friedhofer, The Barbarian and the Geisha/Violent Saturday (Kritzerland, 2012)

  1. Foreword/Main Title
  2. The Intruders
  3. The Consulate
  4. Flag Raising
  5. Orders from Edo
  6. An Invitation
  7. Homecoming
  8. The Strange House
  9. Awareness
  10. The Tormentors
  11. Outcast
  12. The Plague
  13. Narration and Scene
  14. The Road to Edo
  15. The Palace
  16. Advice and Questions
  17. Assassination
  18. Celebration and Plot
  19. Tamura Commands
  20. Declaration
  21. Finale
  22. Prologue
  23. Violent Saturday – Main Title
  24. If I’m Lucky
  25. Harper
  26. Dill and Library
  27. Emily
  28. Harper Takes a Walk
  29. Shelly and Steve
  30. Linda Comes Home
  31. Insomnia
  32. Mr. Reeves
  33. Stalemate
  34. Kidnapping
  35. God Forgive Me
  36. End Title

Tracks 1-21 first issued on The Barbarian and the Geisha, Intrada Special Collection Vol. 4. 2002
Tracks 22-36 first issued on Warlock/Violent Saturday, Intrada Special Collection Vol. 27, 2005

Original London Cast Recording, The Good Old Bad Old Days (EMI LP EMA-751, 1972 – reissued Kritzerland, 2012)

  1. The Good Old Bad Old Days – Anthony Newley, Paul Bacon
  2. The Fool Who Dared to Dream – Anthony Newley
  3. The Wisdom of the World – Paul Bacon
  4. Thanksgiving Day – Julia Sutton
  5. Today/Tomorrow/Yesterday – Anthony Newley and Terry Mitchell
  6. It’s a Musical World – Anthony Newley
  7. I Do Not Love You – Terry Mitchell
  8. A Cotton Pickin’ Moon – Anthony Newley, The Minstrels
  9. The Good Things in Life – Anthony Newley
  10. The People Tree – Anthony Newley, Julia Sutton
  11. We’ve Got a Cure for Everything on Broadway – Company
  12. The Good Old Bad Old Days (Finale) – Company

Written by Joe Marchese

March 19, 2012 at 13:48

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