The Second Disc

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From Small Things (Big Things One Day Come): Three Soundtracks by Michael Small Are Collected On A New 2-CD Set

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The Driver OSTKritzerland offered a Memorial Day surprise yesterday when the label announced its latest release, a three-for-the-price-of-one soundtrack special from composer Michael Small.  Small (1939-2003) was a major voice of 1970s film scoring, with such films as Klute, The Parallax View, Marathon Man and The China Syndrome under his belt.  A favorite of such acclaimed directors as Alan J. Pakula and Bob Rafelson, he continued to be a major presence in Hollywood writing for both television (Alex Haley’s Queen) and film (Jaws: The Revenge) right up until his untimely passing.  Kritzerland has previously tapped the Small ouevre for releases like Audrey Rose, and its most recent offering from the composer brings together the scores to three Twentieth Century Fox films: The Driver (1978), The Star Chamber (1983) and Black Widow (1987).  All three scores are being presented as one 2-CD set and sold for the price of one disc.

All three of these seminal scores were previously released by Intrada and have been long out-of-print and fetching high prices secondhand.  Black Widow was a standalone release, while that label paired The Star Chamber and The Driver together on one disc. For Kritzerland’s reissue, all three have been newly remastered by Mike Matessino.  The label confirms that Matessino has “carefully [removed] numerous small dropouts and ticks and pops, most especially on The Driver.Black Widow and The Star Chamber are presented in stereo, while The Driver is in mono.  The timing couldn’t be better for this all-Small package, as both The Star Chamber and The Driver are due to make their Blu-ray debuts.  The three-for-one set is limited to 1,000 copies only, and it’s scheduled to ship the first week of July.  That said, preorders placed at Kritzerland usually ship one to five weeks early (with an average of four weeks).

After the jump: we fill you in with more details via Kritzerland’s press release, plus we have pre-order links and complete track listings!

The Driver. The Star Chamber. Black Widow. Three very different films from one studio, Twentieth Century-Fox, directed by three very different filmmakers, connected by one very gifted composer – Michael Small.

Michael Small began his film music journey in 1969. However, Small’s breakthrough film happened two years later when Alan Pakula hired him to score his first film as a director, Klute.  The marriage of director and composer on Klute was absolute perfection and Small’s score was unique, original, and immediately put him in demand. From there, he went on to write incredible scores for some classic 1970s films, including Pakula’s Love and Pain and the Whole Damn Thing and The Parallax View, The Stepford Wives, Night Moves, The Drowning Pool, Marathon Man, and Audrey Rose, with each score unique, original, and filled with the Michael Small sound, which was unlike any other composer working back then. In the midst of all that wonderful work, he wrote three of his finest scores, and those are the three scores represented in this two-CD set: The Driver (1978), The Star Chamber (1983), and Black Widow (1987), for directors Walter Hill, Peter Hyams, and Bob Rafelson. They are a perfect neo-noir musical trilogy.

Black Widow is a terrific thriller starring Theresa Russell and Debra Winger. The acting is superb, the photography of Conrad Hall is amazing, as always, and the production design of Gene Callahan is stunning. Michael Small’s score is as entrancing, captivating, alluring, and dangerous as the Black Widow of the title. It has all the hallmarks of a classic Michael Small score and is one of his best.

The Star Chamber, directed by Peter Hyams and featuring a stellar cast, including Michael Douglas, Hal Holbrook, Yaphet Kotto, and Sharon Gless, became kind of a cult film thanks to cable TV and home video and is generally well thought of today. Once again, Michael Small provides a terrific score, beginning with its classic Small main title, majestic-yet-ominous, strings, woodwinds and piano doing an uneasy dance against a steady rhythmic pulse, a perfect beginning for the music and drama to follow.

Walter Hill’s The Driver is a quintessential 1970s movie – it looks, smells, feels and sounds like the 1970s. If anyone is unsure of this, the fact that Quentin Tarantino has referenced it in two films and thinks it’s one of the coolest movies ever made cements its reputation and is probably one of the key reasons the film has just been remade. The cast couldn’t be better – Ryan O’Neal as the The Driver, Bruce Dern as The Detective determined to catch “the cowboy who’s never been caught,” and beautiful Isabelle Adjani as The Player. And Michael Small as The Composer.

Small’s score for The Driver is, like the film, lean, cool, stylish and, yes, unique. Small uses electronics sparingly amidst the strings, reeds, and brass, and plays off The Detective’s line about The Driver being “the cowboy who’s never been caught,” with the use of a twangy country-western guitar that occasionally insinuates itself into the music.

You can order this special three-for-one set at the link below directly from the folks at Kritzerland!

Michael Small, Black Widow/The Star Chamber/The Driver: Original Soundtrack Recordings (Kritzerland, 2013)

Black Widow (1987):

  1. The Widow
  2. Onidine’s Curse
  3. Investigation
  4. No Evidence
  5. Chasing After Phantoms
  6. Hawaii
  7. No Air
  8. Seduction
  9. She’s Deadly
  10. The Truth
  11. Knowing When to Stop

The Star Chamber (1983):

  1. Main Title
  2. Andujar Trial
  3. Monk and Coombs
  4. Star Chamber
  5. Judged
  6. Another Little Boy
  7. Hardin
  8. Dawson Tried
  9. The Chamber
  10. Flowers
  11. Lowes and Hardin
  12. What Happened?
  13. Shafts of Light
  14. Hardin Kicks Coombs
  15. Warehouse Run
  16. Rescue
  17. Revision
  18. End Credits

The Driver (1978):

  1. No Names
  2. The Man
  3. The Woman
  4. The Detective
  5. Mercedes Prelude
  6. The Challenge
  7. The Driver
  8. Sucker’s Game
  9. Cat and Mouse
  10. Finis

Written by Joe Marchese

May 28, 2013 at 09:23

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