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HAMMER FILM COLLECTION Vol 2 GDI Records GDICD005 Distributed by ABM Tel: (0208) 236 2310 Fax: (0208) 236 2312

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The original Hammer Film Collection release (GDICD002) brought such diverse delights as Franz Reizenstein's theme from "The Mummy", Malcolm Williamson's opening music from "Brides of Dracula" and Carlo Martelli's theme to "Curse of the Mummy's Tomb". The collection assembled on Volume 2 is in many ways even more attractive, including as it does John McCabe's evocative and beautifully scored theme "Echoes of the past" from the 1972 film "Fear in the Night". In the informative and copiously illustrated sleeve notes, John McCabe remembers that Hammer's music supervisor, Phil Martell was "a tower of strength and an inexhaustible supply of experience and advice". This is certainly borne out by the music itself - listen to the track without knowing who wrote it and you would swear it was by Hammer house composer James Bernard from the frantic, driving rhythms and the side drum and piccolo scoring which conclude the piece.

Malcolm Williamson provides a lush, Romantic score for the 1969 film "Crescendo" (at 4' 30" the most extended track on the CD) whilst Benjamin Frankel's classic ground-breaking twelve-tone score for "The Curse of the Werewolf" (1961) and Humphrey Searle's sombre, incantatory tolling theme for "The Abominable Snowman" make fascinating listening for British music lovers re-discovering these composers' substantial symphonic achievements on the CPO label.

Richard Rodney Bennett's evocative theme from the 1966 release "The Witches" provides another example of this composer's mastery of orchestration. Carlo Martelli's theme from the 1968 prehistoric romp entitled "Slave Girls" is much more subdued and delicately scored than the title of the film would suggest with its haunting cor anglais theme. James Bernard provides the backbone of the disc, as you might expect, with typically visceral music from such classics as "The Hound of the Baskervilles", "Frankenstein Created Woman" and "Plague of the Zombies".

Fun for Hammer aficionados and lovers of strong, charismatic film music alike, this CD's only weak point in an exciting and enjoyable release is the relatively short measure (less than 49 minutes). The booklet is full of stills from the original films and the CD itself is graced by a scene featuring the late Oliver Reed in hirsute mode from "The Curse of the Werewolf". Recommended.


Paul Conway


Paul Conway

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