It might be rather fun to give this disc, together
with the list of titles in higgledy-piggledy order, to someone who knows
none of the films, and see how they match them up. The one that starts
with a five-minute build-up brazenly cribbed from Holst’s "Mars",
for instance; now that would have to be "Star Wars", wouldn’t
it? Well, it’s "Gladiator", actually. And talking of cribs,
did no one point out to John Williams that the "Jurassic Park"
main theme is practically note-for-note in step with Dan Schutte’s 1981
hymn-tune (much used in evangelical gatherings around the world) "Here
I am, Lord"?
Perhaps none of this matters. The music has been proved
effective in its context, and has been worked into neat pieces and medleys
for out-of-context listening. You can hear that some dreadful films,
such as "Superman", got much better music than they deserved,
that the "Feather Theme" from "Forrest Gump" is
a delicately attractive piece, and that the remorselessly large-scale
bad taste of "Ben-Hur" at least found its match in Rozsa’s
noisily tuneless march. There has been a drive of late to proclaim Rozsa
as an important composer. Not here, he wasn’t.
The arrangements are magnificently effective and despite
the subtitle, "The world’s greatest movie themes performed by the
world’s favourite brass band", there has been a careful avoidance
of those "greatest themes" ("Gone with the Wind",
"Dr. Zhivago", "Out of Africa" …) which would have
cried out for soaring strings. So just sit back and lap it up, for this
really has been "the world’s favourite brass band" ever since
its appearance in "Brassed Off" and, what’s more, deserves
time ago I reviewed an album of theirs called "Top Brass"
which contained the "Brassed Off" soundtrack, conducted by
Trevor Jones, plus "Classic Brass" under the present conductor,
and felt that the latter, in the pieces in common, did not quite have
the verve of the soundtrack album. Here, too, there is a piece in common,
"Colonel Bogey", but this time the comparison goes the other
way. The film version is perhaps more of a straightforward march while
the present one is so light on its feet as to seem an orchestral scherzo,
with all the counter-melodies beautifully balanced. It’s a gorgeously
cheeky performance. The same treatment maybe isn’t quite so suitable
for the "Dam Busters" March, and the end is heavy. Here I
took down Sir Adrian Boult’s classic Lyrita performance (with full orchestra),
which shows that slower doesn’t mean heavier. It swaggers, it sings,
and at the end there is no heaviness, just the straightforward jubilation,
the sense of catharsis even, of soldiers returning home with a dangerous
mission safely behind them. But then, Boult lived through all those
times. His performance also reminds us that the great symphonic conductors
of the past were ready to take a "light" piece and conduct
it as if it were, for that moment, the only music that mattered to them.
But these are more considerations than criticisms.
The Grimethorpe Colliery Band have their place in history, too. If you
enjoyed "Brassed Off", don’t miss this one.
If you enjoyed "Brassed Off", don’t miss
this one. … see Full Listing