March 2001 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /March01/

Christopher YOUNG
Wonder Boys

INTRADA CD96009 [36:30]
 Amazon UK    Amazon US [both these are on the Columbia label so I am not sure they are the same recording]

Christopher Young in middle-of the-road jazz and blues mode, a million miles away from his grandiose orchestral works and obviously a tribute to his versatility. But unfortunately not exactly a wonder to listen to!

The main theme, 'Grady Tripp', is a jazzy number with plenty of percussion, bass guitar and free-wheeling accordion, but sadly it's just not particularly enjoyable. Variations of this feature on 'That Would be a Tuba', 'I'm Not a Holiday Inn' and 'Sire Shire' and there's several other cues in similar stylistic vein like 'Dead Poe Pie' and 'Rip Roaring', but it's all very unremarkable. Despite this, these pieces actually work far better than the lower-key selections such as 'Greenhouse Woman', with its bluesy piano so introspective as to be almost sleep inducing. The other major thematic element is introduced in 'Tales from the Woods', with a violoncello solo attempting to create a sense of poignancy and this device is recalled briefly elsewhere ('Small Soldiers' etc.), but it's only marginally effective. Unhappily there's nothing that makes any real impact and I was left with only a feeling of vague indifference. Even the quirky knee-slapping (at least that's what I think it is!) of 'Novel Lies' soon becomes wearisome, while the wordless female blues vocal on 'Wonderful', with smoky bass-line support, simply fails to elicit any kind of emotional response.

This is a score that will probably work well enough within the confines of its film, but I find it impossible to generate any enthusiasm for it at all as a stand-alone piece of music. And that comes from a Christopher Young devotee! I suppose that if you enjoy a little minor rhythm and blues this may be for you, but something as insubstantial as this hardly seems to merit all the effort that went into producing the CD in the first place. Light, frothy and wholly forgettable.

Mark Hockley

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