October 2002 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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RECOMMENDED October 2002

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Jeff DANA
The Kid Stays in the Picture  
  OST
  MILAN 73138 35998-2   [68:58]

Kid Stays in the Picture

  • 1. What'll I Do - Irving Berlin - arranged by Jeff Danna
  • 2. Pack Your Bags
  • 3: Old Hollywood
  • 4. Di-Gue-Ding-Dong - Michel Legrand
  • 5. Wild World - Cat Stevens
  • 6. Detective
  • 7. Ali Comes to Woodland
  • 8. The Sun Also Rises
  • 9. Sin Titulo - Chico O'Farrill
  • 10. Crocodile Rock - Elton John
  • 11. Polanski/Rosemary's Baby
  • 12. Sinatra
  • 13. The Luckiest Man
  • 14. Love Is Blue - Paul Mauriat
  • 15. Theme from Love Story - Francis Lai
  • 16. Jews Not Italians
  • 16. The Picture Stinks
  • 17. Woodland
  • 18. Dirty Work - Steely Dan
  • 19. Cocaine/Murder
  • 20. Once I Was King
  • 21. I Made My Dish
  • 22. Machine Gun - The Commodores
  • 23. What'll I Do - performed by Bill Atherton
  • 24. Love Theme from the Godfather - performed by Slash

The title comes from 70's superstar producer Robert (Rosemary's Baby (1968), The Godfather (1972), Chinatown (1974)) Evans' autobiography, now made into an acclaimed theatrical documentary with narration by Evans himself taken from the audiotape version of his book. Reputedly the film has virtually continuous music, and at 69 minutes this CD is certainly surprisingly long considering it originates from a 91 minute movie. It's an eclectic mix, mostly score, but interspersed with a variety of other tracks which presumably appear in the same order they do in the film. Not only this, but within Jeff Danna's richly imaginative score are interpolated elements of Irving Berlin's "What'll I Do", which serves as "Robert's Theme" and has its own new arrangement as the first cue on the disc. Danna also interpolates references to Nino Rota's music from The Godfather into a small number of cues.

Melody is to the fore, but so are lush orchestrations often decorated with delicate tuned percussion, together with passionate rhythms derived from a variety of dance forms. Hence the Spanish flavoured "Pack Your Bags" - one is reminded of Ravel - leads with odd but effective logic into the Michel Legrand Orchestra performing the very '60's urban chic of "Di-Gue-Ding-Ding". Less welcome are easily available pop standards such as Cat Stevens "Wild World", Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" and Steely Dan's "Dirty Work", all of which might have better served the album by being placed in their own section at the beginning or end, or better still, being omitted entirely. At least the inclusion of Francis Lai's theme from Love Story (1970) is appropriate given the film is part of Evan's Paramount back catalogue. Oddest inclusion of all is a version of the love theme from The Godfather appended as a bonus track and performed by "Slash" as a rock instrumental in the style of 70's prog-rockers Barclay James Harvest.

But back to the score, where one of the highlights is a gorgeously delicate reworking of "What'll I do", filled with fairytale glitter and magic as "Ali Comes to Wonderland". "The Sun Also Rises" delivers mournful Spanish trumpet and castanets, perking up with the introduction of guitar and a fast paced dance rhythm. Roman "Polanski" is characterised with a very perky 1920's lilt before darker atmospherics take over for "Rosemary's Baby", while "Sinatra" is appropriately jazzy, though with a sly air of the movie gangster as characterised though the decades. "Jews Not Italians" is a masterful journey through Rota/Godfather territory, the bouncy dance beat giving way to the famous love theme. Matters gradually become darker with real life "Cocaine" and "Murder" yet all the while the score retains an elegance and sombre grace which seems to characterise both the larger-than-life life of Robert Evans and the sophisticated cinema he made at his peak. It is a fine score throughout, though ends abruptly with a fade, there being no end title the disc closing with "Machine Gun" by The Commodores, a vocal version of "What'll I Do" clearly and audibly taken from an old 78 or early LP and the aforementioned cut by Slash.

It's an unexpected joy to find such an enjoyable score composed for a documentary, and a delight to find such well crafted, intricate, subtle and witty writing still finding a home in a Hollywood increasingly dominated by wall-to-wall noise. Following the recent release of Green Dragon (co-written with his brother Mychael), Jeff Danna is rapidly becoming a composer of note. Even if you have no interest in the documentary this album is highly recommended.

Gary S. Dalkin

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