July 2003 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Beyond the Valley of the Dolls  
Score composed by Stu Phillips
  Available on Harkit Record (HRKCD 8032)  
Running Time: 54.44
Amazon UK   Amazon US

beyond the valley of the dolls

It might be some thirty-three years since the release of Russ Meyerís essay on the perils of fame, fortune, and exposure, but Stu Phillips' musical reaction survives musically unscathed; a testament to the composerís talent and his versatility as an arranger Ė the debauched imagery of motown gone mad, the paraphrasing of seminal operatic literature, and screaming jazz consequents that more floor than reverently nod in the direction of Otto Premingerís golden arm.

The score to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls worships the elements and the listener, when not supporting Roger Ebertís satirical text that is. Itís brash, itís tremendous fun, and lies happily on its back staring at the world in psychotropic colours. Indeed, it could almost be argued that Phillips' score to the film deserves to be classified as an illegal substance, for thereís a certain degree of criminality and guilty self-satisfaction one derives from listening to the album. Songs like "Sweet Talking Candyman" are full to the brim with devilish guitar motifs, all of which your mother would disapprove of, and hysterical musical quotations (the "String of Pearls" moment in "Murder on the Beach" is worth the album price alone) that oft induce fits of laughter.

For what might be dismissed by others as a kitsch period-piece, is a tantalising effort that the film could ill-afforded to have done without. Stu Phillips shows here that dramatic flair is more the preserve of the overlooked artist with a grasp of the importance of life than it is the successful self-publicist composer. Phillipsí work is, in a certain measure, sadly far too associated with Glenn A. Larson, and hearing a work like Dolls affirms that the vast majority of those that know him overlook his extraordinary breadth as an orchestrator and arranger. I am grateful to have received the album and give it full marks.

Readers may also be interested in Stu Phillips recently published autobiography, Stu Who? You can read our review here

And find more information at http://www.stuwho.com/

Glen Aitken

***** 5

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