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December 2005 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings/ December/


Coma
The Carey Treatment
Westworld
 
Music composed by Jerry Goldsmith / Roy Budd / Fred Karlin
  Available on Available on Film Score Monthly Vol.8, No.16
Amazon US

Film Score Monthly have regularly conceived intriguing ways of combining different scores into a single album. This latest release is perhaps one of the most creative, presenting three very different scores on a 2CD set, connected by the fact each film comes from the first decade of the film career of novelist-screenwriter-director Michael Crichton.

Before finding best-selling success as a novelist Crichton was a practicing doctor, and some of his early fiction made excellent use of his medical/scientific background. That applies to two of the three films represented on this current album, The Carey Treatment (1972, based on Crichton’s novel A Case of Need (originally published as by Jeffrey Hudson)), and the album’s centrepiece, Coma (1978). Where Crichton wrote the source novel for The Carey Treatment, he directed the film Coma, adapted from a novel by Robin Cook (not the recently deceased Labour politician, but an American writer who has made a career of penning medical thrillers). The other film represented here, Westworld (1973) was both written and directed by Crichton. Currently being remade for 2007 release, Westworld anticipated both The Terminator (1984) and Crichton’s own greatest hit, Jurassic Park, being a science fiction adventure concerning flight from a seemingly unstoppable robot gunfighter in an out-of-control near future theme-park.

The first CD contains the complete scores to The Carey Treatment and Westworld, by Roy Budd and Fred Karlin respectively. The second CD showcases Jerry Goldsmith’s score to Coma, together with bonus cues from each of the three films. Clearly Coma is the main attraction here, being one of the six outstanding scores Goldsmith delivered in his remarkable 1978. (The others being The Swarm, Magic, Damien: Omen II, Capricorn One and The Boys From Brazil).

Coma remains a favourite Goldsmith score of mine. I saw the film three times when it came out in England in early 1979, and played the original soundtrack LP endlessly. So I will admit to being a little biased in favouring this score in my review. The CD contains the complete original score, running approximately 40 minutes, mixed from the 3 track ½ masters (the original 16 track tapes having been destroyed). For this reason the mix is somewhat different to the original LP, while the flow and sequence of the music is different as the tracks for the LP were heavily edited and often re-ordered.

The composer Béla Bartók was a major influence on Goldsmith, never more so than in his darkly dissonant and un-nerving score for Coma. Fitting the cold, sterile, clinical screen drama, Goldsmith penned an alienating score almost entirely devoid of human warmth, superbly depicting the nightmare America of unfettered capitalism, where living human beings have finally become no more than commodities to be sold to the highest bidder. The American dream taken to its logical conclusion becomes a global nightmare. To achieve this effect Goldsmith’s focuses his score on strings, low woodwinds, four pianos and metallic effects processed through an echoplex. Melodic content is to a minimum, acerbic motifs replacing conventional themes, yet the tight control over the material the composer excerpts ensures a strongly directed score which remains nerve-wracking and compelling throughout. With powerful suspense cues leading into riveting action set sequences Coma remains one of the composer’s finest, most intelligently conceived achievements, and is unreservedly recommended.

The original LP contained two signs of the times, cues called ‘Disco Strut’ and ‘Disco Love Theme’, here both sensibly relegated to the status of bonus cues and separated from the main sequence of the score. Also included is a version of Goldsmith’s theme from The Prize, reworked as a source muzak cue. A further curiosity is a song – ‘Sunday’s Moon - version of the love theme, sensibly not used in the finished film, which sets the love theme in a ballad along the lines of the far superior song Goldsmith penned for The Omen. Here the lyrics, by Carol Goldsmith, are laughable, and the vocal performance, by an unknown singer, is mediocre. The whole thing is so out of hopelessly out of character with the drama and score that had it been used it would have seriously damaged the film.

Pre-dating Coma by six years is Blake Edwards’ now mostly forgotten drama-thriller, The Carey Treatment. Starring James Coburn, this was a story of an illegal abortion gone fatally wrong, cover-up and conspiracy in a Boston hospital. The score was by the English composer Roy Budd, who found a niche for himself in contemporary thrillers employing a jazz-pop based sound in a comparable vein to that popularised by John Barry. (In the first half of the ‘70’s he also scored such thrillers as Get Carter, Fear is the Key, The Black Windmill, The Stone Killer, The Marseille Contract, The Internecine Project and Diamonds). Budd’s sensibility was perfectly suited for the often melancholy nature of ‘70’s thrillers, and he brought a memorable melodic touch to even the most routine material.

His score for The Carey Treatment span’s 31 minutes (plus 15 minutes of bonus cues) and is constructed around a typically attractive Budd main theme, first introduced in a driving orchestral jazz-funk ‘Main Title’ (though officially the cues only have identifying numbers). The second track is an enjoyable slice of MOR jazz-blues-funk used as source music in the film, though two bonus cue versions of the tune using a less commercial but ‘purer’ jazz trio set-up are far superior. A case of commerce winning out over class. ‘Courtship’ is an introspective setting of the main theme, while a montage of four cues titled ‘The Victim’ ranges from tenderness to uncanny suspense, with vibes and brass punctuations suggesting impending danger. ‘Party’ is a typical ‘70’s funk workout with bold brass fanfares, while ‘Blues’ is just that, a late night, piano trio cue with the composer at the keys, while ‘Sex Photo’ is cocktail lounge jazz setting of the main theme which mutates into a furious piano led action cue. ‘Hospital Attack’ and ‘Fight’ are superior though short action-suspense cues, and the ‘End Title’ is another short, highly energetic, variation on the main theme.

Bonus cues are two alternatives to the first source cue, an entirely different jazz piece also intended for the same spot in the film, and an alternative to the romantic ‘Courtship’ cue. 

As an album sequence The Carey Treatment is a polished mix of jazz based material and more traditional action-suspense with a typically ‘70’s melancholy not dissimilar to that demonstrated in scores such as Dave Grusin’s The Yakuza and John Williams’ The Eiger Sanction. An enjoyable listen, but probably not something even most film music buffs would consider particularly worth seeking out on its own.

Fred Karlin’s score for Westworld spans 39 minutes, plus nine minutes world of bonus cues. The film itself has an intriguing premise but fails due to poor execution, falling through several large unplugged holes in its plot. Most memorable is the iconic image of Yule Brynner essentially reprising his role from The Magnificent Seven films, but subverted into a relentless robotic killing machine.

The score, while entirely functional in the film, makes for a most disjointed and unsatisfying listen on disc, largely due to the unusually diverse nature of the scoring. Cues range from MOR jazz to bar-room piano to lively and polished Western folk Americana (Getting Dressed / Stagecoach Arrival), while the honky tonk on ‘Piano Source B’ is the sort of material that would best have been left as a bonus cue. ‘Castle Feasts’ sets the scene for Medieval World (apart from Westworld the theme park in the film features two other sections, the third being Roman World) with a well crafted slice of early music dance. Then its back to Americana folk for ‘Miss Carrie’s (Theme from Westworld)’, before the atmospheric mix of guitar and processed electronics that is ‘Robot Repair’. The cue uses Yamaha and ARP synthesisers and an echoplex, as well as acoustic instruments to imaginative effect. All instruments are performed by the composer. ‘Jail Break / Escape’ is standard humourous adventure Western fare with harmonic well to the fore, while ‘The Queen’s Indecision’ is a beguiling early music pastiche for guitar and recorder. This mood continues through ‘Daphne / Daphne Seduced’ before ‘Robot Repair #2’ returns to the sensibility of ‘Robot Repair’. Next up is a cheery Western ‘Fight’ while ‘Chase From Westworld’ (Parts 1 & 2) is a return to the experimental electronic textures of ‘Robot Repair’, though now with additional trumpet and rhythm section. The final showdown with ‘The Gunslinger’ is more of the same, and is tense, relentless and powerful, clearly a predecessor of John Carpenter’s electronic suspense scores and Brad Fidel’s Terminator underscore. As a listening experience however Westworld is simply to fragmented, offering too many styles to form a cohesive whole. But then that is often the fate of film music. Here the matter is simply pushed to the limit due to the very nature of the film it was composed to support.

A very mixed bag of a 2CD set. Buy it for Goldsmith’s essential Coma and enjoy The Carey Treatment and Westworld as interesting bonuses. As ever with FSM packaging and presentation are first rate.

Gary Dalkin

Coma: 5
The Carey Treatment: 2.5
Westworld: 2

Film Score Monthly News Release:

This 2CD set features three 1970s M-G-M soundtracks for films involving the work of renowned "Hollywood author" Michael Crichton, including two related to the medical field.

The Carey Treatment (1972), based on Crichton's pseudonymous novel A Case of Need, starred James Coburn as an unconventional pathologist who solves a murder mystery at his Boston hospital. The melodic score by British phenom Roy Budd recalls his "mod symphonic" caper and adventure scores such as Get Carter, Fear Is the Key and The Black Windmill. This is the premiere release of the complete soundtrack.

Westworld (1973) was a popular "high concept" film starring James Brolin and Richard Benjamin as tourists at a futuristic amusement park. The park's humanoid robots run rampant (including a gunslinger portrayed by Yul Brynner) and Benjamin is forced to flee for his life. Fred Karlin's quirky, unconventional score combined ersatz western scoring, source cues, and strikingly original electronic music (with acoustic flavorings) by the versatile composer and performer. The Westworld soundtrack was earlier released on LP and CD, and this album features an expanded presentation with several corrected mixes.

Finally, Coma (1978) was a medical thriller starring Genevieve Bujold as a doctor who uncovers a terrible conspiracy at her hospital. Jerry Goldsmith's long-admired score came amidst what many consider to be the peak of his action and suspense writing: the late 1970s (e.g. Capricorn One, The Cassandra Crossing and others). The coiled, imaginative cues (spotted exclusively in the second half of the picture) feature strings, pianos and percussion (no brass) for a terrifying musical analog to the queasiness of the medical profession. Coma was earlier released on LP and CD, and this album features the complete, expanded soundtrack.

FSM's jam-packed 2CD set includes bonus tracks and outtakes for all three films, and a colorful 28-page booklet with liner notes by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall. All three scores are in newly remixed stereo.

Track Listing:

DISC ONE:
The Carey Treatment: Music Composed and Conducted by Roy Budd
  1. 1M1 (Main Title) 2:07
  2. 1M2 (Source) 4:37
  3. 2M1/2M1A (Courtship) 2:51
  4. 2M2/3M1/4M2/4M3 (The Victim) 2:42
  5. 4M5 (Party) 2:46
  6. Blues 4:43
  7. 6M1/7M1 (Interlude/Car Ride) 2:07
  8. 8M1 (Sex Photo) 3:38
  9. 9M1/9M2/9M3 (The Heavy) 1:11
  10. 9M4/10M1 (Hospital Attack) 1:25
  11. 11M1 (Fight) 1:25
  12. 11M2 (End Title) 1:08
  13. 1M2 Alternate #1 (Source) 4:11


  14. Total Time: 35:22
Westworld: Music Arranged, Composed, Conducted, & Produced by Fred Karlin
*All instruments and electronic music performed by Fred Karlin
  1. Main Title/Hovercraft Muzak 3:51
  2. Piano Source C/Getting Dressed (Welcome to Westworld) 2:30
  3. Stagecoach Arrival 1:02
  4. Piano Source B (Bar Room Piano) 2:20
  5. Castle Feasts (Medieval World) 1:30
  6. Miss Carrie's (Theme From Westworld) 2:28
  7. Robot Repair* 4:16
  8. Dormant Worlds* 0:17
  9. Jail Break/Escape 2:48
  10. The Queen's Indiscretion 1:51
  11. Daphne/Daphne Seduced 1:08
  12. Robot Repair #2* 1:34
  13. Fight (The Western Warble) 2:46
  14. Chase From Westworld, Part 1* 2:33
  15. Chase From Westworld, Part 2* 4:39
  16. The Gunslinger* 3:18


  17. Total Time: 39:20
Total Disc Time: 74:49

DISC TWO:
    Bonus Tracks: The Carey Treatment
  1. 1M2 Alternate #2 (Source) 4:00
  2. 1M2 Alternate #3 (Source) 4:09
  3. 2M1A Alternate (Courtship) 2:10


  4. Total Time: 11:03

    Bonus Tracks: Westworld
  5. Hovercraft Muzak (additional) 1:54
  6. Piano Source C (alternate) 1:59
  7. Piano Source A 1:19
  8. Piano Source D 2:02
  9. Miss Carrie's (film version) 2:03


  10. Total Time: 9:28

    Bonus Tracks: Coma
  11. Disco Strut (Don Peake) 2:34
  12. Disco Love Theme (Love Theme from Coma [Disco Version]) 4:29
  13. Theme From The Prize 1:39


  14. Total Time: 8:47

    Coma: Music Composed and Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith
  15. Stranger on the Street 0:51
  16. Cape Cod Weekend (Love Theme From Coma) 2:35
  17. The Institute (Jefferson Institute)/No Interview 2:26
  18. Hot Wire 2:07
  19. Toys in the Attic (O.R. 8) 5:35
  20. The Charts/Chance Encounter/The Lecture Hall 4:43
  21. Study in Anatomy 3:12
  22. No Address/After Hours/Up for Bids/Illegal Parking 5:31
  23. A Lack of Efficiency/A Free Ride 2:58
  24. A Difficult Position/The Long View 3:44
  25. A Lucky Patient/A Nice Case 5:46
  26. Sunday's Moon (Lyrics by Carol Goldsmith) 2:32


  27. Total Time: 42:30
Total Disc Time: 72:02

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