April 2006 Film Music CD Reviews

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

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Music composed and performed by John Harrison
  Available on La La Land Records (LLLCD 1040)
Running Time: 40:25
Amazon US

See also:

  • Day of the Dead
  • Creepshow
  • I’m a big fan of John Harrison’s music. I recall hearing the first haunting strains of his score for Creepshow (1982) as I sat in a darkened cinema, and later thinking that if the film itself had been as evocative as the music, I would have been far more enthusiastic about the overall experience. Then there was Harrison’s dynamic, stylish work on Day of the Dead, a dark, toe-tapping synth score somewhere between Goblin and Carpenter. I even bought the soundtrack for Tales from the Darkside: The Movie on the strength of Harrison’s contribution to the score and that had some fine moments too. So all of this should set the tone for a glowing review of Harrison’s first foray into movie scoring on the shoestring budgeted Effects (1980).

    Alas, I find myself in the awkward position of having to dismiss this release as lamentable nostalgia that could only be of appeal to the composer himself. To say that it is amateurish and naïve is to be kind. As an historic document detailing the evolution of Harrison’s film music it may have passing interest, but as a musical work in its own right it is simply dreadful. The dated synth sound could be quite charming if the composition itself was in any way inventive, but this really is an example of a young man with a synthesiser who is struggling with the form and only manages to come up with some poorly conceived motifs and atmospherics. It all adds up to little more than a lesson in what to avoid, even if I’m sure it was created with great enthusiasm and a distinct lack of resources. The fact that John Harrison went on the produce work of real merit suggests that with this early effort he was at the experimentation stage and whatever he learnt was later put to good use. Despite this, even for John Harrison fans such as myself, there is little to recommend here. I really wish I could say something more positive, but all I can think of is to suggest bypassing this and moving on smartly to his later work.

    Mark Hockley

    Rating: 0.5

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