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  Special Merit 

AMAZING STORIES: ANTHOLOGY THREE (1985-1986)

Music from the television series by these composers: Alan Silvestri, Craig Safan, Michael Kamen, Bruce Broughton, Billy Goldenberg, Fred Steiner, John Addison, Pat Metheny, and John Williams.

 

2 CDs (Disc One: 34 tracks = 78:54/ Disc Two: 38 tracks = 78:40)

Disc One (34 tracks = 78:54)

1. AMAZING STORIES Main Title Alt #2 -- John Williams (1:03)
2-12. GO TO THE HEAD OF THE CLASS -- Alan Silvestri (26:58)
13-19. THE WEDDING RING -- Craig Safan (12:51)
20-28. MIRROR, MIRROR -- Michael Kamen (24:56)
29-34. MR. MAGIC -- Bruce Broughton (12:50)

Disc Two (38 tracks = 78:40)

1. AMAZING STORIES Bumper # 1 -- John Williams (0:04)
2-8. SECRET CINEMA -- Billy Goldenberg (7:56)
9-12. LIFE ON DEATH ROW -- Fred Steiner (13:57)
13-21. THE PUMPKIN COMPETITION -- John Addison (14:29)
22-25. GRANDMA'S GHOST -- Pat Metheny (11:06)
26-36. THE MISSION -- John Williams (29:55)
37-38. AMAZING STORIES End Credits/ Amblin Logo - Alt -- John Williams (0:34)

Album produced by Douglas Fake. Executive Album Producer: Roger Feigelson. Edited and Mastered by Douglas Fake. Art Director: Joe Sikoryak.

Intrada Special Collection 44

Rating: ****

 

This highly ambitious television series was created and produced by Steven Spielberg for Amblin Productions. Previously, there were two other worthwhile 2 CD anthologies from AMAZING STORIES released by Intrada.

This third anthology CD set features complete scores to nine of the programs in this series (all of them listed above). Since each score was by a different composer, it isn't possible to really compare them to each other, except in a general way. So I'll keep my remarks to the ones that I think are most unusual, appealing or impressive, and the ones that are less so.

On Disc One, the score by Craig Safan for THE WEDDING RING (tracks 2-12)is especially appealing , with his use of the popular old song, "On the Boardwalk in Atlantic City," nicely sung by an unnamed vocalist. Safan's score uses that song theme throughout but very inventively and without overstating it too much. The score is full of lighter moments and even its darker touches (using organ music) are more restrained.

MIRROR, MIRROR (20-28) was directed by Martin Scorsese and was scored brilliantly by Michael Kamen. As Douglas Fake points out in his excellent liner notes: "Kamen's if often reminiscent of the late Jerry Fielding in his string harmonies and evocative use of woodwinds, muted brass and harp." This Kamen score is the most impressive one on Disc One.

The other two scores, Silvestri's electro-weird GO TO THE HEAD OF THE CLASS and Broughton's old-fashioned show business and funky jazz score for MR. MAGIC are also fine scores but I don't think they reach the same impressive level as Safan and Kamen.

On Disc Two, the scores are even better. The first one, SECRET CINEMA (tracks 2-8) was scored by a much respected TV veteran, Billy Goldenberg. He scored Rod Serling's NIGHT GALLERY and also did Spielberg's first TV film, DUEL. As Fake writes in his notes: "The multiple climaxes and melodramatic style neatly send up movie-music conventions."

The next score on this disc is LIFE ON DEATH ROW (tracks 9-12) with music by another television veteran, Fred Steiner, famous for his scores for TWILIGHT ZONE and STAR TREK. To create his unusual effects, Steiner uses a combination of fluttering strings (reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann's PSYCHO), and also percussion, two keyboards and harp. Steiner creates a most effective score.

On a much lighter theme is John Addison's score for THE PUMPKIN COMPETITION (tracks 13-21). This is a delightful score and has some of the same comic writing as found in Addison's Oscar-winning score for TOM JONES (1963). Especially effective are the electronic keyboards and tuba. This was one of Addison's last scores and he did himself proud in his television farewell.

Now we come to the crown jewel in this 2 CD set.

For those who don't already know, there was one score that stands out from all the others. That score is for one of Spielberg's only directing efforts in this series, THE MISSION (tracks 26-36). This program was scored by Spielberg's favorite composer, John Williams. As usual their collaboration works like magic. . Once again quoting from Fake's liner notes: "Williams never, for a moment, writes 'down' to the medium. His 'Mission' score is as complex, detailed and effective as anything he was writing for features at the time." And that is surely is, with all the usual Williams touches, like his prominent use of horns.

 

 

--Roger L. Hall, 8 August 2007

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