Album Review: Play It Again – Classic Hollywood (2014 LP)

Play It Again – Classic Hollywood (LP 2014)

For any nostalgia driven Hollywood movie buffs, and lovers of the grand music scores from classic movies, this album is a little slice of heaven. Each track transports the listener to another time and place, swept away in magnificent and timeless orchestrations, with the only down-side of leaving you a little jarred upon returning to the here and now.

It is the 20th anniversary of the Turner Classic Movies Network and to celebrate this milestone they have joined forces with Sony Masterworks and released a 2-CD pack of all things glorious and spellbinding from the movies of the Golden Era of Hollywood. It includes music by Bernard Herrmann, Max Steiner, Maurice Jarre, Elmer Bernstein, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Henry Mancini, Ennio Morricone and John Williams. With a number of the composers prolific today, such as Ennio Morricone and John Williams, who are still working at ages 85 at 82 respectively.

As you traverse the themes of some of these memorable and timeless films the music evokes specific feelings from moments in each film. Whether it be reliving the fear of The Thing through tremolo strings, dark percussive stabs and long pauses, or the see-saw between love and sadness in Dr Zhivago’s “Laura’s Theme”, or seeing the bath room scene in your mind as that iconic string section plays from Hitchcock’s Psycho. The whole compilation is a wonderful journey into the past. The composers of the time knew how to create a truly complimentary world to the vision on screen with their thoughtful and moving orchestral arrangements. They truly are magnificent compositions in their own right.

The first disc restores long-unavailable recordings made for the acclaimed Classic Film Scores series, recorded for RCA Red Seal in the early 1970s by conductor Charles Gerhardt and London’s National Philharmonic Orchestra. It includes two grand suites from scores by Erich Wolfgang Korngold – Of Human Bondage and The Sea Hawk, both re-edited by Gerhardt – that have been unavailable for decades. These sweeping works make clear what lovers of classic film scores have always known: Not only is movie music essential to Hollywood’s classic films, the best of it can also stand on its own. The disc also features music from Salome, Peyton Place and The Thing (from Another World).

The second disc samples definitive moments from the greatest of all movie scores, from Casablanca to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and from Gone with the Wind to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. The savage drama of Steiner’s King Kong, one of the first profound movie scores, is here, but so is the cool, wistful longing of Mancini’s “Moon River” from the title sequence of Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Rounding out the disc are selections from Lawrence of Arabia, Ben-Hur, Vertigo, and many more iconic films.

A rousing and resplendent journey back to an iconic time in the history of American Motion Pictures. The Golden Age of movies brought so many ground breaking films that are often still referenced today. This musical compilation is a fitting tribute and reminder of the creative geniuses who set the bench mark for the future generation of movie composers. If you’re a movie buff, make sure you set aside some time to take a trip down memory lane with a giant box of pop corn. You won’t need to see the films as the music will have them playing in your head.

Review Score: 9 out of 10