Bad Day at Black Rock
Rhino Records (RHM2 7765)
Release Date: 2001
Conducted by André Previn
The MGM Studio Orchestra
Best of 2001: Best Special Release
|2.||Hello, Black Rock, Hello|
|5.||Walk To Jail / Jagger In Jug (Medley)|
|7.||Smith Visits Sherrif / Doc Gets Mad (Medley)|
|10.||Back to Town / Stealing Keys / Gas Station Blues|
|13.||End Titles & Cast|
|17.||Love At The Beach|
|18.||I've Come Back / Warren Is The Boss (Medley)|
|20.||You Got A Good Lawyer|
|25.||Cocoanut Ice Cream|
|26.||Call A Cop / End Title (Medley)|
|28.||Letter To The D.A. / Barry's Toy / Phone (Medley)|
|Track lengths not available for this album. If you have track length/time information for this album, please e-mail it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it to the database.|
|by Dan Goldwasser
on September 22nd, 2001
Earlier this year, Rhino Handmade (the specialty division of Rhino Records) delighted film music fans with their limited edition release of André Previn's score to the World War II drama Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Now they've gone one step further and released four (yes, four!) previously unreleased Previn scores, including the militaristic and tense dramatic underscore for the Spencer Tracy classic, Bad Day at Black Rock.
Bad Day at Black Rock tells the story of the one-armed John J. Macreedy (Spencer Tracy) who gets off the Steamliner diesel train at a sleepy desert town - where the train never stops. Immediately treated with suspicion and fear, Macreedy is confronted by the town "bully" Hector David (Lee Marvin). Why is Macreedy in Black Rock? Will he uncover the town's dark secret? Previn's score is a dark one, with plenty of underlying drama and suspense. The opening "Main Title" is a fast-paced, high-energy cue with pounding brass hits and a maelstrom of swirling strings - all underscoring the train as it travels across the desert. It's a great cue that just reeks of danger. Much of the score is a mixture of softer drama with occasional restatements of the main theme. Lush strings backing up solo instruments is common in this score, and cues like "Village Smithy" and "Meet Smith" are great examples of Previn's careful orchestrations and instrument choices. The tense and tragic climax of the film in "Escape" begins softly, but ends with a flurry of orchestral action. As expected, the main theme is reprised in "End Titles & Cast", bringing the score to a close. It only runs a little over 20 minutes, but it's great to listen to.
Also included on the album are three other Previn scores. His jazzy score to the noire film Tension is presented in mono and sounds great. This film involves (as most noire films seem to) the issues of identity and murder. "Love at the Beach" is a sultry romantic cue replete with melodic strings, and the "End Title" provides a nice flourish to the end of the score. Another noir film score, Scene of the Crime, is also provided. The "Main Title" is tense and dramatic, with full strings - basically your average noir film score. However, "Billboard" and "Fancy Joint" sound more like source cues - big-band jazz for the former, and a softer jazzy piece for the latter. The remaining two cues return to the dramatic strings we first heard in the "Main Title". The fourth (and final) film score included here is Cause For Alarm, a Loretta Young noir flick that has another sweeping main title, and subdued yet tense underscore. If anything, by this point you're feeling like you're caught in a time-warp, and some of the cues start to run together. Nonetheless, it's still a rather enjoyable score and ends on a big optimistic upbeat - a classic MGM moment.
Speaking of MGM - the main titles for the three noir films all contain the lion's roar, making me wonder about the source of the material. The extensive liner notes by George Feltenstein provide a nice bit of insight into Bad Day at Black Rock, and the sound quality over all is quite good, considering the material. In all, if you're looking for three classic noir scores, as well as the highly-demanded score to Bad Day at Black Rock, you can't go wrong. For those of you that still don't know who Previn is (and you're out there - I know it!), the release of this album and Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse should be taken as a sign - get acquainted with Previn, and get these albums!
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