[Article - The Best of 2001]

Where on earth did 2001 go? While it feels like this wasn't a very exciting year in many aspects, there have been plenty of notable score releases. So without further ado, I'm happy to provide my picks (in no particular order) for the Top Soundtracks of 2001.

Top 10 Soundtracks of 2001

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Howard Shore's epic score to the first part of Peter Jackson's adaptation of the classic J.R.R. Tolkien saga hits a home run. With powerful themes, memorable action sequences, and an overwhelming sense of emotion, this one is a no-brainer. Get it. Get it now.

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Elliot Goldenthal's powerful and brass-heavy score packs quite a punch, and he even manages to provide us with notable thematic material. Don't let the obligatory pop song at the end - or the fact the film flopped - dissuade you.

A.I.: Artificial Intelligence
John Williams and Steven Spielberg. Is there really much more that needs to be said? While I could have done without two versions of a song that doesn't appear anywhere in the film, Williams provides a soft emotional score that works effectively well - and in my opinion is much more meaningful than his score to that film about the kid wizard.

The Caveman's Valentine
Terence Blanchard's emotional and powerful piano-heavy score has been sticking with me for the better part of the year. While the movie was but a blip on the screens, the music was such an integral part of the film that Blanchard should be commended for his work.

The Mists of Avalon
It wasn't in theaters, but Lee Holdridge provided a theatrical-sized score to the TNT miniseries. From sweeping romance to epic battles, this score has it all.

Atlantis: The Lost Empire
James Newton Howard does another Disney film, and the resulting score is like an animated Waterworld - lots of action, brash themes, and even a little romance. Of course, the obligatory pop song at the beginning might put you off a bit, but from that point out, it's all score.

The Others
He's a writer, director, and a composer! Alejandro Amenábar's score to his hit thriller is just as creepy as the film itself. It's subtle and effective, and a highly recommended album.

Harry Gregson-Williams and John Powell provide solid themes, a few laughs, and animated mayhem with this computer generated PDI/DreamWorks Animation film. The songs are spoofy and fun, and the "Escape from the Dragon" techno cue is a true blast.

The Tailor of Panama
Shaun Davey enters the universe of Carter Burwell with his Irish/Latin fused score. It's the perfect music for this black comedy, and his take on "Greensleeves" is worth the price of the disc.

Moulin Rouge
Not a single cue of Craig Armstrong's score, but this has got to be one of the best song albums of the year. Most of the songs are covers or remixes of the songs that show up in the film, but it flows like butter, and "El Tango De Roxanne" is just brilliant.

Top 5 Re-Recordings of 2001

The Godfather Trilogy I - II - III
Silva Screen Records takes on the Corleone family with their re-recording of Nino Rota and Carmine Coppola's music. While it's nothing we haven't really heard before, it's nice to have all the major themes on one album (instead of three) and the recording is pristine.

The 3 Worlds of Gulliver
Joel McNeely and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra perform a classic Bernard Herrmann score. Beautifully performed and excellent music to listen to.

Son of Kong / The Most Dangerous Game
John Morgan and William Stromberg team up with the Moscow Symphony Orchestra to bring us two classic Max Steiner scores. The granddaddy of film music proves that he's still a force to be reckoned with when it comes to quality.

The Lion in Winter
Silva outdoes themselves with the best re-recording I've heard in a very long time. John Barry's music is powerful and the beautiful use of choir gives me goosebumps.

David Copperfield / The Roots of Heaven
Another Morgan/Stromberg release provides us with two of Malcolm Arnold's classic scores (with a little contribution by Alfred Newman), again beautifully recorded and emotionally robust.

Top 10 Special Releases (older or previously unreleased scores)

"That's All Folks" Cartoon Songs from Merry Melodies & Looney Tunes
Rhino Records digs into the Warner Bros. vault with this 2-CD set, and comes up with pure gold. While the sound quality shows its age, the amount of material packed into these two discs is enormous, and provides the right amount of humor and nostalgia.

Bad Day at Black Rock
André Previn's tense dramatic score to this post-World War II drama is accompanied by three classic noir scores. If you can get your hands on this limited Rhino Handmade release, you won't be disappointed.

Battle of the Planets
Super Tracks Music released Hoyt Curtin's music from "Battle of the Planets" just after his death, and the music serves as a testament to his skill and talent. Accompanied by music from the original Japanese version (composed by Bob Sakuma), this album is a real treat and throwback to a classic after-school cartoon.

Vic Mizzy Suites & Themes
It's really a promotional album, and Vic Mizzy doesn't really need the publicity, but with music from 13 films and 15 television shows on here, it's a great compilation album that represents Mizzy's work beautifully.

The Final Conflict: The Deluxe Edition
After a rather poor sounding release, Varese Sarabande finally puts out an expanded, remastered album of the most emotionally moving Omen score. While the other two are definitely worth getting as well, this one is just mind-blowingly amazing.

Alex North's progressive score to this television event is finally released, with both a symphonic-form version, as well as the original score. A well done release by Prometheus Records.

The Conversation
David Shire's piano-heavy jazzy score to this tight thriller finally sees the light of day, thanks to Intrada Records. A collector's item if ever there was one.

The Illustrated Man
One of Jerry Goldsmith's own favorite scores, the music to this bizarre Ray Bradbury film has been long sought after and contains plenty of synth elements, and a sad, soulful theme.

The Music of Candyman
Even though he claims he didn't like the film (and yet scored the sequel), Philip Glass has finally released Candyman. It's pure Glass, with a piano, organ and choir. Super creepy and worth getting your fingers on.

Aliens: The Deluxe Edition
Although it's mixed up throughout the film, James Horner's creepy and Academy Award nominated score to Aliens finally gets an expanded release. Unfortunately the military percussion library cue for "The Drop" isn't included, but the original version Horner wrote is, as well as a few other goodies.