CD Review “Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained” – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

“Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained”
Various Artists
Release Date: December 18, 2012
Tracks: 23
Label: Universal Republic

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

I have been a Quentin Tarantino fan film since day one.  His films also come with the most interesting music and his soundtracks never let down.  “Django Unchained” is definitely no different. It comes packed with a wide-variety of music and seven tracks of specific dialogue from the film.  I used to love the “Pulp Fiction” soundtrack for that same reason.  I love how the music is so perfectly chosen that it also helps describe the type of film that this is.  Since this has the ole’ spaghetti western-style feel, we get some of that feel and then completely on the other side there are rap songs. So there is a little bit for everyone here. And if you know Quentin Tarantino then you will not be disappointed by this soundtrack.

The star of this soundtrack besides Ennio Morricone’s beautiful score tracks is the brand new mash-up of James Brown and 2Pac on the track “Unchained (The Payback / Untouchable)”.  This song is so exciting and gets you completely pumped up.  Honestly, I think this track is worth the purchase of the soundtrack alone.  It is also perfectly placed, of course, after Elisa Toffoli’s very quiet “Ancora Qui”.  This is a like an explosion and it does let up for almost 3 minutes.  I would have loved for it to run more like 6-7 minutes, thank God for loop. Did I also mention that Samuel L. Jackson has some nice dialogue tracks, which takes me pack to 1995 with “Pulp Fiction”…”English motherfucker! Do you SPEAK IT!”.  You will literally want to run out and see this film immediately after listening to this soundtrack or if you’ve seen it, it is a perfect companion to chill out to after watching this film.

Track Listing:
1. Winged – James Russo
2. Django – Luis Bacalov
3. The Braying Mule – Ennio Morricone
4. “In The Case Django, After You…” – Christoph Waltz
5. Lo Chiamavano King (His Name Is King) – Luis Bacalov
6. Freedom – Anthony Hamilton
7. Five-Thousand-Dollar Nigga’s And Gummy Mouth Bitches – Don Johnson
8. La Corsa (2nd Version) – Luis Bacalov
9. Sneaky Schultz And The Demise Of Sharp – Don Straud
10. I Got A Name – Jim Croce
11. I Giorni Dell’ira – Riziero Ortolani
12. 100 Black Coffins [Explicit] – Rick Ross
13. Nicaragua – Jerry Goldsmith
14. Hildi’s Hot Box – Samuel L. Jackson
15. Sister Sara’s Theme – Ennio Morricone
16. Ancora Qui – Elisa Toffoli
17. Unchained (The Payback / Untouchable)- James Brown
18. Who Did That to You? – John Legend
19. Too Old To Die Young – Brother Dege (AKA Dege Legg)
20. Stephen The Poker Player – Samuel L. Jackson
21. Un Monumento – Ennio Morricone
22. Six Shots Two Guns – Samuel L. Jackson
23. Trinity (Titoli) – Annibale E I Cantori Moderni

CD Review “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Special Edition)

Composer: Howard Shore:
Original Release Date: December 11, 2012
Number of Discs: 2
Format: Special Edition
Label: WaterTower Music

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

If you are a fan of “The Lord of the Rings” scores, then I am sure that you do not even need my thoughts for “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”.  This fits right in line with the past Middle Earth adventure scores from the master composer Howard Shore.  When I saw this film in theaters, I was literally blown away from the score and I am one to keep an eye out for a good score.  I love the blend that this score has between the action and the drama from the film.  I think it really captures the film very well and should leave any fan very satisfied.

The Special Edition of the soundtrack includes six bonus tracks that are not on the regular version. I have to say these tracks actually add quite a bit to the overall score and even include an additional track sung by the Dwarfs – “Blunt the Knives”. Also what is a Peter Jackson film, without an Extended Version? This soundtrack includes seven extended tracks as well. They really add to the scale of the film, especially on the first disc including “An Unexpected Party”.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” sounds unique from “The Lord of the Rings” Trilogy while still visiting certain cues that hang on to that special feeling. I found myself smirking and repeating the certain tracks that had that aspect. I have to admit though, ever since watching the trailer over a year ago and hearing the Dwarfs singing “Misty Mountains” in Bilbo’s house. I have been obsessed with that song. It is literally my favorite track on the album that is not a orchestral piece. If you go with this album I highly recommend this Special Edition release for sure!

Disc 1

1. My Dear Frodo
2. Old Friends (Extended Version)
3. An Unexpected Party (Extended Version)
4. Blunt the Knives (Exclusive Bonus Track) – The Dwarf Cast
5. Axe or Sword?
6. Misty Mountains – The Dwarf Cast & Richard Armitage
7. The Adventure Begins
8. The World is Ahead
9. An Ancient Enemy
10. Radagast the Brown (Extended Version)
11. The Trollshaws (Exclusive Bonus Track)
12. Roast Mutton (Extended Version)
13. A Troll-hoard
14. The Hill of Sorcery Howard Shore
15. Warg-scouts Howard Shore

Disc 2:
1. The Hidden Valley
2. Moon Runes (Extended Version)
3. The Defiler
4. The White Council (Extended Version)
5. Over Hill
6. A Thunder Battle
7. Under Hill Howard Shore
8. Riddles in the Dark
9. Brass Buttons
10. Out of the Frying-Pan
11. A Good Omen Howard Shore
12. Song of the Lonely Mountain (Extended Version) Neil Finn
13. Dreaming of Bag End
14. A Very Respectable Hobbit (Exclusive Bonus Track)
15. Erebor (Exclusive Bonus Track)
16. The Dwarf Lords (Exclusive Bonus Track)
17. The Edge of the Wild (Exclusive Bonus Track)

CD Review “Skyfall: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”

Author: Thomas Newman
Release Date: October 22, 2012
Label: Sony Classical
Tracks: 30
Running Time: 77 minutes

Our Score: 2 out of 5 stars

2012 brings us the 50th anniversary of 007 James Bond.  When it comes to James Bond, the music have always been so important.  The theme songs are always memorable and epic. But even beyond that the scores have to move along the film with a specific feeling.  This score disappoints quite a bit and doesn’t really scream “Bond…James Bond“. The score does run almost 80 minutes over the 30 tracks but I just wish it was more effective throughout instead of just 80 minutes of dull music. “Breadcrumbs” is the best track on here but that is one because it is a homage to past Bond scores.

Firstly, let’s get the cat out of the bag and point out that Adele’s title track is not on this score.  Right off the bat, I am left with a bad taste in my mouth.  That track would have been a nice kick-off for this album and an incentive to purchase this score.  I understand they want to sell some singles for the track but I would have liked it to also be included here.  Secondly, I am not a fan of Newman’s score at all. He is typically a very well respected composer but I enjoy his scores like “American Beauty” and “The Shawshank Redemption”.  They have this  certain quieter and simple feel but still very epic.  “Skyfall” tries to be epic and ends up just feel like it is trying to hard.

Track Listings
1. Grand Bazaar, Istanbul
2. Voluntary Retirement
3. New Digs
4. Severine
5. Brave New World
6. Shanghai Drive
7. Jellyfish
8. Silhouette
9. Modigliani
10. Day Wasted
11. Quartermaster
12. Someone Usually Dies
13. Komodo Dragon
14. The Bloody Shot
15. Enjoying Death
16. The Chimera
17. Close Shave
18. Health & Safety
19. Granborough Road
20. Tennyson
21. Enquiry
22. Breadcrumbs
23. Skyfall
24. Kill Them First
25. Welcome to Scotland
26. She’s Mine
27. The Moors
28. Deep Water
29. Mother
30. Adrenaline

CD Review “Lincoln: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”

Composer: John Williams
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Label: Sony Classical
Tracks: 17
Running Time: 55 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

Lincoln” is composed and conducted by the legendary John Williams, also long time collaborator with Steven Spielberg. I feel that the album really captures the essence of the movie. It is also performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Overall the score itself is very simple, quiet and packs a hell of a finale running 11 minutes. Though within that quietness it has this very epic and inspiring feel. Of course there is also the classic call of music from the period like the drums and fiddle of the Civil War. I did feel like getting up saluting and marching throughout a few tracks.

This is actually the 40th anniversary of duo working together if you can believe it. I have been a fan of Williams’ score and his notable signature is found all over this score for sure. “The Race to the House” contains excerpts arranged and performed by Jim Talyor and is a fun track. “With Malice Toward None” is another great track but I really have a sweet spot for the last track, which is a very sharp piano solo of the track. In another plus, the booklet on the CD really tells a story in itself.  It comes stocked with wonderful shots from the film, as well as a really nice and informative foreword from Steven Spielberg. Overall “Lincoln” is yet another successful collaboration with Williams and Spielberg.  This one will surely spend a few months on my iPhone.

Track Listings
1. The People’s House
2. The Purpose of the Amendment
3. Getting Out the Vote
4. The American Process
5. The Blue and Grey
6. “With Malice Toward None”
7. Call to Muster and Battle Cry Of Freedom
8. The Southern Delegation and the Dream
9. Father and Son
10. The Race to the House
11. Equality Under the Law
12. Freedom’s Call
13. Elegy
14. Remembering Willie
15. Appomattox, April 9, 1865
16. The Peterson House and Finale
17. “With Malice Toward None”(Piano Solo)

Book Review “The Godfather: The Official Motion Picture Archives”

Author: Peter Cowie
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions
Release Date: October 30, 2012

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“The Godfather” is one of the most iconic franchises in the history of cinema. The American Film Institute ranked this masterpiece Number 2 of the “100 Greatest Movies of All Time.” 2012 is the 40th anniversary of the film. “The Godfather: The Official Motion Picture Archives” is a nice look behind-the- scenes to see what it was like to make one of the greatest movies of all time. I remember the first time that I saw “The Godfather” and the effect it had on me as a film buff.

This book contains rare, removable memorabilia from the “Godfather” movies.  Insight also released another similar making-of book this past summer with “The Dark Knight Manual”.  I love the idea of being able to read through a book like it is a scrapbook and not a technical manual. I only wish this book was longer than its scant 96 pages.  I would have liked to see this be a lot longer, especially since it is covering the span of the franchise through its three films.  Overall though fans of the franchise should dig these very creative and unique book.

This book contains many previously unseen behind-the-scene images from the Paramount Archives. I mentioned this book was like a scrapbook and the reason behind that is the 15 removable facsimile documents that were created for this including: a poster publicizing the original film, a special leaflet on the prosthetic teeth worn by Marlon Brando, continuity sheets and a page from Mario Puzo’s novel annotated during the writing of the screenplay.

“The Godfather: The Official Motion Picture Archives” is authored by Peter Cowie, who is a film historian who has written extensively on Francis Ford Coppola’s work. He is the author of over 30 books, including a biography of Francis Ford Coppola. Fans of the series are also going to really enjoy seeing the previously unpublished photos from the set and on-location filming capturing the look and feel of 1970s New York. There are also some really great rare stills from the film’s deleted scenes. If you can get over the length of the book, then you will find that this is definitely the definitive behind-the-scenes guide into the making of this wonderful film.


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CD Review “Cloud Atlas: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”

Composer(s): Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil
Release Date: November 6, 2012
Label: Water Tower Music
Tracks: 23
Running Time: 78 minutes

Our Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars

I have been following this film since day 1 of its production. I had a buddy of mine that worked on the film, so I have been looking forward to this film very much. I am not surprised to say that this score is easily one of my favorite of the year. I am surprised though with the type of music that was used for this film but…wow does it work so well or what?! “Cloud Atlas” is a long film running just shy of three hours and this album is a nice companion, especially running at a nice 78 minutes.  The album starts off strong and ends even stronger, which is very rare.  This is a must listen!

I was a little nervous originally since there are a lot of hands in the pot with this score being composed by not one but three people including, Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek, Reinhold Heil. Tom Tykwer is also one of the directors of this film and has composed most if not all of his films.  He knows music and really puts a unique touch on this score. This isn’t the first go around though for these composers together they have worked together on numerous films including “Run Lola Run”. So you know that they know how to make a killer score.  “Run Lola Run” was one of my favorite scores in the late 90’s. This is completely different score but really delivers a wonderful experience.

This whole album really works as a whole but some of my favorite tracks are the following: 1. Prelude: The Atlas March, 2. Cloud Atlas Opening Title, 21. Cloud Atlas Finale, 23. Cloud Atlas End Title. I can listen to this tracks on loops for hours and hours and never get tired of them.  I can guarantee you that this album will not be leaving my iPhone for a long time, especially those tracks.  I listen to many, many scores each year and this one is definitely such a pleasure and wonderful blend from this trio of composers.  If nothing else, this makes me want to run out and see this film ASAP!

Track Listings:
1. Prelude: The Atlas March
2. Cloud Atlas Opening Title
3. Travel to Edinburgh
4. Luisa’s Birthmark
5. Cavendish In Distres
6. Papa Song
7. Sloosha’s Hollow
8. Sonmi-451 Meets Chang
9. Won’t Let Go
10. Kesselring
11. The Escape
12. Temple Of Sacrifice
13. Catacombs
14. Adieu
15. New Direction
16. All Boundaries Are Conventions
17. The Message
18. Chasing Luisa Rey
19. Sonmi’s Discovery
20. Death Is Only A Door
21. Cloud Atlas Finale
22. The Cloud Atlas Sextet for Orchestra
23. Cloud Atlas End Title

CD Review “Nick Cave & Warren Ellis Present: Lawless – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Lawless: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Distributed by: Sony Masterworks
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Tracks: 14
Running Time: 39 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis have collaborated on many films including “The Proposition”, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford” and “The Road”. They all seem to have the same feel to each of them, though all unique. The film is based on Matt Bondurant’s 2008 novel “The Wettest County in the World” and that novel was adapted into a screenplay by Nick Cave. The soundtrack is a nice mixture of original songs written by Nick Cave for the movie and performances by Country legends Willie Nelson and Emmylou Harris along with Grammy Award winner Ralph Stanley (O Brother, Where Art Thou) and Mark Lanegan from Screaming Trees and Queens of the Stone Age.

Nick Cave and Warren Ellis are best known for their work in the critically acclaimed rock band, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Cave and Ellis mixed their original music with innovative vocal under the name of The Bootleggers, which was the band they formed for the project. After listening to this album on loop a few times, I did start to dig it a bit more, but I feel it still runs a little too short for my taste. Nonetheless, it definitely captures the essence of the film very well. It also has a real period feel of country mixed with bluegrass. I would actually recommend listening to it and THEN seeing the film, since it will definitely get you in the mood.

The track from country legend Willie Nelson was actually previously unreleased and packs a mean harmonica. There are two versions of Velvet Underground’s “White Light/White Heat”, one by Mark Lanegan and the other by bluegrass veteran Ralph Stanley. The two new songs that Cave and Ellis specifically wrote for this film was “Cosmonaut” and “Fire in the Blood” featuring versions from Emmylou Harris and Ralph Stanley. The album ends on an instrumental track called “End Crawl, which is a brave move but is a good close.

Track Listings
1. Fire and Brimstone
2. Burnin’ Hell
3. Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do
4. Fire in the Blood
5. White Light / White Heat
6. Cosmonaut
7. Fire in the Blood / Snake Song
8. So You’ll Aim Towards the Sky
9. Fire in the Blood
10. Fire and Brimstone
11. Sure ‘Nuff ‘N Yes I Do
12. White Light / White Heat
13. End Crawl
14. Midnight Run
15. Midnight Run (Buddy Cannon Mix)


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CD Review “The Dark Knight Rises: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”

Composer: Hans Zimmer
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Label: WaterTower Music
Tracks: 15
Running Time: 43 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Hans Zimmer has worked on every score in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy along with James Newton Howard.  On “The Dark Knight Rises“, he takes this task on solo.  It ended up but being a decent but not outstanding finale score to a fantastic trilogy.  “The Dark Knight” score definitely trumps this one by quite a bit, sort of like the film does as well.  Normally, I really do love Hans Zimmer’s work but overall it is not his best work.  I just don’t see myself spending a lot of time revisiting it like I did with his past work like “Inception”.  Also there were a definitely some mastering and clipping volume issues on a bunch of tracks. Despite my feelings on the album, it is still a big success charting at #7 on the Billboard top 200 making it the first score in over 10 years to break the top 10!

The score runs a very short 43 minutes and the only real notable track is “Rise”.  If the whole album played as epic on this track, then the whole album would have benefited. “Rise” also is the final track on the album and in fact possibly the last Batman track from Zimmer.  The song takes it time getting started but really gets epic and runs a nice 7+ minutes. But it is so good I just wish it was longer.  I do see myself leaving this song on my iPhone for many months to come.  Although not able to be reviewed, there are 3 additional tracks available for download and 2 are exclusive to the CD: “Bombers Over Ibiza (JunkieXL remix)”, “No Stone Unturned (exclusive)” and “Risen From Darkness (exclusive)”.  There is also an Extended Original Motion Picture Soundtrack available but I am not sure how much it could improve the overall score. Overall, if you are a die-hard Batman fan, you might enjoy this final chapter in the trilogy…or at least keep “Rise” on loop.

Track Listings:
1. A Storm Is Coming
2. On Thin Ice
3. Gotham’s Reckoning
4. Mind If I Cut In?
5. Underground Army
6. Born In Darkness
7. The Fire Rises
8. Nothing Out There
9. Despair
10. Fear Will Find You
11. Why Do We Fall?
12. Death By Exile
13. Imagine The Fire
14. Necessary Evil
15. Rise