Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2023 January 23 • Monday

Continuing with a brief survey of random movie music collections, the 762nd Soundtrack of the Week is Cinema by The Knightsbridge Strings.

This record consists of songs that were featured in movies, quite a large category. Some of them can be immediately connected to the relevant title ("Laura", "As Time Goes By", "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") while others are not so obvious, at least to us.

Having given the matter very little thought, we decided to make no effort connecting the songs with movies in those cases where we lacked knowledge.

So first up is a piece called "Temptation", which is presumably from a movie, maybe even a movie called Temptation. We're not going to try to find out.

It's a really cool number, though, with a swaying exotica feel. Fans of Les Baxter would like it. While I'm not familiar with arrangers Reg Owen and Malcolm Lockyer (although the latter name might ring a bell), Tony Hatch was the recording supervisor and he was a formidable talent.

Anyway, "Temptation" is great, and kicks off the record with style.

Next is "My Melancholy Baby", here given a relaxed but lilting late-night feel. The trumpet playing is extraordinarily good and something about the sound of 32 violins playing in unison has a narcotic effect.

We all know what movie to find "As Time Goes By" in. It starts with solo piano, a choice no less effective for being obvious. When the orchestra comes in, it comes in thick, strong and loud. If you heard this in the supermarket it might be too intense. Certainly the tenor sax solo is too good for most supermarkets.

"Moonlight Becomes You" is a familiar title that we can't place. This one sounds the most like "soundtrack" music at first but then settles into a dreamy slow dance that's very soothing.

The A side ends with "You'll Never Know", another one we don't know and may in fact never know. This one eschews any kind of rhythmic feel and is more like a delicately constructed melody palace. It's a lovely piece.

Flip the record and you start with "You Made Me Love You", a song we do know very well although not what movie it was in. It starts with some dramatic urgency and features the trumpet. Then it relaxes into a pleasantly sleepy and loungey groove.

"Tangerine" is a song I mostly know from hearing a recording of Frank Sinatra singing it. I remember his version being more uptempo, whereas hear it gets kind of a "Moonlight Serenade" feel with some nice embellishments from the harp.

Then it's "Over the Rainbow" time. We all know this movie. It starts with an appropriately ethereal atmosphere, piano and strings giving a sense of floating in the sky among clouds and sunshine. The melody itself is given a surprisingly tender read by piano with, at first, extremely minimal accompaniment. When the strings do come in, they remain gentle and respectfully in the background until they can step forward for the chorus or the bridge or whatever you call the other part of this song.

"Laura" of course is from the movie of the same and is or at least was a jazz standard as well. There's a story that Bernard Herrmann was asked to score the movie and he insisted that the only way to do it was with Mahler or Brahms or something, that he shouldn't write any original music for it. Obviously they got David Raksin and he wrote this and it was hugely successful and, the story goes, Herrmann uncharacteristically admitted to having the wrong instincts in this case.

The piece here is given a soulful presentation with alto sax taking on the melody against a lush and velvety background.

One more and we're done: "That Old Feeling" is another pretty well known song. This one starts out as a small jazz piano combo, a trio with bass and guitar, very well done. We wouldn't mind hearing a whole record of this trio. (We've always like the piano, guitar, bass jazz trio idea.) Eventually of course the orchestra comes in but once again is very tasteful and benefits from some interesting and colorful arrangement choices.