An overview of specific Malone Digital projects can be accessed below.
- Breakfast at Tiffany's
- Escape from Alcatraz
- Film Noir at Paramount
- It's a Wonderful Life
- A Place in the Sun
- Star Trek: The Original Series
- The Ten Commandments
- Then Came Bronson
- War of the Worlds / When Worlds Collide / The Naked Jungle / Conquest of Space
- World of Suzie Wong
Activities: Restoration, mixing, editing.
"I'm crossing you in style some-day" -- Lyrics to "Moon River" by Johnny Mercer
It is one of film's most indelible amalgams: Audrey Hepburn, Hubert de Givenchy's "Little Black Dress", jewellery purveyor Tiffany's, and the longing strains of "Moon River". Iconic imagery and iconic music.
It is director Blake Edwards' motion picture survey of Holly Golightly's curious adventures that Henry Mancini superbly captures in scoring Breakfast at Tiffany's. Now, armed with the complete Academy Award winning score courtesy of Intrada, we journey right alongside Holly wherever she's goin'.
Whilst the lighter moments of Tiffany's were proficiently distilled in the Dynagrooves of Mancini's LP re-arrangement, Intrada's disc rebalances the ledger revealing the more emotive and sombre trait of Holly's existence. Crucial underscore adds potent dramaturgical substance. Consider the superb forlorn arrangement of "Moon River" in "Poor Fred". The morose orchestral tonalities evoked in the frightening "Feathers". The desperate and dirge-like pounding piano in the final rain sodden sequence. And it's all capped with the most astounding choral ascension of "Moon River" as a rain-soaked Holly, Paul and Cat embrace whilst lofty camera angles close the film. Perfection! Only now can we really truly appreciate the enormity of Henry Mancini's aural contribution -- one that confirms, without doubt, his veracity as a dramatic composer. It is this very skill that was overshadowed by Mancini's own successes in producing accessible, easy-listening catalogue albums.
In 100 years from now, when the alluvium of music from the 20th century has been panned, sifted and sorted, several significant gold pieces will undoubtedly remain. One of those nuggets will unquestionably be "Moon River", the utmost achievement of Mancini and Mercer. Maestro Mancini regretted not including Audrey Hepburn's beautifully unpretentious, raw, and aptly bare rendition on his album. As early as 1964, interviewed in A World of Music, Mancini expressed that his favourite rendition was Ms Hepburn's. Now, in 2013, we are able to hear all of Mancini's stunning underscore crowned by that unique inaugural vocal performance.
The Breakfast at Tiffany's elements available to us comprised four rolls of unmixed protection 35mm magnetic film containing the preferred takes for most cues. Audio content of these rolls varied somewhat in tonality and quality. Supplementing this material was: a roll with the separately recorded "Main Title" orchestra and chorus; the film's up-and-down mono music stem from D/M/E splits; and a DAT with mono reductions of a select few pieces.
My prime concern was presenting Maestro Mancini's masterwork in a way that was true to his likely intentions. By this I refer to what Mr. Mancini may have achieved if he elected or were able to issue his original Paramount recordings on stereo disc in 1961/62. Striving for this goal over 50 years later firstly involved coercing distortion, dropouts, high-end deterioration, brittle brass crackle, cyclical thumps, occasional wow, and managing noise in each of the individual multi-channel fields. The second step was mixing this material (usually from three, sometimes four stripes) and to blend in what was necessary to secure from mono elements. Finally, a good deal of work was required to bring the disparate elements to the same page and infuse them with life. By virtue it is a different sound to that engineered by Al Schmitt on tape for the reshaped RCA LP. Even so, I invested many, many hours of effort into making this premiere of the actual film cues sound as worthy and inviting as humanly possible.
Whether you are an Audrey adorer, Mancini maniac or a Tiffany's treasurer, I hope you enjoy this knockout Mancini masterpiece. What an absolute honour it was to be asked to preserve this unforgettable music for the future!
"You are the hippest of cats - and the most sensitive of composers!" -- Letter by Audrey Hepburn to Henry Mancini after seeing their film with score for the first time.
Other Breakfast at Tiffany's soundtrack information that may be of interest to you:
- SedateEd/MedicateEd's Clicked Picks of 2013. Posted 28 January 2014.
- The Music You Never Heard From Breakfast At Tiffany's by Nathan Cone. Posted 15 January 2014.
- Daniel Schweiger's January Soundtrack Picks, in which Breakfast at Tiffany's shares equal number one billing with Sabrina. Posted 15 January 2014.
- Announcement on The Second Disc.
- David Garland's attractive conversation and collection Breakfast at Tiffany's and the Musical Magic of Henry Mancini heard on WQXR 105.9 FM. Broadcast on 7 December 2013.
- The official Henry Mancini Facebook page.
- Purchase links: Intrada, Screen Archives Entertainment, Amazon US, Amazon UK, and Chris' Soundtrack Corner.
Intrada MAF 7129 - Breakfast at Tiffany's
Released 26 November 2013.
Activities: Restoration, mixing, editing.
The famous escape attempt from Alcatraz prison reunited director Don Siegel with actor Clint Eastwood for one final collaboration. Rather compelling viewing, Escape from Alcatraz could almost be mistaken for being devoid of music and solely reliant on sound effects. Therein is the genius in Jerry Fielding's avant-garde approach.
In creating musique concrète, Fielding largely eschews a traditional orchestral palette -- save for some instrumentation in the "Main Title" and other key moments -- and instead opts for acoustic sounds processed by an Eventide H910 Harmonizer with a Lexicon Prime Time stereo digital delay unit. Over three consecutive days in May 1979, Fielding recorded and shaped his contribution at M.R.I. Studios, Los Angeles.
In order to bring Escape from Alcatraz to compact disc, we were able to access Jerry Fielding's three-channel mix downs (originating on four-track tape). These were in a multiple mono format sometimes encountered and most frequently in materials from the 1970s. Accordingly, the three-channels did not present fields that could be readily positioned in order to achieve a conventional left-centre-right spread. Moreover, two channels almost universally contained identical musical content and the third a duplicate of the fourth track's pilot tone used for film synchronisation. This is perhaps a long way of stating that, for the most part, the multi-track tapes were essentially a mono source save for a few specific sequences. The challenge, therefore, was to create a program that had a 'stereo' feel. For a small number of cues, this was relatively straightforward as Jerry Fielding appeared to have mixed down work-parts separately for later overlapping as a whole, which we were able to do. In other cues, we needed to create some sense of space and placement working with a strictly mono source.
Overall, the material was rather hissy probably owing, as Johnny Davis speculated, to the use of Dolby A during first generation recording and the absence of it on some channels during mix down to three. The hiss was, I hope, tastefully controlled in a manner that doesn't draw attention to itself. Another issue was seemingly haphazard volume potting that led to hiss and level changes occurring frequently with ear-jarring results. Needless to say, I tried to smooth these for home listening without undoing what Fielding and his engineers were likely to be going for.
Escape from Alcatraz is an atmospheric, moody and compelling score that is quite the antithesis of much else before or since. It is a complex work that is sometimes hypnotic yet everlastingly evocative. If you're seeking a different listening experience, give Intrada's disc (that includes Hell is for Heroes by Leonard Rosenman) a spin.
Liner note author, John Takis, summed up the music on Intrada's disc articulately as follows: "These are both scores that are designed to challenge and unsettle you -- but they are genuine works of art, and they are engrossing and rewarding if you have the fortitude!"
This release is a limited edition.
Intrada Special Collection Volume 236 - Escape from Alcatraz / Hell is for Heroes
Released 5 February 2013.
Activities: Restoration, mixing, editing.
Intrada's two disc set of classic film noir music from Paramount includes two genre classics: Double Indemnity and Sorry, Wrong Number.
As with The Lost Weekend and Desert Fury, also previously issued on Intrada, the pre-1949 scores in this collection were originally recorded to optical film and later transferred to single-strip magnetic film, most likely during the early 1950s.
I've encountered this before, chiefly with Victor Young scores, and it can manifest as the "worst of both worlds". We end up having to deal with both optical crackle and wash as well as decomposition, dropouts, and warping inherent in antediluvian magnetic film. Unfortunately, this was to be the case with much of the material here.
And like the good thriller that it is, it's worth spending a few moments to discuss a mystery surrounding Double Indemnity.
Miklos Rozsa's score infuses the film with a sense of dread, agitation, and restlessness. It's also impressively impervious to becoming a dusty relic from a bygone cinematic era. From the bold declamatory statements from horns and trombones first heard in the "Prelude", to the nervous tremolo string passages throughout, and low strings that add authority to the tension. None of these devices would seem incongruous in a modern remake.
I was surprised when the transfer logs identified the "Prelude" as "three-channel". Multi-channel (or multi-angle) recording in 1944 would have required the simultaneous running of two or more strips of optical film – in this case three, if the labelling was indeed correct. Whilst it was (and still is) typical for elements of dialog, music, and sound effects be recorded separately for later balancing and blending purposes, it is certainly unusual for a score from 1944 (with no special soloists) to have been recorded with more than one angle.
On auditioning the "Prelude" I noticed a good overall frequency range and a conspicuous absence of optical noise. Furthermore, the track layout matched one that I have encountered on several Paramount productions theatrically exhibited during 1956 and 57 – an orchestra left, a time-shifted duplicate of the left, and an orchestra right.
So, whilst we were excited at the possibility of presenting a stereo mix of the "Prelude", Lukas Kendall, Frank DeWald, and I cogitated like Barton Keyes with "something worked on us".
We were using the music and effects (M&E) track to secure cues that were deteriorated beyond salvage or simply absent from Paramount's extensive music library. In all, about half the score came from the M&E track where sound effects were surgically excised – without anaesthetic – and volume fluctuations were smoothed out. Even so, the M&E also exhibited bad deterioration – in the form of fluttering frequency response – in some sequences and we have attempted to minimise this as much as possible.
An interesting aside with the M&E track concerns sound effects. Whilst many of these are identical to those heard in the composite audio heard in the film itself, some effects are completely different whilst others are presented at a dissimilar volume relative to each other.
The M&E track matched the "Prelude" we had, save for it being in mono. Yet, the cross-over to the "First Scene" seemed rather poorly misjudged to me. I compared with the composite audio heard in the film itself and was surprised to hear a "Prelude" of different pacing and dramatic emphasis, with a much better cross-over.
This led us back to our multi-channel "Prelude". My best guess is that this was recorded sometime after mid-1955 and before the end of 1957. It was possibly done for another film or future library use. Perhaps Dr. Rozsa conducted it himself as the film performances were conducted by Irvin Talbot. It was unlikely to have been made for a commercial album as the stereo LP gramophone record was not introduced until 1958. Furthermore, a stereo recording to magnetic tape – for subsequence issuance on stereo LP – probably would not have been made at Paramount but rather a commercial recording studio.
The multi-channel "Prelude" was definitely recorded at Paramount, though, because the intact slate was announced by scoring mixer Phil Wisdom, who balanced many Paramount scores of the period. We don't know for sure, and may never know, but it most certainly wasn't made in 1944.
The upshot is, Intrada's set provides you with both the film version (recorded on 20 January 1944) and subsequent stereo recording (from the 1950s) so that you can enjoy both. Double the Double Indemnity, so to speak.
This release is a limited edition.
Intrada Special Collection Volume 335 - Double Indemnity - Film Noir at Paramount
Released 8 December 2015.
Activities: Restoration, mixing, editing.
Henry Mancini composed one of his most beloved and durable tunes for Hatari!, the cheerful "Baby Elephant Walk". Yet, the "Baby Elephant Walk" is just one of many exceptional cues that seem to rather ingeniously vacillate between underscore and source music, serious moments and lighter moods.
For this project, I restored, mixed, edited, and mastered Mancini's original Paramount Scoring Stage recordings. Sources for the Intrada CD ranged from 35mm three-track full-coat magnetic film, to ¼" mono reductions, and the conformed D/M/E up-and-down separates. The latter two required creativity to produce a tonality and stereo field that blended with the magnetic film derived material. No compression or peak limiting was used in the production of this CD.
A large portion of my work on this project was directed by Lukas Kendall. The marriage of audio and packaging was officiated at Intrada's offices by Douglass Fake, who finalised the sequencing. Insightful and comprehensive liner notes were penned by John Takis. Who knew that Mancini was director Howard Hawks' third composer associated with the project? Striking packaging was fashioned by the always innovative Joe Sikoryak, the dean of CD artwork. Observe the deft choice and placement of Technicolor film stills and key production art in Joe's booklet. Joe Tarantino prepared the DDP package for replication by the manufacturing plant.
This new lens on Hatari! further demonstrates Henry Mancini's gift for crafting memorable music, the attention to detail in his arrangements, and his unperturbed comfort with jazz. I do hope that you enjoy this CD as much as I enjoyed working with Maestro Mancini's splendid score.
I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Lukas and Doug for the fantastic opportunity to contribute towards their historic project. They both placed an enormous trust in me to save the past. Thank you, gentlemen, it was a privilege to work on your CD.
You may also be interested in the first ever release of the underscore to The Days of Wine and Roses. This is also courtesy of Intrada and a disc that I worked on with Lukas Kendall.
Other Hatari! soundtrack information that may be of interest to you:
- An article I penned for Film Score Monthly's online magazine that provides further technical detail on restoring Hatari! for CD together with a potted history of the Paramount Scoring Stage.
- A review by film music critic James Southall. Posted 22 June 2012.
- A review (midway down in the "New Soundtracks Releases of Note" section) by critic and journalist Randall D. Larson. His comments include: "The new album is a thorough delight and presents the score as heard in the film in a proper recording that keeps all the nuances of its dramatic and party music intact."
- Editor's Choice - Best of the Month July 2012 award by Film Music Review online e-zine. Critic Roger Hall awards the disc 4 out of 5 stars.
- John Caps' excellent 278 page hardcover book, Henry Mancini: Reinventing Film Music.
- Purchase links: Intrada, Screen Archives Entertainment and Amazon.
This release is a limited edition.
Intrada Special Collection Volume 200 - Hatari!
Released 28 May 2012.
Activities: Restoration, editing, mastering.
In his 1959 autobiography, Please Don't Hate Me, composer Dimitri Tiomkin expressed disappointment with It's a Wonderful Life. "After the music was on the sound track, Frank [Capra, the director] cut it, switched sections around, and patched it up, an all-round scissors job. After that I didn't want to hear it." 1 Yet, despite Tiomkin's displeasure, his music does bookend the film and is heard in fleeting snatches within. What we do hear in those precious seconds demonstrates both a playfulness and a genuine dramatic bearing.
The composer commenced his assignment in April 1946, whilst filming was taking place. Drawing on "Buffalo Gals", written by John Hodges just over 100 years prior, Tiomkin fashioned a score that interpolated Christmas standards, lullabies, and classical works including "Adeste Fideles", "Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star", and Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, respectively. Early sequences received animated orchestration and love scenes Tiomkin's own "Wonderful Life" melody. It was for scenes accompanying protagonist George Bailey at his lowest ebb that the composer unleashed his most persuasive material. Dirge-like piano lines, tolling chimes, mixed chorus, swirling strings, and fortissimo crescendos amongst devices employed for maximum impact.
By the December 1946 release of It's a Wonderful Life in New York, Tiomkin's music had been truncated, moved or dropped entirely from the finished print. It was music that would chiefly go unheard until a 1988 project for Telarc records. Composer David Newman premiered the original score, with the utmost verisimilitude, in his expertly reconstructed rendition with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Newman's edition endures as a critical cornerstone for the library of those that prefer modern stereo recordings yet revere authenticity. It is now, however, some 68 years after the original was made, that we can ultimately hear Dimitri Tiomkin's performance, recorded at the RKO Radio Pictures Scoring Stage (probably by Earl Mounce), making its own world-premiere courtesy efforts of Kritzerland, Paramount, and the composer's archive via USC.
In bringing the original music from this beloved film to CD, we had access to acetate reference discs cut live during scoring. These were archived to tape some years ago by British recording engineer Bob Auger. Some of the monaural acetate recordings were satisfactory whereas others were in poor condition exhibiting a grim and hostile amount of broadband noise, tics, pops, and skips. In working with the score, our tenet was to exercise a level of taste and restraint whilst manoeuvring the inherent defects in the source material. Consequently, you will hear some broadband noise and there will be some anomalies. Yet, the music should still feel musical. It should have some breath to it. Some sense of life. In keeping with this, we used the ambience of the acetates between each cue rather than fading to digital black and grouped the cues a bit more tightly than normal. In doing so, your ears will not be as acutely aware of the inherent defects and the main program will adopt the tenor of a concert suite. Is it perfect? No, not at all. Is it a worthy souvenir to a near perfect film? I'd venture so. Thanks to Bruce Kimmel for allowing me to ride alongside him on the journey to save this historically significant work.References and Footnotes
This release is a limited edition.
Kritzerland KR-20028-2 - It's a Wonderful Life
Announced 9 June 2014.
Activities: Restoration, mastering.
Winning six Academy Awards, George Stevens' A Place in the Sun displays filmmaking at its best. Yet, following completion of three days scoring, in mid-January 1951, Franz Waxman's score was cited as "too Teutonic" by its director. 1 Notwithstanding Stevens' view, the then 45-year old Polish émigré prudently selected an instrumental palette to render his beguiling milieu. After all, apocryphally or not, the composer is said to have "auditioned a hundred saxophone players" during his quest for the right intonation. 2 Waxman was justifiably scrupulous -- official documentation reveals that six soloists were formally tested prior to selection of William Hamilton Jr's indelible dramatic accent. Furthermore, Waxman made austere foreground use of Aida Mulieri-Dagort's harp, adding texture to his absorbing soundscape fulfilled by the 45 musician studio orchestra.
It seems that the composer was not available to attend to reconfigurations following additional picture editing. Doing so rested upon Paramount stalwarts Victor Young and Daniele Amfitheatrof who utilised the wonderful "Vickers Theme" and abided by the musical architecture that Waxman established. Several cues were revised by Young who supplied a few short inserts, connecting pieces and the second half of the film's "Main Title". Amfitheatrof principally contributed towards the drowning sequence and the finale. The newly fashioned cues were recorded over two days in mid-February with Young and Amfitheatrof sharing conducting duties.
Now to a brief but relevant diversion to survey the evolution of magnetic recording in motion picture production. The film industry's use of magnetic sound can be traced to England in 1929 where Louis Blattner, based in Elstree, conducted experiments with solid steel tape punched with sprocket holes. These ultimately did not prove satisfactory compared with sound-on-disc reproduction and promising improvements in sound-on-film optical (photographic) soundtracks. 3 During the years following conclusion of World War II, Allied technicians reverse engineered German machines that had perfected sound-on-tape. In doing so, much was learned about the formulation of ferric oxide particles, coating thickness, tape substrate materials, and the benefits of supersonic AC over DC biasing. By 1946 experimental film-based magnetic recorders were emerging. One of these was developed by Marvin Camras, an electrical engineer from the Armour Research Foundation in Illinois. Camras was awarded a U.S. patent in June 1944 for describing the means by which successful magnetic recordings could be made. 4
Loren Ryder, sound director and chief engineer at Paramount, extolled the benefits of magnetic recording over its optical counterpart. Ryder submitted that adopting magnetic sound would result in significant cost savings without sacrificing quality. In February 1947 the DuPont chemical company supplied RCA with samples of 35mm cellulose tri-acetate safety film with a magnetic coating. However, it wasn't until 1948 that commercially viable synchronous magnetic film recorders were made available by RCA and Western Electric. Initially, these were in the form of conversion kits, that replaced existing optical sound followers (exciter lamp and photoelectric cell) with magnetic heads, and instructions to make corresponding amplifier adjustments. 5 Such a system was successfully demonstrated by RCA's Dorothy O'Dea, on 18 May 1948, at the 63rd semi-annual convention of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) in California.
A rapid uptake of magnetic sound for post-production activities would soon transpire with Ryder founding his own company, Ryder Sound Services, in anticipation. Ryder's early embracing placed him at the precipice of any innovation. In 1949 he developed a dual-flywheel recorder that reduced flutter through increased film stabilisation and improved head contact. 6 In fewer than three years from that foremost demonstration by O'Dea of RCA, Paramount's sound team, led by assistant sound director Louis H. Mesenkop, would be capturing the music to A Place in the Sun via the new audio format.
In bringing this Academy Award winning score to CD, we had access to the contents of six cans of 35mm full-coat monaural magnetic film. Made during the dawning of the format's "Cambrian explosion," these master recordings were preserved to digital tape during mid-1990s archival activities at Paramount. Unfortunately, time had not been sympathetic before that digital snapshot. Deterioration was all-encompassing in several sequences due to now known long-term instabilities with magnetic film. Passages were beleaguered by dropouts, afflicted by wow (due to uneven shrinkage), occasionally distorted and often frayed in sound quality.
With devotion, tenacity, and a love of the music, we have been able to create a program that showcases each enduring moment. In doing so, we decided not to push the restored audio too hard or fiddle much with the minimal hiss. Instead, we've respected its 1951 heritage, allowing the delicate original mono sound, expertly balanced by Paramount chief music mixer Phil Wisdom, to largely speak for itself.
Whilst some of A Place in the Sun's music no longer exists and what does isn't (and I don't think can be) immaculate, we should be appreciative that Kritzerland's world-premiere of the original score has opportunity to find place on the shelf of every aficionado of fine film music. For historians, musicians and fans alike that have waited over 60 years for this, I do hope that you enjoy it. For those that haven't yet experienced music from Hollywood's Golden Age, this is simply a terrific place to start!
Thank you to Bruce Kimmel for letting me relish in top-drawer film music. Thanks also to: John Waxman for his support; Frank K. DeWald for his attention to detail; and to Lukas Kendall for being himself.
Postscript: I was asked why we did not apply stereo ambience in the form of echo or reverberation to A Place in the Sun. The short answer is that it was my intention to preserve the original intended sound as much as possible. And Bruce supported that. My basic tenet is as follows. If a score's first generation recordings were mono then I would prefer to present the score that same way. Naturally, there are exceptions. Most common is when interspersing stereo and mono cues. The difference in positioning is usually plainly evident. In this circumstance, some light ambience fosters a better sequence-to-sequence blend. In reality, presenting a source in its original mono is more revealing -- any blemishes become more evident, not having opportunity to be masked by synthetic stereo. In the case of A Place in the Sun, to my ears, the restored mono sound had a proper sense of depth and perspective. For that reason alone, I felt it needed to be heard akin to how Franz Waxman and the engineering team at Paramount heard it. Now you can too.References and Footnotes
- n.a. Films in Review - Volume 19, 1968, p. 422.
- Newsom, Iris. Performing Arts-Motion Pictures. The Library of Congress, 1998, p. 209.
- Camras, Marvin. Method and Means of Magnetic Recording. US Parent Office, patent 2,351,004, filed 22 Dec. 1941.
- Tall, Joel. Techniques of Magnetic Recording. The Macmillian Company, 1958.
- Morton Jr, David L. Sound Recording: The Life Story of a Technology. Greenwood Press, 2004, pp. 125-126.
- n.a. Loren L. Ryder; Winner of 5 Oscars for Movie Sound. Los Angeles Times, 30 May 1985. Available from: http://articles.latimes.com/1985-05-30/news/mn-4954_1_ryder-sound-oscars. [Accessed: 10 July 2013].
Other A Place in the Sun soundtrack information, related to Kritzerland's release, that may be of interest to you:
- A review by film music critic James Southall. Posted 1 August 2013.
- A review by Thomas Kiefner on Film Music: A Neglected Art. Posted 17 August 2013.
- Amazon reviews and purchase options.
This release is limited to 1,000 copies.
Kritzerland KR-20026-1 - A Place in the Sun
Released 15 July 2013.
Activities: Restoration, editing.
Shane was principally recorded over three days at the Paramount Scoring Stage in September 1952 with staff scoring mixer Phil Wisdom managing the engineering duties. A final date in late October was held over for revisions to the "Main Title (Prelude)" and "Apotheosis and End Title". The score was not recorded in stereo -- this was to be the very precipice of the widescreen epoch. Indeed, Shane's Academy Award winning cinematography was lensed in an aspect ratio more akin to that found on television and cropped for theatrical exhibition. The first of the costly Cinerama format widescreen magnetic stereo films premiered in the same month that Shane's music recording sessions took place.
Audio restoration principally centred on the following: filling many analog dropouts; creatively patching extended duration digital dropouts; minimising pitch variations manifesting as 'wow' caused by uneven film shrinkage; and 'undoing' two extreme occurrences of drag caused by total analog media lockup. Inevitable decomposition, that occurred prior to Paramount's internal preservation to DAT in the mid-1990s, had diminished the upper frequency response and, in some cues, imparted cyclical fluctuations in tone.
Equalisation was necessary to redistribute the audio spectrum and reveal the missing bottom end. Given the age and condition of the source material, it was unreasonable to expect much in the way of retrievable signal above about 8 KHz. Despite a more appealing EQ program, the midrange remained reasonably brittle, a property accentuated by harmonic distortion that was chiefly apparent on the violins and trumpets. Emphasising the high-end aggravated the unpleasantness and created an artificial and somewhat detached sound not in keeping with the era of the recording. Attenuating the high-end resulted in a dull sound that would have been remiss to adopt purely for its rudimentary masking qualities. Consequently, I elected to carefully run the cues through some tube equipment. To my mind this resulted in greater midrange coherence. It also lessened the inherent solid-state harshness possibly imparted by the audio chain that reproduced the magnetic film elements and secured them to digital in the early 1990s. After all, the original recording was captured with RCA KU-3A ribbon microphones, routed through a tube scoring console and to a tube magnetic film recorder. And, incidentally, no digital noise reduction was employed on this CD release.
At the end of the day, it is what it is. Shane's music elements were recorded 60 years ago to 35mm tri-acetate magnetic film, a medium now known to be unstable even with the very best of long-term storage. For a sense of historical perspective, consider the following: Texas Instruments hadn't yet produced the first silicon transistor. Commercially available phonograph records were monaural and the newly formed RIAA had yet to devise a standard equalisation curve. Colour TV had yet to receive regular broadcast in the United States. 20th Century-Fox had yet to premiere its four-track stereo Cinemascope widescreen process. This was to be a rapidly evolving period for audio recording mediums and presentation technology.
Saving the past requires discernment of what is 'reasonable' -- whether it is harmonic distortion, limited frequency response, over-modulation or something else. One needs to respect the era from which a recording originates. We are truly privileged that, with the unfaltering archival efforts of Paramount, we can now, for the very first time, enjoy Shane's musical score as conducted to picture by its composer. So, step into the time machine that is La-La Land's compact disc and revel in some great Golden Age music. What a wonderful time to be a soundtrack collector!
Other Shane soundtrack information, related to La-La Land's release, that may be of interest to you:
- Editor's Choice - Best of the Month October 2012 award by Film Music Review online e-zine. Critic Roger Hall awards the disc 4 out of 5 stars and states, "This is a high quality CD release, with outanding sound quality for its era..." Thanks, Roger!
- A review by Thomas Kiefner on Film Music: A Neglected Art. Posted 4 October 2012.
This release is limited to 2,000 copies.
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1224 - Shane
Released 29 August 2012.
All the composers. All the music. 15 CDs!
"Oh, you beautiful galaxy! Oh, that heavenly universe!" -- Harry Mudd
15 CDs. 636 tracks. 17 hours, 18 minutes and 17 seconds.
MV Gerhard and Matt Verboys of La-La Land Records together with producers Lukas Kendall, Neil S. Bulk and Jeff Bond have gone boldly and proudly delivered what fans have yearned for over four decades: the complete Star Trek: The Original Series scores! Spread over 15 CDs, this unprecedented and definitive compendium of Original Series scores is the "whole kit and caboodle" as Mr. Scott might say.
For the first time collated in one handsome set, we hear the superb musical voices of: series steadfast Fred Steiner, woodwind wizard Gerald Fried, melodic muse George Duning, and, of course, the inaugural architect who bestowed us with the famous fanfare and theme: Alexander Courage. Also included are the two unforgettable and often tracked Sol Kaplan contributions, Jerry Fielding's distinctive musical mode, and Joseph Mullendore's Shakespearian setting. In reality, this compendium is an overflowing cache of treasures from this much loved TV series. Wherever you dive in, there's something to be relished or a warm memory to be evoked. Transcending usual television fare, these thematically rich scores sit comfortably alongside the Star Trek film canon replete with action, thrills, romance, mystery and adventure. This is incredibly well-written and brilliantly performed music.
La-La Land's gargantuan project had tight time constraints and it was therefore mandatory for us to appropriately divide the labour and work at warp speed. Captain Lukas Kendall liaised with licensors, secured vault materials, reviewed every episode's physical score, devised playlists, and learnedly skippered our endeavours making sure everyone had what they needed when they needed it. It is a testament to Lukas' fine skills that it all ran like clockwork. In particular, this project further elucidates that Lukas is an expert producer and the best person to be in the Captain's Chair for a venture of this magnitude.
Giving it all he's got, chief engineer John Davis performed the herculean task of capturing over 150 quarter-inch and half-inch open reel tapes to modern 96 KHz digital. Aye, that's a lot of tape.
With the patience and logical precision of Mr. Spock, science officer Bulk meticulously set up Pro Tools sessions by heroically scrubbing through the composite audio track of every episode, referencing recording logs to determine "printed" takes, and lining up every cue together with any overlays and segues. Quite an extraordinary effort to locate, catalogue and organise each cue.
It was then my turn (as, I don't know, Rodriguez!). I restored the audio, pitch corrected it and mixed in overlays. Some cues were up to a quarter-semitone too fast, others rather slow. There was considerable variation between scores, and cues within scores, that all needed to be adjusted. In working with the elements, I filled dropouts and removed: prominent 60 cycle hum; pops; electrical glitches akin to bursts of static -- perhaps from a suspect brass microphone; overtly creaky chairs; clashes with music stands; fender-benders with microphones; mishaps with gravity; and even musician and conductor discussions over sustain of "printed" takes. There were also a few whole scores and individual cues that were recorded "hot" and needed delicate taming to assuage distortion. Fortunately, the tapes were in mint condition, thanks to Neil Norman, and Johnny Davis' transfers were of the highest calibre, as usual. Consequently, my course plot was more straightforward than it could have otherwise been. I must point out that some cues were worked on by Mike Matessino so it would be remiss of me to claim otherwise.
After I finished, the audio was beamed back to Neil and Lukas for review then transported onwards to mastering physician Doug Schwartz. Prescribing the right medication, the Good Doctor of Audio made sure our patient's vital statistics were within expected tolerances. He diminished hiss where intrusive, applied tasteful equalisation, created additional segues (per Lukas' paperwork, mock-ups and his own expert musicality), and authored the discs for pressing plant replication. Whew! And it sounds brillant thanks to Doug.
Wait! That's not all! Trek music savant and communications officer Jeff Bond wrote pages and pages of eloquent prose chronicling every possible detail of these impressionable TV scores -- It's almost as if Jeff was born for this project. Lest not forget the ever reliable style master, Joe Sikoryak, who fashioned arresting packaging that pays homage to the artists, designers and actors that helped envision Gene Roddenberry's adventures of the USS Enterprise and her crew. Joe is one of those hardworking unsung heroes that brings projects such as these to life and makes them tangible.
I was super fortunate to be along for a voyage with this cast of film music preservation heroes. And what a voyage it was! Thank you one and all.
As for the music, I hope you relish it as much as I. But first, the tranya.
You may groan at the Star Trek "jokes" (disclaimer: may not actually be clever or humorous in the slightest) peppered throughout this brief piece. I resisted the temptation whilst beavering away on this project. I need to get them out my system now!
"...a dream that became a reality and spread throughout the stars" -- Captain James T. Kirk
Other Star Trek: The Original Series soundtrack information, related to La-La Land's release, that may be of interest to you:
- A promotional video interviewing the key players who made this 15 disc set a reality. Posted 10 August 2012 by CraveOnline.
- Trek Core's exclusive preview. Posted 18 November 2012.
- Daniel Schweiger's epic 50 minute audio conversation with La-La Land label owners Michael Gerhard and Matt Verboys with Trek box set producers Lukas Kendall, Neil S. Bulk and Jeff Bond. Posted 19 November 2012.
- Trek Core's interview with co-producer Neil S. Bulk. Posted 28 November 2012.
- Variety's news story Complete 'Star Trek' Music Set Warps In by Jon Burlingame. Posted 29 November 2012.
- Tim Burden's audio conversation with co-producer Neil S. Bulk. Starts approximately 37 minutes into Tim's Movie Magic show. Posted 1 December 2012.
- Trek Core's interview with producer Lukas Kendall. Posted 2 December 2012.
- Trek Core's interview with co-producer and musicologist Jeff Bond. Posted 3 December 2012.
- Fans Go Ga-Ga For La-La Records TOS Soundtrack Event article on StarTrek.com. Posted 4 December 2012.
- The Wall Street Journal's Music That Lives Long and Prospers article. Posted 7 December 2012.
- WQXR Movies on the Radio Star Trek: The Original Music for the Original Series epose hosted by David Garland and featuring box set co-producer Jeff Bond. Posted 8 December 2012.
- ET Online's Where No 'Star Trek' Soundtrack Has Gone Before article by David Weiner. Posted 13 December 2012.
- A review by Home Theater Forum contributor Kevin EK. Posted 23 December 2012.
- The Trek BBS' messageboard thread containing discussions and information about the release.
- The Home Theater Forum's messageboard thread about Star Trek music in general.
- Additional purchase options and reviews via Amazon.
This release is limited to 6,000 copies.
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1701 - Star Trek: The Original Series
Released 4 December 2012.
Activities: Restoration, mixing, editing.
More so than any other major studio, Paramount Pictures were forerunners in the adoption of magnetic film in post-production audio work beginning in 1949. When discussing A Place in the Sun, I mentioned Paramount's sound director, Loren L. Ryder, and his critical role in spearheading advances in 35mm magnetic film technology and its use. Within the Paramount lot, new techniques of exploiting magnetic film were evidently being pursued. One such domain was the music scoring department.
It was Columbia studios who first started making three-track 35mm mag film recordings from November 1950 utilising RCA equipment. (I am not aware whether these were discrete stereo or three-channel monaural.) The exact chronology of three-track magnetic recording at Paramount is not clear however we do know that foremost amongst the studio's discrete three-channel music recordings was Elephant Walk, in July of 1953. The track layout for Franz Waxman's score comprised left, centre, and right fields that substantially matched a typical orchestral layout -- high strings to the left channel, woodwinds to the centre, low strings and brasses to the right. The Naked Jungle, recorded in November of 1953, perfected this left-centre-right (LCR) allocation. Whilst not unique to Paramount, or film music recording for that matter, it was a logical method that that would later be commonly adopted across the globe.
Despite his support of magnetic film for post-production activities it is curious, then, that Loren Ryder so strongly opposed "mag" for theatrical exhibition and abhorred discrete stereo sound. "In my opinion there are two things wrong with this process," stated Ryder in 1956. "First, the cost has been too great and, secondly, stereophonic sound handling either limits or accentuates editing." He elaborated, "[stereo] largely tends to punctuate the cuts -- it tends to emphasize the very thing that the experienced editor is trying to eliminate." 1
Consequently, the Perspecta soundtracks accompanying several 1950s VistaVision features were, in reality, electronically pan-potted faux-stereo renditions of a standard composite (combined dialog, music, effects) monaural variable area track. The system utilised sub-bass frequencies, at 30, 35 and 40 Hz, to automate the routing and gain control of a single-channel signal to any of three speakers through use of an 'Integrator'. Perspecta (or 'Perspect-a-Sound' as it is sometimes written) was developed by C. Robert Fine, of Fine Recording Inc., and overseen by Loren Ryder. US patent number 2,714,633 was filed in October 1953 by Fine and published in August 1955. The Integrator was manufactured by the Fairchild Recording Equipment Co and, later, Altec Lansing and others. M-G-M, Paramount and Warner Bros were the primary proponents of the sound system, primarily because it provided a cost-effective means for exhibitors to provide a more engaging sonic experience to combine with widescreen imagery.
Whilst 20th Century-Fox was leading and popularising theatrical exhibition of discrete magnetic sound, with CinemaScope four-track stereo, Paramount seemed to be experimenting, exploring and evaluating within the confines of the studio lot. We now know that several VistaVision productions, made in 1954 and 55, had scores vaulted in monaural. In 1956 and 57, some were recorded with monaural angles, others in an "orchestra left" and "orchestra right" format.
From 1958, and coinciding with the general abandonment of Perspecta in the United States, the music recording layout adopted for The Naked Jungle appears to be preferred by Paramount for several, but not all, strictly orchestral scores. There are many exceptions, of course, for scores such as Breakfast at Tiffany's and Hatari!, that involved jazz musicians, special soloists, or had particular dubbing requirements.
When I first evaluated the music elements for the 1956 production of The Ten Commandments, the material was identified as three-track LCR, which was my hope. Yet, the audio did not match that description. The first two channels were ostensibly identical in content except time-shifted relative to each other. The third field contained what initially seemed to be a long-shot angle but this didn't seem correct. It became quickly apparent that -- accounting for timing and level differences -- the first channel was what I will term "orchestra left" with the third "orchestra right." The second was the aforementioned time-shifted duplicate. How it was group-delayed so significantly is somewhat of a mystery given that it would have most likely required a separate head stack to implement in 1956. Irrespective, I posit that Paramount's sound department were evaluating options with a focus on exhibition medium. We may never know for sure -- those that could provide first-hand answers are, alas, no longer with us.
It is worth mentioning that I have not been able to cite documented evidence of a magnetic stereo or Perspecta 1956 theatrical mix ever being made (within Paramount, at Todd-AO, or elsewhere), only mono optical. Even the Projection Instructions make no mention of any other sound system. 2 I would be pleased to discuss evidence to the contrary!
For Intrada's epic multi-CD set of Paramount Studios $13.5M production #11515, I worked on discs one through three, restoring and editing the audio in "show order" as well as cleaning up the Bernstein demos. I also provided Intrada with many sequences separately so that Doug Fake could produce and master a program that facilitated a coherent listening experience on album. In doing this, I presented a stereo image that I felt was more inviting and phase coherent than heard on the home video releases. Sure, the woodwinds are somewhat obfuscated at times and the violins overwhelmed by brasses but this is what has been forever fused into the original recording. After all, Bernstein's orchestra was larger than the norm of its era with bolstered numbers in the brass in particular.
Intriguingly, Elmer Bernstein himself stated, in writing for Film/TV Music 16:3, Winter, 1956, that the score was recorded to a "single channel." Furthermore, some of the scoring paperwork confirms the same. Consequently, any directional sound seems to be a happy by-product that we have been able to exploit nearly 60 years later. It may also partly explain why the original soundtrack, as heard in the film, was only ever issued on mono records, why the same music was rerecorded for stereo specifically following introduction of the stereo LP in 1958, and why Bernstein recorded excerpts in the late 1960s for United Artists records. But this is just speculation on my part. A further curiosity, perhaps, is that the original monaural album chiefly utilised the "orchestra left" field exclusively rather than performing a proper reduction of the three-track magnetic film elements.
In bringing all ten of Bernstein's commandments to you, we utilised several disparate sources. The aforementioned 35mm magnetic scoring masters yielded many key sequences but not all. We have presented these in stereo. Supplementing them were: a quarter-inch tape copy of the mono LP set; 7.5 IPS mono tapes archived by Bernstein; preservation DATs containing a handful of mono source music cues and demos; the film's mono music stem; and the composite film audio mix that accompanies Paramount's HD video master. We have presented material from the mono sources with ambience to blend with the rest of the stereo program. Suffice it to say, no stone was left unturned in unearthing source materials and all were necessary to collate the whole score.
Not surprisingly, each source sounded radically different and had its own idiosyncrasies that required treatment. Of particular interest were Bernstein's tapes. These were often up to two whole semitones fast or slow and possessed a brittle tonality peppered with distortion and hiss. Whilst some hiss management tricks were employed, I worked hard to preserve the ambience and reveal a sense of perspective in the delicate source rather than suck its life out with extensive digital noise reduction. But it was a saving grace that Elmer Bernstein retained so much of his score in his private collection!
In reality, this was a considerable project. With the sheer volume of music contained within Intrada's aural strongbox, it really is the last word on The Ten Commandments. Doug, Roger, Lukas, Frank, and Joe are amongst the pantheon of those submitting vital contributions, some over several years, to make this a prize that is yours to savour.
Now, then, enjoy Elmer Bernstein and the Paramount Studio Orchestra performing The Ten Commandments like you've never heard them before.References and Footnotes
- Ryder, L, 1956. Looking to the Future in Sound. Journal of the SMPTE, November 1956, 584.
- WideScreen Museum, Martin Hart. 2004. The Ten Commandments. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.widescreenmuseum.com/widescreen/roadshow_demille.htm. [Accessed 19 July 14].
Intrada INT 7148 - The Ten Commandments
Released 20 September 2016.
Activities: Restoration, mixing, editing, mastering.
And... Then Came Bronson. Intrada has released a "Volume 2" that supplies more music from the series, complimenting the George Duning and Gil Mellé scores represented on Film Score Monthly's TV Omnibus Volume 1.
The great thing about this music was its variety. Intrada's disc 1 features symphonic scores by Star Trek: The Original Series alumnus and melodic muse, George Duning. Disc 2 features an assembly of 1960s TV talent including: Stu Phillips, Elliot Kaplan, John Parker, Richard Shores and Philip Springer. There's almost something for everyone in the 45 heterogeneous tracks here: pure symphonic scoring, drum and bass orchestral fusion pieces, and even a bit of honky-tonk piano for good measure.
For this project I restored, remixed, edited and mastered the scores under the leadership of producer Lukas Kendall. From day one I wanted to go for a sound that renounced a lot of digital processing other than fixing obvious issues and help to fill-out the sound. The three-track half-inch material was beautifully recorded and in top condition -- what you're hearing is chiefly what was on the original M-G-M tapes. No digital noise reduction or dynamics processing (compression, limiting, maximising, brickwalling) was used during mixing or preparation of the CD master. I felt that these decisions best served the music as it was seldom raucous in a way that necessitated higher than normal volume levels. You might have to turn up your volume just a tad to hear it all but you will be rewarded for doing so.
This release is a limited edition.
Intrada Special Collection Volume 244 - Then Came Bronson
Released 25 June 2013.
The Naked Jungle / Conquest of Space by Daniele Amfitheatrof and Van Cleave
Activities: Restoration, mixing, editing.
For Intrada's premiere of four Paramount George Pal scores, I restored, mixed, edited and premastered the assembly prior to handover to Doug Schwartz.
This project was really enjoyable to work on! Lukas permitted me to make a number of sequencing and cue grouping decisions that enabled the program to have a better ebb and flow. At least, that was my thought. My first assembly placed When Worlds Collide first as it seemed to create a stronger program however due to popularity of War of the Worlds we elected to open disc one with the more famous film.
It must be said that Paramount scoring mixer Phil Wisdom did a top job recording each of these evocative scores. Even so, the disparate Golden Age source materials all required different treatments to achieve the most coherent listening experience on compact disc.
War of the Worlds was sourced from surviving monaural vault elements courtesy Paramount. I learned (1, 2, 3) that "The [film's composite] soundtrack was also recorded on Western Electric's new Multi-track Magnetic Stereophonic Sound System. Only a handful of theaters were able to present the film in stereo." (4) This led to enquiries with industry experts about the existence of true stereo mix of the film, inclusive of three-track music scoring, rather than the Chace Surround Stereo processing heard in 'stereo' home video versions. It seems that War of the Worlds' score was not recorded (and, even if it were so, most certainly not retained) in three-track stereo.
When Worlds Collide came from recently discovered 'acetates'. Leith Stevens' personal 33⅓ RPM reference discs contained one or more takes for every cue, including the separately recorded choral overlays heard in the "Foreword" and "Evacuation Montage". Some discs were inherently scratchier than others, especially the ones cut with lengthy cues on them. Much like The Atomic City, a few acetates contained more snap, crackle and pop than a box of cereal. Nevertheless, and with patience, countless ticks, pops and smears were eliminated or made more bearable. My notes say that I used digital noise reduction in three instances and only slightly. Otherwise, significant processing was forsaken other than EQ to redress tonality and the addition of a light stereo ambience. I find that heavy processing of acetate derived material can make it windswept and lacking in energy.
Some trivia: Leith Stevens recorded the When Worlds Collide "Main Title" (and possibly other cues) to click track. He makes reference to this in a false start on one of the acetates. He partially recorded (with no opening declamatory statement) a variation that tacets the brass and percussion in favour of more prominent woodwinds. By manually varispeeding this against the "printed" take, we created a rudimentary 'stereo' mix for The Extras. The cymbal crash at the end was mixed in from a wild pickup of that instrument, in solo, that immediately followed the "Main Title" recording. Although Stevens' comments are truncated and not completely audible, it seems as though he did this as an option to add to the concluding drum hit on the "Main Title", hence it was added here in difference to the film version heard earlier on the disc that omits the crash.
The Naked Jungle was fun because the film seemed to have an Indiana Jones adventuresome quality to it. Some scenes even found there way into a spoof 1951 Raiders of the Lost Ark trailer on YouTube that is worth looking up.
Paramount's 35mm three-track magnetic film elements were preserved in excellent shape given their 1954 vintage. There were a few inevitable, albeit prominent, instances of damage that creative mixing tidily concealed. For this project I tried to let the original recordings breathe and encouraged the close Paramount Scoring Stage ambience to speak via a few tricks. Otherwise, pitch adjustments, selective light decrackling, filling of drop outs and equalisation was all that I felt was really necessary.
There is a moment in "Drunken Developments" where the harp almost noiselessly vacillates whilst woodwinds and cellos take the foreground. It is rather subtle and was beautifully captured by Paramount's recording team in one of their first all three-channel stereo recordings. Neat! 'Ant noises' performed on violins augment the twisted march for the marabunta and can be heard prominently in "Army on the March". Another neat trick.
Conquest of Space was derived from protection copies of the 35mm monaural scoring masters. A few cues exhibited deterioration, others 'wow', however most blemishes were substantially concealed from intruding into the overall listening experience. The largely moody score, arranged for a small orchestra with ample use of muted instrumentation and euphonium, accentuated studio noises. Consequently, chair creaks, pops and clicks were eliminated where considered intrusive. As with many Paramount scores I have worked on from this period, the recording had significant energy in the lower mid and midrange bands. This was redressed via equalisation that still permitted the punch and intimacy of the recording to shine through. No digital noise reduction was used on this score.
Not surprisingly -- especially given the decades that ardent fans have patiently waited for proper releases of these scores -- there have been quibbles and scathing comments about the absence of music cues on this set. I don't want to appear too much like a pompous ruffian, however permit me to posit a simple question. After all the quality CD productions that Lukas, Doug, Roger and Neil have nourished us with (and for so long now), do you think that these Super Heroes of film music archiving would deliberately leave off music that was otherwise available? Really? We have included all that we could short of resorting to excerpting sound effects laden material from other sources of dubious quality. So, instead, let us adopt a positive tenor. This is great music, isn't it? We now have pretty much all of it and we can savour it in the highest fidelity possible.
In these imaginative 1950s films, George Pal conjured: the terror a hostile invasion from our red-planet neighbour; impending destruction of Earth and escape to sanctuary via rocket 'Ark' (now apparently in remake "development hell" with director Stephen Sommers); tribulations of cocoa growing in South America; and a manned space voyage to Mars. Now, thanks to Intrada's goodwill, we are able to musically immerse ourselves in the spirit of these George Pal adventures with Leith Stevens, Daniele Amfitheatrof and Nathan Van Cleave as our audio tour guides. This one's especially for you, Charles Thaxton! Enjoy!
Other War of the Worlds soundtrack information, related to Intrada's release, that may be of interest to you:
- A lengthy review on the AVForums by Chris McEneany. He awards the set a 9 out of 10 and states that it has "...terrific audio quality..." Thanks, Chris!
- Announcement on The Second Disc.
- Purchase links: Intrada, Screen Archives Entertainment and Amazon.
This release is a limited edition.
Intrada Special Collection Volume 202 - War of the Worlds / When Worlds Collide 2CD Set
Released 9 July 2012.
Activities: Restoration, mixing, editing.
Evocative, emotive and everlastingly entertaining! George Duning's score to the 1960 film, The World of Suzie Wong, ranks amongst the best film music. The score is richly thematic with settings for both symphony orchestra and jazz combo.
George Duning's compositions were orchestrated by Reg Owen and conducted in England by British cinema steadfast, Muir Mathieson, as well as Owen. The scoring venue is not known to me however I would surmise either M-G-M Borehamwood Studios -- where interior sequences were photographed -- or Denham's Music Theatre -- where Mathieson spent many years as Musical Director for London Films. Neither feel entirely correct given the tightly focused sound but these are certainly two possible studios.
Five disparate sources were utilised to bring the complete score to compact disc. The first consisted of ½" three-track tapes utilised to prepare the original RCA Victor soundtrack LP (LSO-1059 produced by Hugo Peretti and Luigi Creatore). Sources two and three comprised protection copies of the 35mm three-track magnetic film masters made in the 1990s and again in 2013. The 35mm magnetic film had lost much of its high-end prior to protection and this was further exacerbated in the years between the transfers. Source four was a DAT of some selections rendered in a somewhat constricted monaural with many dropouts. The final source was the monaural D/M/E splits with up-and-down volume potting. Each source played a role as the ½" represented the LP content and there were additional minutes begging debut on disc. It was all possible thanks to asset protection efforts at Paramount and RCA.
On first audition of the raw source materials, what struck me was how expressive the music was. This feeling was quickly supplanted by one of impediment as the music was recorded considerably too hot resulting in manifold distortion. The nefarious trait was liberally evident on all materials. Perhaps the mixing console was to blame. Or the input levels of the mag recorders were set too high. Perhaps the wrong equalisation was used during transfer of the original UK recorded mag (CCIR) to dupe mag and ½" tape in the USA (NAB). Perhaps it was on purpose. Regardless, it's all pure conjecture now for sure. But the "cranked to 11" distortion was as ruinous as it was unambiguous. It was malicious and I wanted it banished as much as possible. Several restless nights became part of a journey to tame the beast of disfigurement without overtly compromising the high-end, losing those minute musical details, or homogenising the sound into something artificial. Does it sound OK now? Well, that's not for me to say but I tried my very best.
Other fixes and adjustments were, by comparison, much smoother sailing in calm waters. There was a greater than usual amount of inadvertent stage noises and bumps from percussionists transferring between instruments. These noises were eliminated. A bit of wow here and there required work. And concealment of deteriorated content was needed. That was all straightforward.
With the many sources utilised, the differences in tonality were rather glaring. For example: in some CD tracks we would be going from and to a number of different sources. I wanted to do this as transparently as possible. Consequently, I spent a few days carefully equalising and massaging my mixes so that all the content was on the same page ready for Hi-Fi consumption and then mastering for CD by James Nelson.
This is a disc that I can thoroughly enjoy listening to for its pure musicality. And that makes it all the more special. Thank you to Lukas Kendall and Kritzerland head-honcho, Bruce Kimmel, for the opportunity to preserve one of George Duning's finest.
Bruce Kimmel said of the audio quality on this release: "We had all the original tapes to work with - the session masters, the three-track album masters, etc. We sent them to Chris Malone who worked some rather unbelievable audio restoration magic and I don't know what exactly that entailed I can only tell you the result is pretty astonishing - and all done without sacrificing one iota of clarity or high end. He deserves huge kudos."
Other World of Suzie Wong soundtrack information, related to Kritzerland's release, that may be of interest to you:
- Daniel Schweiger's June Soundtrack Picks, in which Too Late Blues and The World of Suzie Wong share equal billing in the top 5. Posted 18 June 2013.
This release is limited to 1,000 copies.
Kritzerland KR-20024-4 - The World of Suzie Wong
Released 30 April 2013.