Various Artists – “The Essential Hollywood”

Album Reviews | Feb 7th, 2006

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Record Label: Sony Classical
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I love listening to film score greatest hits CDs. It saves me the effort of having to go out and make my own best-of albums. Even if you never saw any of these movies before, you might have heard these scores from somewhere. Maybe in a commercial, movie trailer, or perhaps in another movie. But you’ll enjoy this 2-disc collection of Hollywood’s classic film themes that will last a lifetime. Okay that sounded cheesy but it’s true, this music will live on forever while we rot in the ground. Ok now i’m just being morbid. Let’s just get to the review shall we?

Disc 1 starts out with, of course “Star Wars Main Title.” Oh how can you not start off a Hollywood music collection without playing Star Wars first! Perhaps the most recognizable movie theme EVER! Well that’s debatable I suppose but I think that’s true. And you know i’m always right! The next track is Gone With the Wind and I still haven’t seen that movie. I heard it’s like 50 hours long so i’m still lazy to watch it but the music for it is mesmerizing. Whoever put this compilation together must really like Bernard Hermmann’s Psycho score because there are three tracks from that on disc 1. You have “Prelude,” “The Murder” and “Finale.” I always liked “Prelude” but obviously “The Murder” is a more popular track. Any time you meet a crazy person, you can’t help yourself but start singing this screeching, haunting motif to yourself. I know I do it and i’m sure you do too. The next theme I liked on this disc was Lawrence of Arabia, another movie I have yet to see. I love the theme to it, and you really get a sense that you are out in the dessert. “The Magnificent Seven” could be another theme that is highly recognizable because it’s been used everywhere. Ahh the film score community will miss you Elmer Bernstein! “E.T Flying Theme” is on here and always makes me weepy like a little girl. When I saw John Williams conduct his music live a few years ago for his 70th birthday, I couldn’t hold back the tears. Yes i’m a wimp so what! “Jaws,” “Vertigo” and “The Godfather Part II” close out the first disc.

Disc 2 of The Essential Hollywood starts out with the 20th Century Fox fanfare. Next, Casablanca is represented on here with selections from that score and can’t go wrong with that score. The James Bond theme from Dr No is next and I still think that’s the best theme of Bond. I know throughout the years people alter it slightly but still got to go with that one. “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly’s” main title for that movie is after that, but I also feel “Ecstasy of Gold” should have been put on this compilation as well. Gotta love the the spaghetti western scores from Ennio Morricone! The last John Williams theme on this album is from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and I really think they should have used Superman or Indiana Jones but they probably couldn’t have gotten the rights to that? I don’t know but they could have used the space for something else besides 3 songs from Psycho. The next few songs I don’t really know too well besides King Kong. “The Pink Panther” theme song is on the 2nd disc. Man, I loved that cartoon but never saw any of the movies. Oh well. Other scores on the 2nd disc are Ben-Hur, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Kings Row and Citizen Kane. I would have put Citizen Kane’s “Prelude” on here because I find that more known than “Rosebud/Finale.” It was an important part to the movie but I still like “Prelude” better. Overall there are a lot of fantastic Hollywood scores on this 2-disc album, but I would have picked some different choices for songs and different movies all together. Still worth buying if you want to own a good compilation filled with classic scores.

Bottom Line: A Great selection of old Hollywood scores.
Notable Tracks: Star Wars, Gone With the Wind, The Magnificent Seven, Lawrence of Arabia, ET, Dr No, Good the Bad and the Ugly, Jaws
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