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ALICE ’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND (1972) / PETULIA (1968)

28 Tracks (Playing Time = 79:48)

Alice ’s Adventures in Wonderland: 16 tracks (Playing time = 42:06)

Petulia: 12 tracks (Playing time = 37:33

Music composed and conducted by John Barry. ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND Lyrics by Don Black. Songs performed by Fiona Fullerton, Davy Kaye, Michael Crawford, Sir Robert Helpmann, Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore, Dame Flora Robson, Peter Bull, Michael Holden, and Spike Mulligan. ALICE originally produced by John Barry and Don Black. Engineered by John Richards. Recorded at C.T.S. Sound Studios, London, September 1972. PETULIA originally produced by John Barry. Engineered by Keith Grant. Recorded at Olympic Sound Studios, London, May 1968. Reissue produced by Lukas Kendall. Digital Mastering by Doug Schwarz at Mulholland Music, North Hollywood, CA. CD Art direction by Joe Sikoryak, designWELL. Album notes by Jon Burlingame.

Film Score Monthly Vol. 8, no. 20

Rating: ****

 

John Barry fans should be ecstatic over this latest Film Score Monthly release coupling one score often requested by fans and one lesser known work. It will depend on your personal preferences but both scores are different enough that the release is a great way of introducing different sides of Barry’s style quite while. Both come from an important and prolific time in the composer’s life and one hears a bit of the Bond style and the dramatic underscoring of THE LION IN WINTER alongside other Barry-esque touches.

ALICE ”S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND (1972) was intended to be the picture that would bring this classic to a new generation of children. It came after Disney withdrew their animated version supposedly because certain sequences were a bit too psychedelic and suggested a kinship with the 1960s hippie movement. And it was a fruitful time for children’s story adaptations that had begun with MARY POPPINS and continued with the Sherman Brothers’ CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, and Leslie Bricusse’s DOCTOR DOLITTLE and WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY. But, this version of ALICE just did not seem to gel well with contemporary audiences. The songs, while all quite good, just do not have the kind of breakaway songs that seemed to appear in some of the aforementioned films. In that respect it is perhaps more like Bricusse’s DOCTOR DOLITTLE which is either dismissed or remembered fondly in the same way by those of us who saw the film as children. There are some gorgeous tracks here though. The opening overture introduces several of the song themes over lush harmonies which make you marvel at their beauty. “The Royal Procession” owes a little something to THE LION IN WINTER in its sound but still stays firmly within the realm of the current underscore. “The Pun Song” featuring Helpmann, Sellers, and Moore is a curiosity that shows the three were having a blast, but sometimes feels as if they too are a bit confused by the proceedings. Dame Flora Robson’s portrayal of the Queen of Hearts allows here to also have a song that continues the misunderstandings that a Queen is allowed to have in the humorous “Off With their Heads.” Of additional interest here though are the early performances by rising star Michael Crawford.

PETULIA is a more laid back score at times suggesting the lounge music styles of 1960s comedic scores by John Williams, Henry Mancini, or Andre Previn. The main theme is fairly engaging and is also heard in two versions written for AM and FM radio play. The score features some original source cues as well. The release is not the original soundtrack but a studio re-recording that Barry made at the time. It has the same sound and feel of some of Barry’s other studio recordings from the 1960s but the sound here is much improved.

As is often the case when two scores are presented on a single disc, one often purchases it for one score but finds they enjoy the other one more. That should work both ways in this ample release and comes highly recommended for fans of these scores as well as for fans of music from this period of film music history.

--Steven A. Kennedy, 5 January 2006

Comments regarding this review can be sent to this address: stev4uth@hotmail.com

 

 

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