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THE BLOB (1958) and other creepy sounds

57 Tracks (Total Playing Time = 75:49)

Tracks 1-28: THE BLOB = 32:38/ Tracks 54-57: Bonus Tracks = 4:21
Tracks 29-53: The Valentino Production Music Library = 38:50

 

Tracks 1-28/ 54-57: THE BLOB score by Ralph Carmichael. Additional music by Jean Yeaworth. Title song by Burt Bacharach and Mack Davd, sung by The Five Blobs.

Tracks 29-53: The Valentino Production Music Library -- music by Roger Roger, A.F. Lavagnino, Mario Nascimnbene, and other composers.

Produced by David Schecter and Kathleen Mayne. Digital editing and mastering: Graham Newton. Cover art by Robert Aragon. Layout: Teresa Hogenson. Liner notes: David Schecter.

Monstrous Movie Music MMM-1955

Rating: ***1/2

 

This CD continues the MMM series of collectible music from monster movies of the past.

It also demonstrates how smaller film companies could make the most with little money.

They would hire composers to write a score for a smaller ensemble (as in THE BLOB) and also hire composers to write stock music that could be used in many other films (like the Valentino Production Music Library).

THE BLOB is one of those ultra-cheap horror flicks aimed at teenagers in the 1950s. Unlike most of these low-brow pictures, this one was filmed in color, though not of the best quality . The film's star was 27 year old Steve (billed as "Steven") McQueen in his first film role. Since its first release in 1958 it has gone on to become a cult favorite and has led to several lesser films, including a later poorer remake of THE BLOB.

As David Schecter writes in his very detailed notes, "had the picture been released with its working title THE MOLTEN METEOR and without the title tune, chances are its reputation as a horror film would be far stronger than it is today." Maybe so, but the film can still be enjoyed as a good example of how Hollywood's independent films were being aimed at the teenage audience in the '50s. THE BLOB is also a lot of fun to watch, even in its scarier moments. I'm old enough to have seen it during its first run showing at my local movie palace and I enjoyed it.

Due to the small budget, Ralph Carmichael's score is sparsely orchestrated and uses mostly strings. This was two years before Bernard Herrmann's classic PSYCHO score and though Carmichael's is not on that same level, his score does accomplish a similar goal of accompanying or accenting the suspenseful scenes in the film. Most of the cues are quite short, some under a minute. Yet they are quite effectively handled.

It is unfortunate that Carmichael's Main Title titled "Violence" (track 2, 1:37) was not used because it nicely sets up the mood of the film.

Instead there was the silly but very catchy song as recorded by "The Five Blobs." As David Schecter explains, this song was actually sung by one singer, Bernie Nee, and multi-tracked to sound like five singers. With music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Mack David, brother of Hal (Bacharach's future songwriting partner in the 1960s), this song became a hit and rose to #33 on the Billboard Top 40 Chart. Though it has silly lyrics, it's hard to hear this song which begins "Beware of the Blob," and not have it stick in your memory bank, like many bubble-gum songs of that era.

The director's wife Jean Yeaworth provide three of the cues, probably not at the suggestion of Carmichael. The first one is heard on track 3 ("Love Theme - Romantic Bridge," 0:16), the first statement of this very sentimental theme. It is heard again in its fullest staement on track 18 (1:09). The third time is track 57 (alternate take, :27).

Moving on to the Valentino Music Library examples, I didn't find them quite as memorable. The best ones are by a composer with the same first and last name: Roger Roger -- a name I'm particularly fond of!! His cues are the most interesting ones and they include: "Dreaming Awake" (track 29, 0:42) and "Whimsical Tale" (track 52, 3:05). There are other cues which are also worthwhile, such as A.F. Lavagnino's soaring "Birds in Flight" (track 32, 3:08)", and Mario Nascimbene"s "Gateway to Glory" (track 51, 2:00). But as with a Chinese or Thai dinner, these themes may not keep you from getting hungry again and looking for something meatier. Okay, enough of these food puns!!

This Monstrous Movie Music CD is recommended especially for THE BLOB soundtrack and the song. It is good to have it available on the 50th anniversary of the movie. The Valentino cues are mostly non-essential listening yet they are all pleasant enough for relaxed listening.

If you're a fan of this sort of music, then this CD is certainly worth adding to your collection.

Or you might want to support the noble efforts of the producers, David Schecter and Kathleen Mayne, who work for years to get these MMM CD soundtracks released.

Their efforts in preserving this niche of film music are well worth supporting.

 

-- RogerL. Hall, 21 January 2008

Comments regarding this review can be sent to: Film Music Review

To order this Monstrous Movie Music CD, click on this link:

www.mmmrecordings.com

 


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