composed and conducted
by Gerald Fried
I MOBSTER (1958)
36 tracks / Playing time = 51:12
A KILLER IN THE FAMILY (1983)
25 tracks/ Playing time = 33:51
ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO (1964)
29 tracks/ Playing time = 48:45
Includes "One Potato, Two Potato" song
vocal by Alan Arkin
with The Frieds: Daniel, Debbie Jonathon & Josh
All three CDs are from
"Gerald Fried - The Private Issue Collection"
Album Producer: David L. Fuller
Film scoring is so much more exciting than being an oboe player. I was 21 years old when I did my first picture and the idea of going to Hollywood ... well! My eyes got awful big real quick. There's a lot of challenge in film composing. We're hired as part of a team, so you don't show off. If music can stand up in the concert hall, it's probably too complicated for film. My first task is to make it work within the film's context. -- Gerald Fried
Over the years many film composers have composed a large amount of music that deserves to be heard again. One of these composers who should get more attention is Gerald Fried. He has composed over 100 film scores, mainly for television. Educated at the Julliard School of Music in New York City, he began his music career as an oboist for the Dallas Symphony and New York Little Orchestra between 1948 and 1956. The he switched to free lance work and joined ASCAP.
Among his film scores are DEATHWATCH (1966), with a riveting memorable main theme for a very intense but unpleasant film; THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE (1968); and for the documentary, BIRDS DO IT, BEES DO IT (1974), which was nominated for an Oscar for Best Dramatic Score.
Along with Quincy Jones, Fried received an Emmy Award for his scoring of ROOTS in 1977, especially for Part VIII, and he composed memorable and evocative music for this landmark television series.
The three CDs mentioned here are examples of his ability to work in any film genre and each is from different decades of his career.
I MOBSTER is a 1950s crime drama, A KILLER IN THE FAMILY is for a 1980s television movie, and ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO is from a highly regarded independent film about race relations in the 1960s.
I'll discuss each one separately.
The opening Main Title for I MOBSTER features an upbeat jazzy brass and woodwinds theme that is typical of '50s dramas. This was the decade when jazz became more prominent in films (THE MAN WITH A GOLDEN ARM) and on television (PETER GUNN). This jazz style is carried throughout the score also with slower cues like the sexy cue for "Blonde" (track 5). There are also more exotic cues like "Tarantella" (track 6) and "Santa Lucia" (track 10). The last two tracks, "Give Me Love/ Main Titles (Paraphrase)" and "End Titles" are quite effective in bringing this score to an exciting conclusion. All in all it this a good solid score for a lesser known crime drama of the 1950s.
A KILLER IN THE FAMILY is the shortest of the three CDs and it is also a good score with an appealing opening theme which is only listed as "1 M 1 (Alternate 8)." All the other cues are also listed only by their cue numbers. Since this score is for a 1983 made-for-television movie the cues are quite short, many lasting less than a minute. But the brevity doesn't detract from the overall listening experience though many of the cues do sound like variations on the main theme, which fortunately is a very good one. The longest cue (track 11, 4:26) is also the most diverse due in its changing timbres and its development.
The opening theme (2:49) of ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO is a delightful one capturing the innocence of childhood which would be shattered by the end of this low budget but thoughtful and well acted film. Fried chooses to provide a lighter texture with woodwinds and strings. This is the sort of theme that sticks with you and of course it is heard elsewhere in the score to reinforce its purpose. There is an appealing arrangement of an vintage song, "Love's Old Sweet Song" for clarinet and accordion and then moving on in that same track to "How Many Times" for strings and providing an appealing combination (track 4, 2:13). The last few cues are the most emotionally intense in keeping with the film's story. This begins with track 25 ("The Decision/ Sorrow") a relentless somber heart-tugging theme of great feeling which is carried to other tracks. The last track is a charming extra treat -- a song sung by none other than actor Alan Arkin with The Fried children (Daniel, Debbie, Jonathon and Josh), which is like icing on this tasty cake of sonic pleasures.
Though all three of these CDs are worthwhile, if you were to choose only one of them, I would recommend ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO. It also has the best sound separation in Stereo.
Gerald Fried is a composer who deserves more recognition for his many years of memorable film scoring.
Listen to any of these CDs and you can hear why.
-- Reviewed by Roger Hall, 30 March 2015/ revised 22 March 2016
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Film Music Review
And still more...
These are some of his score themes for films and television on this CD sampler:
ROOTS - Emmy Award-winning score for TV series
MACHINE GUN KELLY
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO AUNT ALICE?
CAST A LONG SHADOW
THE KILLING OF SISTER GEORGE
THE RETURN OF DRACULA
THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.
THE MYSTIC WARRIOR
I BURY THE LIVING
TOO LATE THE HERO
ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO
BIRDS DO IT, BEES DO IT
See also the interview with David L. Fuller, shown here
with film composer, Albert Glasser -- click here
R.I.P. David L. Fuller (1947-2017)
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