Film Music Review
The Sammy awards












The 17th Annual

Best Film Music Releases





Most online lists at this time of year have the Top Ten for recent films of the past year.

Film Music Review has not followed this regimented routine and in the past has listed up to 25 releases on its Best of the Year lists, with an emphasis on vintage soundtrack releases since not many online lists, if any, devote themselves exclusively to older film score releases on CD.

It is customary to praise restored films but restored or re-issued soundtracks should also be recognized.

This time the list will be just the Top Five from each reviewer for a total of Ten, but not for any new soundtracks. They will be announced in February by the International Film Music Critics Association, of which both FMR reviewers are members.

Also, both new and vintage soundtrack releases will be included when the 27th Annual Sammy Film Music Awards, the longest-running awards for best soundtrack releases on CD, are announced on 8 February 2015.

Below are the choices of our reviewers for Film Music Review's Best of the Year - Vintage and Compilation CDs...






Selected by

Roger L. Hall


This year is a bit different with the choosing of only five releases.
Fortunately, as in past few years,
there are still worthwhile vintage soundtracks being released
and five of them make up my list.
These soundtracks are all are worth adding to your music collection.
My five choices are arranged in alphabetical order:



Elmer Bernstein: The AVA Collection


THE AVA COLLECTION - Music by Elmer Bernstein (3 CDs) - Intrada

Back in the good old days of LP albums with all those pops and other distortions,
I collected some of these titles but wished for better sound since they were in mono.
Now that has happened and they are together in this wonderful collection:
They are on the short side time wise, but the stereo sound is truly outstanding.
Bravo to Intrada for re-releasing these essential Elmer Bernstein recordings!


The Day the Earth Stood Still


THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (1951, Bernard Herrmann) - Kritzerland

Though this soundtrack has been issued before on 20th Century Fox Records (1993)
and a re-recording by Joel McNeely (Varese Sarabande, 2002)
this is a most welcome release since it includes additional music, studio rehearsals and outtakes.
this marvelous Herrmann score helped ushered in a whole new era
of science-fiction film scores using electronic instruments.


The Classic Soundtrack Collection



A monumental collection with 18 soundtrack albums (2 per CD),
including just about every one of Mancini's best known film scores. Though some of
the original soundtracks have reissued in more complete versions by Intrada,
this is still an essential set of recordings and includes bonus tracks, mostly vocals.
A wonderful collection demonstrating Mancini's melodic mastery.




Walt Disney Records The Legacy Collection: Mary Poppins


MARY POPPINS (1964, The Legacy Collection, 3 CDs) - Walt Disney Records

Not only is this Walt Disney's masterpiece film,
he was also fortunate to hire the extremely gifted, Richard M. and Robert B.Sherman,
as the songwriters for this soundtrack.
The first disc is the expanded soundtrack (79 minutes).
Disc Two has "pre-demos" by the Sherman Brothers
and "Lost Chords" of all wonderful songs not used in MARY POPPINS.
Disc Three contains the story meetings with the author, Mrs. P.L. Travers,
the Sherman Brothers and Don DaGradi. If you enjoyed SAVING MR. BANKS,
this third disc will be a revelation to hear the real author herself.
Also on that disc are reminiscences from the Sherman Brothers recorded in 1989.




On the Waterfront


ON THE WATERFRONT (1954, Leonard Bernstein) - Intrada

Like Steve, I'm pleased to name this soundtrack to my list.
After such a long wait, it has finally arrived
and being Leonard Bernstein's only soundtrack,
that makes this release a cause for celebration.
One favorite cue of mine is "Dead Pigeons," a poignant theme of loss and sadness.
I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the similarity in the opening few notes
of the horn theme from ON THE WATERFRONT and
the opening notes from Jerry Goldsmith's finale theme ("The Victor") for L.A. CONFIDENTIAL.
That is just a case of musical coincidence perhaps and both are very memorable.
Get this landmark Leonard Bernstein soundtrack while it lasts!







Selected by

Steven A. Kennedy

When Roger, and I, did our year-end lists it was always great to see what he had “discovered” and what stood out for him.  Sometimes we ended up with the same selections, but many times one of us managed to have something different, most likely causing us to quickly place an order for that release.  Over the years, it has been increasingly more difficult to focus on classic film music releases as most of the specialty labels no longer send out promo copies for review.  The transition to digital downloads has tended to dry up many release options as well.  I think 2014 was a pretty good year though for film music lovers if only for a late release that made my list here.  Enjoy!


1. ON THE WATERFRONT (1954, Leonard Bernstein) – Intrada

If there was only one disc to add to your music collection, then this one is it.  Intrada’s first-ever complete release of Leonard Bernstein’s only film score was one of the coups of the year!  Now those familiar with his concert suite, can hear how this music was shaped across the course of the film entirely on its own.  Anyone else hear a little Alex North in spots?



2. THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (1925/1993, Roy Budd) – Mishka Productions

Track down this gorgeous score by the great Roy Budd.  This was his final film score and a labor of love for the composer.  The music is simply amazing with great thematic development and a full traditional orchestral score.  Budd remains one of the great composers of the 1970s whose work deserves greater attention.



The Addams Family


3. THE ADDAMS FAMILY (1991, Marc Shaiman) – La-La Land Records

Though perhaps not one of the composer’s “greatest” scores, this complete release of this early 1990s score finds him in top form with the waltz theme being among the finest pieces in his canon in an overall delightful guilty pleasure.



Centennial Summer, limited-edition CD


4. CENTENNIAL SUMMER (1946, Jerome Kern, Alfred Newman) – Kritzerland Records

Here is another important little mid-1940s score.  It was the last film score for Jerome Kern who died shortly after completion of the music.  This wonderful release features this engaging music and a great underscore by Alfred Newman.  It also provides another early illustration of Newman’s adaptation of material.


Music for Alfred Hitchcock

5. Music for Alfred Hitchcock – Toccata Classics
John Mauceri conducts the Danish National Symphony Orchestra in this recording made in concert back in November 2013.  The selections here include some familiar territory musically, but many of the arrangements are from new editions by the conductor.  Performance highlights include a mesmerizing “Scene d’Amour” (VERTIGO, Herrmann);  a new suite from DIAL M FOR MURDER (Tiomkin); a suite from REAR WINDOW (Waxman); a stunning performance of the REBECCA suite (Waxman); and the concert work PSYCHO: A Narrative for String Orchestra (Herrmann, new edition by Mauceri).









The 27th Annual
Sammy Film Music Awards

will be announced on 8 February 2015

Read more about these awards

Click here







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