Review of The Ernest Gold Collection, Vol. 1 ****
The Ernest Gold Collection, Vol. 1 ****
Dragon’s Domain DDRDG738
30 tracks - 77:53

Ernest Gold (1921-1999) had a rich composing career, writing such classic scores as ExodusOn the Beach and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. However, his resume is dotted with just as many odds and ends, some of which have been gathered together by Dragon’s Domain for The Ernest Gold Collection, Vol. 1.

Smooth as Silk (1946), the first of several noir and noir-adjacent stories scored by Gold, is represented by two source tracks: “Dinner Music” makes for a laid-back piece of muted trumpet and tinkling piano, before building to a frantic climax of racing strings and booming brass. “Private Party” is more samba flavored, with shaker percussion and muted horns.

Written a year later but opening the album is the “Main Title” for Exposed (1947), which ably captures the crime drama’s moods, from imposing brass to swirling string work. The music of The Naked Street (1955) is quite eclectic, with high strings and muted trombone earmarking “The Cheating Husband.” “The Baby Dies” is appropriately grim with its doleful string work. The same instrument section gets a workout in the tense “Hijacking,” while “Brother and Sister” looks back almost wistfully on the events of the story, with harp supporting wavering strings.

The semi-documentary UFO (1956) examines the rise of the flying saucer phenomenon. The stately march of the “Main Title” gets things off to a rousing start with cascading brass. After a string ostinato and muted, bustling trumpets whisk us away to “Washington,” “Saucer Concerto” throws in some disturbing musical effects, while “Washington National” creeps along with horns and sorrowful string work.

Man on the Prowl (1957) pits a family against a mentally fractured delivery man. The theremin takes the lead in the “Main Title,” spiced with quaking horn figures. “What I’ve Got Isn’t for Delivery Boys” is a dramatic piece for woodwinds and occasional brass. Strings and flute steadily build in “A Good Angle,” while the “Radio Source” cue favors swaying trumpets and bassoon backing. Following a return of the theremin, “The End of Doug and Finale” slowly trudges along to an uplifting brass finish.

Wink of an Eye (1958) is a more lighthearted tale of jealousy and murder (!), reflected by the theme in the “Main Title”: swing trumpets with woodwind accents not too far removed from a musical idiom one might find in a sitcom. “All Is Well” draws out the main theme, one of several quotes performed on everything from chimes to flute.

One of Gold’s last projects, Safari 3000 (1982) was an odd story of an auto rally across Africa, and its score is heavily featured here. In “Flute Source/Start Your Engines/Airport Arrival,” a tribal flute solo leads to a rousing passage for booming horns and chopping strings. The main theme presents itself on brass before the cue concludes with an exotic, Arabic-sounding transitional melody.

Made of up four short cues, “This Is a Rented Car/Lorenzo/Get on With It/Steal That Engine” bounces from bounding brass and burbling woodwinds to a romantic-sounding theme on lush strings; a downbeat violin solo then trades off with a descending villain motif that is passed around the orchestra.

The jaunty music of “The Race Begins” works in a brief quote of “America the Beautiful” on chimes, before giving way to “Bridge Peril,” with its pounding piano and exciting brass. “Meet in the Mud/Find the Salami” is carried by lush strings and a horn reading of the main theme, while “Take a Picture” introduces a harpsichord into the comical mix.

Escalating four-note horn figures wind their way through “Behind You/Story Time” before sliding strings and a neoclassical passage finish things off. “Zebras/I Hope We Win,” meanwhile, races along with galloping brass and chattering xylophone, as well as the return of the romantic motif.

The main theme starts off “It Doesn’t Have to Be/Those Cigars Are Killing Me/Up a Willow Tree/The Moment Supreme” before the appearance of a bouncy horn idea. In the midst of the upbeat scoring comes a quote of “Rule Britannia.” “A Short Cut/Thanks for the Push/End Credits” begins with a string ostinato and Arabic-like winds before reprising the main theme on brass and chimes.

In the midst of the score, Gold also provides several source cues. The rock-based “Rally Party Source” is comprised of drums, guitar and peppy organ. “Hotel Lounge Source” carries a party atmosphere, driven by upbeat trumpets and guitar. “Hotel Lounge Source #2” employs piano, sounding not unlike “As Time Goes By.” Finally, “Let’s Dance” is a slow dance for saxophone and bass guitar.

Once again, Dragon’s Domain deserves credit for excavating and compiling a composer’s lesser-known efforts, and The Ernest Gold Collection, Vol. 1 emerges as one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. —Tor Harbin

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  • Tor Y. Harbin - December 06, 2022

    Thanks for the shout-out and keep up the good work with these compilations.

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