AN ELEPHANT CALLED SLOWLY - Original Soundtrack by Howard Blake
CD includes Digital Download / Digital Booklet
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Dragon’s Domain Records presents the world premiere release of the original motion picture soundtrack for AN ELEPHANT CALLED SLOWLY, featuring music composed by Howard Blake (THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS, THE DUELLISTS, THE SNOWMAN) for the 1970 adventure film written and directed by James Hill and starring Virginia McKenna, Bill Travers Vinay Inambar and George Adamson.
Following the enormous success of BORN FREE in 1966, actors and real life conservationists Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers made several films including RING OF BRIGHT WATER in 1969 and AN ELEPHANT CALLED SLOWLY in 1970. For AN ELEPHANT CALLED SLOWLY, they re-teamed with director James Hill to tell the story of Bill and Ginny who are invited by a naturalist friend of theirs to take care of his home in Kenya while he is away. Not long after their arrival, they are adopted by three orphaned elephants. During the course of the film, the elephants help them interact with a multitude of animals and ultimately find it difficult to leave their new family and friends behind.
Howard David Blake was born in the London borough of Enfield in 1938. At the age of eighteen, he was awarded the Hastings Festival Scholarship and attended the Royal Academy of Music where he studied piano and composition. His interest in the cinema led him to a number of outside jobs and he worked as a projectionist at the National Film Theatre. Turning down a second scholarship from the British Film Institute, Blake instead became a piano session player, arranger and orchestrator at Abbey Road and other studios for several composers, including Stanley Myers, Quincy Jones and Bernard Herrmann. It was Herrmann who introduced Blake to Laurie Johnson, staff composer for THE AVENGERS, leading to his first television scoring assignment in 1967. His work in television and advertising music continued and his frequent collaboration with celebrated commercials director Ridley Scott led to his scoring of the director’s debut feature THE DUELLISTS in 1977.
Blake’s most prolific film composing period followed with a string of features including THE RIDDLE OF THE SANDS, S.O.S. TITANIC, FLASH GORDON, THE LORDS OF DISCIPLINE. In 1982, Blake accepted the invitation to write the music and lyrics for an animated film, THE SNOWMAN. Instantly hailed as a classic, the score topped the British pop charts and the concert work is still regularly performed around the world each Christmas.
In 1989, he won the BFI Anthony Asquith Award for Best Musical Score for A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY. Since the mid-1980s, Howard Blake has been the Musical Director of the Sinfonia of London, a leading film session orchestra. The composer was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1994 for his artistic contributions in music.
Dragon’s Domain Records presents AN ELEPHANT CALLED SLOWLY, featuring music composed and conducted by Howard Blake for the first time on compact disc. The music has been remastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland.
AN ELEPHANT CALLED SLOWLY is a limited edition release of 500 units.
01. An Elephant Called Slowly (1:55)
02. The Leopard (2:50)
03. Mr. Mopoji (1:01)
04. Wild Dogs (1:17)
05. Fever Tree (4:09)
06. Love Game (3:08)
07. Elephant Rides Again (3:21)
08. Cheetah (3:26)
09. Poli-Poli (1:46)
10. Kenya Morning (1:30)
11. Ostrich Strut (1:38)
12. An Elephant Called Slowly (Reprise) (3:09)
Total Time: 29:35
An Elephant Called Slowly (1970) ***
Dragon’s Domain DDR687
12 tracks - 29:39
Director James Hill is perhaps best remembered for the nature film, Born Free, which featured a highly memorable John Barry score. Hill would return to a similar theme and story for the family-friendly An Elephant Called Slowly (1970), which sends Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers back to Africa, where this time they end up being adopted by three elephants. The score by Howard Blake (Flash Gordon, Amityville 3-D) receives its first release CD, 50+ years later, from Dragon’s Domain Records.
Blake crafts an upbeat, jazzy style that establishes a light vibe right from the start of the very brief album. A sort of lumbering undercurrent also emerges, perhaps representing the elephants, countered by light flute and hints of jungle percussion. One can also hear distant echoes of Barry’s Born Free approach, which of course makes sense, but Blake’s is more steeped in jazz, along the lines of a Stan Getz album of the time.
As such, An Elephant Called Slowly is something of a Barry/Mancini hybrid that plays out more like a concept album than a traditional score soundtrack. The thematic ideas are all fairly engaging, with the carefree, jazzy score coalescing into a nice little guilty-pleasure listen. For clips of the 500-unit pressing, visit the label’s website —Steven A. Kennedy
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