FENCES by Marcelo Zarvos soundtrack review


FENCES by Marcelo Zarvos

Zarvos can be a little on the sugary side which is not a bad thing but in a film where family emotions are high and the patriarchal role, [Troy played by Denzel Washington] dominates everyone around him due to his own shortcomings – you need a score delivering tension and big emotions.

The first track Gabriel’s Trumpet is piano led, plaintive and slow – which is what Zarvos does well. Piano notes laced together have a tenderness and a questioning heightened by the unobtrusive strings hovering in the background. It does get your attention.
We meet the son who causes the most inner turmoil in Troy in Corey’s Theme where the strings suggest a tentativeness on the son’s part to not invoke his fathers fury.

Alone at the Bar, has so much sorrow at the beginning. The cue is stripped down to four piano notes at the beginning, then a piano and lone flute and not much more but it conveys so much. It’s in You Got The Devil In You where the momentum starts. Low, cello strings with high, stretching violins and a beating drum make a heady mix of tension.
Troy’s Story has a lingering string line which drips away constantly subtly promoting confusion and anger. Whereas Rose’s Theme is more lyrical. The longest cue is saved for last: God’s Closet which is pretty much in the same tone as the rest of the score though half way there is a piano piece which flows more quickly signifying something is changing – it’s quietly life affirming.

Zarvos does deliver on both the tension and the pathos. This will not be a score which will be played for pleasure, not all soundtracks have to have this element and when reviewing a score this is not an item that is accounted for. Listening to this soundtrack against the story of the film, it’s the slow, steady pace of the music which gives attention to every single note.

There are 4 tracks/songs from the period on this soundtrack as well.

1. Gabriel’s Trumpet
2. Cory’s Theme
3. Alone at the Bar
4. You Don’t Know What Love Is – Dinah Washington
5. You Got The Devil In You
6. Peace Be Still – Reverend James Cleveland
7. A Womanless Man
8. Fences
9. Troy’s Story
10. I Will Wear a Crown – Reverend James Cleveland
11. Rose’s Theme
12. They Could Do Nothing for Her
13. Confession
14. City Hall
15. A Dog Named Blue
16. Day by Day – Little Jimmy Scott
17. God’s Closet

Sony label



It’s a good Sunday when work is halted, domestic errands and jobs are finished and all that remains is the ultimate aim of sitting down and listening to some soundtracks. Today is such a day and almost 6 weeks after it’s release, I have stopped being so ‘precious’ and finally bit the bullet. I am listening to James Horner’s last ever soundtrack – The Magnificent Seven.
Even typing ‘last ever’ is painful. For me and many others he has been a huge part of my film music journey. Made me feel emotions I never knew I had and was a ‘go to’ whenever I needed my spirits lifted. So much has been written about Horner so it’s time just to listen.

The emergence of this score is just as sad as Horner’s tragic death. He had done the score to a previous Antoine Fuqua [director of The Magnificent Seven] film, Southpaw and influenced Fuqua to direct the remake of this classic western. Horner, even though there was not yet anyone signed to score the film, read the screenplay and went on to record a suite based on his interpretation of said screenplay with the help of his friend and collaborator Simon Franglen.
Heartbreakingly Horner intended to surprise Fuqua with the suite in a bid to actually do a full score for him but of course it never happened. Franglen went on to play Horner’s music which Fuqua loved! And so Franglen several others of Horner’s long time collaboraters converted the suite into a full score.  Thinking about this it must have been emotionally quite difficult for them doing this but they have done him proud.

I didn’t really know what to expect as Elmer Bernstein’s score to the original 1960 movie is one of the great, great soundtracks. Considering it’s a ‘fleshing out’ of a suite it’s a very cohesive score with some depth. There are hints of a western score but they are not overdone.

In Jonathan Broxton’s [MOVIE MUSIC UK] excellent review he writes of how this last score is in it’s way an homage with many cue references from Horners score, and I agree. Deliberate or not they are wonderful to hear.

These are the references I heard:
Lighting The Fuse – in there is a quirky and short trumpet piece which I am convinced is from the Sneakers
Street Slaughter has echoes of Avatar
Nuances of Field of Dreams in Red Harvest

For me the strongest cue is The Darkest Hour which is superbly orchestrated. The cue which prompted the reality of no longer being able to listen to any new Horner music overcame me in The House of Judgement and the tears continued with the very last track Seven Riders.

Nice touch that it ended with Bernstein’s glorious title them from the original film.

PS Don’t think the soundtrack cover is strong enough.

1. Rose Creek Oppression
2. Seven Angels of Vengeance
3. Lighting the Fuse
4. Volcano Springs
5. Street Slaughter
6. Devil in the Church
7. Chisolm Enrolled
8. Magic Trick
9. Robicheaux Reunion
10. A Bear in Peoples Clothes
11. Red Harvest
12. Takedown
13. Town Exodus – Knife Training
14. 7 Days, That’s All You Got
15. So Far So Good
16. Sheriff Demoted
17. Pacing the Town
18. The Deserter
19. Bell Hangers
20. Army Invades Town
21. Faraday’s Ride
22. Horne Sacrifice
23. The Darkest Hour
24. House of Judgment
25. Seven Riders

Sony Music
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GHOSTBUSTERS [2016] Theodore Shapiro – Soundtrack Review


A reboot of the fabulously silly 1984 comedy Ghostbusters was way due for a comb over but 32 years is a little overdue. But here it is in all it’s daftness this time with a female team of intrepid paranormal busters starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon  and Patty Tolan. A nice touch is that three of the cast from the original movie also make an appearance: Bill Murray, Dan Aykcroyd and Sigourney Weaver.

Elmer Bernstein composed the first GB’s and this time it’s the job of American composer Theodore Shapiro who is also in the cast list as ‘pianist’. Shapiro has a bundle of scores to his name covering TV, documentary and movies. My favourites being Spy, Trumbo and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty which won him Best Original Score for a Comedy award in 2013 from The International Film Music Critics Association.

After a ghost invasion in Manhattan, the GB’s do their stuff to stop any further dirsuption. The Aldridge Mansion is a wonderful mix of creepyness, not so much to scare but to paint a picture of spirits rising. This being done with nifty strings and eerie brass. Cymbals shimmer at the start of The Garrett Attack which then bursts with full orchestra and chorus, it’s so short that’s it’s all over in 1 minute 30 seconds which leaves you wanting more. The choir, having calmed down a little does return in Distinct Human Form which also sneakily contains a few bars from the original film score which can only make you smile.

Subway Ghost Attack is loud and mighty but still retains a fun element whilst I can’t help loving the 2 flat, low piano notes which signal a ‘jump out of your skin’ cacophony in the cue Mannequins. There is no such signals in Dr Heiss and I think I am slightly deaf as a result of sudden whoosh of orchestra and chorus! Battle of Times Square has a terrific loud spurt of the theme tune we all love and know again from the original film. I love that re-boot movie scores have such reverence towards the musical source material. The choir go for it big time in Behemoth and Into The Portal brings the proceedings to a satisfactory conclusion with NY Heart GB being the calming end cue.

There was a small thread of a 3 note motif running through the first few tracks but then it disappeared as the frenzy took over.There are not too many surprises here but Shapiro gets a good balance between humour and horror, it’s a fun and accomplished score.

1.The Aldridge Mansion
2. The Garrett Attack
3. Never Invited
4. Distinct Human Form
5. The Universe Shall Bend
6. Subway Ghost Attack
7. Ghost Girl
8. Mannequins
9. Ghost In a Box
10. Dr. Heiss
11. Ley Lines
12. Pester The Living
13. I Will Lead Them All
14. The Power of Patty Compels You
15. The Fourth Cataclysm
16. Balloon Parade
17. Battle of Times Square
18. Entering The Mercado
19. Behemoth
20. Into The Portal
21. NY Heart GB

Sony Music