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Crazy in Alabama

Mark Snow. Crazy in Alabama - OST - Silva Screen America SSD-1104 [47:27]
4 stars

Mark Snow again proves his adaptability as a composer, this time with a multiform, atmospheric, often-heartfelt film score that reflects and improvises upon the musical world of the 1960s. I slid the disc into my CD player, programmed out the seven songs (that includes the previously unreleased Carole King track), pushed Play, and breathed a sigh of relief...

Switching from the beautifully unpretentious solo piano (cum full orchestra) introduction of the score's memorable main theme in 'Pool of Freedom' to the bluegrass 'Mellow Ride', to the New Orleans jazz 'Faces and Hats' to the contemporary 'Pool Fantasy/The Death of Taylor', to the number of combinations that follow, Crazy in Alabama is a surprisingly invigorating score! The infrequent and unsought vicissitudes are instances of aimlessness, the occasional lack of emotion or spirit (such as in the track 'Headspin'). However, the last three tracks by Snow -- 'The Golden Gate', 'Freedom (Pee Joe's Waltz)', and 'Crazy in Alabama' -- spout forth a compositional joy and drama that is rarely heard today... at least, not from more than a handful of composers.

The sound on the album is notably crisp, giving increase to some digital artifacts, but also allowing Snow's music to 'breathe' in practically any room. The instrumental performances are exceptional, with several solos soaring above the orchestra. Most of the songs (performed by Nancy Sinatra, Carole King, Burt Dache, Little Richard, Xavier Cugat and His Orchestra, the City of Prague Big Band, and Sybil), which I did eventually listen to, are more sentimental than meddlesome. In short, the album production by Mark Snow and James Fitzpatrick is quite solid.

Personally, I could live without the so-called Bonus Track of Sybil singing 'We Shall Overcome', but, kindly placed at the end of the disc, it is easy to avoid...

The disc is ultimately worth the effort.

Source: Jeffrey Wheeler; Film Music on the Web CD Reviews [www.musicweb.force9.co.uk/music/film/nov99/snow.htm], November 1999.

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