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Re: Zimmer & team rundown Pt 2 - MV 1994-98 - The birth of the power anthem (2b)
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• Posted by: Olivia D.   <Send E-Mail>
• Date: Saturday, April 2, 2022, at 9:17 p.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Zimmer & team rundown Pt 2 - MV 1994-98 - The ... (JBlough)

> This is part of a series. Part 2a can be found here:

> —------------------------------------

> Two If By Sea (1996) - Not heard
> NGS & Paddy Maloney of The Chieftains; orchestrated by B
> Fowler/Moriarty

> NGS becomes the first graduate from Media Ventures and starts doing his
> own thing.

> NGS: “Editor Bruce Green called me - “Paddy’s never done a film score,
> and he might need help.’ I used one of his ideas and wrote the rest of the
> score.”


> White Squall (1996) - ***½
> Jeff Rona; orchestrated by Scott Smalley; conducted by Fiachra Trench;
> produced by Hans (maybe some add’l music as well); vocals apparently by

> I’d like to think I’m a pretty big fan of Ridley Scott, yet even I had no
> clue what this film was about. This is my eighth discovery as part of this
> rundown, and my first Jeff Rona album - and possibly the earliest case of
> one of Zimmer’s associates writing a replacement score (something Zimmer
> had already done a few years prior with Point of No Return).

> JR: “Ridley hated [Maurice Jarre’s score] because it was too close to
> the temp track. I never heard it. Hans said: ‘I don’t have the time but I
> know just the right guy.’ I started about one day later, 100% terrified. I
> came up with this very lavish melody and sophisticated harmony and Hans
> just [stared] at me and said, ‘Jeff, I recommended you because your style
> works for this movie. What’s this?’ And he was right. I wrote that whole
> score in just over two weeks. I played a number of instruments, including
> many conch shells.”

> It often sounds like the halfway point between the more primal parts of
> Waterworld and an aquatic Basil Poledouris score (like if you fused
> the metallic percussion of Farewell to the King with the primarily
> electronic approach to Wind, and added some noble trumpet solos for
> good measure). This is likely no coincidence as Smalley was a regular
> Poledouris orchestrator, not to mention Rona’s earlier career as an
> uncredited ghostwriter for Basil.

> Choir, seemingly a blend of synthetic voices and HGW, adds some weight to
> the hazy atmospheric passages. Other parts suggest modern Irish folk music
> - and there’s a soothing jazz bent to the bookend theme. On the whole,
> it’s an above-average “mood music” album, and a rather coherent one
> despite its many disparate parts.

> JR: “I dodged a few bullets; Ridley really liked the first few sketches
> I wrote. There’s no getting a degree in being a film composer; it’s
> something more ephemeral.”

> Jarre, only a year or so removed from having his work tossed from The
> River Wild
, would claim he wasn’t paid and file a lawsuit. Still
> embittered years later, he would at least take comfort that both films had
> flopped stateside.

> Muppet Treasure Island (1996) - ***½
> Zimmer; add’l music & conducting by HGW;
> orchestrated by B Fowler/Moriarty/McIntosh & Fowler’s brothers Walt
> & Steve; score produced by Jay Rifkin;
> songs by Barry Mann with lyrics by Cynthia Weil; songs produced by Simon
> Greenaway; 'Boom Shakalaka' by Zimmer & NGS;
> singing by John Berry, Helen Darling, Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers,
> and the cast

> The first list of credits that’s so expansive you can’t help but chuckle.
> My ninth discovery as part of this rundown.

> HGW, often doing a hilarious accent when he’s quoting Hans: “[Hans]
> sniffed me out to do some arranging/orchestrating/writing when he was in
> London scoring Nic Roeg's Two Deaths. After his return to the US, I
> maintained a close relationship with Nic Roeg and over the course of the
> next 8 months scored 2 films for him. One day the phone rang. ‘How quickly
> can you be on a plane? I’ve got the director of Muppet Treasure Island on
> the other line. I’m reluctant to take it on, but if you come out to help
> me I’ll take it on.’ Nick [had] graduated and Hans was going, ‘oh bloody
> hell, what about that skinny tramp in London?’ I’d never been to America;
> I basically came in [illegally]. As luck would have it the film would be
> recorded back in London, maybe the first film to be recorded in Abbey
> Road.”

> HZ: “To make the Muppet thing work you have to surround these
> characters with reality - for those characters to really come across as
> crazy, the more traditional I am with my scoring the more they shine. You
> can just drop all pretensions and have a good time.”

> The score largely plays like a prototype Dreamworks Animation score,
> complete with some swashbuckling variations on the action mannerisms from
> The Lion King and some of the “heaviness” of this era’s MV action
> music. It’s a transitional work for sure, but the whole package is still
> quite spirited and often charming.

> Cynthia Weil: “You can’t look at it as something funny. You have to do
> it completely seriously. The fact that it’s a Muppet is what makes it
> funny.”

> The songs from the film manage to strike the appropriate balance between
> being amusing without being annoying - though none of them are earworms in
> the way the best ones from the Mann/Weil collaborations with James Horner
> are. Maybe Love Led Us Here comes close, though the album
> arrangement for country music singer John Berry is nonsensical. The reggae
> Love Power really doesn’t fit.

> HGW, again with the accent: “I had no gear, and you needed gear to keep
> up with Hans. I had to have a ridiculous amount of these Roland [S-760]
> samplers. I said, ‘Hans, how do I get them?’ and he said ‘you take out a
> bloody bank loan!’ ‘But Hans, no bank will give me, they’re $4,200 each
> and you said I’ll have 27 of them!’ ‘I’ll co-sign, [but] you’d better not
> screw up.’ So they lent me the money. He said, ‘one day that’ll buy you a
> house.’ Maybe it did, I don’t know.

> I got the gear necessary [to no longer be] the night owl, because up until
> that point to do anything effective for Hans you had to do it with his
> gear in his room. He couldn’t be there; you couldn’t have two of us
> sitting on his seat at once. The guy didn’t leave his studio until half
> past 3am. ‘So that’s when I start? Oh, GREAT.’ Those first couple years
> were brutal, but fun - I was totally up for it.”

> I know I saw this film when it came out in theaters, but the only thing I
> remember is steam coming out of a puppet’s ears during Cabin Fever.

> Muppet performer Andrew Spooner: “I went to the office to pick up my
> crew jacket and [director Brian Henson] was just leaving to have lunch. He
> asked if I wanted to join him and his companion. I had to say no! I was
> expected elsewhere. His companion? That was Hans Zimmer. I turned down
> lunch with Brian Henson and Hans Zimmer. That keeps me awake at night
> sometimes.”

> Future MV/RC regular Liz Finch and Conrad Pope may also have helped with
> orchestration - not too far outside the realm of possibility, given how
> much Hook seems to inform the opening.

> Broken Arrow (1996) - ****
> Zimmer; add’l music & conducting by Don Harper; add’l music HGW;
> orchestrated by Fowler bros/Moriarty/McIntosh plus conducting by Bruce and
> some really dope trumpet solos by Walt;
> baritone guitar by Duane Eddy; add’l guitar by Ryeland Allison;
> produced (in absentia) by Jay Rifkin; original album assembly by Jeff
> Rona

> No, not the one where Jimmy Stewart plays a cowboy who falls in love with
> an Apache woman. This is the one where Christian Slater kicks former NFL
> linebacker Howie Long out of a railcar before John Travolta gets impaled
> by a nuke. Loads of future Zimmer works would feature electric guitar, but
> this is perhaps the last score overseen by Zimmer to have an overt rock
> & roll feel. It also, somewhat amusingly, has one of the rare expanded
> albums to receive no quotes at all from its composer in the booklet,
> possibly because Zimmer despised the movie.

> HZ: “I think Broken Arrow was a disaster. I was poking fun at it! I did
> [it] because every action movie started to sound like what I had been
> doing. [I thought] I could reinvent the form. I did it once before. It
> didn’t work. There was not enough substance in the movie for me to [write
> something as good as The Lion King]. John Woo’s subtext got thrown out of
> the movie.”

> Even with this score getting over-extended at its full length and with a
> good portion of it being shredded 90s cheese (including some of the
> rambling piano that would be all over The Rock), I still think it’s
> absurd amounts of fun - Zimmer throwing harmonica and guitar and banjo and
> synth choir and whatever else he can think of to slightly pivot the MV
> sound in the direction of a spaghetti western.

> The two Travolta themes (the revolving synth bells and the bass guitar
> riff) are very catchy - but the heroic theme for Hale that kicks off the
> end credits is a show-stopper and one of my favorite Zimmer themes from
> this era. Those ideas, a bunch of action motifs, and the aforementioned
> instruments help keep enough thematic and sonic diversity for the work to
> avoid being tiresome at over 90 minutes, something I can’t necessarily say
> for The Rock.

> HZ: “[There’s some Ennio Morricone in there] because I thought we were
> doing a Western! I always thought Ennio wanted to work with Duane Eddy. So
> I just got the real Duane Eddy.”

> I somewhat joked in my first post in this series that Zimmer might’ve
> turned into Randy Edelman without forcing himself to try new things -
> totally forgetting that Zimmer & team would be forced to quote one of
> Edelman’s themes here.

> Interestingly, in at least one track you can hear the origin of what would
> be the Kraken heartbeat in Dead Man’s Chest.

> HZ: “I remember at one showing, in the third act when Travolta comes
> back and the little guitar tune comes in, the audience actually
> laughed--in a good way. They knew I wasn't being patronizing. My intent
> was [to] make the film fun, when there's no real story to tell. Well, I
> guess there was a story about betrayal between two men who've been friends
> forever. But that's not really what the movie was about. It was about
> blowing up a lot of things.”

> Jay Rifkin may have gotten a producer credit for doing nothing.

> I wonder if Marty O’Donnell was a huge fan of this score since quite a bit
> of the electronics heard here would show up in his Halo scores -
> especially in ODST.

> Twister (1996) - ****½
> Mancina; orchestrations also by B Fowler/Moriarty/McIntosh;
> orchestrations, add’l arranging & conducting by Don Harper;
> add’l arranging by John Van Tongeren; guitar solos by Trevor Rabin; song
> by Edward & Alex Van Halen

> Shockingly way better than I remembered it. Unlike prior Mancina scores
> with a large orchestra, it actually feels like they’re using all of it,
> both in ensemble moments and in more intimate stretches - there’s a deft
> balance between big and small so that the score never feels terribly
> repetitive. The main theme is great, and Mancina (usually a terrific
> tunesmith) gets a lot of mileage out of it - it’s Copland, then it’s sorta
> Copland, then it’s not Copland…hopefully you get the idea.

> MM: “Twister was really fun, [but also] about the hardest movie I’ve
> ever done. I was very free to create, but that doesn’t mean I wrote
> whatever I wanted to. Some cues I rewrote 12 or 13 times. There were some
> sequences where I had to do two versions - one very vocal and the other
> very orchestral - because we didn’t know, once the tornadoes were in
> there, how the music was going to sound. At the end the movie got severely
> cut, and my music wasn't presented the way I had intended for it to
> be.”

> The choir is a completely unnecessary and often-gorgeous addition -
> striking a nice balance between fear and wonder, and lending an almost
> awe-inspiring fantasy touch to multiple tracks.

> MM: “I wanted to make sure we didn’t score music in areas where the
> sound effects would take over. Jan felt the same way.”

> The second “snap, I was wrong, that was great” score of this series.

> The Rock (1996) - ***½
> Zimmer, NGS & HGW;
> add’l music by Don Harper, Steven Stern & Russ Landau;
> orchestrated by B Fowler/Moriarty/McIntosh/W Fowler & Dennis Dreith;
> add’l engineering by Marc Streitenfeld

> NGS: “It was a Jerry movie. Jerry wanted Hans. It was a hard one to
> crack.”

> The masculine choir becomes a staple of Zimmer’s output. Whereas with
> Crimson Tide there was an intellectual purpose for having it
> around, now it’s just in the score cuz that’s what Jerry likes. In a way
> this score is that score plus the Mancina-esque guitar-driven coolness of
> Bay/Bruckheimer joint Bad Boys.

> HZ: “Jerry didn’t like the tunes. I must have worked four weeks around
> the clock. The main theme is mine, as are a few other bits. I was the
> ghostwriter. It was always supposed to be Nick's. I didn’t want credit
> [but] Nick phoned his agent and said he couldn’t have his name in the
> opening credits over a piece of music I had written.”

> The score definitely has its negatives. A lot of the action material,
> particularly anything that isn’t a thematic statement, seems to devolve
> into obnoxious loops, random piano rambling & synths, and bongos.
> Sure, there’s still harmony, bass accents, and “cool” drum hits, but
> countermelodies and counterpoint, something Zimmer occasionally used in
> his early days, are largely absent - everything is very direct,
> dangumbit. Whatever HGW had a hand in suggests little of his material to
> come, save maybe for his future works with Tony Scott.

> HZ: “With the way they were cutting, there was no way one person could
> do it. There was one person who came in who had worked with Spielberg on
> television or something, who said he could write eight minutes of music a
> day. After eight days, he hadn’t [even] written three minutes.”

> But gosh, those Zimmer themes are so effective, and the Mason theme by NGS
> is lovely even if it sticks out like a sore thumb from the rest of the
> material. If I can turn my brain off during the movie, I can probably do
> it during the music too.

> HGW: “There was a mountain of music to be written and hardly any time
> (what's new) plus the eternal task master Jerry 'let's torture Harry now'
> Bruckheimer.”

> Zimmer hated the original album - and I think everyone else does too.
> Maybe someday there’ll be a legitimate release of the full score -
> including that sole full Dies Irae quote early on in the film.

> HZ: “In the one big chunk I did write, I actually went against my
> judgment and moralized something, when all the guys get killed and cut
> down, I wanted to make it tragic and say it was fucked up. But after that
> where do you go? I did the best I could, but do I feel passionate about
> it? No. I can live with this bunch of notes. I wasn’t saying gimme gimme
> The Rock.”

> It’s a fun score that’s very much of its time - but for me it doesn’t rise
> above a guilty pleasure.

> Marc Streitenfeld gets his first credit beyond just being Zimmer’s
> assistant. I’m fairly certain the Spielberg alum Zimmer referred to is
> Russ Landau, who had done a number of episodes for the second and third
> seasons of the Spielberg-produced seaQuest DSV and would later
> mostly score competition shows like Survivor and Fear Factor
> - he ended up only getting partial credit for one track.

> HZ, later speaking about the late producer Don Simpson: “I’d rather
> spend 10 minutes with Don than most other people I know. They would be
> action-packed with thoughts, ideas, conTROVersy, lunacy, fun, tragedy -
> you name it, THERE WAS DON.”


> The Fan (1996) - Not heard
> Zimmer; add’l music and conducting by HGW; add’l music by Jeff Rona;
> orchestrated by B Fowler; song “Letting Go” also by Terence Trent
> D'Arby

> A supposedly wretched film (even according to Zimmer) with a supposedly
> wretched score (not according to Zimmer), this one is only worth
> listing for a variety of events
> - The last collaboration between Zimmer & Scott
> - The first time HGW would work on a Tony Scott film
> - I believe it’s the first time Zimmer collaborated with cellist Martin
> Tillman
> - It’s where Steve Jablosnky appears

> SJ: “I got out of college, came back to LA, did a few little odd jobs.
> I thought I might end up a recording engineer. I had a little bit of gear
> at home. I had been a big fan of Hans Zimmer for many years, I knew his
> studio was somewhere in LA. I found the number and said, ‘Do you need an
> intern, or a helper, or anything like that?’ and they said, ‘Yep, come on
> down.’ I got in at a good time because it was so much smaller than it is
> now. I started helping Harry, and he eventually hired me. [Earlier]
> somebody had told Geoff Zanelli, ‘when you come back from Berkeley, you
> can work for Harry’. I had no idea, [and] I always thought Geoff hated me,
> but he [ended up with] John Powell, so it all worked out.

> I remember Harry was working on The Fan. I was sitting there going, ‘Let
> me show you guys what I can do.’ I obviously was just doing it for fun. I
> remember the receptionist coming in, and she thought that was good. Harry
> realized I was doing this, and started giving me cues to do on his own
> films.”


> —------------------------------------

> Next time: Gavin, Geoff, John, Klaus, and dream a little Dreamworks

Another great article, highly informative. Could you maybe do one about Michael Kamen in the future, as he is one of my favorite composers and I can hardly find out anything about him apart from that he was married, had two daughters, also was a pop-music producer and turned out a sax concerto. I know he and Zimmer had some cross-pollination between their respective studios, most notably in that I've seen Blake Neely and Klaus Badelt work for both of them, but I would love to see a full rundown on Kamen like you've done so beautifully with Zimmer and John Scott and if you already have before I got here, sorry.

Keep up the great work and I'm waiting with bated breath for the next installment.

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