" "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up." Norma Desmond in Sunset. "
Written by Thomas Kiefner
- Review of
the regular release
When this CD was first announced some of the buzz was why did they include a second CD with 2:24 and one track on it? Upon arrival the answer was loud and clear as it was its own separate entity, being a rejected cue from the film Sunset Blvd. but a 2009 recording of the Livingston/Evans "The Paramount-Don't-Want-Me Blues" digitally recorded and performed by the duo of Kaufman and Kole, a most welcome addition to mine and hopefully your collection. It is a raucous barrel house recording that manages to get in the names of all the producer and directors of the day with great lyrics. This is wonderful material and it alone is worth purchasing to have in your collection.
So much has been said about Sunset Blvd. that there is little for me to say about it other than it is a film for the younger generation who perhaps might be reading this to see keeping in mind this was 1950 and the director writer Wilder was one of the finest Hollywood had ever seen as he wrote and filmed about the industry like no one had done before. Included in the purchase of this new CD release from Counterpoint/SAE #CPT1001 will give you enough material in the two booklets so you too can become an expert on the film and impress your friends as to your vast knowledge.
My first experience with any recorded material from this film was on a 1974 release from Charles Gerhardt (RCA ARL1-0708) LP offering music of Franz Waxman the composer. The main theme was a quirky unusual style jazzy number which certainly got my attention. It was really a style that I had never heard before and I became quite fascinated with it. The Gerhardt material became a staple in my collection and I can certainly recommend the entire series which has been remastered to CD provided you avoid the Dolby surround CD's, which aren't the best in sound quality. The Waxman CD includes a fine selection of his material.
In 2002 Varese Sarabande released a fine rerecording featuring Joel McNeely and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. This 68 minute recording featured most of the music from the film as well as some previously never before released material. The huge advantage this recording has is its digital from start to finish so it has superior sound as well as being well arranged and performed extremely well. Again this is a recording that I can highly recommend you have in your collection.
The new Counterpoint release offers the original soundtrack material, unreleased source material, and the previously discussed "The Paramount-Don't-Want-Me Blues" song (sound clip included) recently recorded. The OST is mono and there are spots which will annoy the perfectionist. It is over 50 years old and not in perfect condition but overall John Davis did a superb job of transferring the material. The sound is crisp and clear with nice biting treble and decent bass. Listen to the Prelude (sound clip included) especially the solo violin and you can fully appreciate this recording. The booklets fully explain the listening experience to you far better than I could attempt to discuss in a few words. It is unique and special! Listening to the violin fiddling, the harp, sax, and piano immediately bring back the movie to your memory if you’ve seen it before. If you haven't viewed the film don't hesitate in renting it. You'll not be disappointed.
In conclusion this is one of the top 10 soundtracks of all time so it goes without saying that all three releases Gerhardt, McNeely, and this new Counterpoint need to be in your soundtrack collection. If you can only afford one always get the OST as you’ll seldom go wrong with the original material. After 35 years I still get goose bumps every time I listen to it. Highly recommended.
CD 1: 52.39
1. Prelude (8.18)
2. Money Trouble / The Schwabadero (1.11)
3. Chase and Mansion / An Aging Actress (3.54)
4. The Organ Grinder (0.40)
5. A Curious Collaboration (0.38)
6. Norma's Gallery (1.19)
7. Afternoon Outings / Sacrifice of Self-Respect (4.47)
8. Dramatic Chord (1.04)
9. After Auld Lang Syne / The Pampered Prince (0.49)
10. Parading to Paramount (0.54)
11. Interview with Demille (1.49)
12. Demille's Compassion (0.38)
13. The Studio Stroll (0.25)
14. Farewell / Joe Walks Out (6.41)
15. The Comeback (4.19)
16. Sunset Boulevard Cast (0.25)
17. Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (excerpts) (3.36)
18. La Cumparsita (3.32)
19. Diane (2.51)
20. Charmaine (2.20)
21. Auld Lang Syne (1.01)
22. Main Title (Film Version with Effects) (1.28)
CD 2: 2.24
1. The Paramount-Don't-Want-Me Blues * (2.24)
* Newly recorded by vocalist Whitney Claire Kaufman and pianist Nelson Kole