André Previn

Bad Day at Black Rock [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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AllMusic Review by

From the Internet-exclusive audio boutique Rhino HandMade comes this compilation of original motion picture music from noted composer André Previn and performed by the MGM Studio Orchestra. Not only does this single CD include the complete soundtrack to the Spencer Tracy epic Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), but also key selections from three additional scores as well -- Tension(1949), Scene of the Crime (1949), and Cause for Alarm (1950). Notably, only the tracks from Bad Day at Black Rock are presented in stereo -- which has been mixed with a nod toward aural widescreen (read: optimal stereo channel separation). As with most cinematic or "incidental" music, the underlying subtext is to represent the on-screen action. However, a large part of Previn's success was his seemingly innate ability to manufacture much more than musical backdrops or scenery. He deals in the realm of creating tension and release within his sonic dramas. Likewise, he shades the themes in different hues as they reoccur -- intimating a visual foreshadowing or flashback -- similar to that of many classical works. From the introductory notes to the various "Main Titles," the listener becomes engrossed with the instant attention demanded by the dynamics in the music. The immediacy and ominous -- almost threatening -- tonality that pervades the opening sequence of Bad Day at Black Rock is a motif which reveals itself throughout each of the film's subsequent scores -- particularly during the "Medley: Smith Visits Sheriff/Doc Gets Mad." The remaining three films are noir dramas from Previn's earliest days at MGM when he was barely out of his teens. It is amazing the breadth of scope he possessed at such an early age. Even the background music -- such as the epigrammatic jazzy cue titled "Billboard" from Scene of the Crime is shrouded in uncertainty and seemingly untoward intent. The disc is accompanied by a 20-page liner notes booklet containing still photos, plot synopses, as well as discographical details about each recording date and a fresh perspective from Turner Classic Movies music producer George Feltenstein.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Bad Day at Black Rock, film score
1 3:19
2 1:27
3 0:57
4 0:58
5 0:46
6 0:40
7 1:09
8 1:46
9 1:20
10 2:17
11 0:41
12 3:57
13 1:01
Tension, film score
14 0:18
15 1:30
16 0:40
17 3:39
18 1:35
19 2:00
20 1:02
21 0:40
Scene Of The Crime, film score
22 1:45
23 0:16
24 1:41
25 2:49
26 1:02
Cause For Alarm, film score
27 1:07
28 3:42
29 1:34
30 2:34
31 2:08
32 0:43
33 0:32
blue highlight denotes track pick