Max Steiner

King Kong [Original Soundtrack]

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AllMusic Review by

It's difficult to criticize this CD release, of the original music tracks from Merian C. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack's King Kong, from 1933, although it is slightly confusing on first glance. Tracks 12-20, running 24 minutes, are, indeed, Max Steiner's unmixed pre-mastering music tracks, preserved from a group of complimentary 78 r.p.m. records issued to close friends of the producers in 1933, and they are glorious--you can experience the score that changed the way filmmakers and studios thought of film music, as it was conducted at the time, raw, with all of Steiner's nuances as conductor intact. There are excellent re-recordings of this music, most notably from the Marco Polo label by the Moscow Symphony, which contains material that isn't here, but these are the originals, and valuable as such. Track 1 is the main title music, and tracks 2-11 are a beautifully assembled edit of the entire 100-minute movie's soundtrack, with dialogue and music, into a 30-minute audio summary of the plot, dramatic essentials, and action--the perfect "radio" King Kong. It is great fun, assembling a script and score so familiar that the visuals just pop up out of our own imaginations and memories. That absence of the visual element also brings new emphasis to the music, particularly the dark mysteriosos (illuminated by harp glissandi) accompanying the arrival on Skull Island. The notes are extremely thorough, and the packaging is very handsome--coupled with the extremely clean sources for the score and the retelling of the tale, this could be the most enjoyable (if not the very best) music document to be derived from King Kong.

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