Recently Premier French soundtrack label Music Box
records have released a number of Franklin soundtracks these include, LE GRAND PARDON, LE GRAND CARNAVAL, HOLD UP, DERNIER ETE A TANGER and LA COUP DE SIROCCO. All of which contain the unmistakable style and musical fingerprint of Franklin, but at the same time all posses’ musical voices and identities of their own that became important and individual to each respective movie, supporting, enhancing and integrating with the storylines and characters and effectively add greater atmosphere and depth to each of the movies. Le Coup de Sirocco/ The Siroccan Wind (1979),was directed by Alexandre Arcady and it was the first in a series of movies that the film maker shot about his life in Africa, and looked at life through his eyes as a pied-noir or black feet, which was the name attached to Algerians who had European roots. The soundtrack that Franklin provided the director has some jazz orientation but is also coloured by the styles and sounds of the Mediterranean, with a definite leaning towards the more classic and rustic Italian sound of Nino Rota
which is fused with more upbeat and boisterous musical flavours which are inspired by composers such as Armando Trovaioli
and Piero Umiliani
, the composer at times providing up-tempo beats and shakes as in track number 23, HEY BABY FOOT, which could be from the soundtrack to any number of Italian movies from the 1960,s or indeed from any hip coffee bars juke box from that period. Saxophone, sultry strings, brushed percussion and cool almost smoky sounding piano come together in track number 24, SEXY SAX BLUES, to create a laid back and highly steamy sound.The central or main theme itself is more like a traditional Italian melody, quirky woodwinds are carried along by an even more jolly or robust sounding piano. Franklin adding strings and solo trumpet to the equation and utilizing mandolin to great effect as in track number,25, LE COUP DI SIRROCO. The score is represented by just five cues but each and every track is entertaining this edition containing a cue that has not been released previously in the form of track 21, NARBONI and FILS which is essentially a variation or a fuller rendition of the scores central theme. Track 22, VILLE d’ALGER, is a more emotive sounding cue, Franklin weaving a melodic and haunting tone poem together performed by plaintive woodwinds which are subdued and light in their sound, strings also make an appearance acting at first as a background to the woods, but then rise above them to momentarily create a near luxurious sound, which although short lived is affecting. This short score is coupled with (1982), again set in Africa, Director Arcady opens his story during the 1942 allied troop landing in Algieria. For this assignment Franklin utilized a strong and romantic sounding central theme, that was performed by lush sounding strings that gave it an expansive and full sound, but to this he added a solo guitar which added an intimate and fragile sound to the proceedings, the composer also utilized a martial sound which he relayed via choir, timpani and piccolo, the score also contained a number of references to the music of the era, and included a handful of tracks in the style of the big band sound of Glenn Miller
and his like, which is demonstrated in track number 4, WELCOME TO PARADISE which although a vocal sung in French still posses that Miller or Goodman swing sound with trombones, trumpets, clarinet and percussion combining to create a sound that is nostalgic and immensely entertaining. The compose also provides us some beautifully emotive pieces within the score, as in track number 6, Douce Algérie, which opens with solo woodwind, underlined by harp and light use of strings, the woodwind melts away and segues seamlessly into a flawless and heartrending solo violin performance, which eventually is joined by subdued woodwind and punctuated by angelic sounding harp, the string section returns and gives Franklin’s tender and beautiful composition a fuller rendition, after which the woodwind returns to bring the cue to its conclusion. Track 8, VIOLENCE combines both dramatic and highly charged music with a backdrop or background of drums from a big band, the combination although maybe sounding odd is highly effective, Franklin later in the cue adding male voices to great effect. This is a delightful score, and contains a plethora of magical sounding themes which I am confident will be popular with collectors of fine movie music.
Read other recent reviews by John Mansell: Addio, Fratello Crudele
, The Dark Side of Light