Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Music and Songs by Paul Giovanni
Performed by Magnet
In 1973, the movie The Wicker Man hit theaters and became a few things it never meant to be. One was a rallying cry for (or against) pagan rituals. Another was a cult classic that would see a rabid fanbase that grew over the next 30 years to ridiculous proportions. Third, although somewhat intentional, was the vehicle for which Christopher Lee opines was one of his greatest performances, both in acting, and in singing. Yes, I said singing. One of the things that helped make The Wicker Man such a success was the soundtrack, which, due to the film’s weird history with distribution, was never released. Now, more than thirty years after its initial run in theaters, Silva Screen Records presents this newly remastered soundtrack that gives listeners the real feel of the original classic.
The first eight tracks on this CD are the actual soundtrack to the movie, performed folk-style and worth a listen, whether you like folk music or not. Songs range from Pagan holiday songs and bawdy ditties that sing the joys of love and sex. In fact, a few of them make damned fine drinking songs. What ties the songs together, though, is the sense of celebration of life, and the whole “renaissance fair” feel to them. Of particular interest in this section is the sixth track, “The Tinker of Rye,” which is sung by Christopher Lee.
The following three tracks were recorded for the film, and played on set, but not used in the final cut. These three treasures were, up until this release, scratchy and in mono only. However, thanks to the digital cleanup, these three songs come across as beautiful as the day they were recorded. The final five tracks were used in the film as background music, but were not featured prominently enough (according to the liner notes, though I can’t figure how the “Opening Music” doesn’t count as prominent) to be called part of the original soundtrack They were included on this offering as a way to give a more complete picture of the score. What results is music that is strange, evocative, and overall charming and wonderful. Among the best tracks on this set are “Willow’s Song” and “Fire Leap.” For those who are looking the bawdier songs, “The Landlord’s Daughter” and Lee’s “The Tinker of Rye” are hilariously rude.
The liner notes in this collection are also of interest because they tell the story of not only a few of the songs, but also of the musicians and how the songs came about. Included are stories about cocaine-fueled rehearsals, crazy musicians, and naked body-doubles that may be of little interest to the casual listener, but fans of the movie will drool over them.
This soundtrack was a long time coming, and well worth the wait. While you’re unlikely to find anything on this CD on anyone’s top-twenty list, fans of the movie will love the songs and the stories that go with them. It’s a solid CD, and worth the purchase for any fan of The Wicker Man.
- Corn Rigs
- The Landlord’s Daughter
- Gently Johnny
- Fire Leap
- The Tinker of Rye
- Willow’s Song
- Chop Chop
- Festival/Mirie it Is/Sumer is A-Cumen In
- Opening Music/Loving Couples/The Ruined Church
- The Masks/The Hobby Horse
- Searching for Rowan
- Appointment with the Wicker Man
4 out of 5
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