The Wicker ManWith a back story that stretches back 38 years (to when the original music was recorded) the soundtrack for the cult thriller The Wicker Man is finally making its debut in the US (8 years after being released in the UK). As anyone that has seen the film – an engagingly offbeat thriller that actor Christopher Lee wanted to see produced so much that he worked on it for free – can attest, the music is a deeply embedded part of The Wicker Man‘s intrigue. The first eight tracks on this album are the original stereo masters created by composer Paul Giovanni which he would have put out as the film’s soundtrack if it hadn’t been for the film’s troubled history. Though each of these tracks features music and lyrics by Giovanni, they’re all very different from the tracks around them. Amid the collection are the eerily seductive “Willow’s Song,” the deep vocalizations of Christopher Lee as Lord Summerisle in the ponderous “The Tinker of Rye,” and the bawdy bar song “The Landlord’s Daughter.” That Giovanni was able to create such a varied musicscape while still managing to make all the songs sound as if they belong together is a testament to his skills as a composer – though this was his first feature film. The final track in this opening collection is the marching dirge “The Procession” that plods along with a downbeat rhythm that captures the image as seen in the film exquisitely.

The next three tracks never appeared in the film, but were recorded and used for playback purposes on set only. There’s the Celtic “Chop Chop,” the dreamy “Lullaby,” and the lengthy score piece “Festival /Mirie It Is / Summer Is A-Cumen In / Sunset” that culminates in star Edward Woodward’s screams of distress.

The remaining 6 tracks seem to be taken directly from the film, with sound effects and surrounding vocals still in place, including a raucous bar in “Searching For Rowan” and crashing waves and accompanying dialogue in “Appointment with the Wicker Man.” Ostensibly these movie clips have been left in the recording to retain their initial feel as they were in the movie, and this is a good choice, as much of the music is so deeply embedded in the action it would be hard to separate the two.

Overall, this is an excellent collection of music, though I’d say that one should see the film before they would be able to fully appreciate the tracks collected here. Silva Screen Records has worked hard for many years to see this album get released and fans of the music are sure to be thankful. Additionally, the cd insert includes a lengthy bit of memoir from musician Gary Carpenter, revealing intricate secrets from the set (including things not necessarily related to the score, such as the mythology behind the body double used for some of Britt Ekland’s dancing scenes).

Zach’s Rating: B+
Perfect For: Anyone who saw the movie and was captivated by the music
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To purchase the soundtrack to The Wicker Man, visit Amazon

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