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Krzysztof Komeda was a Polish jazzman who is probably most famous for his 1960s film score work, notably Roman Polański’s Rosemary's Baby and The Fearless Vampire Killers. He is also remembered for his album Astigmatic, which is regarded as a landmark in European jazz. He was quite prolific, I doubt I will ever be able to enjoy his entire catalog. Not long after work on Rosemary's Baby, Komeda died tragically, apparently because of poor decisions made about getting him medical treatment after an accident. He was 38.
Rosemary's Baby, based on the novel by Ira Levin, still holds up quite well today in my opinion. The story involves a young, painfully optimistic woman who has her dreams of the perfect life turned upside down by a group of witches, including her husband, that plot for her to give birth to the Antichrist. If a story like this was made into a film today, it would likely be more extreme and less creative than Rosemary's Baby. I think the film works by making the viewer use their imagination, so if you are hoping for explicit horror look elsewhere. As for the music, the "Lullaby" theme sung by star Mia Farrow became an unlikely radio hit. It has been covered by numerous bands, with one of the greatest versions performed by Fantomas. Komeda's music for this film is avantgarde jazz that spans many moods, but overall it seems to me there is a kind of melancholy tinging the entire thing. His music, namely on tracks like "Panic" and "What Have You Done To Its Eyes?!" are marvelously effective at enhancing the impact of the scenes they play in. On their own, they are just as intriguing.
The Fearless Vampire Killers, originally titled Dance of the Vampires has gotten better with age as well. I have never seen the original cut of the film, but only the American version which was apparently butchered. It was common for foreign films to get chopped up, dried out, and reconstituted (and maybe deep-fried) to make them more palatable for American audiences. This still happens today, to some extent. This film has gorgeous cinematography, really great sets, and memorable performances from the cast. As has been commented many times, the film is a blend of comedy and Hammer Horror style. Like I mentioned though, I have never seen the original cut and thus I have no idea how much of the humor was present in that version. As for the music, Komeda provides some really interesting compositions. When I was playing the main title the other day, my girlfriend asked "Is this Philip Glass?" I can see how someone might think that at first, considering the use of the choir and the repetitive structures. As with Rosemary's Baby, the music works so well with the images on screen that an extra dimension to the film is expertly rendered. It is a classic 60s score that deserves better treatment.
These two scores have been released together on CD by numerous labels, always in the same deplorable condition. It shows such astounding disregard for Komeda by presenting the music in a very sloppy way. The tracks largely are out of order and most of them are incorrectly titled. There are also a number of tracks that are titled as if they are from parts of the film, but are really alternate takes, vocal warm-up sessions, and unused and source cues. In addition, these tracks have not been remastered, at least not correctly. There is some audible tape hiss at times, and sometimes there are issues with the stereo channel balance. It looks to me like these releases were just an attempt to cash in on the fan's desire to have this music. It is obvious there was no real care for quality.
Because of the success of Rosemary's Baby, it was afforded an LP release in 1968, that included a different recording session of some of the music from the film. I was lucky enough to obtain FLAC rips of both the CD and the LP and decided I was going to create a custom soundtrack for myself. As fortune would have it, Zer0_II invited me to participate in the Nightmare Before Christmas event and it became the perfect opportunity to share my little project with you. While the end result is not perfect, it fulfills my aim to be a little more considerate to Komeda and provide a more pleasurable disturbing listening experience. So, I re-sequenced and re-titled the tracks, omitting tracks that did not appear in the films and opting to use the superior LP versions in place of a few tracks. The CD release was by no means complete. All in all I got rid of 6 tracks that were just there to pad out the number of tracks. It is a real shame how many cues are missing, especially since some of those cues are among the most interesting that Komeda composed for these films. I hope that someday there will be a proper remastered release that gets it all right, but until then this will have to do.
The awesome cover art was made by my friend Javier Burgos who has his own blog dedicated to his custom artwork design for soundtracks, Lost Scores. I would like to thank him for taking the time to contribute. I really appreciate it.
Year of Film Release: 1968 & 1967 Custom soundtrack edit by Strange Ranger Genres: Soundtrack/Score, Horror, Avantgarde Format: FLAC & MP3 Bitrate: Lossless & 320kbps
Track List: Tracks 1-19 from Rosemary's Baby 1. Main Title (Lullaby from "Rosemary's Baby") (2:31) 2. Lullaby, Part I (Moving In - Montage) (1:01) 3. The Coven (Album Version) (0:45) 4. Moment Musical (Album Version) (2:07) 5. The Nightmare ("This is no dream -- this is really happening!") (4:04) 6. Lullaby, Part II (Rosemary Is Pregnant) (1:02) 7. Pregnancy Pains (0:32) 8. Rosemary Makes Steak / Roman Meets Hutch (0:46) 9. Christmastime: Rosemary Goes to Meet Hutch at the Time-Life Building (1:06) 10. Hutch in a Coma: Rosemary Begins to Suspect Something's Wrong (0:32) 11. Raw Liver, Her Own Reflection & Sickness (0:34) 12. Rosemary's Party (Album Version) (2:07) 13. The Pain Has Stopped ("It's alive! It's moving!") (1:13) 14. All of Them Witches (1:59) 15. Panic (Album Version) (2:03) 16. Through the Closet (1:52) 17. What Have You Done to Its Eyes?! (1:26) 18. End Title (Lullaby Reprise) (1:09) 19. Lullaby (Top 40 Single Release, 1968) (2:24)
Tracks 20-35 from The Fearless Vampire Killers 20. The Fearless Vampire Killers - Main Title (2:15) 21. Sarah Takes a Bath (0:52) 22. Snowman (0:54) 23. Alfred Behind Sledge (1:29) 24. Sarah Asks for a Quick One (1:59) 25. Count von Krolock's Ride (0:21) 26. Sarah is Bitten / Abduction (2:08) 27. Shagal Leaves (0:41) 28. To The Cellar (1:05) 29. Skiing / To The Castle (2:45) 30. Portraits (1:15) 31. Alfred Hears Singing (0:41) 32. His Excellency's Cobwebs (0:37) 33. Professor Abronsius and Alfred on the Rooftops (2:50) 34. Alfred's Many Screw-ups (1:57) 35. The Fearless Vampire Killers - Main Title (Long Version) (4:04)
Missing Cues: ROSEMARY'S BABY Rosemary Goes Into Labor
THE FEARLESS VAMPIRE KILLERS Alfred and Abronsius Escape Herbert von Krolock Vampires wake up for the ball Herbert von Krolock's harpsichord piece / other classical pieces at the ball Alfred, Abronsius and Sarah Escape the Undead Horde / Sarah turns into a Vampire / End Credits