Ooo! More music!
LP: Huk! (1956)
Review Rating:   Excellent
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Screen Archives Entertainment
Catalog #:
SAAG 10.001
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Tracks / Album Length:

23 / (51:06)


Composer: Albert Glasser

Special Notes:

Gatefold album includes 8-page booklet, 2-page composer memoir extract, & 1956 Oscar ballot reproduction
Comments :    

Sterling Silliphant's first feature film screenplay was based on his 1956 novel Huk!, where an American, returning to his family home in the Philippines, is affected by a band of marauding terrorists, known as Huks.

Albert Glasser's score is, to those familiar with his monster and exploitation music, an elegant, if not compact epic work that deservedly ranks as one of his best (and proudest) achievements. Glasser's score was on the ballot for the Best Original Score Oscar Nominees (reproduced in the album's stellar packaging as a sheet insert), and deservedly stands beside the works of colleagues such as Miklos Rozsa (Lust for Life), Alex North (The Rainmaker), William Walton (Richard III), Elmer Bernstein (The Ten Commandments), and Victor Young (Around the World in 80 Days) - the latter (posthumously) getting nominated, and winning the Oscar statue for 1956.

That isn't to say Huk! is of a scale and emotional scope as William Walton's Shakespearean score, but the fact Glasser was recognized by his peers and colleagues for his fine work proved he earned their respect, and Screen Archive's debut LP - released way before SAE became a premiere soundtrack label, distributor, and online retailer - preserves Glasser's score in a fine album.

Huk! was mastered from the original recording tapes, and sounds exceptionally crisp - thereby showing off the wonderful orchestrations that reside in Glasser's moving score. Although the film is still unavailable on DVD, one gets a vivid portrait of the emotional conflicts the American faces, as he's forced to deal with the murder, personal demons, and local conflicts.

Glasser's score is pretty much devoid of overt, ethnic flourishes - only the album's final cue makes use of the Philippine national anthem - cross-mixed in the score from an imperfect source. While his exploitation scores are fairly classical in style, Huk! has a more modernistic feel; the fact he was allowed to write meaty cues beyond the (1:30) range helped, but Glasser's approach was also more gentle in conveying sensitive emotions. There's less urgency to quickly exclaim obvious emotional conflicts, and the film's comparatively mature subject matter meant he could write for adult audiences capable of enjoying a more sophisticated level of musical subtext. Even the violin solos are more genteel, and unlike his monster/thriller scores, Glasser seems to have had the time to refine his orchestrations until they glow from all the polishing.

Noted as a top orchestrator, cues such as "His Old Room" reveal the amazing finesse Glasser employed in balancing the sonics and emotive range of his orchestra. A violin solo is gently supported by a thin blanket of strings, and his brass writing - obviously more furious and intense for the action material on Side B - are sharp but controlled, and employ a more precisely organized buildup of brass, cymbals, and some bass-friendly percussion. The action cues are also less affected by harsh sonics, which were sometimes prominent in the Starlog compilation album, The Fantastic Film Music of Albert Glasser, Vol. 1.

As a debut release, SAE went all-out in treating the album like a multimedia kit, and the packaging is larded with lots of informative historical notes. John Caps' liner notes and track descriptions spotlight Glasser's creative coups, and Glasser himself contributes recollections, excerpted from his 1985 anecdotal memoirs, I Did It!

Apparently printed and sold in limited quantities for a blip during the mid- or late-eighties, Glasser's memoirs are more like his high-pitched exploitation scores: a series of peaks and valleys, repeatedly punctuated by imperative, all-caps key words; and while not a smooth narrative, he traces his involvement with such a 'high class' project, and some of the tricks he employed for an adaptation of Bach's famous lullaby music.

Like SAE's follow-up album - Glasser's 1951 score for Tokyo File 212 - Huk! remains unavailable on CD, though hopefully it's inevitable debut (given the quality of the music, it has to come out eventually) will also be accompanied by the printed archival goodies in this elegant album, with design and layout by Craig Spaulding and Ed Dennis.


© 2006 Mark R. Hasan

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