Wednesday, June 22

Alan Parker's Angel Heart OST Back Cover Notes

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Since Angel Heart's soundtrack is rare, here's Alan Parker's notes about the film's music from the back of the LP. Also check out Record Fiend's entry about the soundtrack for more and an MP3 album rip.

"I was first introduced to William Hjortsberg's novel "Fallen Angel" soon after publication in 1978. Like a lot of hot proprieties, it was quickly gobbled up the Hollywood movie machinery and optioned by the gentlemen with the big cheque books. It proved, however to be a tough nut to crack as a movie and it came my way again in 1985.

The attraction for me was simple. The fusion of two genres a fantastic Faustian tale told as a classic Raymond Chandler detective story. I started writing the script in the summer of '85 and by January of '86 we were in pre-production in New York and New Orleans with a new title: Angel Heart.

From the outset I had tried to write the film's musical identity into the script. Music had always been important in my films but with each it seems to have come by a different route. With some it was a starting point, as with "Fame" where Michael Gore wrote his music as I wrote scenes for the film. With "Pink Floyd The Wall" Roger Water's music and lyrics were the entire narrative for the piece. In some of my other films, music came later with Giorgio Moroder's score for "Midnight Express" or Peter Gabriel's music for "Birdy" which was largely created by plundering the used (and often unused) 24 track masters of Peter's old albums.

I asked Trevor Jones to do the music for Angel Heart because I'd like his score for Konchalovsky's "Runaway Train" and had in fact already pinched a couple of tracks to use on my rough mix whilst editing the film. Trevor and I met in Paris and I explained that I'd admired the full orchestral score he's done for Konchalovsky. Trevor, with his consumate good manners, puffed at his roll-up and revealed sheepishly that the body of the score was synthesized on his synclavier.

Much for our source music had been done during filming. I'd cast the great old blues singer Brownie McGhee to play the character "Toots" and we re-recorded his "Rainy Days" in New Orleans.

In the script I had made Johnny Favorite's 30's hit pivotal to our story and I wanted it to haunt the movie as it had haunted Harry. From a mountain of 78's I chose "Girl of my Dreams" which was nostalgically familiar but not too connected with any one artist. Trevor cleverly wove the old theme into his new atmospheric score and had the the brain-wave of using the brilliant young Courtney Pine for the sax solo's. Courtney played along to the picture like a silent movie accompanyist and wound have continued from front to end credits if we'd let him.

To mix the music tracks Trevor had appropriately chosen the Angel Recording Studios, built in a disused church in Isington, North London. This was deja-vu for me as the mixing-room was once the room I'd spent every Sunday, as a kid, in the Boys Brigade. Trevor had layed down the separate tracks in what we called our "tool-kit" method allowing the greatest freedom when doing the final film mix at Warner Hollywood Studios. We've also included some of the film's dialogue and effects on this record mix to hopefully conjure up a little of the atmosphere of the movie.

HARRY
Do you know where I could find this Johnny Favorite?
BO
Only in the cemetery. You wanna hear one of tunes

Alan Parker, London '87.
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