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Jump Back Into Garcia's Time Machine

George Pal’s adaptation of the classic H.G. Well’s novel The Time Machine (1960) is one of those iconic films of its time. As a child of the late 1960s, early 1970s, this film had its own fascination with its fantastic story and colorful imagery. Mostly, it was a popular television matinee movie for me growing up and it has always been a film with these nostalgic connections for others as well. It also bears one of the more popular scores of composer Russell Garcia (1916-2011). Garcia worked as a composer and arranger for a number of television shows and as an orchestrator.

Almost seventeen years has passed since Film Score Monthly brought fans an album of Garcia’s score with the original MGM Studio Orchestra. The present recording was actually made back in 1987 (on the GNP Crescendo label) and features the composer also conducting the Graunke Symphony Orchestra. For that recording, Garcia brought together the primary cues of the score but also recorded a number of items that included new music, or music that had been cut. This makes the present release a more complete presentation of the score as a result. With the addition of some of these moments it results in about 2-3 minutes of music. The current release is a straight remastering and re-issue of that recording (which explains the odd reprise of the “End Title” music at about the half-way point as that was the end of side 1).

This is gorgeous orchestral music that blends some great romantic themes (like that for Filby and later Weena) alongside avantgarde practices and dissonances (prominent to emphasize the Morlocks with some Stravinsky channeled in the bass line). There are moments of electronic ideas that add an interesting flair. The performances are also fairly good with only some minor intonation issues here and there (often in places where Garcia’s dissonances are thinned out across the orchestra—“The Time Machine”). Sound quality is quite good and there is a warm, string sound that Garcia draws from the orchestra in these performances. The album also includes a little suite from his score to Atlantis, The Lost Continent (1961) made especially for the album.

While the music itself should be enough to encourage film music fans to track down a copy of this re-release, the package also includes a lovingly-produced booklet featuring a host of photos, information about the composer and even an interview with the album producer. (The cover art has been switched out a bit but all that was pictured on the old GNP release is also here too). One of the great science fiction scores gets a bit of new life in this remastered rerelease by a neglected master of film scoring.


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