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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Drama > Police Thriller > Soundtracks > French Connection 1 & 2 (Limited CD)

French Connection I & II (Limited CD)


Sound: B†††† Music: B



A few years ago, 20th Century Fox released both French Connection films on DVD, and the original film in particular had a very badly needed restoration.Now, the FSM label of Film Score Monthly Magazine has released a limited edition CD soundtrack of both films, limited to only 3,000 pressings on a single disc.Both scores composed by Don Ellis, this is actually the debut soundtrack for either film this many years late(r).


When The French Connection hit screens in 1971, it was a huge surprise for its realism.The score was a huge reason, taking the typical punctuated Jazz scores of police thrillers and taking them into a more hardcore Rock-like arena, including abstract asides that came everywhere from The Beatles and the Progressive (Classical) Rock movements, to experimental, avant-garde movements in many music genres.As compared to its TV counterparts, Ellisí score was simply hardcore.


It continues to hold up extremely well, presented here in 18 tracks.The film tried for everything from Documentary realism, a legacy of director William Friedkinís early work, to cutting-edge political films like Costa-Gavrasí Z (1969), itself a political thriller that had learned its lessons form the French new Wave and the Spy genreís better works.Ellis has lush, yet raw music for the city, likely portraying both its glamour and underside at the same time.For the sequel, the music is toned down for the idea of the drugged state and may have been more than a bit influenced by both Issac Hayesí original Shaft score (now on Super Audio CD) and The Beatlesí producer and composer George Martinís underrated score for the James Bond film Live & Let Die (1973, now available in a terrific expanded CD from Capitol Records).The casual, situational R&B and even more experimental nature of the second score is particularly winning when now distracted by watching the sequel, which as good as it is, keeps making you think of the first film.The first score works a bit better, but the second one deserves favorable revisionist thinking and revival.


The PCM 2.0 sound on the disc is technically uneven, with some distortion here and there, but all of it is in stereo, except for some of the tracks on the first film that are monophonic.This is all off of first-generation materials hardly played since they were cut, so that helps the shortcomings in the form of more fullness in all cases.†† When the DVD of the first film promised stereo of any kind, I was skeptical, because the sound on all previous copies of the film had been outright awful.The DVD was a huge leap forward, but this CD is even better, revealing nuances and intricacies that you simply cannot hear anywhere else.Add that this never even came out on vinyl and you can imagine the value of this disc on event he sonic level.


You can find out more information about this and other great limited edition soundtracks by going to www.filmscoremonthly.com and checking out both additional information, sound downloads and how to order.



-†† Nicholas Sheffo


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