Saturday, March 7, 2009

"Easy Virtue" sounds good: Reviews for the Soundtrack

"Easy Virtue" has an impressive musical pedigree. The orchestrated score has been composed by Marius de Vries. He has worked on several film scores - notably "Romeo & Juliet", "Moulin Rouge" and "Eye of the Beholder". He is, however more famous as a record producer whose enormous body of work includes producing albums for Bjork, Annie Lennox, Josh Groban, Massive Attack and Madonna's "Ray of Light". With that in mind it's no wonder that the album for the film "Easy Virtue" is fresh, intelligent and anarchic.

In an interview published in The Age newspaper DeVries says: "I've never approached movie music in a traditional way," DeVries says. "The conventional process of underscoring a script is something that a lot of people do better than I, and I have no wish to compete with them. It only really makes sense for me to get involved in movies where there is something a little bit different going on." have reviewed the album saying: "The sparkling and swinging Easy Virtue soundtrack includes 17 tracks taken from the film, all of which have been re-recorded. It features popular hits from the 20s and 30s such as "When You're Smiling" and "Let's Misbehave" as well as modern day tracks such as "Car Wash", "Sex Bomb" and "When the Going gets Tough" (which have been made to sound like they are from the same era). There are several new compositions written by Marius de Vries including a dramatic Tango.

Marius de Vries has assembled a fantastic team of musicians for the album including Dave Rowntree (the drummer from Blur), Mike Smith (keyboard and sax player for the Gorillaz and The Good Bad and The Queen), Chris Storr (Trumpeter for Jools Holland), violin player Sophie Solomon from Oi Va Voi, and internationally renowned pianist, Jim Watson.

Pop sugar single out the music for special attention "The wonderful composer Marius de Vries cheekily mixes authentic songs from the period with contemporary tunes given a Cole Porter-esque arrangement (this version of "Sex Bomb" has to be heard to be believed!) It's an interesting device, as is the use of the cast's own singing voices (Jessica is surprisingly good.)

Sky movies gave the album, and the film, a four star review saying "Music supremo Marius De Vries puts 20s-style tweaks on contemporary classics - Car Wash, Sex Bomb, Billy Ocean’s When the Going Gets Tough - to accompany more time-honoured ditties by Coward and Cole Porter, it’s a refreshingly crisp and accessible affair. Easy on both eye and ear, this jaunty little number has many virtues to commend it."

The sound track and album were co-produced by the film's director Stephan Elliott. In an interview in The Sydney Morning Herald, he is quoted as say that period films have always "bored the hell out of him" so he livened things up by turning the original melodrama into a fast-paced comedy with an updated soundtrack."When we first screened it in [Britain], the younger crowd lit up like Christmas trees when the music kicked in."

One of the most startling features of the film is the amount - and quality - of singing by the leading actors. The title track - "Mad About the Boy" is sung by Justin Timberlake's girlfriend Jessica Biel, revealing for the first time on film the breadth and appeal of her beautiful smoky singing voice.

The video of her singing live in the studio as seen here on YouTube, also serves as a love letter for fans of Ben Barnes.

It's possible that only his fans are aware that Ben Barnes had a fully fledged (if short lived) career as a pop singer in the band Hyrise. They were second place runners up in the UK pre-selection for The Eurovision Song Contest in 2004 losing out to James Fox who went on to achieve 16th place. In "Easy Virtue" Barnes sings on several numbers - both in the context of the film and as a part of the soundtrack. Perhaps the most outstanding is Noel Coward's "A Room With A View".

The sound track has been released through the Decca label and is available for on-line purchase at Amazon and among others.

Although this is not strictly a 'review' it is interesting to note that Graham and Tolly who are making a bit of a name for themselves as "Addictive TV" have chosen to create a 'mash up' of the film. For the fuddy duddies out there, a mash up is where a DJ takes two tunes and 'mashes' them into a brand new song. Addictive TV take that idea one step further by cutting the image and soundtrack from movies to suit their new 're-mixed' rhythms. Before they did it for "Slumdog Millionaires" they produced this one for "Easy Virtue."