Billboard Magazine Article
For more details on the Great Expectations soundtrack and movie, go to my Great Expectations Page.
November 22, 1997
By Paul Verna
new york--Buoyed by the success of its "Space Jam" and "Batman Forever" projects, Atlantic Records has assembled an all-star soundtrack for the Fox film "Great Expectations" that reflects the film"s high profile and stands to boost the careers of several of the label"s artists.
Due for worldwide release Jan. 6, 1998, "Great Expectations" features new, original tracks by such hot, cutting-edge acts as Tori Amos, Pulp, Duncan Sheik, Poe, the Verve Pipe, and Lauren Christy; solo cuts by former Soundgarden front man Chris Cornell and Scott Weiland of Stone Temple Pilots; new work by relative unknowns Mono, David Garza, Reef, and Fisher; a new recording of the Consuelo Velasquez classic "Besame Mucho" by Cape Verdean sensation Cesaria Evora; and classic cuts by Iggy Pop ("Success") and the Grateful Dead ("Uncle John"s Band").
Atlantic Records executive VP/GM (U.S.) Ron Shapiro says, "We"re very proud of "Great Expectations" because it does two things as a body of work: It mirrors and complements the film as well as any soundtrack we"ve ever seen, but it also stands on its own as a compilation.
"You have the first solo track from Scott Weiland, a solo track from Chris Cornell, the first original new music from Tori Amos not on an album of her own, and the first pieces of music from Duncan Sheik and Poe since their records went gold. We also have a track by the Verve Pipe after a breakthrough year. If you listen to the whole record, it holds together beautifully and evokes an entire mood."
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron (whose credits include "A Little Princess"), "Great Expectations" stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Ethan Hawke, Anne Bancroft, and Robert DeNiro in a modern reworking of the Charles Dickens classic. The film is scheduled to open Dec. 31 in New York and Jan. 16 nationwide.
Cuaron departed from the widespread practice of treating the film"s soundtrack and score separately. He went as far as matching score composer Patrick Doyle--a two-time Academy Award nominee for "Sense & Sensibility" and "Hamlet"--with some of the artists on the soundtrack, including Amos, Pulp, and Christy.
The fruits of their labor include soundtrack opener "Finn Runs," a Doyle piece with a vocalization by Amos; Amos" "Siren," co-written with Doyle; Pulp"s energetic "Like A Friend," also co-written with Doyle; and the Christy/Doyle track "Walk This Earth Alone."
Amos says she sought to add a dimension to Hawke"s character that she felt was lacking in the working version of the film.
"When they gave me this project, I felt really challenged," she says. "I tried to contribute something that I thought would add a different subtext to the scene and give Ethan Hawke"s character a different angle." Amos" chantey-like "Siren" evokes the spirit of the ocean and of a female presence--as she puts it, "a primal, primitive sense."
Sheik, who was a latecomer to the "Great Expectations" roster, happened to have been working on a song whose melodic motif was compatible with Doyle"s score and whose lyrics reflected the movie"s themes of ambiguity and unrequited love.
"Alfonso told me he wanted to get across a sense of ambiguity in the film," says Sheik. "What I took that to mean is that, in life, great expectations or wishful thinking are double-edged swords. You need to have certain kinds of hopes to direct your life. On the other hand, they can come back and haunt you or kill you. I wanted to convey that--that you need these sensibilities, but they can be very painful."
Even in cases in which the soundtrack artists did not directly collaborate with Doyle, they were influenced by the composer"s ideas for the movie, according to Atlantic VP of soundtracks (U.S.) Darren Higman.
"Some of the artists actually collaborated with Patrick," says Higman. "Others were influenced by Patrick"s score and received a great deal of input from the director as to what he was looking for in terms of emotional content and the feel of the film."
Accordingly, Doyle"s score--which will be released concurrently with the soundtrack, also on Atlantic--contains vocalizations by Amos, an aria written by Doyle and sung by star soprano Kiri Te Kanawa, jazz cues by Cyrus Chestnut and James Carter, and Evora"s "Besame Mucho," according to Higman.
"We decided to do separate soundtrack and score albums once we realized how interesting the score was," says Higman. "If we incorporated the score into the contemporary album, I felt we would be compromising the score album."
The first single from the soundtrack is Sheik"s melodic "Wishful Thinking." That track was scheduled to go for adds at pop, hot AC, modern AC, AC, album rock, modern rock, and triple-A radio Monday (17), according to Shapiro. In addition, a video for the song is in production and two other as-yet-unspecified clips from the set are planned.
Atlantic will follow Sheik"s track with Weiland"s "Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down," which will go for adds at album rock, modern rock, and college radio Dec. 8, according to Shapiro. Coincidentally, Mercury has already released Mono"s "Life In Mono" as a single (Billboard, Nov. 8).
For Atlantic, the appearance of "Great Expectations" happily precedes upcoming, full-length releases by several of the project"s participants.
"Tori Amos, Duncan Sheik, Poe, Scott Weiland, and David Garza all have albums coming out on Atlantic in the first half of 1998," says Shapiro. "It"s going to be a very micromarketed soundtrack for that reason, as well as because of our belief in the soundtrack and the film. We think, based on the strength of the soundtrack, we should be able to ship 350,000-400,000 units on street date."
Although Atlantic"s full marketing plan had yet to be developed at press time, the label will stage a concert to benefit Amos" Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network Foundation (RAINN) featuring some of the acts on the album and some of the film"s stars. Shapiro says the event is tentatively planned for the period between the film"s limited New York release and its national rollout.
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