“Dawn Of The Dead Reimagined”
Music By Donald Rubinstein
15 Tracks/Disc Time: 52:10
George A. Romero’s “Dawn Of The Dead” is one of the more revered horror films ever made. With endless imitators and a very solid remake by Director Zack Snyder released 10 years ago, the film has inspired many a horror a film as they have borrowed from it on many occasion. The fact of the matter is however, is the film is just a flawless gem that just shouldn’t be touched like many other films that have been remade recently. The film of course takes place within a Pittsburgh mall where a group of humans have fortified themselves inside away from the horde of zombies that have over run the city as a means of survival. With a wicked social commentary and a somewhat shocking ending, “Dawn Of The Dead” is without a doubt George A. Romero’s masterpiece that has never been able to duplicate ever since despite excellent efforts such as the adaptation of Stephen King’s “Creepshow” (with King the star of one of the segments), “The Dark Half” (based on King’s book) and the very entertaining follow up to “Dawn Of The Dead”, “Land Of The Dead” which is very underrated.
While the original film in its U.S. version featured music by the great group, Goblin and of course, pre-recorded music from Laurel Entertainment’s vast library, the European version supervised by great Italian horror director Dario Argento featured Goblin’s music exclusively in that version. Originally it had been planned by George A. Romero to have his friend, Donald Rubinstein who had previously wrote the music for Romero’s “Martin” to also write the music for the film. For years, it had been rumored that Rubinstein had written a score that was rejected for the film but those plans didn’t get past Rubinstein’s personal sketches after Argento convinced Romero that Goblin’s score really did work for the film and he was right.
This new Perseverance Records album is a very ecclectic and interesting look of what might have been the score for the film had Rubinstein been able to write and record it as a whole for the film had he been given the chance to. This is a project that has spanned decades with Rubinstein taking his ideas and intentions for the film and expanded it to a variety of different mediums as it’s own separate entity. Ranging from Rubinstein’s electronic work to chamber orchestra, this conceptual album is a fascinating idea that at times is a little grating but others are very inspired.
Let’s start off with the best with the experimental, jazz and classical fugue of “Dovining” which features a the jazz ensemble of Peter Gordon, Gordon Gottlieb and Anthony Jackson that is a touch avant garde as Rubinstein’s work is but surprisingly it has melodic jazz based textures that make it stand out and at times sounds like the work of late vibraphonist Sam Rivers. “Music For Chamber Orchestra (Based On Thematic Ideas For DOTD – 1980)” is a fascinating piece that is more classical based with the New York Studio Orchestra featuring jazz musicians Eddie Daniels, John Faddis, Bill Frissel, Peter Gordon and Gordon Gottlieb, but features a rather horror tone to it which would’ve fit the film had it been recorded in this way. These two stellar pieces are worth the price of admission on this CD, while “Longing Theme (2007)” is another memorable piece that works.
The rest of the material is hodgepodge of borderline material in my view including what would’ve been the original score had it been played on synths (Dawn Imagined A (Based On Thematic Ideas Written For DOTD – 1987), Dawn Imagined B (1987) and Dawn Imagined C (1987)) which are interesting but not as good as the more chamber orchestrial material he fleshed out these pieces into. While “Valley Of Pain (1995)”, “Birth Of Death” and “Life Gets So Corrupted (1995)” featuring Rubinstein doing some vocal work isn’t exactly inspiring along with “Roswell Highway (1989)” which seems to have been written for another film because it doesn’t fit this score or ideas.
It’s an interesting album to say the least and I can’t quite recommend it for other than the three solid tracks that are excellent and love chamber music without a doubt. I can see why this material has been stashed away for a long time now and it doesn’t quite measure up to what has already been released for the film. What it does answer is that Rubinstein did have a concept for the film had been given the chance to write it, but the execution itself is just a little off with various sources that really don’t match the materials’ potential. I wish this album was purely orchestrial because it really would’ve been a striking album and Rubinstein would’ve had a blast truly fleshing this out as if he was going to record it for a new version of the film. “Dawn Imagined” doesn’t quite work, but it gets alot of points for effort and trying to close the chapter on a great film. Other than the three tracks, I can’t recommend this album to other than fans of the film or Rubinstein’s. Thumbs down, reluctantly.