Archive for September 30, 2013

Unchained Melody

Posted in Film, Music with tags , , , , on September 30, 2013 by telescoper

You pick up a lot of interesting snippets listening to BBC Radio 3. Last night I was listening to a programme about  Alex North, a prolific composer of music scores, including one of my favourite films A Streetcar Named Desire.  Alex North also wrote a complete soundtrack for Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and must have been mortified when he turned up for the Premiere and found that not a single note of the music he’d written was used in the final version. Anyway, one thing I learnt that I didn’t know before was that Alex North also wrote the tune Unchained Melody for a relatively unknown prison movie called, appropriately enough, Unchained. The song was a massive hit in the 60s for the Righteous Brothers, and gained popularity again as a consequence of the 1990 film Ghost.  It’s also been murdered by countless karaoke singers since then…

Anyway, here is the original version of Unchained Melody as it appears in the 1955 film. Knowing the background to the song (i.e. that the enforced separation of the singer and his sweetheart is because the former is in prison) makes it all the more poignant, and Todd Duncan (whose style clearly owes a debt to Paul Robeson) gives it a bluesy feel present in none of the cover versions I’ve heard…