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THE BEST OF THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES 2020 – YEAR 4

By JAY ROBERTS

The year of 2020 will definitely not be remembered fondly by the world at-large. I mean, can you really think of all that much that is worth celebrating this year?

Here in the insulated world of The Cassette Chronicles though, I still wanted to take a look back at some of the albums that really made a mark on me as I wrote about them this year. Looking back, we pretty much topped out in terms of productivity for the series. There were 47 articles written this year and that means I got to discover and/or rediscover an amazing assortment of great music.

The series will be back in 2021 but for now I just wanted to give another day in the sun to some albums that I thoroughly enjoyed both listening to and writing about in 2020.

My thanks go out to the continued support from Limelight Magazine, everyone who reads these articles and to those few bands that made a point of sharing them on their social media pages. Here’s to a wildly improved 2021 and I hope to see you all back here again for another year of exploring the 1980’s and 1990’s with The Cassette Chronicles.

And now…(blatantly ripping off Casey Kasem) on with the “countdown”.

Click on the title of the cassette to read the review.

#1 – METAL CHURCH – HANGING IN THE BALANCE

#2 – TORA TORA – WILD AMERICA

#3 – DAVID LEE ROTH – A LITTLE AIN’T ENOUGH

#4 – MICHAEL MONROE – NOT FAKIN’ IT

#5 – MARIA MCKEE – MARIA MCKEE

#6 – Y&T – TEN

#7 – TED NUGENT – IF YOU CAN’T LICK ‘EM…LICK ‘EM

#8 – HOUSE OF LORDS – HOUSE OF LORDS

#9 – BANSHEE – RACE AGAINST TIME

#10 – GLASS TIGER – THE THIN RED LINE

“TUESDAY TUNE” RECAP (FALL 2020)

During the autumn months of 2020, Limelight Magazine launched a new weekly series on our social media pages called Tuesday Tune. Each Tuesday we featured a new song from a band or musician that was rated on 1 -10 scale by a seven-member committee. We took the average rank and called it our Lemon-Lime Scale. If the song was a lemon, it ranked below five. If it was a lime, it ranked above five. It’s our version of Rotton Tomatoes for songs! Thanks to Giuliana Amaral, Marc Botelho, Tim Cobb, Kevin DeLue, David Kelber, and Maddie Scott for serving our our committee along with JKB Entertainment Group/Limelight Magazine co-owner Jay Kenney.

Here’s all the songs we featured and how they ranked in order of favorability.

“Shot in the Dark” – AC/DC (average score 9.1)

“That Was Me” – Blue Oyster Cult (average score 8.1)

“Scars” – Fates Warning (average score 7.7)

“Sinners Hymn” – Orianthi (average score 7.6)

“Age of Machine” – Greta Van Fleet (average score 7.4)

“The Undertaker” – Accept (average score 7.4)*

“Protect the Land” – System of a Down (average score 7.4)*

“Gonna Make You Love Me” – Tony Lewis (average score 7.3)

“Under My Skin” – Blackfield (average score 7.2)

“Gimme Back My Life” – Loverboy (average score 7.1)

“Raise the Cain” – Richie Kotzen (average score 6.7)

“Show Them The Way” – Stevie Nicks (average score 6.6)

“Shame Shame” – Foo Fighters (average score 5.8)

* These two songs were an exact tie.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “INSIDIOUS: chapter 3” (2015)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films and TV shows. Today we spotlight one of the filming locations for Insidious 3 (2015). The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath it is what the location looks like when I visited in October 2015. Elise Rainier’s (played by Lin Shaye) home in this movie is located at 445 N Ave. 53 in Los Angeles, CA.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – SAVATAGE’S ‘HANDFUL OF RAIN’

By Jay Roberts

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

(WRITER’S NOTE: This is the last article in The Cassette Chronicles series for 2020. The annual “Best Of” article will come next week. The series will return in 2021 but there will be a slight change. For the first six months, the articles will appear on a twice monthly schedule. A return to the weekly article format may return in July 2021.)

SAVATAGE – HANDFUL OF RAIN (1994)

“Which of us is now in exile
which in need of amnesty
Are you now but an illusion
in my mind alone you breathe”

That line from the closing song “Alone You Breathe” on the 1994 Savatage album Handful Of Rain is likely the best way to summarize what was going on as the album was written and recorded in the shadow of the death of founding guitarist Criss Oliva in 1993.

The odd thing about writing this article this week is that I had intended to write about a completely different album instead. But there I was at my friend Roger’s record shop [Purchase Street Records] the other day. I had popped in to pick up a special order he’d gotten in for me and as I looked around the shop, I saw that he had a cassette edition of Handful of Rain. I’ve owned the album on CD since it was originally released so it wasn’t like I haven’t heard the album a multitude of times over the years. After all, Savatage is my personal favorite band. But when I saw the cassette just sitting there in one of the racks, I just HAD to have it. And I knew that I’d be listening to it so that I could write about it.

Following the recording of their previous album Edge Of Thorns, Savatage had lost Criss Oliva in a car accident that also seriously injured his wife Dawn (she later died in 2005). I remember reading an article in one of the music magazines of the day about the Edge of Thorns album. But I hadn’t heard about Criss’s death at that point so I was more than a bit shocked when the article had a disclaimer that it had been written before his death.

This was kind of a huge blow to me because Criss Oliva was the first guitar player that ever really made me sit up and take notice of his playing. Normally I’m a vocalist and lyrics guy. The music is great of course, but since I’m not a musician myself, I found it hard to really sink my teeth into what goes into writing music or the playing of a specific instrument. Criss changed that for me. To this day, one of my prized possessions is a photo of myself with Criss before a concert in Rhode Island back in 1990.

From left, Cassette Chronicles author Jay Roberts when he got to meet the late Criss Oliva in 1990.

 

So when I got my hands on Handful of Rain, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Over the years, the album has been referred to as more of a Jon Oliva solo album and given how he was playing most of the instruments, singing and co-writing the songs with producer Paul O’Neill, you can understand why.

But what about the music itself? Despite being made under such trying circumstances, the album is flat out fantastic in my book!

The album opens in a hard-hitting in your face fashion with the song “Taunting Cobras”. Singer Zachary Stevens helps give the feeling of metallic assault with his vocal delivery. You can feel the way the song is just cutting loose. This track is one of the two that Criss Oliva has a co-writing credit on the album. The other song is “Nothing Going On” which mirrors “Taunting Cobras” for how heavy and fast the guitar driven track turns out.

The album’s title track starts off with the music and vocals delivered in a much softer tone but that doesn’t last as the song pretty much goes for the heavy pounding rhythms after the first verse of the song.

While each of the songs (save perhaps the instrumental “Visions” that opens up side two of the album) serves to make the album into a cohesive whole, there are a couple of tracks that serve as the emotional showcase for Handful of Rain.

The first of those songs is “Chance”. It’s a beautifully constructed theatrically heavy epic that serves up a fantastic point/counterpoint vocal later in the song. It was the first time that particular vocal style had been employed on a Savatage song/album and believe me it worked in stunning fashion. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve envisioned seeing this song played out in some kind of way on a Broadway stage.

Of course then you have songs like “Stare Into The Sun” and “Watching You Fall”. Each of them are much slower in tempo overall, though the chorus does find each getting a bit heavier in tempo. “Stare Into The Sun” is actually kind of bluesy in spots which I found to be a big draw for me.

The first side of the album closed out on the song “Castles Burning”, a song with multiple tempo changes that give an extra sense of depth to the track. I can’t remember if I knew this before now, but after researching the album online a bit, “Castles Burning” turns out to be a song about an Italian judge who was killed by the mafia in 1992. I also discovered (or re-discovered thanks to my faulty memory) that “Chance” is about a Japanese diplomat in World War II. Funny how you can learn things you never knew or had forgotten even decades after an album has been released.

On the song “Symmetry”, the song’s tempo starts off slow and grows into more of a heavy rock sound. It’s actually a damn good song but there’s part of the lyric that would go on to serve as the title of a future Savatage album. I’m not going to tell you more about that here, I’ll let you do some investigating on your own. If for no other reason than I really would love anyone who reads this piece to listen to the album in full.

And that brings us to “Alone You Breathe”. I mentioned at the top of this article that the song closes out the album. It is a tribute song for Criss Oliva though it is said the song is not specifically about Criss. The point remains that it is a fitting tribute to Criss from his brother Jon and packs the kind of emotional punch you’d probably be surprised to feel. Every time I hear “Alone You Breathe”, it brings me back to when I first discovered the band. How I became enamored of their music and how much I just loved Criss’s guitar playing.

In the end, Handful Of Rain might not have been the album people would’ve expected from Savatage but it did serve as being the right album at the right time for the band to pay tribute to the passing of Criss Oliva and give them the foundation to move forward from the loss. On top of which, like I said, it is a damn fantastic record in and of itself.

NOTES OF INTEREST: There have been three CD reissues of the album (1992, 2002 and 2011). Each time the reissue was put out it contained at least one bonus track, with said track(s) being different than the previous release. The tour Savatage did in support of this album got a live release entitled Japan Live ’94.

The album features Zachary Stevens on vocals and Testament guitarist Alex Skolnick on lead guitar. Otherwise, Jon Oliva and Paul O’Neill played the rest of the instruments. While bassist Johnny Lee Middleton and drummer Steve “Dr. Killdrums” Wacholz didn’t play on the album (despite being credited as doing so) they did appear in the video for the “Handful of Rain” song. The tour for the album saw Middleton return to the lineup but Wacholz had left the band and was replaced by drummer Jeff Plate.

The death of Criss Oliva not only left a big mark on the Savatage family and fanbase, but other bands as well. Testament dedicated their album Low to him, while Vicious Rumors did the same on their album Word Of Mouth. Overkill wrote the song “R.I.P. (Undone)” on their album W.F.O. for Criss as well.

SCENES FROM ‘THE ART OF JOHN LENNON EXHIBIT’

Since today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of John Lennon, here are some photos we took at “The Art of John Lennon” traveling exhibit at Westfield Fashion Square in Sherman Oaks, CA, in October 2015. This weekend exhibit was held in observation of Lennon’s 75th birthday. The artwork-on-the-road exhibit began in 1990 and regularly visits up to 15 cities each year.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – HELIX’S ‘LONG WAY TO HEAVEN’

By Jay Roberts

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

HELIX – LONG WAY TO HEAVEN (1985)

It was just two weeks ago that I wrote about the Helix album Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge. In that article I mentioned how I had tried to listen to Long Way To Heaven a while back but the tape had imploded. I had planned to head off to a friend’s record shop where I knew he had another copy of that album. But that brief road trip turned out to be unnecessary. I was digging into The Big Box of Cassettes and was surprised to pull out another copy of Long Way To Heaven!

While it has happened before, I don’t typically make a habit of writing about the same band in back to back articles. But finding another copy of this album seemed like a sign to me and so here we are.

The Helix album Long Way To Heaven is the band’s fifth studio release. It falls in between Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge and Wild In The Streets. Since I love both of those albums, I had high hopes for this one as well.

And let’s just say that those hopes weren’t dashed against the rocks like a ship in a storm. Rather, I found this album to be pretty much in line with the albums that sandwich it in the band’s discography.

The album kicks off with “The Kids Are All Shakin'”, which was the second single released from Long Way To Heaven. It’s a lively ball of rock and roll energy with a nice hook to it, so I can see why it got released as a single. It’s a great way to start off an album.

Oddly enough, at least to me, the album’s first single was more of a power ballad. The song “Deep Cuts The Knife” is the second song on side one and it finds singer Brian Vollmer laying the vocals with a heaping helping of the emotions called for with the song’s lyrics. The music has the requisite tempo changes you’d expect from a ballad, with a more plaintive delivery in the main verses. But the chorus reflects more of a rocking pace. While I wouldn’t say that I was moved emotionally or anything, I did find myself actually enjoying the song as a whole.

If you are looking for that big rock anthem kind of song, you’d be remiss to pass by “Ride The Rocket”. I know that there’s a big double entendre in the reading of that song title but leaving that aside, the song is really good! You get the fast driving rock pacing but when you throw in the big backing vocal sound on the chorus, you get a pump your fist in the sky kind of feeling. I know that I got a burst of adrenaline as I listened.

The album’s title track was pretty rocking but I really dug the way “House On Fire” captured the band’s ability to rock your socks off. It’s a really great sounding performance that let’s the band’s combined abilities really shine through.

As for side two, I did like the opening track “Christine”, another bit of pure rocking energy. However, the second power ballad of the album, “Without You (Jasmine’s Song)” felt a bit off to me. Much like “Deep Cuts The Knife”, the music goes from slow balladry to a more rocking feel for the song’s chorus. But despite the similarity in musical template, there was just something I found missing with this song. Maybe it is just a case of just not liking the song rather than some deeper notion but either way, this track wasn’t for me.

But that bit of negativity aside, the rest of side two is damn good! On “School Of Hard Knocks”, the music starts off a bit slower (without drifting into ballad territory) but then picks up the pace and brings the some home to the listener.

Of course, even that track pales in comparison to the closing two songs on the album. “Don’t Touch The Merchandise” has a bit of that playful enticement I’ve noticed that Helix likes to put into their music and lyrics. It’s got that straight up rock pacing but gives you this groove to dig into at the same time.

Saving the best for last, the band finishes the album off with “Bangin’ Off-A-The Bricks”, which is just a killer rock and roll track with a touch of the anthem to it. It’s definitely one of my favorite songs on the album, one that I’d listen to over and over again without getting bored in the least.

It was a long road before I got to hear Long Way To Heaven for the first time but much like the other two albums I’ve written about in this series, I’ve come to quickly appreciate just how much Helix had going for them in the mid-1980’s. Discovering just how good their earlier material really was has me longing for the ability to travel back in time so that I could give the albums the appreciation they deserved back then.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Though the album was released in 1985, it wasn’t until 1999 that Long Way To Heaven got its first CD edition.

The video for “The Kids Are All Shakin” used a remix version of the song rather than the album version.

The band’s tour cycle for the album saw them open for Accept and Keel when not doing their own headline shows. According to the album’s Wikipedia page, they also did one off shows with Meatloaf and Heart.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU” (2019)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films and TV shows. Today we spotlight one of the filming locations for I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu  (2019). The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath it is what the location looks like when I visited in October 2019. This shot was taken at Evergreen Cemetery, 204 North Evergreen Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. This exact location was also used in Mausoleum (1983) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – HELIX’S ‘WALKIN’ THE RAZOR’S EDGE’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

HELIX – WALKIN’ THE RAZOR’S EDGE (1984)

For longtime readers of The Cassette Chronicles, you might recall that the 1987 Helix album Wild In The Streets was the very first album to be spotlighted. It was the band’s sixth studio album but it was the very first time that I’d ever even heard of the band. Despite my enduring love of that album, I never really tried to hear the early Helix material until just recently. I tried to listen to a copy of Long Way To Heaven a while back but the tape pretty much imploded before I got two songs into it.

But after 160 or so articles since that first one on Wild In The Streets, I thought it was time to take another listen to the band’s earlier offerings and ended up pulling a copy of Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge out of The Big Box of Cassettes.

As I was taking notes I was surprised to see that the band recorded two covers amongst the ten tracks on the album. I did like their cover of the Crazy Elephant song “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin” which was amped up rather nicely. However, I was a little less enthused by the cover of the A Foot In Coldwater track “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want”. It’s the only song on the album that you find the band hitting the brakes and making a turn towards balladry. I didn’t think the song was terrible in and of itself, but it just doesn’t really get me excited overall.

As for the rest of the album, what else can I say but…WOW! The band rocks out hard and fast throughout the other nine tracks (including the Crazy Elephant cover). And this is kind of why I seem to have an affinity for Helix. They just come out and rock your socks off with some hard charging rock and roll that sounds like it is the perfect soundtrack for a rocking Saturday night party. The fast fretwork from Brent Doerner and Paul Hackman get the blood pumping and singer Brian Vollmer (the only original member of the band still in the band lineup to this day) draws you in. I hope no one takes this in a negative way but his vocals always seem to be a little tongue in cheek. It’s a playful smart aleck kind of tone that helps enliven the proceedings just that much more. Vollmer’s vocals strike me that he’s having just as much of a good time as the music is intended to make the listener have for themselves.

The album opens with “Rock You” which was the first single released from the album. It’s got a perfectly catchy anthemic sound and sets the stage for the rest of the album’s fast charging rocking bent. The rest of Side One is just as aggresively entertaining as that song. The tracks “Young & Wreckless”, “Animal House”, “Feel The Fire” and the outstandingly cool sounding “When The Hammer Falls” are all designed to get you up and pumping your fists in the air.

The album’s two cover songs are on Side Two but sandwiched amid them are three more uptempo tracks. “My Kind of Rock” is another anthemic track with “You Keep Me Rockin'” closing out the album quite nicely. But it’s the song “Six Strings, Nine Lives” that really showcases just how furiously fast the band could rock out musically when they put their foot on the gas.

As I said, I’ve been very remiss in checking out the early origins of the band. But after listening to Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge, it is high time for me to rectify that gap in my musical experience. This is a hellaciously entertaining good time and show’s just how good a time it was to be growing up in the middle of the 1980’s hard rock uprising!

NOTES OF INTEREST: As I said, I want to check out more of the band’s early work and that should be a bit easier as four of their albums in total have been reissued on CD by Rock Candy Records. Besides Wild In The Streets and Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge (which has three live cuts included as bonus tracks), the No Rest For The Wicked and Long Way To Heaven albums are also available.

The band shot three videos for the album. They were for the songs “Rock You”, “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” and “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”. According to the Wikipedia entry for the Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge album, Helix actually shot two versions of the video for “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”. One was the regular version to be shown on regular music channels. But the second one was the “adult” version which featured topless models in the video. However, I’m not sure that that version is available to see online because one of the models was porn star Traci Lords, who unbeknownst to the entire industry at the time (in 1984) was actually underage during the majority of her adult career. (Additional fun fact, I actually met Traci Lords at one of the Super Mega Fest conventions a few years back).

The song “Rock You” was written by Bob Halligan, Jr. He’s had a pretty prolific career both as a performer and a songwriter. Some of his credits include writing “(Take These) Chains” and “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” for Judas Priest. He also wrote “Twist” for the Halford album Resurrection. He co-wrote seven of the ten songs on the Kix album Midnite Dynamite and co-wrote the band’s biggest hit song “Don’t Close Your Eyes” (from the Blow My Fuse album). He also co-wrote “Rise To It” and “Read My Body” with Paul Stanley for the Kiss album Hot In The Shade. Halligan Jr. has his own band called Ceili Rain.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “FRIDAY THE 13TH: pART 2” (1981)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films and TV shows. Today we spotlight some of the filming locations for Friday the 13th: Part 2 (1981). The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath it is what the location looks like when I visited in June 2015.

These locations were shot in the towns of New Preston and Kent, CT. Unfortunately, all of the camp cabins used in the film that were located at North Spectacle Pond in Kent, CT, have been torn down.

Harry Manfredini reflects on his iconic “Friday the 13th” score and its legacy

By CHRISTOPHER TREACY

“Friday the 13th” film score composer Harry Manfredini signs the Warwork Records release of the album on vinyl in September 2014 at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA. Since then, Waxwork records has released the first seven films that Manfredini composed for the horror movie franchise on vinyl. (PHOTO BY J. KENNEY)

True innovators don’t often realize they’re marking new territory until after the fact.

 

When composer/musician Harry Manfredini got the job to score Friday the 13th, which is celebrating its 40th-anniversary this year, he already had a few notches in his professional belt, but he was mainly just trying to keep working.

 

“It was about putting food on the table,” he said recently, over the phone from his home in Valencia, California. “I knew I was going to get paid, and, at the time, that was enough for me. Nobody involved had any idea what we were onto. It wasn’t until we actually screened it and saw the audience’s reaction that we realized we had lightning in a bottle.”

 

Manfredini went on to score most of the Friday film franchise alongside a lengthy list of other projects. However, there was a time in his life when film scoring was more of a fantasy than anything else. As a classically trained musician playing sax in jazz clubs and earning a doctorate in Music Theory at Columbia University, he wasn’t at all sure what direction his career would take. A fellow Columbia student that was producing records on the side helped point him in the right direction.

 

It began slowly with a shoe commercial and assisting with some demos. That led to working with Arlon Ober (RobotechDeepStar Six) on the score for a controversial art-porn film released in 1976, Through the Looking Glass, directed by Joseph Middleton. Scoring music for porn might not seem like an auspicious break for a classically trained guy holding a doctorate, but Through the Looking Glass doesn’t sound anything much like the blaxploitation-toned soundtracks that characterize skin flicks from that era.

 

“Middleton told us he wanted a really classy, orchestral score,” he recalled. “It was wall-to-wall music forever – scored like a real film, very unusual. I’ve only seen the parts of it that I composed the music for, but it’s supposedly a well-regarded, experimental film for that genre.”

 

And as if to balance out Through the Looking Glass, Manfredini and Ober also scored two short films during that same time frame that went on to win Academy Awards, The End of the Game and Angel and Big Joe. Sometimes versatility is your best asset at the beginning of a career.

 

“One of the things you learn in the land of low budget and small films, especially back then in New York, is that with each one you work on, you’ll know some of the people on the next assignment,” he explained. “The small budget family is very small and very close, and we were all out there helping each other. “

 

When Ober left for California, Manfredini worried the phone might stop ringing, but the Academy Award wins opened some doors. It wasn’t long before someone introduced him to Sean S. Cunningham, producer and director of Friday the 13th.

 

“Given my background, I understand a lot of contemporary avant-garde music. But one of the things you learn about scoring films is how different the composition is from other modes of writing. You’re ninety percent dramatist ─ sometimes you write just one note, and it works. Your obligation is to the film, not to show off your chops or how complex your understanding of composition can be.”

 

Though he initially wondered who, if anyone, would go to see the film, Manfredini brought musical personality to the soundtrack of Friday the 13th by making his score come to life as a character. ‘Leitmotif’ is a compositional term mainly used in opera that denotes a recurrent passage of music associated with a specific person. In this case, he bent that musical tool to indicate the presence of someone we can’t see. It was an unusual twist for a slasher film.

 

“I told Sean that because we don’t see the killer until the ninth reel, we needed to somehow introduce them in reel one,” he said. “I suggested that we only have music when the camera is from the viewpoint of the killer, making it immediately indicative that we’re now seeing with their eyes. So, the score became a character, in that sense, and I think that’s a large part of what makes the music stand out so much.”

 

And stand out it certainly does, particularly with the chilling “Ki-ki-ki-ki…” and “Ma-ma-ma-ma…” chants (recordings of his own voice saying the words ‘killer’ and ‘mommy’ processed through some filters) and the orchestral swells that frame the boat scene toward the movie’s end.

 

“The chanting is scary because it’s a human sound,” he noted. “For the boat scene, it was my job to make the audience think the movie is over, and the editors stretched that damn thing out as far as they possibly could. I couldn’t imagine what the hell I was going to write to make that work.”

 

In the end, he chose to retool a country song he’d written for the diner scene from earlier on in the movie. The second version of the song bears little resemblance to its jaunty former self, presented as an orchestral piece with keyboards, light drumming, and a substantial ‘flange’ effect. It projects what one might call a ‘mournfully triumphant,’ tone, leading the viewer down a path of resolution and effectively indicating that the story is ending ─ but there’s just a hint of menacing undercurrent. Folks that are familiar with the film know why.

 

It would appear that, despite the unlucky associations with the calendar day itself, Friday the 13th is the gift that keeps on giving.

With a no-name cast (Kevin Bacon’s career was barely underway, leaving Betsy Palmer as the sole recognizable star) and a meager budget of $550,000, Friday the 13th still grossed nearly $60 million at the box office when it debuted in 1980. Now considered a classic, it’s been franchised, novelized, incorporated into comic books, and made into a video game. Manfredini, now 77, says producing music for the game was particularly challenging, given that the music continually shifts for each person playing (up to 8 simultaneous players) depending on the path they take.

About 15 years ago, Manfredini got clued into a fun world of fandom he previously didn’t know existed when he attended the movie’s 25th-anniversary screening in Los Angeles. Encouraged by Friday cast members ─ folks he’d never met before because the composer is usually the last person to work on a film ─ he discovered an audience, thriving at conventions throughout the country, that’s familiar with his work and wants his autograph. He’s since become a regular at these events.

A promotional poster for Harry Manfredini’s appearance at the Rockula Horror Expo in San Antonio, TX, in October 2017. Manfredini said he enjoys meeting fans of his scores and the “Friday the 13th” films at conventions across the country.

He’s also enjoyed a resurgence of interest in his scores through the vinyl revival. Horror-centric indie label Waxwork Records has pressed the original soundtrack twice, and it has completely sold out both times. In fact, all but three out of eight Manfredini releases the label has issued have sold out. He says he’s thrilled on multiple levels.

 

“It’s incredibly gratifying and monetarily tasty, too. What’s really cool is that we went to Paramount and got the original tracks specifically for the Friday stuff, and then they were remastered by James Nelson for the 6 CD box set that came out on La-La Land Records. I called him up and he asked me what I’d like to do, so I told him ‘more low end, more high end, and clean up the middle,’ because sometimes the mid-range can get plugged up. He added some reverb, and when I heard the results, it was like night and day! I’m very grateful to him for helping my work sound so good. For the vinyl releases, Kevin Bergeron at Waxworks remastered the tracks specifically for vinyl, which requires a different process, working off of the great sounding transfers that James Nelson had already done. They’re unbelievably good.”

La-La Land Records was the first company to release an officially licensed box set of “Friday The 13th” soundtracks back in 2012. The limited edition and long sold out set contained the first six “Friday the 13th” film soundtracks that were composed by Harry Manfredini.

Recently, at the request of an orchestra in Spain, he’s reworked the Friday the 13th score into an orchestral suite, which then got performed by a group at MIT (a YouTube video exists). To continue fostering the trend, he’s also remade DeepStar Six into an orchestral suite and is currently developing Suite from Swamp Thing. Additionally, Austin-based film composer Brian Satterwhite has interviewed him extensively for an upcoming book about the music of Friday the 13th.

According to IMDB, Manfredini also has many new scoring projects on the horizon, and, looking at the long list of contributions to his credit, he’s remained consistently busy. Curiously, he says he’s not a big fan of horror as a genre because much of it involves gratuitous killing and torture. He sees Friday the 13th as a murder mystery.

 

Friday the 13th knew what it was, it knew what it was going to be, and it didn’t try to be anything else. The cast looked like a bunch of regular people, not models, and you briefly got to know each one of them. It knew exactly what it was, and for what it was, it was very good.”

Film composer Harry Manfredini signs a poster art insert of the “Friday the 13th” vinyl soundtrack at a signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA. (PHOTO BY J. KENNEY)

[PUBLISHER’S NOTE:  Harry Manfredini & Fred Mollin’s score to Friday the 13th Part VII: New Blood was recently released on CD through La-La Land Records. Copies of the CD signed by Manfredini are currently available for pre-order at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA, by clicking HERE. Please support small businesses during these difficult times.)