By Gillian Gaar
Paul McCartney, "The Family Way" original soundtrack
Varese Sarabande (302 067 095 2)
Paul McCartney's "Ocean's Kingdom"
Paul McCartney’s first solo effort away from The Beatles, the film soundtrack “The Family Way,” finally gets it release on CD. McCartney composed two main themes for the film, which Beatles producer George Martin then arranged. “Love In The Open Air” is wistful and melancholy, while “Theme From ‘The Family Way,’” is given a more uptempo brass band arrangement, to tie in with the film’s northern England setting. The liner notes provide some interesting background info, most notably that while McCartney requested the opportunity to compose a film theme, he then had to be heavily pressured to finish it up (the music only finally finished two weeks before the film premiere).
“Ocean’s Kingdom” came together in a similar arrangement; while McCartney wrote the melodies, he leaves it to others to arrange and orchestrate the piece. Though the music was composed for a ballet, you needn’t know the story to appreciate it. McCartney’s skill in crafting a good melody makes him ideally suited for light classical works, and there’s much to enjoy in the four movements. The first movement is delightfully lyrical; the second (“Hall of Dance”) surprisingly bold and complex, much livelier than McCartney’s previous classical pieces; the third (“Imprisonment”), conveys the sadness its title suggests; the fourth (“Moonrise”) provides a triumphant conclusion, so you know this is a story with a happy ending. Overall, “Ocean’s Kingdom” has the broader appeal; “The Family Way” will be of most interest to McCartney collectors.