This recording also includes authentic World War II surround-sound battle effects, explosions and fly-overs.
Back in the early '60s, RCA-Victor must've felt like they'd stumbled into a gold mine with their television soundtracks, what with Henry Mancini's music from the series Peter Gunn, which yielded a hit single and a second LP of music, and Richard Rodgers' music from Victory at Sea. The latter documentary series, running 26 half-hours, originally aired on NBC in 1952-1953, but it was even re-cut for theatrical release at one point and was re-show in its entirety in syndication on local television stations right into the mid-'60s; and Robert Russell Bennett's arrangements of the Rodgers music yielded a string of hit albums, four in number, recorded in the mid-'50s and showcasing the label's "Living Stereo" sound reproduction. This CD contains another 67 minutes' worth of music from the series, and strangely enough it is slightly more appealing than the first volume. The main body of the CD is still weak by any musical standard, the best moments in the music sounding like they're lifted from Ralph Vaughan Williams' compositions, but there are a few tracks that stand up. "Peleliu" is a genuinely exciting piece of music and, in contrast to many of the other tracks here, is a single cohesive body of music. On the other hand, "The Sound of Victory" offers some unfortunate dance digressions and otherwise comes off as distinctly light music. And some tracks, such as "Rings Around Rabaul" and "The Turning Point" feature some intrusive "special effects battle sounds" that add nothing to the listening experience or the music. The one track that makes this volume marginally more worthwhile than its companion, however, is the ten-minute long "Symphonic Scenario," which sums up the most compelling and sweeping parts of Rodgers' score without any of the banalities or distractions of the rest of these two volumes. ~ Bruce Eder