Richard Thompson Soundtrack Album Released

New West Records have released Richard Thompson’s The Cold Blue – Original Motion Picture Score. The 19-track score was written and arranged by Thompson for the acclaimed filmmaker Erik Nelson’s film of the same name.  The Cold Blue was be shown in 750 theaters across the U.S. for one day only – on May 23rd, in honour of memorial day – and will see it’s HBO premiere on June 6 The album is available for digital download and across all major streaming services.

In 1943, William Wyler, one of Hollywood’s most renowned and versatile directors, went to Europe to document air war in progress for his film The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress. Wyler flew actual combat missions with B-17’s and during production, one of his cameramen, Harold Tannenbaum, was lost along with his plane over France.  The footage was filmed during the spring and summer on 8th Air Force bases in England, and on bombing missions over Europe.  Incredibly, all of Wyler’s original 16-millimeter footage shot for The Memphis Belle was recently discovered deep in the vaults of the National Archives.

The filmmaker Erik Nelson constructed the new documentary, The Cold Blue, out of the silent material as well as new interviews he conducted with nine surviving B-17 crewmen.  The veteran’s voices take us through the harrowing world that Wyler and his cameramen captured in the summer of 1943.  Painstakingly restoring every frame, Nelson removed dust spots and scratches, and restored the color of the original footage.  A meditation on youth, war and trauma, The Cold Blue stands as a tribute to one of the world’s great filmmakers and the men of the 8th Air Force who flew mission after suicidal mission in the Second World War.

For The Cold Blue – Original Motion Picture Score, Richard Thompson brought together a small chamber orchestra comprised of four french horns, a string quartet, double bass, oboe, clarinet, harmonica and percussion. The orchestra was conducted by Peter Askim and recorded at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, CA.

Speaking to NPR, Richard Thompson said, “I wrote almost wall to wall music…Scoring under speech was less of an issue than competing with the noise of the aircraft; I had to be sensitive to the droning of the engines being in (or close to) certain musical keys, and cues were written from this basis sometimes.” Continuing, “Every burst of ack-ack, every empty shell case landing on the floor of the plane, every whine of the Pratt and Whitney engines, all contribute to the emotion of the moment, and it is always the role of the music to push those emotions a little further.”

Of Thompson’s score, Nelson stated, “I’ve known Richard Thompson for close to 40 years, and I should have learned by now never to take him — or his work — for granted.  I was stunned at how deep he dove into the nuances of The Cold Blue, to create a whole original score that both speaks to the time of the events depicted, and to our times today.  I can’t imagine any other artist capturing the essence of this project in quite the same way, with quite the same articulation and clarity of purpose.  And, oh yeah, he DOES know his way around World War Two airplanes.”