View Full Version : An Elephant Called Slowly - Howard Blake 24 Bit Vinyl restoration

06-20-2019, 01:28 PM
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An early 1969 film score by Howard Blake to a film not many people will know but was made as a kind of sequel to Born free. The film was not successful but the music stands out for the period with it's great funky feel
The Soundtrack has only been released on LP and this transfer by me was done in 24 bit 96k from a clean vinyl copy . Track 7 I have replaced with a high quality mp3 at 320 kindly supplied by realmusicfan due to severe groove distortion which could not be repaired without degrading the music. Currently I think this offers the best listening experience for this score

some notes from composer Howard Blake....
'I wasn’t exactly a baby when I wrote Elephant, but was quite young to be musical director at Elstree at 28. In 1967 Laurie Johnson stepped down from composing/conducting the ‘The Avengers’ and on the recommendation of Bernard Herrmann asked me to take over. I was familiar with the music because I had played keyboard on the series for a couple of years. One of the series’ directors was James Hill, famous for ‘Born Free’. ‘Elephant’ was supposed to be his sequel to ‘Born Free’ but somehow a baby elephant didn’t work quite the same as a baby lion and I suspect James was not too interested in the project. Instead of hiring John Barry who had scored ‘Born Free’, James initially tried to give pace to the film by overlaying cheery tracks from a Bert Kaempfaert album – ‘Swingin’ Safari’ etc., but having assembled the film it was clear that it needed a great deal more music to make the action sequences come to life. Since I had succesfully taken over from Laurie Johnson and James urgently needed a composer he risked asking me to compose a new original score.

The ‘featured music’ was to be Bert Kaempfert and it was suggested that for my score I should somehow similarly incorporate a rhythm section, guitars and maybe ‘big band’ elements. In 1969 I had just finished the last ‘Avengers’ score and for this I had had at my disposal an absolutely top-notch big band with stars like Kenny Baker trpt, Don Lusher trb Ronnie Verrall drums etc. I admired the big band work of Quincy Jones and Henry Mancini at that time and was privileged to have worked with them on occasion (on 'McKenna's Gold' and ‘The Italian Job’ with Quincy, and on ‘Victor/Victoria’ with Hank.) They I think were somewhat more of an influence on me than Bert Kaempfert. So the score I decided to write was indeed for big band-plus: 3 trpts, 3 trb. 5 saxes doubling woodwind, (which added oboe, flutes, cor anglais, clarinets) plus drums, percussion (including vibes, marimba, xylo etc) and an additional separate authentic African drummer (found in North London), harp (David Snell), rhythm guitar and electric bass guitar (Herbie Flowers). Quite a line-up! A critic commented:

“Composer Howard Blake scored the follow-up movie to "Born Free" in a completely oddball funk fashion. A great, almost tongue-in-cheek album with a big band Disney-style sound in places, don't miss the excellent slowburn break-beat instrumental "Elephant Rides Again".

When the film came out I was barely credited since the focus was on the use of Bert Kaempfert. No record companies in UK were interested in the music and maybe the producers found it a bit too prominent for what they had intended. For this reason to this day IMDB etc credit the score as Bert Kaempfert (with additional music by Howard Blake.)

It was therefore much to my surprise that I was telephoned a while later by the director of Bell Records New York who asked if he could make an album, saying he considered it an ‘absolutely top-rate film score’.
In 2017 Elephant curiously came back into focus when I had some interest in the score from a big band in Surrey and knocked up a big-band concert suite derived from the score. An ad hoc performance was given without rehearsal in Loxwood Jazz Club, but I have since withdrawn it. The big-band-only version without the African percussion and without the great star instrumentalists of the sixties is a pale shadow of the original and it would be difficult now to do a live performance reflecting the brilliant playing of the existing vinyl album.'

01 An Elephant Called Slowly
02 The Leopard
03 Mr Mopoji
04 Wild Dogs
05 Fever Tree
06 Love Game
07 Elephant Rides Again
08 Cheetah
09 Poli-Poli
10 Kenya Morning
11 Ostrich Strut
12 Elephant Called Slowly (Reprise)

Music composed & conducted by Howard Blake
Orchestra of ABPC Elstree
Recorded CTS Studios, Bayswater, 1969
Recording Engineer Jack Clegg



06-20-2019, 01:53 PM
Pm Sent. Thank you kindly.

---------- Post added at 02:53 PM ---------- Previous post was at 02:37 PM ----------

Received. Thank you very much.

06-20-2019, 02:01 PM
If any one does have the LP who can make a new 24 bit wav of track 7 I can replace it

06-21-2019, 02:21 AM
Link received. Thank you for sharing.

06-22-2019, 08:46 AM
thank you so much!!

06-22-2019, 09:22 AM
thanks for the link..

06-22-2019, 09:37 AM
Link received. Thank you very much.

06-22-2019, 12:47 PM
Link received, thank you.

06-24-2019, 06:08 AM
Link received! Thank you!

06-25-2019, 12:51 AM
Link received. Thanks a lot!!