Wherefore Art Thou, Kenyon?

Dave HendersonFirebrands

It’s over 50 years since Kenyon Hopkins was plying his trade, delivering distinctive jazz noir soundtracks to TV series in the States, boxing clever with sound effects, producing mood pieces that summed up your holiday, scoring an Elvis movie and providing the soundtrack scores for such legendary films as Baby Doll and 12 Angry Men. He toyed with the macabre on the truly way out ‘Nightmare’ album and summed up beat jazz on ‘Lonelyville’ a set he recorded with the Creed Taylor Orchestra. He also took the concept of easy listening to extremes with the truly oddball ‘’Swinging Ball’ album from 1960 and you could easily say he invented theme music with the oddball ‘Rooms’.

Sporadically people rave about the man’s blues and jazz influences and his penchant for crowd hub-bub lurking behind a melody but, unlike say Arthur Lyman or Martin Denny whose exotica has struck a chord and been roundly celebrated in bachelor pad circles and at space age pop parties, Kenyon Hopkins remains outside of most people’s boxes. He dips into the arrangement palette of the greats like Aaron Copeland, he pre-dates Zappa at the drop of a sound effect, and he not pre-dated Eno and introduced music for elevators long before he became follicle challenged.

The soundtracks alone – The Hustler, the early Strange One, The Fugitive Kind and Baby Doll are all staggering pieces, while the concept albums are fully set to scare your neighbours – Shock and Panic (Son Of Shock) are filled with the kind of tension that latter day exponents of the B movie have doted on for years and ‘Nightmare’ does exactly what it says on the tin. Later, Hopkins moved into scoring a healthy string of TV series soundtracks as well as continuing to provide unique scores for the movies but those early works remain his best and somewhat strangely the most obscure and hard to locate of his work.

Fidelity Masters brings together eleven albums plus a couple of bonus cuts running the full gamut of his career, from his debut score for Elia Kazan’s Baby Doll through the wonderful scary gems ‘Shock’, ‘Panic’ and ‘Nightmare’ plus the opening sounds of 12 Angry Men and the title theme from the long lost Wild River movie plus the early conceptual pieces ‘Rooms’ and ‘Sounds Of New York’ with all its street poetry and cocktail party ambience. Seek it out, your ears will never be the same again.

 

Tracks include:

Kenyon Hopkins: The Strange One

Main Title

Ace of Spades

Georgie Runs For Major Avery

Military Band

The Fight

Jocko’s Theme

The Book

Country Juice

I Call You Nightboy

Jocko’s Theme.m4a

You’re Under Arrest

Boogie On The Strange One

Roger Knocks

Strange One

End Title

 

Kenyon Hopkins: Rooms

Overture

Alone

Dreams

Escape

Going

Desire

Panic

Daydream

The End

Alone (Reprise)

 

The Creed Taylor Orchestra ftrg Kenyon Hopkins: The Sound Of New York

The Sound Of New York (Arrival)

Manhattan

Taxi Rid

Take The ‘A’ Train

Waterfront

Penthouse Serenade (Cocktail Party)

East Side, West Side (5th Ave. Parade)

Construction

Chinatown, My Chinatown (Chinese New Year)

Coney Island Visit

Lullaby Of Broadway

The Sound Of New York (Departure)

 

Kenyon Hopkins: The Fugitive Kind

Alone Prologue

Bird Song Main Title

Get Crazy

The Reformer

Put Me Off At The Station

Love To Sunday

Let Me Out

Return To The Store

High Pocket Blues

Pay Day

Calliope

Triumphant Fugitive End Title

 

Kenyon Hopkins: The Hustler

Main Title (Stop And Go)

Minnesota Fats

The Loser

Sarah’s Theme

4 Flights Up

Fast Buck

Small-Time Charlie

Bert’s Theme

Contract With Depravity

All Thumbs

Dining Out

Derby Time

Lipstick On A Mirror

The Winner

End Title

 

Kenyon Hopkins: Nightmare

The Tell Tale Heart

Invasion Of The Locusts

The Loft

Ghost Ship

The Watery Grave

Chamber Of Horrors

The Red Eyed Rats

The Shaft

Werewolf

Living Tomb

The Chase

Tara s Theme

Monster Meet

 

The Creed Taylor Orchestra ftrg Kenyon Hopkins: Shock

Heartbeat

The Crank

Gloomy Sunday

The Secret

Jungle Fever

The Long Walk

Haunted House

Spellbound

In Bedlam

Time Runs Out

High On A Windy Hill

So Peaceful In The Country

 

The Creed Taylor Orchestra ftrg Kenyon Hopkins: Lonelyville

It’s A Lonesome Old Town
Dream Beat
The Lonesome Road
Lonesome River
Lonely Train
All Alone
The Nervous Beat
Lonesome And Blue
Lonely Girl
Dark Street
Lonelyville
St. James Infirmary

 

The Creed Taylor Orchestra ftrg Kenyon Hopkins: Panic (The Son Of Shock)

You’re Driving Me Crazy

The Prison Break

The Operation

Wreck Of Old ’97

Out Of This World

Lion Act

Heartaches

Rain

Alpine Honeymoon

A Shot In The Dark

The Fastest Gun

No Smoking

 

The Creed Taylor Orchestra ftrg Kenyon Hopkins: Ping Pang Pong – The Swinging Ball

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore.

Daddy

Willow Weep for Me

Makin’ Whoopee

Argument

Lullaby In Rhythm

Whistle While You Work

Love Is Here To Stay

Lovers

Cheek To Cheek

Goodbye

I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

 

Kenyon Hopkins: Baby Doll

Baby Doll And Empty House

The Doctor And Archie

The Fire And Baby Doll

Biblical Justice

Ghosts

Baby Doll’s Fright

Lemonade

Shame Shame Shame

The Confession

The Cradle

Archie’s Break Up

Baby Doll’s Birthday

 

Kenyon Hopkins

Wild River Main title

 

Kenyon Hopkins

12 Angry Men Main Title