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Soundtrack Review

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One Potato, Two Potato
Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


Composer: Gerald Fried
Label: Caldera Records
Release Date: 18 May 2020

Caldera Records present the original score for the motion picture One Potato, Two Potato from 1964, directed by Larry Peerce, featuring music by Gerald Fried. Peerce’s film, one of the first to discuss an interracial relationship openly in cinema, tells the story of a young single-mother named Julie (played by Barbara Barrie) who cares for her daughter all by herself after her husband abandoned her. Struggling with everyday life, she strikes up a friendship with Frank (Bernie Hamilton) who seems supportive and kind, giving Julie a respite from the nastiness she’s had to endure. It doesn’t take long for the two of them to fall in love. Although Julie and Frank are aware of the problems they are likely going to face as an interracial couple in the '60s, they decide to marry. Society, however, does not wish to grant them their happiness...

Gerald Fried's score for One Potato, Two Potato was one that on the first play through I wasn't overly struck by. Yes, there were some stand out themes, but it all seemed a little twee. Another factor that was slightly off putting was that the stereo mix, as is common with most music from around that time, was presented in a way that the majority of instruments can only be heard in one ear or the other. So, unlike modern recordings if you take one earpiece out, you can hardly hear half of the instruments. It also feels very noticeable when listening to the album.

However, the more times I played this, the more I warmed to it. The main theme is memorable, and beautifully woven throughout the score. There are also plenty of subtle themes that come in, do their job, and then vanish. At times there was a Herrmann-esque suspense to the music ('Turmoil' and 'Attempted Rape' being notable examples).

The Caldera crew have done a remarkable job (I'd be surprised if they hadn't, this is Caldera after all) of presenting the music in the best way possible. The sound quality of the recording is as perfect as you could hope for, and the tracks are presented in a way that lets the music and themes build slowly.

The press information reveals that composer Gerald Fried considers One Potato, Two Potato one of his best works. It is a score which is dear to his heart, not least because the film tackles a subject that the composer felt strongly about.

The CD comes with a bonus audio track, a 6 min, 53 sec interview with the composer. At 92, it's wonderful to hear Fried so upbeat and full of fond memories for the score.

This, 36th CD-release of Caldera Records, features a detailed booklet-text by Stephan Eicke and artwork by Luis Miguel Rojas.


Darren Rea

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