Many remember comedy duo Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy for their visual gags. The soundtracks that accompanied Laurel and Hardy’s films were also critical to the duo’s success. Composed by Hal Roach’s in-house composer Leroy Shield, the scores feature both expected the lighthearted ditties as well as ballads and dance numbers reminiscent of the greats of classical music. Long chronicled only in the films they accompanied, Shield’s compositions receive the spotlight in a new album by Alessandro Simonetto.
Between 1923 and 1931, Shield composed dozens of cues and effects that were arranged and recombined for a variety of Laurel and Hardy films. Laurel & Hardy: The Original Piano Music offers the first opportunity to hear Shield’s music outside of the films themselves. The album represents years of musical detective work, as Simonetto tracked down Shield’s original scores, lead sheets, and sketches. Simonetto was unable to locate scores for some of the music, and in those cases, he transcribed the music directly from the films himself.
The CD also features bonus material, including the world-premiere of the reconstruction of “Snowing” from Laughing Gravy and a set of special effects and short pieces titled “Goofs.” The disc’s informative liner notes were written by Laurel and Hardy historian Piet Schreuders.