The Beau Hunks Orchestra
Eighty percent of all films made before 1930 have been lost forever—a tragedy that nearly befell the music of Roy Shield, composer of the inventive and charming themes heard in most Hal Roach movies. Thanks to the mind- bogglingly laborious “audio reconstructions” of Holland’s Piet Schreuders, an American treasure has been reclaimed. Schreuders spent years scouring film prints for moments when the music was clear of dialogue. These fragments were spliced into complete versions and meticulously transcribed. The Beau Hunks, under the leadership of bassist Gert- Jan Blom, spent more weeks fastidiously recreating the original performances—50 songs, few more than a minute long—using vintage instruments and recording techniques. For those unaware of the painstaking process, the result is merely a soundtrack album. In fact, it is craftsmanship so uncannily precise that it must be called art. In the end, though, the music and not the method triumphs. To listen to the Rascals’ theme, “Good Old Days,” or the Laurel & Hardy perennial, “Bells,” is to perceive a world without Newt Gingrich.