The Wicker Man - Settling the Score

Gary Carpenter left the Royal College of Music in 1972 and strangely [or so it seemed to him at the time] found himself engaged as Associate Musical Director on the film The Wicker Man. Allan Brown's recent book: Inside The Wicker Man - The Morbid Ingenuities [Sidgwick and Jackson] stirs some memories:

Wicker Man posterThe writer of The Wicker Man, Anthony Shaffer [more like Chauffeur, from the number of lifts he used to give us] drove around the film's Scottish locations in an impressive Citroën/Maserati. In Allan Brown's evocative, entertaining and erudite book, the crew remembers this car as a Saab. My memories of working on this film are distinct: this was my first job after college, it was the only feature I worked on for many years; I was young and impressionable; I had a lot of responsibility for the music when I hardly knew which way was up, and in any case, whoever forgets their first experience of being screwed?

The first thing to sort out is that the core group of musicians who played the music also appeared in the film and are duly credited - although the percussionist's playing was not thought to be quite up to scratch for the soundtrack and he was largely replaced in the recording studio by Michael Fry. They are all still around, although only Peter Brewis [recorders, jew's harp, harmonica, bass guitar, etc.], Michael Cole [concertina, harmonica, bassoon] and I [piano, recorders, fife, ocarina, Nordic lyre, etc.] still operate full time within the profession. We three were also recently graduated students of the Royal College Of Music, not the Royal Academy as Mr Brown asserts. All the London colleges of music were approached, by the way, but at that time, only the RCM had a careers officer who could implement a request, and even then, that institution felt [correctly, as it turned out] that the commitment would be more than a full-time student could deal with, so as a recent composition student, I was approached, auditioned by Paul, and engaged [for the princely sum of £35.00 per week] and I recommended and booked everyone else. The other three, Andrew Tompkins [guitars], Ian Cutler [violin], Bernard Murray [percussion] did not come from formalised musical backgrounds but were members of a folk rock band I was in at the time called Hocket. The confusion over the title of the 'band' in the credits [Lodestone or Magnet] is actually simply explained. We all thought it would be nice to invent a performing name for ourselves in keeping with the spirit of the film and settled on Lodestone which is the title for the earlier cut. We then discovered that there was already a band of that name so went for the nearest equivalent, Magnet, which superceded it in all subsequent versions.

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2000 Gary Carpenter; This article must not to be reproduced in part or in its entirety without permission. Contact: wickerman@garycarpenter.net

 © 2000 Gary Carpenter