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It’s soundtracks galore during the Christmas season

Thom Yorke

Unmade (from Suspiria)


Not only is the original Suspiria (1977) a cult classic whose 2018 remake was inevitably greeted with suspicion by supernatural-horror buffs but its soundtrack by Italian prog group Goblin is equally revered. Yorke sensibly decided to veer away from its tingling atmospherics for his first film score, instead going for neo-classical orchestration, doomy electronics, Gregorian chants and, occasionally, recognisably Yorke-ish vocal numbers such as this one.

Mikael Tariverdiev

Somewhere Far Away (from Seventeen Moments Of Spring)


The 1973 Soviet Union television spy serial, based on the novel by Yulian Semyonov, has now been made available in full in a remastered edition. Mikael Tariverdiev’s music is lush, lovely and as Russian as it possibly could be, recalling both that country’s great composers and, on this sweeping, orchestrated ballad, the deep, soulful melancholy of its folk tradition.

Willie Watson and Tim Blake Nelson

When A Cowboy Trades His Spurs For Wings (from The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs)


Nelson was a lead player in O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Coen Brothers film whose soundtrack did so much to make bluegrass music popular again. He is reunited with the duo for Buster Scruggs, a compendium of frontier tales whose music includes this delightfully hokey western number, a kind of bathetic mirror image to Bob Dylan’s Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.

Angela Lansbury & co

Nowhere To Go But Up (from Mary Poppins Returns)


Hairspray songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Whitman quote the Sherman Brothers’ wonderful work from the original Mary Poppins in this standout number from the sequel, which is led by Angela Lansbury — she, of course, being the principal voice of the under-regarded sister feature Bedknobs And Broomsticks (1971), another joyous Disney/Shermans classic, which is to be belatedly revived for the stage next year.

Dolly Parton

Jolene (from Dumplin’)


Another Netflix feature, based on Julie Murphy’s best-selling YA novel, finds Dolly Parton, lately coming to be appreciated as the outstanding artist she truly is, re-recording several of her older tunes alongside a batch of new songs. This sombre string-backed version of her most famous number underlines the capacity for darkness of the woman who also wrote such bleak, beautiful tunes as Down From Dover.

Sandra Kerr & John Faulkner

Princess Suite (from The Music From Bagpuss)


Children’s TV show Bagpuss created its own strange, magical and exquisitely handcrafted world; only 13 episodes were ever broadcast, originally over a three-month period in 1974. It is perfectly reflected in the accompanying songs for it, a treasure chest of miniature folk gems released for the first time last month. With chiming clarity, they evoke the more psychedelic turn such music had taken by the mid-1970s.