As a soundtrack label particularly in love with unsung gems from the ’80s and ’90s with every release from JUDGEMENT NIGHT to FRIGHT NIGHT, Intrada’s busy release schedule often has a way of surprising fans of two decades when groovy keyboards met lush orchestras. Now a particularly nice two-fer arrives that demonstrates comedy-centric composers at their symphonically sweeping best – one soundtrack accompanying an outright drama, and the other helping to give melodic depth to a sweet pop morality fable.

1991’s PARADISE used the then-marriage of stars Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson to give extra emotional heft to a bereft couple re-discovering their love through the “best summer ever” visit of a kid in need of friends (Elijah Wood). And it’s easy to imagine David Newman in need of in need a breather himself at a time mostly filled with the brilliantly cartoonish antics of MEET THE APPLEGATES and BILL AND TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY  (also out on Intrada). Given a rustic landscape to fill with gentle drama, Newman draws from the richly melodic spirit of dad Alfred and cousin Randy with any number of gorgeous themes. An Americana feel abounds in the flutes and wind trilling about like birds and butterflies, capturing the youthful joy of children bonding – as well as the sadness of an infant’s absence. What makes the winsome PARADISE so good is that for all of its majestic orchestral swelling, the score is never overtly sentimental as such. PARADISE also brims with the kind of rhythmic energy that’s also filled the sound of Newman’s far more comedic scores. Except here, the heart that gave those movies’ laughs their humanity is just minus the overtly funny stuff. PARADISE shows just how good Newman is with the kind of tender family dramas he’s equally good at, and should frolic in more.

Robert Folk was in the midst of various POLICE ACADEMY movies and their similarly themed spin-offs when he landed the 1987, pre Patrick Dempsey “McDreamy” charmer CAN’T BUY ME LOVE, which innocently fulfilled the nerd fantasy of buying the school hottie so that he could show himself off as not being a nottie – until of course real emotions develop between the two. While Folk enjoyably plays off the film’s song-filled high school setting with decade-specific calypso-rock pop, it’s soon easy to see this album’s teaming with PARADISE as Folk develops this cute, bouncy theme into beautifully emotional orchestral writing. For if LOVE has stuck long enough in the public consciousness to inspire an urban remake, it’s because of the real heart the original movie had in its oddball relationship. Delicately balancing electric guitar and keyboards against its lilting strings, Folk’s score helps achieve a melodically poignant bond, as if the score was caught in a dream of touching an angel. The best thing about his approach is that its richly thematic music is heard from a fragile adult viewpoint as well, one that acknowledges a desperate need to be loved in its nerd hero’s bravado. Touching in a way that so many of today’s flip teen comedy scores aren’t, it’s Folk’s glowing orchestral touch for the genre that seems far more dated here than any synth groove. Thankfully, at least we can now buy that part of it, if not Amanda Peterson.

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