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Apocalypse World War II
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Music from the Batman Trilogy
The Possession


How to Train Your Dragon 2
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Captain America:  The Winter Soldier
Rio 2


2015 Cue Awards Show
In-Context- Guardians of the Galaxy

Interview: Jeff Russo
In-Context- Dawn/Planet of the Apes
Interview: Neil S. Bulk


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The State of the Film Music Theme
The James Horner Legacy
2015 Cue Awards ReactionShow
2015 Cue Awards Show



First Impressions

June 1999


June 27, 1999

Big Trouble in Little China 
by John Carpenter 
and Alan Howarth

FIR - 3/10

(Super Tracks) 
Long before the days of the cheesy Mortal Kombat flicks and Street Fighter came Big Trouble in Little China.  As a teen I saw this cult favorite film...not paying much attention to the score.  Both Carpenter and Howarth work to blend the sounds of the Far East with the 80's sound of the West.  At times sounding like the band Devo (or like dozens of other rock/punk bands of the 80s) and other times strangely reminding one of some of Goldsmith's work of the eighties (but not nearly as good), Big Trouble is a peculiar score...albeit for a peculiar film.  Also contained on this promo cd are cuts from the films, Backstabbed and Escape from New York.   Backstabbed provides the most enjoyable music.  Tracks 12 and 13 are more subtle, at times sinister, but are the easiest to listen here in 1999.  The lone track from Escape from New York, is a horrid reminder of what much of the music of the late seventies and eighties sounded like!  Be this as it may.  The liner notes are quite insightful regarding Big Trouble in Little China and the recording seems to be top-notch. 

June 21, 1999

Heaven's Gate by David Mansfield

FIR - 8/10

Mansfield's score for this film of the early 1980's is largely folk and driven by the fiddle, guitar and mandolin and mandocello.  There is a obvious European folk influence in nearly every track, making this a perfect score reflecting the turn of the century-American setting.  Even a folk version of the Blue Danube and the Battle Hymn of the Republic are included!  Other familiar classical themes wind their way in and out of the score as well.  While this isn't my favorite style of music, the brilliance of the composer/ performer is impossible to overlook, especially in the softer cues. In addition, Ryko continues in their series a deluxe soundtrack editions with great flare and attention to detail.  The recording is remarkably clear and the packaging second to none.  For  Mansfield's simple brilliance and Rkyo's hard work, the disc is worthy of a high First Impression Rating.


The Missouri Breaks 
by John Williams

FIR - 5/10

 By no means is this a typical Williams score.  This crisply recorded disc showcases Williams versatility wonderfully.  Despite this score being produced in what one could consider Williams' "break" out season with scores like Jaws, Black Sunday, Star Wars, Close Encounters and Superman, it shares little in common with them.  This makes sense considering the film shares little in common with these others.  One does hear elements of The Sugarland Express (harmonica and all) and The Cowboys.  Also, Williams' music for the guitar at brief instances resemble his recent score for Stepmom.  While Williams is the master of many categories of film music, the Western is not one of them and his score for The Missouri Breaks, lacks the sort of feel one wants to continually connect to by listening to it.  In any case, Ryko, once again, impresses with their ability to produce all around great releases: impressive packaging and pristine recording.  


City of Angels by Gabriel Yared

FIR - 7/10

Generally combo soundtracks including mostly pop tracks and a few token score tracks, don't give a good listening experience.  While more score would be nice, this release does not suffer as much as one might expect.  Along with decent performances by some top musicians and singers of today, Gabriel produces an acceptable score.  It seems his goal was to musically portray the inner-turmoil of "the angel."  Yared's music is almost as weepy as Nicolas Cages' face was in the movie!  Still, it is a good effort.  Yes, far superior to The English Patient.  It is a close musical cousin to Yared's Message in a Bottle.

June 13, 1999

by Christopher Young

FIR - 4/10

This spy-thief-double-cross-flick earned a score to match its patchwork style.  Young's score worked in the marginal film well, but as a stand alone listen, it suffers.  An individual track can go from smooth, contemporary rhythms to horrific orchestral bursts without warning or apology. There are times when it is straight suspense and then a bit of Far-East flavor and the next second the smooth and focused rhythms return.  While other scores entail such elements successfully, this one fails to.  This may be due to the lack of a strong main theme.  The soft, romantic themes are the most enjoyable tracks as they are the most consistent from start to finish.  The final track is the best of the lot, flowing from one style to the next fairly cleanly and with some enjoyable themes.   

The Snow Files by Mark Snow

FIR - 8/10

(Sonic Images) 
This is one of the best compilations that this label has put out.  The compact disc is neatly divided into four categories that group Mark Snows wide range of styles accordingly.  At the same time, a great sampling of this composers work is provided.  High quality music, recording, layout and liner notes equals a must buy!  

Lonesome Dove 
by Basil Poledouris

FIR - 7/10


(Sonic Images)  
In some respects, a close cousin to Legends of the Fall and maybe a second cousin to The Magnificent Seven,  this wonderfully thematic score by Poledouris is one of his best.  He evokes images of the West and the struggles and joys therein in nearly every note.  It's simple flute themes are peacefully brilliant.  The main theme is one of Poledouris' best ever, but the excellence doesn't end there.  The majority of the tracks are very beautiful as well.


Watch the Skies 
by Various

FIR - 5/10

(Sonic Images) 
This compilation takes the listener on a romp through Hollywood's history of the unknown of space.  It includes classic sci-fi themes as well as contemporary.  The stand out track though is track 4, a piano solo of a medley from E.T..  It is a wonderful piece that far outclasses the piano solo of The Portrait from the Horner compilation, Heart of the Ocean.  While this is a must have for sci-fi fanatics, the great degree of variety makes it difficult to listen to straight through since there is little style in common from one track to the next. 

Wing Commander
by David Arnold & Kevin Kiner

FIR - 7/10

(Sonic Images)
 This film received quite a score!  Not from critics or the box office or from me (I fell asleep in a movie theatre for the first time!), but from co-composers David Arnold and Kevin Kiner.  The main theme is memorable but not quite reaching the "corny" level that Arnold's main theme for ID4 did.  The score is not all bombast either, but is set off by some nice softer melodies and ethereal motifs.  This score certainly pays homage to the likes of Horner's Star Trek II score on occasion, but not to the degree of earning the dreaded "rip off" designation.  While not as memorable as the previously mentioned Wrath of Kahn score, it is a decent effort by the score-duo and a good 17 track release from Sonic Images.