by Christopher Coleman
North has given Hollywood some wonderful music
throughout his long composing career:
Spartacus, Viva Zapata, A Streetcar Named Desire.
The Western genre, though, did not seem to bring out the talent he
displayed in other films. Along
with Cheyenne Autumn and Man with a Gun, Bite the Bullet
fails to make any significant musical mark on the listener.
While Viva Zapata is an all- time great film score and whose
story transpired in the same period as the classic
western, the film and score do not fit in the western genre.
disc is divided into three categories.
Aside from the sixteen tracks of film cues, there are two
additional suites: Mexico
Source Music and March Suite. The Mexico Source music section
features sub par
performances of traditional Spanish song with mediocre vocals, at best, in Ole,
Ole, . The
March Suite also offers an average rendition of Stars and Stripes
and an accelerated U.S. National Anthem medley.
disc starts off in average-western-score fashion with its Overture.
The description of this track could be echoed for several others.
It contains all of the music components one would come to expect
for a western of the mid-seventies, yet somehow it fails to distinguish
itself. It lacks the boldness
and character of a Bernstein western score, or the depth of a
the most unique track is track 4, Badlands.
It is a bit of a suspenseful track with tuba accents.
At the onset of the track, it is low and rumbling.
The brass and woodwind sections enter shortly and provide an
interesting contrast to the lower, darker end of the music.
By the conclusion; however, it rambles into the nondescript style
of the Overture, and The Race.
Pause (track 7) and Old
Timer’s Horse (track 8) provide a relatively nice “pause” for
the listener. Night Pause
is a simple guitar melody found in many-a western, but it always works.
So it is with this piece as well as track 10, Respite.
Old Timer’s Horse continues to build on the simplicity of
track 7 but adds music for strings and solo trumpet.
the Bullet was
produced at the tail end of the Western-film era, the mid-seventies, and
it could be that North was looking to avoid copying any of the great
western scores that preceded this film.
Actually, it wouldn’t have been too bad of an idea.
Of course, he employs those musical elements that comprise any
western-score: lonely guitars, bristling brass, marching drums, and the
like. From that stand point, one could say that it sounds like any other
western; however, North just
doesn’t sew them together in such a way that brings more than the
slightest bit of intrigue., Considering all of the memorable
Western-scores that came before Bite the Bullet and even some of those
that were made right around the same time.
one is bent on collecting every Western score ever to be released then
Bite the Bullet is something to collect, otherwise, there are plenty of
other Western scores that will satisfy that portion of your musical