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Escape from New York (Soundtrack) by John Carpenter

 

A Future Long Gone
Review by Christopher Coleman

Composed and Performed by John Carpenter
Produced by Alan Howarth
Additional performances by Pamela Smith and Tommy Wallace
Released by Silva Screen Records- June 2000

Escape from New York (Soundtrack) by John Carpenter

Escape from New York

Escape from New York (Soundtrack) by John Carpenter

Category

Score
Originality 5
Music Selection 5
Composition 5
CD Length 6
Track Order 6
Performance 5
Final Score 5/10

It never ceases to tickle me when looking back on films that, back in the day they were created, depicted the future,... which now, are the past.  If that opening sentence made sense to you, maybe you can appreciate the humor in such films as well.   A few shows come to mind immediately when I think about these depictions: Space 1999, the original Star Trek episode introducing the villainous Kahn (said to be genetically engineered circa 1999), and John Carpenter's Escape from New York.

Aside from generally being off-target regarding fashion, technology and governments of the future, these film's scores either attempt to predict and perform the music of the future, use common contemporary styles that, at the very least, make one think of the future, or simply use styles common for the era in which they are composed.

John Carpenter and Alan Howarth's score for Escape from New York seem to touch on all three of these.  From the very first electronic swell of the Main Title (1), it is abundantly clear the era of which this score originates-  that excessive decade known as The Eighties.  While the early portion of this decade produced some great orchestral film scores such as Star Trek:  The Motion Picture, of which Alan Howarth was also involved as sound designer, Star Wars:  The Empire Strikes Back, E.T. the Extraterrestrial, Raiders of the Lost Ark amoung  others, there were those that went the more contemporary route like Escape from New York.

Escape from New York vibrates with all the tinny electronics of the age that were state of the art and, put in the dilapidated setting of The Big Apple, could only face the audience in the direction of the future.  The score was produced in the home studio of Alan Howarth with composer/director John Carpenter in 1980. Antiquated sound effects permeate the music as evidenced in Descent into New York (11) and further remind one that this is a twenty year old score about a future which is now long gone.  Entertaining in its own retro-way, these sythensized effects along with the dialogue included in several of the tracks are, sadly, likely not enough to keep this CD spinning over and over for you.  

Many of the cues are ominous and dark, as the film was, and make for a difficult listen.  Fans of the film will most likely want to pick this release up as it has been significantly improved over the initial vinyl release of twenty years ago.  Instead of drastically edited original release of less than 25 minutes (total running time), Alan Howarth and crew have gone back to the original masters, restored them, provided unedited cues from the film, and five previously unreleased tracks.

The effort put forth by Howarth and Silva Screen Records is admirable and it fuels hopes that composer, producers, and record labels will continue to revive and re-release scores that were sadly mistreated in their day.  Mildly entertaining in that it generates flash backs to a decade that awkwardly sits in between contemporary and retro-ized, hip decades of past (an honor that currently falls upon the 70's), this new release of Escape from New York is closer to what the original release should have been on double LP.  

Track Listing and Ratings

 Track  Title  Time

  Rating

1 Main Title 3:53  **
2 *The Bank Robbery 3:30  ***
3 "Prison Introduction" 0:20  ***
4 Over the Wall/ Airforce One 2:22  ***
5 He's Still Alive/ Romero 2:12  ***
6 "Snake' Plissken" 1:41  ***
7 Orientation 1:47  ***
8 "Tell Him" 1:46  ***
9 Engulfed Cathedral (Debussy) 3:31  **
10 *Across the Roof 1:14  ***
11 *Descent into New York 3:37  ***
12 *Back to the Pod - Version #1 1:34  ***
13 Everyone's Coming to New York 2:24  ***
14 "Don't Go Down There!" 0:19  ***
15 Back to the Pod - Version #2/ The Crazies Come Out 2:09  ***
16 "I Heard Your were Dead!" 0:09  ***
17 Arrival at the Library 1:06  **
18 "You are the Duke of New York" 0:18  ***
19 The Duke Arrives/ Barricade  3:35  ***
20 President at the Train 2:28  ***
21 "Who are You?" 0:27  ***
22 Police Action 2:27  **
23 Romero and the President 1:43  ***
24 The President is Gone 1:53  ***
25 69th Street Bridge 2:43  ***
26 Over the Wall 3:42  ***
27 "The Name is Plissken" 0:25  ***
28 *Snake Shake - End Credits 3:58  **
 

Total Running Time

57:17  
 
 

* previsouly unreleased

Referenced Reviews:  

 

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Composer 
John Carpenter

Escape from New York (Soundtrack) by John Carpenter

 

 

 

 

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