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The James Horner Legacy
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Sailor's Delight? 
Review by Christopher Coleman

Composed and Co-Produced by James Horner
Co-Produced by Simon Rhodes
Performances by John Cougar Mellencamp, Dane Clark, John Gunnell, 
Miriam Sturm, Michael Wanchic, Andy Yorik, Moe Z.M.D.
Released by Sony Classical Records- June 2000

The Perfect Storm


Originality 7
Music Selection 8
Composition 8
CD Length 10
Track Order 8
Performance 9
Final Score 8/10

With each new movie assignment that composer James Horner secures, many film music fans hold their breath in anticipation of something new, something fresh from this composer's talented fingers.  As press releases flowed regarding the replacement of John Williams by James Horner for The Perfect Storm project, some wondered if they should "take warning," while others delighted in this "red sky at night" announcement.  If one is a satisfied sailor of  past musical voyages skippered  by James Horner, then The Perfect Storm is likely to be another sailor's delight.

It has been half a year since Horner released a full film score. (Let's not think about Freedom Song, ok?)  The Christmas '99 release of Bicentennial Man was met with much of the same varied reaction that seems to surround most his scores of the latter 90's.  Replacing the fairly busy John Williams, James Horner dives back into what appears to be becoming a trademark setting for the composer- disastrous waters.  As The Perfect Storm hits theatres, audiences will once again be washed over by the ever-growing trademark sounds of James Horner and, whether they are aware of it or not, will be captured by the emotions these sounds evoke.  The success of the film and the inclusion of a respectable pop version of the main theme by John Mellencamp, will likely make The Perfect Storm a hot selling soundtrack for 2000.

It is not hard to hear the influences of a good number of previous Horner works.  This should surprise no one.  The man has found a "formula" or two that work.  As familiar as his themes are, from film to film, his music generally compliments each film well.  If producers and directors thought otherwise, he would not be in such demand.   If one can appreciate Horner's more recent styles, starting from around 1993, and not get bored with the familiarity of their main components, then The Perfect Storm has a good deal to offer.

I must say; however, that upon first listen, there might be a drop of disappointment, when a more radical stylistic departure is not heard. Still, it isn't long before this score, with all its "familiarness," takes on a life of its own and locks itself into the owner's CD-player.

The onset of The Perfect Storm offers the main theme for the film right up front and before the disc of almost 80 minutes is complete, the listener will be well acquainted with it.  Initially, the tone is somewhat somber, somewhat peaceful, as guitars and French horns escort us into the music.  While clearly from the heart and pen of James Horner, there is no immediate connection to any of his previous themes.  Nice; however, as the opening track, Coming Home from the Sea, progresses, more and more famous (or infamous) Horner elements are introduced diluting the overall first impression, but just a bit.

About half way through the opening track, introduced is an exciting component not found in any Horner score of recent memory.  A momentous theme lead by electric guitar and accompanied by strings, brass, and adrenaline-laden percussions, bring the score into another realm and help mark some uniqueness upon this effort.  This dramatic, yet fun, theme thankfully reprises itself later in the score (track 4), but certainly never drowns out the main theme.

As the film and score progress, the shape of the music begins to look increasingly like the big wave music of  Deep Impact and, of course, Titanic.   Another intriguing element is re-introduced which hasn't really been heard since Apollo 13. As the crew faces the fury of the sea in track 5, Horner brings back the heroic and adventurous notes of the trumpet and accompanying brass.  It is used sparingly but is a delightful reminder of portions of Horner's work for Star Trek II and III.  Somewhat surprisingly, Horner even brings back the menacing four-note theme first heard in Willow and more recently in The Mask of Zorro

A nice conclusion to the CD comes in the form of another pop release of a Horner main theme.  This time, lyricist Will Jennings is replaced by the songs performer, John Cougar Mellencamp and George Green.  This track has a bit more of a salty bite to it than Celine Dion's passionate, yet overly ingrained performance of My Heart Will Go On.  Evenso, Yours Forever is enjoyable in its own right.

Horner fans and haters are exhaling all over world, as The Perfect Storm finds its way to their musical palettes, just prior to the release of the film.   Most indications are that this film will do very well even in the midst of one the best Movie-Summers in recent memory.  The soundtrack will certainly benefit from the film as Zimmer's score for Gladiator has.  Like Gladiator, The Perfect Storm is highly enjoyable (most definitely for Horner fans) as a stand-alone source of musical entertainment.

Track Listing and Ratings

 Track  Title  Time


1 Coming Home from the Sea 9:25  ****
2 "The Fog's Just Lifting..." 4:11  ****
3 "Let's Go, Boys." 8:54  ****
4 To the Flemish Cap 7:17  ***
5 The Decision to Turn Around 9:20  ****
6 Small Victories 8:31  ****
7 Coast Guard Rescue 9:47  ***
8 Rogue Wave 10:03  ***
9 "There's No Goodbye...Only Love" 7:33  ****
10 Yours Forever
(John Cougar Mellencamp)
4:02  ***

Total Running Time


Referenced Titles:
Apollo 13 | Bicentennial Man | The Mask of Zorro | Titanic 


Quick Quotes


If one has never heard Horner's work before, this, as with all of his scores, is a wonderful introduction to his work. All detractions aside, however, the music is a great listening experience, and is music that surely fits the film like a glove. ****

Michael Lyons - Cinemusic


For a new collector of film music, The Perfect Storm will likely be exciting and inspiring (four stars and no less), but for the experienced Horner collectors, the score will provide ten minutes of new, noteworthy material and the rest might either bore you or seem as unpleasant as swallowing seawater. ***

Christian Clemmensen - Filmtracks


James Horner



The Perfect Storm 

( (CDNow)





All artwork from The Perfect Storm is exclusive property of Sony Classical (c) 2000.  Its appearance is for informational purposes only.
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