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Friday, August 25, 2006

CD REVIEW - Farewell to the King

Farewell to the King
Music by Basil Poledouris
Prometheus PCD 159 (Belgium)
31 Tracks 63:47 mins

It's nice to have this 1989 anti-war film score available again, and in a slightly expanded version. There are five previously unreleased tracks, totalling some ten minutes, within the body of the score, plus a further nine minutes of alternate takes and source music as bonus material.
If you're unfamiliar with this film and score, the former concerns a British officer's (Nigel Havers) attempts to enlist the help of an American deserter, now leader of the native tribes in Borneo, to aid in the fight against the Japanese in WWII; the latter was written by Basil Poledouris at the height of his powers, though it came in for much criticism at the time for its similarity to the work of John Barry.
In Dan Goldwasser's informative booklet notes, Poledouris himself comments on the score and admits to composing in the style of Barry, which pleased director John Milius' vision for the music. Certainly the secondary theme, first heard in "Flare of Youth" on the album, is very much John Barry in style, although the main theme itself is more recognisably Poledouris. Whatever, both are excellent themes and crop up throughout the score, never outstaying their welcome. "Battle Montage" is an excellent track - a lively, bouncy piece of music - very unexpected.
Throughout the score, Poledouris utilises ethnic flutes and percussion appropriate to the tale's jungle setting.
There is also a very British "Imperialist Waltz," a proud march in "Zed Force," and an interesting "Japanese Radio Source Cue" is included in the bonus material, which is very recognisably Poledouris, despite its Japanese instrumentation.
A nice album then, especially if you haven't got the original release. If you have, you may feel that is sufficient. All I know is that, listening to it, I was reminded how much I miss the music of Basil Poledouris. He really is too fine a composer to be absent from our screens this long.


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