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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

CD REVIEW - Red Dawn

Red Dawn
Music by Basil Poledouris
Intrada MAF 7099 (US)
23 Tracks 68:24 mins

I have a particular fondness for the early collaborations between director John Milius and composer Basil Poledouris. I always find Big Wednesday a moving experience and just love the operatic quality of Conan. Red Dawn is maybe not as inspiring as those two, but still nevertheless an interesting little film, with a chance to catch early performances from such as Patrick swayze, Charlie Sheen and C. Thomas Howell.
Poledouris's score was in fact Intrada's fist ever soundtrack release, and I can remember eagerly ordering and waiting for my copy of the LP, as it then was. Of course those were the days when only around 30-minutes playing time was the norm. Now, many years later, the label has released the full score, dedicated to the memory of the much-missed and recently deceased composer.
The film's premise is a Soviet invasion of America and follows the escapades of a group of Colorado teenagers who take to the hills and offer armed resistance to the Soviet occupation.
Poledouris's score, a mix of orchestral and electronics, provides relentless, menacing accompaniment to the Soviet invasion and flag-waving heroics for the teenage "wolverines, " as well as some dirge-like tragedy and a few rare, tender moments. His main theme is a grim-but heroic march, first heard in the "Main Title" and it's splendidly rousing stuff. After the lengthy "Invasion" cue, with its electronic simulated helicopter sounds and menacing action, the score settles down to a mix of suspense and tragedy for a while, as the conquered locals are rounded up. The youngsters first strike back in "Fire!," where the wolverines' and Soviets' themes clash. A tender "love scene" offers some respite from the action before drum-lead action returns in "Attack of the Wolverines." The bleak "Winter" follows, before the wistful "The Eulogy." The next action set-piece is "Attack of the Helicopters," which again pits the main themes against one another, leading on to the tragedy of "Toni's Death" and grimly expectant "Toni's Last Grenade," which ends with an elegiac variation on the heroic theme. The concluding cue "Death and Freedom" provides a peaceful resolution as the two brother wolverines (Swayze and Sheen) accept their fate, with the music turning elegiac, before the "End Credits" provides the most stirring rendition of the main theme to close. Another rejected version of this final track, with proud trumpet, first heard at the end of the "Main Title" is presented as a bonus track, along with a solo percussion track and another alternate cue, with a brief variation on the main theme.
Accompanying the disc is a splendid 20-page booklet, filled with colour stills from the film, together with album producer Douglass Fake's detailed notes on the film and its music, including a cue-by-cue guide. Order your copy from
Now, I really must dig out my copy of the film and have another look.


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