Dedicated to reviews and news of music for film, TV and games

Sunday, March 16, 2008


Point Break
Music by Mark Isham
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1065 (US)
22 Tracks 65:16 mins

With the sad news that Patrick Swayze is facing a tough fight against the "Big C" (he was one of my late mother's favourites, so I obviously wish him well), this is a timely release of Mark Isham's much requested score for a film he made with Keanu Reeves, in one of his first dramatic roles, when he was at the height of his powers. Swayze plays something of a surfer god, who is also leader of a gang of bank robbers, who masquerade as the "Ex-Presidents," under investigation by Reeves' FBI agent.
The score was originally conceived as a mix of electronica and rock, but as the scoring process proceeded it became obvious that orchestral elements were required. I don't know what it is about surfing, never having tried it myself, but Big Wednesday remains one of my favourite films and scores (by Basil Poledouris) and the surfing scenes in Point Break similarly called for a more epic treatment. This presented a new challenge for Isham, who was yet to dabble in live orchestra work, with his first symphonic score for Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It yet to come.
The excellent results of this fusion of elements can be heard in the lengthier set-pieces like the exhilerating "Night Surfing" and "Skydive" is given a similar epic treatment. An almost militaristic approach is given to the largely propulsive "Bank Robbery"and subsequent "Shootout at Airport"and "No Parachute."The rock elements are more prevalent in tracks like "Car/Foot Chase," whilst much of the suspense and tension is provided by the electronics. The film's almost mythical ending brings it all together, starting out tense, giving way to martial action, before the epic surfing music brings "Freedom" for the Swayze character.
Accompanying this limited edition of 2000 units is an informative booklet, with Dan Goldwasser's extensive notes, supplemented by comments from director Kathryn Bigelow and the composer himself, together with many colour stills from the film. Visit

The Legend of Butch & Sundance + The Blue and the Gray

Just a brief mention for a couple of new, highly recommended soundtrack releases. Firstly, the much-missed Basil Poledouris' final score for the 2003 western The Legend of Butch & Sundance is available on CD (but be quick) or as a download from Moviescore Media. The 51-minute score is written for a smallish ensemble, including guitars, mandolin, fiddle, banjo and accordion, to provide a folksy sound, not unlike some passages in the composer's epic Lonesome Dove. It's a very fine score and a must-have for Poledouris's fans. You can read a review at

I don't normally cover Intrada's releases, not that they aren't fine, because they are; it's just that they choose not to send me review copies of their product and, as I am on a limited budget, I have to be choosy about my purchases. I couldn't however resist investing in a copy of their splendid 2-disc presentation of Bruce Broughton's fine score for the 1982 mini-series The Blue & the Gray. I miss the days of the mini-series. There were some fine productions and many of them boasted great scores, either by established composers, working in film and tv, or by up-and-comers like Broughton was at that time. I think it's fair to say that this was his first big break, after doing fine episodic work for the likes of Dallas and How the West Was Won (oh, when are we going to hear this splendid music on disc, with its wonderful main theme by Jerrold Immel, who also wrote the Dalls theme). Go to for details of all their releases.

The Blue & the Gray was of course set against the events of the American Civil War, but concentrated on the effects of war on ordinary folk and therefore the approach to the score was again largely a folksy one, with the same kind of elements employed by Poledouris for Butch & Sundance. The main theme however (one of the best composed for a mini-series) is a bolder affair, with an exciting martial call to arms leading into a sweeping, epic theme.
Broughton's score was deservedly Emmy-nominated and I have long hoped for a CD release, never dreaming that a double-disc presentation like this would one day appear. In fact, we are very fortunate to have the music at all, as it was long thought lost. However, eventually a brittle stereo copy of the tracks surfaced, which was transferred to digital, with only minor, almost unnoticeable, distortions remaining and now the full score makes it's debut in this limited edition of 2000 copies. Go to for details of their many fine releases.


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