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Wednesday, June 11, 2008


Under Fire
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Film Score Monthly Vol.11 No.4 (US)
12 Tracks 44:40 mins

This is a straight reissue of Jerry Goldsmith's masterful score for Roger Spottiswoode's 1983 film, which sets a menage a trois between three journalists against the 1979 Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. Originally released on LP and later on CD in Japan and Germany, it's great to have this fine album once more readily available.
Written by a composer at the height of his powers, this has long been a favourite score of mine, and the LP has been much played over the years. Goldsmith's approach, dictated by the film's temp track, using pan flutes (or at least pseudo pan flutes, made from PVC piping, but I certainly didn't know the difference until the accompanying booklet's notes pointed that out to me), whilst not entirely accurate to the music of the location, is nevertheless perfectly appropriate and effective; also utilising electronic keyboards, as was the composer's wont at that time.
It should be said that the album does not present the complete score for the film, rather a re-recording of the basic material, arranged, as was often the custom at that time, for a better listening experience, and also to show off the contibutions of guitarist Pat Metheny. In fact, so successful was Goldsmith that some of the re-recorded tracks actually replaced music originally recorded for the picture on the film's final sound mix
The film itself is quite sparsely scored, with little music appearing until the mid-point of the film, and therefore the album's arrangements of Goldsmith's material make for a much more stasfifying listening experience than if the score were lifted from the film and presented on album, even if this were possible and it isn't as the original masters aren't available.
Although every track on the album has something to offer, the principal themes employed include the catchy march for the Sandinistas, which shines most in the concluding "Nicaragua," and the gorgeous synth-lead love theme, best heard in "House of Hammocks; whilst Metheny is given his moment in the dramatic pursuit "Bajo Fuego."
The accompanying booklet is, as usual, packed with information on the film and its score, with notes by Jeff Bond and Alexander Kaplan, including a cue-by-cue guide, and comments by the score's recording engineer, and long-time Goldsmith collaborator Bruce Botnick. The only thing missing is the absence of stills, which presumably weren't available to the producers for some reason.
If you're a Goldsmith fan, you will probably have this album in one form or another, but might like to pick up a copy of this remastered release. If you're new to the composer's work, this is definitely one you should have in your collection.
For samples, and to order your copy, visit

The Accidental Tourist
Music by John Williams
Film Score Monthly Vol.11 No.6 (US)
12 Tracks 41:41 mins

Though mostly known at the time for his epic sci-fi/fantasy scores, by the time John Williams came to score Lawrence Kasdan's 1988 film The Accidental Tourist (yet another menage a trois story), he had already written a number of more intimate scores, often based on a single theme.
Therefore this approach wasn't new for him, but was different from what his more recent fanbase had become used to. Therefore, the score is often forgotten when its composer is talked of.
The theme is largely derived from four notes and is at first quite serious and reserved, but can be developed into a more light, flowing and romantic affair, often carried by piano, or woodwinds, where it is at its most attractive. Most cues feature variations on the theme, but there are other more atmospheric moments. Perhaps unusually, Williams employed subtle electronics alongside his relatively small orchestral forces, essentially to add an underlying coldness.
The Accidental Tourist was one of the first Williams scores to be released on CD and soon went out of print, making it something of a collector's item. So, if you haven't managed to track down a copy, you now have a newly remastered representation of the album, which features nearly all the music in the film, save for a few brief cues. All this, and the usual excellent accompanying booklet, featuring detailed notes and cue-by-cue guide, courtesy of Jeff Eldridge, togather with stills and original poster artwork from the film.
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