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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

CD REVIEW - THEY LIVE - 20th Anniversary Edition

They Live - 20th Anniversary Edition
Music by John Carpenter and Alan Howarth
AHICD 002 (US)
29 Tracks 74:11 mins

Produced by Alan Howarth for his website at, this limited edition of 100o units commemorates the 20th anniversary of John Carpenter's sci-fi actioner, which starred wrestler Roddy Piper as one of but a few people aware that aliens are in fact living amongst us (their true identities can only be revealed by looking through special sunglasses).
Carpenter himself, and he oft-time musical collaborator, Alan Howarth, provided the usual synth score for the film, enhanced by guitars and harmonica to give a bluesy feel. The original album's 11 tracks lead off the disc, followed by a further 18 previously unreleased cues. Some dialogue is included in less than a handful of tracks, just to give a flavour of the film and don't distract from the music on display.
Nominated for a "Saturn Award" in 1989, the score begins with "Coming to L.A., revealing the main theme, which has a real bluesy feel, trudging along to a beat, enhanced by fingersnaps, and with guitars and harmonica featuring strongly. Some tracks are more straight-ahead synths, but are often mixed with bluesy elements, like "The Siege of Justiceville," which starts with low-key variations on the main theme, then builds imaginitively, with percussive elements.
There's a good deal of tension and suspense in the score, with a few more uptempo moments, like "Wake Up,"but the main theme is never very far away and this and the aforementioned percussive elements, just about keeps me interested (traditionally, I don't like synth scores, as you probably know by now, if you are a regular visitor to the site). The additional tracks don't really add much to the original album cues, with some pretty harsh atonality on display at times, but "Roll Away" is quite poignant, as is the end of "Get Me Out;" and there's fairly catchy source material on display in "Commercial Break," "Car Commercial," and "Press on Nails." A straight reprise of the main theme brings the album to a close.
The accompanying booklet features notes on the film and its music, including Alan Howarth's recollections. If you're a fan of the cinema of John Carpenter, or of anything '80s, you may well find this a very welcome release indeed. Order your copy from


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