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Thursday, August 20, 2009


Runaway Train
Music by Trevor Jones
La-La Land Records LLLCD 1095 (US)
18 Tracks 77:41 mins

The original album of Trevor Jones' score for 1985's Runaway Train, a prison break thriller starring Jon Voigt, Eric Roberts and Rebecca De Mornay, based on a screenplay by Akira Kurosawa, no less, has long been a much sought after item for soundtrack collectors. La-La Land Records has now done a huge favour for those who have been unable to secure a copy by reissuing the album. Mind you, I should imagine those who probably had to pay an exorbitant price in order to own the original are probably feeling a little sick now because, not only is the album now readily available, albeit in a limited edition of 3000 units, but its is in superior sound and this release not only features the original album tracks, but also presents the original score tracks from the film, and even a couple of bonus source tracks, as well of course as being accompanied by a colourful booklet featuring Brian Satterwhite's detailed notes on both film and score, including a cue-by-cue description of all the music presented.
As for the music itself, well, the '70s saw the rebirth of the symphonic score, a trend that continued into the following decade, and saw many fine scores produced. However, there was another movement to introduce electronics more and more into film music. Some of course, like the great Jerry Goldsmith dabbled in both, mixing synths with orchestra to often produce interesting and satisfying results (of course there were exceptions, even for him); whilst others, the likes of Harold Faltemeyer and Giorgio Moroder, chose to go down a largely electronic path.
Trevor Jones' music for Runaway Train, although a small band of musicians were also utilised, falls more into the latter category and, for me, is one of his least enjoyable efforts as a result. Not that I blame him, as in 1985 he was a relatively new name in film scoring, though he had enjoyed some acclaim for the likes of Excalibur and The Dark Crystal; and Runaway Train being a Cannon production, there was probably pressure to produce something good, but cheap. What results, though undoubtedly suitably rhythmic and propulsive in the main, I just find largely irritating and very dated indeed; and, I would imagine, under different circumstances Jones would not have chosen to go down that path. Thankfully, the composer was to go on to bigger and better things, but if you are a Jones completist, you should certainly pick up a copy if only for La-La Land's usual high production values. I just wish the music was worth all the effort.
Thankfully, the score is fairly brief, whichever programme you choose to select; and in fact extra music was actually composed just to fill out the original album.
Go to for further details, samples, and to order your copy.


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