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Friday, May 28, 2010


Well, I'm still waiting on that call, but a scan did quarantine one bug and my PC behaved perfectly yesterday, so maybe the panic is over. Anyway, for now, I'm ploughing on.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Music by Maurice Jarre
Tadlow Music TADLOW009 (UK)
Disc 1 - 22 Tracks 62:08 mins Disc 2 - 13 Tracks 60:03 mins

A bigger budget doesn't always make for a better film and, after the first two successful outings for Mel Gibson's Mad Max character, the third in the series Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, proved a big disappointment to this writer, plus many Mad Max fans in general.
The publicity virtually ignored Gibson in favour of the casting of Tina Turner as the villain of the piece and the soundtrack album was always going to be largely devoted to her, even though some 25 minutes of Maurice Jarre's underscore was included, in the form of one theme and two lengthy suites. My trouble is, a suite has to be really engaging for me to stick with it, and I didn't find this to be the case with these selections. Therefore, my copy of the album was quickly disposed of.
Of course, the choice of Jarre for this film was always controversial in any case, with Brian May, composer for the first two Mad Max films, shamefully overlooked. Not that Jarre's efforts are without merit, because nobody scored desert-set projects quite like the late French composer.
Now, after all these years, his efforts for the film are finally properly recognised, with this splendid two-disc set from Tadlow Music, the second recent Jarre revival from the label, following its release of Lion of the Desert/The Messenger. At last, we can hear how the composer's score was used in the film, with the complete 80-minute-plus score being presented on disc one and concluding on disc two, with bonus alternate takes, the original album tracks and even bonus overdub and effects tracks. There's also a re-recorded version of "I Ain't Captain Walker," performed by Tadlow's orchestra and choir of choice, The City of Prague Philharmonic and Crouch End Festival Chorus.
Featuring an orchestra of more than 100 players, supplemented by Didgeridoo and the, often overused at the time, but used sparingly and intelligently here, Ondes Martenot, the album opens with the "Original Main Title Music," which, after a brief opening fanfare and a snatch of the "Max's Theme," performed by children's choir, becomes quite intense and menacing. The Didgeridoo makes its first appearance in "Max's Theme - The Desert," which manages a suitably desolate and eerie feel. There's more menace in "Bartertown Theme," with its rhythmic metallic percussion, which appears again in "Accents 2 Suspense;" "Heartbeat/Pigrock;" and "The Discovery," the latter two, with a poppy feel, including a sleazy sax lead. A march-like motif opens "Master Blaster/The Manipulator/Embargo/Entity Humiliated," before suspense sets in.
The brassy fanfare that opens the album returns fully developed at the start of "Thunderdome," before the cue goes briefly circusy, with a kind of death march leading us to more dramatic matters and some desperate conflict, ending with a return to the opening music. "Darkness/Gulag" follows, with a plaintive theme struggling to be heard above more dark and dramatic sounds.
A feeling of doom and desolation opens "Master in Underworld/Desert Hallucinating," before the metallic percussion briefly returns, the music travelling onward, only to be interrupted by some more menacing Didgeridoo-lead sounds. The dark "Magical," with its heavy male choir, follows, though the cue lightens up considerably to travel towards a hopeful conclusion. "Children's Theme" is largely a joyous, percussive affair, and is followed by "Ceremony," which is at first similarly percussive, but ends quite tenderly. "Confusion" follows chaotically, and then "The Telling/ I Ain't Captain Walker" develops from a hesitant start to an ethereal statement of "Max's Theme," before continuing turbulently and, at times, quite triumphantly.
"Tyrant" is a mixed bag, with menace, drama and sympathy in equal measures; whilst "The Leaving" is a largely hopeful affair, but not without drama, and a little poignancy. The penultimate track on disc one, "Underworld Takeover" also offers a mix of drama and triumph, with also a mysterious and beautiful passage for Ondes Martenot; which also features in the final cue, "Arrival," that ends ominously, foreshadowing events yet to unfold on disc two.
"Max and Savannah Escape" opens said disc in menacing then suspenseful fashion, before a brief moment of triumph, which soon gives way to more menacing material, before a triumphant ending. "Boarding the Train" follows in suitably propulsive fashion, with some conflict before another triumphant close. Organ adds to the weighty, doom-laden feel of "Bartertown Destruction," with action all the way in the lengthy, drums-heavy "The Big Chase!"
"Epilogue" briefly continues in the same vein, before a mournful passage leads to another beautiful Ondes Martenot solo, which is joined by full orchestra to provide a big, satisfying conclusion.
I must say that I was not looking forward to covering this one, based on my experience of the original album but, hearing the score presented as it should be heard, was something of a revelation, and I'm glad that I was given the opportunity to revisit it.
The accompanying booklet features Eric Lichtenfeld's notes on the film and its score, plus album producer James Fitzpatrick's account of how the score tracks came to be rescued, from the sadly no longer with us CTS Studios, and finally presented here.
Go to, where you can hear samples and then order your copy of this lovingly produced limited edition double album.


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