CD REVIEW - 100 GREATEST WESTERN THEMES
100 Greatest Western Themes
Music by Various Composers
Silva Screen Records SILCD 1325
Disc 1 - 17 Tracks 68:43 mins
Disc 2 - 16 Tracks 77:31 mins
Disc 3 - 15 Tracks 68:00 mins
Disc 4 - 19 Tracks 74:00 mins
Disc 5 - 16 Tracks 69:08 mins
Disc 6 - 17 Tracks 63:18 mins
Silva Screen are very careful not to call this collection The 100 Greatest Western Themes, because, though many of the inclusions on this weighty 6-disc collection are indeed among the greatest themes composed for the genre (Magnificent Seven, Big Country etc.), I can think of a good many more that are equally as great and that should certainly have been included ahead of non-genre efforts like The Alamo, Gettysburg, Gone With The Wind, Johnny Belinda, North and South, Quigley Down Under; Villa Rides and Viva Zapata (as well as a few more Mexico-set films that do admittedly involve Americans in their plots). I suppose Giant and Brokeback Mountain, two modern westerns, do borderline qualify, though I imagine that wherever Duke Wayne flew to on his demise, he will not be too happy with the inclusion of the latter alongside so many of his classic macho westerns. I should also say that "themes" isn't a very accurate description in any case, as a number of selections are suites, rather than just themes.
But before you veteran soundtrack collectors dismiss this release out of hand as just another collection of covers that may try, but never quite manage to sound quite like the original versions (though I should tell you that the difficult Morricone "dollars" scores are the closest thing I've heard yet), I should point out that, if you haven't already got any of the label's previous theme and composer collections, this is possibly the only place you are likely to hear rarities such as Cahill: United States Marshal, A Distant Trumpet, El Condor, The Hanging Tree, High Plains Drifter, The Jayhawkers, The Men From Shiloh, The Rare Breed, Rio Bravo, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, Tension at Table Rock, The Young Land and The Young Riders.
Anther good reason to purchase this collection is that it is pretty reasonably priced for such a huge amount of music and, if nothing else, works very well as good, familiar background listening to keep the old toes tapping while you perform some mundane task or other. And, if you just can't abide covers, why not consider purchasing it as a gift for a friend or family member, who may not be a film music enthusiast, and therefore will not have the originals, but enjoys a good western. I would certainly put my own brother in this category, who is prone to enquire of anything vaguely familiar as he passes my workstation.
You can preview tracks at www.silvascreenmusic.com, where you can then order your copy of the box set on CD, or as a digital download, if you prefer.