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  • Composed by John Scott
  • La-La Land Records LLLCD 1144 / 2010 / 38:30

One of the most enduring properties in all forms of mass entertainment since Edgar Rice Burroughs’s novel was first published in 1914, Tarzan’s most serious screen appearance came in Hugh Hudson’s grandly-titled 1984 Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes.  Hudson was riding the crest of a wave following the success of Chariots of Fire, but thankfully he didn’t allow such a wildly inappropriate (almost to the point of absurdity) score for this film, turning instead to veteran British composer John Scott.  Scott is a bit of an enigma – it’s hard to believe that this composer, who has successfully scored so many films in so many genres, has ended up spending much of his career scoring films that barely anyone has seen.  The only high-profile film he has scored in over a quarter of a century since Greystoke‘s release is the disastrous King Kong Lives.

This score – released on CD for the first time by La-La Land Records – is one of Scott’s best-known and would serve as a fine introduction to his work for those who may be unfamiliar.  There are moments of great beauty and serenity (including a couple of little interpolations of Elgar) but the album is dominated by all-out action and adventure.  Some of it is really violent stuff – I think there’s a general perception of this composer amongst those who haven’t really heard his music that he just writes “nice” music – far from it.  “The Weight of Greystoke” is a wonderful cue, the snarling brass a brilliant portrait of anguish, the mournful arrangement of the main theme which follows just as powerful in its own way.  That main theme is a good one – Scott uses it well, in various guises, throughout the score.  A couple of bonus tracks taken from the film’s magnetic track (a brief Overture and the End Titles) are all that could be found to be added to the LP programme, but this is a wonderfully well-rounded album despite its brevity and is highly recommended.  ****

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