It’s the age-old story – a New York priest, who happens to be the son of a Mafia chief, falls in love with a woman who’s on the run from – oh boy – the Mafia. I’d never even heard of the film before this CD was announced, but reading the brief introduction to the liner notes, it sounds great; curiously, reading every other review, it sounds anything but. The film was directed by Donald P. Bellasario (producer of various beloved early-80s tv series) and was his first collaboration with Bruce Broughton, whose music has long been championed by Intrada. While I love Broughton, some of the recent releases of his more obscure music haven’t exactly set the world on fire; fortunately Last Rites – while not a classic by any means – is pretty impressive.
The opening title theme is a definite highlight – strikingly dramatic, powerful, memorable. It’s certainly not the same, but think of John Williams’s Monsignor and you get an idea of this theme’s flavour. The rest of the score is generally on a slightly smaller scale (apart from the action music, some of which is very impressive in its Goldsmithian frenziedness) but remains pretty compelling. There’s some truly beautiful material here – full of passion and drama. Perhaps some of the more dour, rumbling tracks would have been better off left out to provide a better listening experience – and the inclusion of the source music, by Broughton but so far removed from the sound of the dramatic score, destroys any possibility of anyone actually listening to this CD the way it’s presented – but I’ve long since given up on many of these limited editions caring much about listening experience (the theory that they are designed to be kept on the shelf and not in the CD player is becoming increasingly hard to dismiss). With a bit of self-editing, though, you end up with a very fine album. *** 1/2