Latest reviews of new albums:
Lock Up
  • Composed by Bill Conti
  • Varèse Sarabande / 2014 / 57m

Sylvester Stallone stars in Lock Up as a model prisoner nearing release who is unexpectedly transferred to a maximum security prison and singled out for harsh treatment by the sadistic governor Donald Sutherland.  The film was the seventh starring Stallone to receive a score by Bill Conti (albeit after a bit of a gap since the sixth one).  It was nearing the end of the 1980s at the time and Conti’s score is undoubtedly a product of that decade.  There are three main facets to it.  First there’s a rather naff pop-style piano theme letting you know that Stallone’s a good guy that features most prominently at either end of the score in the main title and “Your Incredible Smile” (but also occasionally in between); it’s well meaning but so cheesy it now sounds ridiculous, a quarter of a century later.

The second style is very different, but fares no better – there’s a range of action and suspense music with some really interesting orchestral ideas that are sadly buried under a horrible onslaught of truly unimaginably dire 80s synths, a reminder of the worst that decade brought to film music.  (It’s such a shame because the ideas there are really strong – but it’s hard to imagine anyone but the most die hard 80s musical sadist ever wanting to listen to them.)  Finally, there is a handful of cues in which the synths are dialled down and almost makes the album worth getting – “First Down” is an intense, explosive, exciting piece with an incredibly dynamic energy which is Conti at his best; I love the clever orchestral tones of “Name and Number”, a chilling piece of supense music with by far the cleverest use of the cheesy pop theme; and finally there’s “Do It!” which does admittedly have a sizeable electronic presence, but this time there’s such a strong dramatic undercurrent to the music which even the synths can’t remove.  If only the whole thing was like that!  I feel a bit bad for not liking this more because at the time it was written it probably all seemed perfectly reasonable and there’s much good music on the album; but so much of it is just ruined by the electronics.  This version of the album is a budget reissue of the out-of-print Intrada album, featuring brief liner notes which focus on quotes from the composer, the first of which (bizarrely) finds him saying he has no memory of it at all, before going on to talk about it..!?

Rating: * 1/2 | |

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  1. Jesper Andersen (Reply) on Saturday 20 December, 2014 at 23:25

    Oh no James, 1 1/2 star for this one.
    But it’s a treasure. Maybe because the main theme moved me when I saw the movie as a kid.
    I’m visiting your site every day, and has done so in many years now.
    I’m kinda sad though as I feel that the quality of new scores have declined.
    But thank god for “new” composers like Rombi and Velazquez who keeps orchestral scores alive. There’s only one of Goldsmith, one of Delerue and one of Morricone and I’m patiently waiting for a new melodic genius to come along some fine day 😉
    I’m curious, who are your favorite filmcomposer of the new arrivals? (not counting Deplat, haha)..
    Merry X mas
    Jesper, Denmark