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Love Field
  • Composed by Jerry Goldsmith

Jonathan Kaplan’s Love Field deals with prejudice on several levels as a Texan woman, dismissed as white trailer trash, and a black man travel across America against the backdrop of the Kennedy assassination (she is going to Washington DC to attend the president’s funeral).  It prompted decent performances from Michelle Pfeiffer and Dennis Haysbert in the lead roles and garnered reasonable reviews at the time but barely anyone went to see it (it grossed under $2m at the US box office) and those who did were not terribly impressed with the sophistication of its exploration of racial tensions.

Director Kaplan is the son of film composer Sol Kaplan and his dad told him that if ever he got the chance to work with Jerry Goldsmith then he should take it – and indeed he did, twice (a couple of years after this came Bad Girls). Goldsmith’s score is in some ways a throwback to the kind of bluesy scores he sometimes wrote in the early stages of his career in the 1960s.  Sadly, and inexplicably, many of its finest moments weren’t even featured in the film, being dialled out in favour of vaguely similar, but considerably worse, music by another composer (Bill Payne), but all of Goldsmith’s score for the film is featured on the deluxe edition release from Varèse Sarabande’s CD Club (as indeed is Payne’s music) which vastly expands on the original album, one of those 1990s half-hour specials.

Jerry Goldsmith
Jerry Goldsmith

“Family Album”, the opening theme, is excellent, a furiously catchy and attractive piece of blues for piano and strings, actually amongst the loveliest Goldsmith ever wrote, and hearkening back to some of his lighter 1960s music.  In the second cue, “The Posters”, it gets an even lovelier arrangement.  “The Assassination” is a moving piece, but Goldsmith does it in a very subtle way; strings reach a fever-pitch of drama, but it’s not heavy-handed and is all the better for it.  “The Accident” (called “Lost Luggage” on the original album) introduces something different: some more gentle writing gives way to a synth-augmented piece of action music, fairly simple by Goldsmith standards but needless to say very effective as well.  On the original album Goldsmith chose to leave out a lot of the score’s action music, representing it with just that piece and “The Motel”, which at the time seemed to come out of nowhere, a sudden burst of Basic Instinct-style intense action. It’s a great track really,

The new album presents the score in full and it features more of that action writing. There’s actually an unreleased cue (“Lost Luggage” – a completely separate piece from the one called that on the original album) which runs over ten minutes and runs the gamut from tense suspense material through action and drama and various iterations of the lovely main theme (and it truly is really lovely) which is by far the highlight of the previously-unreleased material. The rest is all absolutely fine, with more colour and texture added around the material that was already available, although perhaps not a parade of music you can’t believe wasn’t included before. “The Map” is a really nice (but short) standalone exploration of fairly light-hearted drama;

The score’s pièce de resistance remains its exceptional finale “Together Again”, a stunningly beautiful piece based around the main theme. Given all his other great attributes, perhaps it’s not surprising, but Jerry Goldsmith’s ability to come up with beautiful romantic melodies was perhaps one thing he never quite good requisite credit for; this main theme is light, breezy, gorgeous – and this cue is so lovely as it explores it at length, with its great bluesy piano solo (presumably played by Mike Lang) running throughout as strings, horns and flute take turns with the melody surrounding it.

As regular readers will know, I’m not really the biggest fan of extended soundtracks – in most cases, for listening purposes, I prefer a carefully-constructed album experience to a lengthy album representing every piece of music recorded for a film. Jerry Goldsmith is often an exception to that rule, but even with him I haven’t thought some of the recent deluxe editions of his music have really added a great deal (other than adding to my impression of how talented he was at constructing albums at the time); Love Field is a bit different – while it doesn’t add anything particularly ground-breaking, it comes across as a more rounded score and listening experience in this form. It’s always been underrated and if you never picked up the original album then now is certainly a good time to experience it.

Rating: *** 1/2

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  1. Juan Carlos Jimenez (Reply) on Saturday 11 September, 2021 at 10:30

    Great review as usual James!

    As our partner Thor, I am with both of you, I think album experience is better than the chance of having the whole score released.

    Actually the market has became crazy with every single score getting complete, I think “Ghostbusters 2” got it right being an album offering best representation of Edelman’ score for listening purposes.

    May I ask you what expanded releases do you consider the ones to get? There is so much offer nowadays, it’s difficult choosing, even more when you already own the original albums. Thanks and best!

  2. Andre>>Cape Town (Reply) on Wednesday 15 September, 2021 at 01:17

    Juan Carlos, the beauty of these expanded scores, especially those featuring releases before the present millennium, is that they include the music as heard in the film….and ALSO the re-recorded music for an album release——and the latter is often very different to the original. Two GOLDSMITH scores come to mind….’JUSTINE’, set in Egypt and based on the novels The Alexandrian Quartet, has different
    exotic orchestration, percussion and tempos for the MOVIE’S score, as opposed to the music on the ALBUM release. The album release of the African adventure, ‘THE GHOST AND THE DARKNESS, has none of the amazing choral passages that permeate the release of the CD containing expanded music as heard in the movie.However, very few contemporary releases have composers rearranging and recording music differently for an album release.