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The A-Team
  • Composed by Alan Silvestri
  • Varese Sarabande 302 067 032 2 / 2010 / 72:24

The latest attempt by Hollywood to cash in on 80s nostalgia, The A-Team has been surprisingly well-received in reviews, but not particularly financially successful.  Alan Silvestri used to score an awful lot of straightforward action movies, but last summer’s GI Joe was his first in a while.  This score is very much that one’s follow-up.  The earlier score was a very disappointing effort, being very bland and suffering from particularly weak integration of electronics, problems which blight this one too, but fortunately to a lesser degree.  There’s certainly no strong theme here – apart from Mike Post and Pete Carpenter’s cheesy classic from the tv series, subtly quoted a couple of times and given a full airing at the end – and the passages with drum loops laid over the orchestra again expose that as a weakness of this composer – but there’s plenty of good, old-fashioned Silvestri action scoring here which serves to cancel out the negatives to an extent.

The biggest plus is the pairing of two spectacular action cues, “Putting the Team Back Together” and “Flying a Tank”, lasting ten minutes between them in the middle of the album.  These are Silvestri doing what he does best – balls-to-the-wall action music, with a distinctly martial feeling, highlighting brass and percussion.  I’ve never been the composer’s biggest fan, but when he does that he’s better than most of his peers; and he hasn’t written action music this satisfying in a while.  It’s a shame, therefore, that the other big action cues – primarily the pairing which make up the thirteen-minute sequence “The Docks” for the conclusion – seem far less inspired.  When Silvestri sticks to the orchestra, it’s fine – when he tries to be hip and adds electric guitars and synth percussion, it’s like watching your dad dance at a wedding.  A lot of this could have been solved if the album had been pruned somewhat – at 72 minutes, it’s at least half an hour too long.  A very, very good album is in here somewhere; sadly that’s not what we were given.  ***

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  1. Mastadge (Reply) on Friday 6 August, 2010 at 15:06

    Mostly agreed, except my impression of G.I. Joe is not so much that it’s bland, but that it’s much too long. If you start with “The JOEs Mobilize” and just play it to the end there’s quite a solid, thematic 35-minute action score there.

    As for The A-Team, while it is as you say very much a sister score to Joe, I enjoy it less than the earlier score. I was disappointed by how little the original theme was used, and while “Flying a Tank” is a top-notch action piece and better than anything to be heard in Joe, the rest of the score is quite bland and forgettable to me. I’ve played it multiple times hoping for it to open up, hoping to “get it”, but that’s just not happening so far. In the meantime I’ll file “Flying a Tank” under best cues of the year and consider the rest of the score a missed opportunity.

  2. Fraley (Reply) on Friday 15 October, 2010 at 03:23

    I do enjoy The A-Team, but most of it is pretty generic suspense music. The album is actually pretty light on truly balls-to-the-walls action music. The only two tracks allowed to build any steam and maintain it are “Flying a Tank” and “Alpha Mike Foxtrot”.

    Like Mastadge, I am disappointed the original theme doesn’t have a larger presence. The only full-bodied statement of it is in the second half of the final track.

    Am important note when comparing this score to G.I. Joe is the issue of sound quality. The sound quality on Joe is well below par, exhibiting a muffled, heavily compressed sound that prevents it from ever really blaring from your speakers and filling the room no matter how loud you crank it. Rumor is that G.I. Joe was mistakenly mastered from low bit-rate MP3s, which is exactly what it sounds like. Fortunately, this problem is not present on The A-Team. The sound is very clear and crisp, so for those that enjoyed the G.I. Joe score, and would like something about the same, but with much improved sound quality, The A-Team is just what the doctor ordered.