- Composed by Basil Poledouris
- Intrada / 2013 / 70m
At the peak of his powers, Tom Clancy was the most popular novelist in the world, his hero Jack Ryan fighting the embers of the Soviet Union towards the end of the Cold War and then the powers that emerged afterwards. The Hunt for Red October was the first movie adaptation of one of his books and saw Ryan negotiating the defection of a Russian submarine captain and his crew. The film would prove to be the most successful scored by Basil Poledouris and is one of his most popular scores. The centrepiece is the fantastic “Hymn to Red October”, a Prokofiev-like stirring chorale that stiffens all the sinews. It’s a fabulous piece, really, bold and striking and amongst the most memorable things the beloved composer ever wrote. Highlights elsewhere include “Ancestral Aid” which is a brilliantly murky suspense cue encompassing more choir and subtle electronics; the terrific brief action cue “Plane Crash”; just a dash of romance in “Two Wives”; “Chopper” recovers from an unfortunate electronic start to turn into a riveting piece of action/suspense; and of the two lengthy action centrepieces, “Nuclear Scam” is terrific but “Kaboom!” is blighted by the cheap sound of the electronics spoiling what would otherwise be a great action finale.
The eagle-eyed might notice that literally all the cues I named above are to be found on the much-pilloried original MCA half-hour soundtrack album. So what of the rest of the score… well, I shall whisper it quietly, but it doesn’t really do anything for me. Much of it is pieced together from much shorter cues, lending it a very bitty feel that doesn’t ever allow much musical flow; electronics are regularly plastered over the orchestra and they’re horribly tinny 80s-era electronics that do not make pleasant listening (a problem which afflicted some of the original album too, to be frank); and dare I say there’s even a feeling of Mickey Mousing about some of the action music which is hard to take seriously. Get the Intrada album for the improved sound, sure (and Scott Bettencourt’s enjoyable liner notes) – but if you want a decent listening experience, immediately dump all the previously-unreleased tracks and resequence the rest so you reproduce the old MCA album.
Rating: *** (** for the album as presented, **** for the one you can easily make from it but probably already owned)