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  • Composed by Bill Conti
  • Varese Sarabande CD Club VCL 0310 1106 / 2010 / 68:18

If you’re going to be the go-to guy in Hollywood for any type of film, then for a composer I guess you couldn’t do much better than sports movies.  These triumph-against-the-odds tales are prime fodder for film composers; and Bill Conti was the go-to-guy for them for a long time.  His work on the genre is represented on this album by two scores, written a decade-and-a-half apart – 1979’s Dreamer and 1994’s The Scout.  Dreamer is about (and for some reason I find this so amusing) ten-pin bowling.  Somehow it’s hard to imagine a film about that particular sport ending up being quite like Raging Bull, but for our purposes it’s only the music which matters, and that’s typically exuberant from Conti.  Influences range from bluegrass to rock and roll and even mariachi – and it wouldn’t be a 1979 film score without a bit of disco.  There’s some fine dramatic music too (the dark “Gutterball” a particular highlight).  It all comes together very nicely, making a very pleasant listening experience – despite the presence of a cloying song, “Reach for the Top”, no fewer than three times!  (Nothing wrong with Conti’s music for it – but those lyrics!)

The Scout is about a more conventional sport for the movies, baseball – but it’s not a particularly conventional movie all the same, with Albert Brooks playing a baseball scout who has to help his star discovery (a young Brendan Fraser) deal with his psychological problems.  Conti’s short score (24 minutes plus a bonus track) is a fine dramatic work, the highlight of which is a complex music box theme displaying a rather underappreciated side to his skills.  But, while it is certainly the darker and more serious score of the two on offer here, there’s still time for an incredibly rousing finale cue (“World Series”) – and that’s the one which shows why Conti was the go-to-guy for so long.  This is a very enjoyable album featuring two rather different, but both impressive scores.  *** 1/2

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