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Brie? Gorgonzola? Mozzarella? Parmesan? Cheddar? Venezuelan Beaver Cheese?

Cheese comes in many forms, the latest of which being this CD from Supertracks (available from Supercollector). It's the soundtrack from a stage show at Universal Studios in California, based on Conan the Barbarian. Naturally enough, given the quality of his score for the film, Basil Poledouris was asked to write the music.

The cheese here essentially comes in two forms: the opening eight-minute cue, with narration, is completely embarrassing. Poledouris's melodramatic music is overlaid by the most hideous, cringe-inducing narration known to man - some non-entity voice-over actor booms away pretentiously, unfortunately seeming to take it all very seriously indeed. Poledouris's music is quite bold and exciting, but unfortunately it just seems quite silly with the narration attaching to it.

The second cue is much more enjoyable - it's twice as long, and features Poledouris's entire score for the show, sans narration. Curiously, the composer doesn't seem to quote at all from his score for Conan the Barbarian - the music is composed in a very similar style, but without actual quotes from the original score. I assume there must have been some contractual reason for this. The music features several exciting passages, as well as an old-fashioned love theme, and is bound to appeal to fans of the composer.

Sound quality is a little muddy, and the orchestra actually sounds quite small, though when augmented by the choir things sound a little more portentous. I would suggest that given the very short running time (discarding, as I'm sure most people will, the ludicrous first cue, there's only 16 minutes that matter here) more casual listeners could make do with the Varèse version of the score from the first film. For those clamouring for more Conan music, though, you probably can't go far wrong with this album.

Rating ** 1/2

Basil Poledouris

Supertracks STCD-100

  • Composed and conducted by Basil Poledouris
  • Performed by the London Studio Symphony Orchestra and Choir
  • Orchestrated by Greig McRitchie
  • Engineered by Eric Tomlinson
  • Produced by Ford A. Thaxton

Total Time 24:35

  1. The Adventures of Conan (8:03)
  2. Sword and Sorcery Spectacular (16:32)

Artwork copyright (c) 1983 Landmark Entertainment Group; review copyright (c) 2000 James Southall