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**** 1/2

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Serial number
MAF 7075

Artwork copyright (c) 1985 Cannon Films, Inc; review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall

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Goldsmith does Indiana Jones

As any regular reader will know, I do like making the same point time and time again.  One of these points is how Jerry Goldsmith's films have often seemed to be lesser cousins of more famous John Williams ones.  This is a prime example.  When Raiders of the Lost Ark reignited Hollywood's love of old-fashioned adventure movies, King Solomon's Mines was one of the films that followed in its wake.  It had already been filmed twice before, but this version really set out its stall and indicated that it meant business by casting acting legend Richard Chamberlain in the main role of Allan Quatermain.  Goldsmith had been fortunate enough to work on another of Chamberlain's best films, The Swarm.  Anyway, despite being critically lambasted, King Solomon's Mines managed to launch the career of one Sharon Stone, and even spawned a sequel, Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold (whose artwork, incidentally, graces the cover of this album - Intrada thought it was simply better than the artwork from the original film).

Goldsmith's main theme is brilliant.  Many dislike it - I don't know why.  It's one of his catchiest, most infectious melodies, and I remembered it from when I watched the film as a child in 1985 to when I first heard the soundtrack in 1998.  It is brilliantly malleable, and used in so many guises through the score; you'll be whistling it for weeks after hearing it.  There's no question that it would be as well known as Williams's Raiders March, if only the film was as well known.  There are two secondary themes - a really gorgeous standard love theme and a villain theme, rather oddly being the main melody from Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries".  Exactly why, I don't know, and it's not credited, but there it is, in several cues.  

Especially noteworthy is the action music, of which there is a lot.  Goldsmith was in his "middle phase" of action music at the time - the phases either side saw him giving much more streamlined, raw music to action sequences in things like Capricorn One or The Sum of All Fears, but at the time he was writing extremely busy music for very large ensembles.  The orchestration is strikingly good and so, it has to be said, is the performance, by the Hungarian State Opera Orchestra in Budapest.  Those Commies may have been evil types who were trying to corrupt your children and beat you to the Moon, but they sure knew how to play music.  Most of Goldsmith's scores are very difficult to play, but this one strikes me as being even more difficult than most.

I'm not entirely sure why the general reaction to this score isn't overwhelmingly positive - perhaps just because of the film's rather less-than-stellar reputation - but for my money it's one of the most entertaining and downright fun scores Goldsmith has ever written.  It's a riot from the word go, features some of his most exciting action music and one of his most memorable themes.  How could you go wrong!?  For my money, this is on a par with Raiders of the Lost Ark as one of the finest adventure scores written since Korngold.

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  1. Main Title (3:26)

  2. Welcoming Committee (:48)

  3. No Sale (3:22)

  4. The Mummy (1:10)

  5. Have a Cigar (3:24)

  6. Good Morning (2:23)

  7. Under the Train (2:57)

  8. Dancing Shots (3:25)

  9. Pain (2:54)

  10. Forced Flight (5:05)

  11. The Chieftain (:58)

  12. Pot Luck (3:30)

  13. Upside Down People (4:44)

  14. The Crocodiles (2:56)

  15. The Mines (1:20)

  16. The Ritual: Low Bridge (9:02)

  17. Falling Rocks (4:05)

  18. No Diamonds (4:07)