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Album running time

1: The Castle (1:32)
2: Irwin Arrives (2:18)
3: The Rock Pile (5:03)
4: Get Behind the Mule John Hammond (5:54)
5: Let's Go Ladies (2:40)
6: Full Alert (2:54)
7: Military Justice (2:22)
8: The Count Down (2:20)
9: Hold Them (1:52)
10: Taking Command (3:36)
11: The Flag (5:54)
12: September 11, 2001 (2:46)
13: Chiselled in Stone Dean Hall (3:48)

Performed by
conducted by


Engineered by
Edited by
Produced by

Released by
Serial number
440 016 193-2

Artwork copyright (c) 2001 Dreamworks, LLC; review copyright (c) 2002 James Southall

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Entertaining military action score

It's odd but all of the favourite composers of yesteryear seem to be falling into the same trap at the same time - and Jerry Goldsmith is the latest to follow the rather disturbing trend of working on autopilot. Along Came a Spider, his first score of 2001, certainly fell into that pattern - a solid if unspectacular work that seemed rather derivative of his previous efforts. And now, The Last Castle.

Praise for The Last Castle has been lavished with surprising frequency; the same people who have routinely criticised Goldsmith for being on autopilot even when he's written fresh, invigorating material have now praised him for writing fresh, invigorating material when he seems to be on autopilot. The Last Castle is an odd film: Robert Redford plays a legendary US General who disobeyed orders which resulted in eight men dying, and he is imprisoned as a result. James Gandolfini is brilliant as the prison warden, escaping the shackles of Tony Soprano in style. His wardenship is harsh and brutal, and the film chronicles Redford's horror at this and his subsequent organisation of an uprising against Gandolfini. But the film seems to forget that despite being harsh, the warden is only punishing those prisoners (most of whom are imprisoned for violent crimes) who step out of line. Is it really so bad that a violent prisoner is punished for further violence once in prison? Apparently director Rod Lurie thinks so. What the film has going for it is that despite its silly premise and quite preposterous finale, it's extremely enjoyable and benefits from some good performances.

Anyway, Goldsmith hits all the right buttons with the music, but does it in a way we've heard often before. His main theme is quite moving, but not exactly memorable, though on the other hand listeners may remember it since it was previously used in its entirety in Rambo III. It's heard in almost every track - overkill. The action music is, needless to say, very effective - nobody does that sort of thing better than Goldsmith - but even so, it's not in the league of Air Force One or Hollow Man. The second major theme first heard in "The Rock Pile" is probably the score's real highlight, along with the pulse-pounding "Taking Command".

Controversially, Goldsmith very quickly arranged his main theme without the synthesisers and titled it "September 11, 2001" - a curious thing to do. If writing a piece to commemorate the dead, surely just rearranging an existing piece and retitling it seems to cheapen their memories, not honour them. But moral questions aside, it's a superb piece of music, if frustratingly short.

Two non-Goldsmith songs fit the mood of the film, but not the album. They cut the atmosphere of Goldsmith's score like a knife. The album's first pressing was dogged by a mastering error, corrected in a second pressing. Decca will reportedly replace defective copies if you return them to them. Overall, The Last Castle is a solid and entertaining score, but in reality it's "just another" album along the lines of so many we've heard before. Better probably than Along Came a Spider, but not of the quality of Goldsmith's best scores even of the last five years.

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