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GNPD 8035

Artwork copyright (c) 1993 GNP Crescendo Record Co., Inc.; review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall


Seminal, groundbreaking science fiction music

Jerry Goldsmith has mastered every genre he has tried, but the one for which he will always be most famous, the one that gave him the inspiration to be at his most creative, the one that really saw him push the boundaries of what could be accomplished with film music, was science fiction.  It's also, possibly, why he has never achieved the level of fame outside of the small film music community that was achieved by so many of his peers, because (Star Wars notwithstanding) science fiction films aren't actually very successful very often, and even when he has scored successful ones, Goldsmith has obviously never taken John Williams's "big themes" approach.  Take Star Trek even, yes it has big themes, but even in the first movie the main theme wasn't heard tremendously often in the score, and while the film was successful, mostly it was from repeat viewings from die-hard science fiction fans.  Goldsmith was always challenging and pushing himself and not particularly concerned with scoring big films that would get him noticed - John Barry had James Bond, Williams had (and still has) Spielberg and Lucas, Morricone had Leone, Mancini had The Pink Panther, and so on - but Goldsmith had none of that.

Anyway, these days he does seem slightly bitter that he's never got the Oscars or recognition from a wider public that he deserves (more than any other film composer) but really he shouldn't be, he should be proud of what he's accomplished over such a long and glorious career.  Two films that really showcase his accomplishments are Outland and Capricorn One.  While few film composers can truly be said to have written much music that was terribly original, Goldsmith certainly did, and his trademarked action style, with its crazy meters, sounds like no other music before or since.

Capricorn One is the score that really changed things in terms of how films were scored.  An intelligent (if unsubtle) movie suggesting that the moon landings were faked and filmed on a soundstage, it starred James Brolin, Sam Waterston and O.J. Simpson, playing the innocent bystander as only he could.  It's true that Goldsmith's score was somewhat similar to a couple of others he'd written shortly beforehand, The Cassandra Crossing and Twilight's Last Gleaming, but Capricorn One was the more famous film and the one that first showed the wider audience his new action style.  The main theme isn't much of a theme at all, but a driving, trombone-and-percussion driven ostinato, quite relentless and brilliant.  Several of the cues are built up from it (and also the "love theme" which appears in the middle of its album presentation just to flesh it out).  The twinkling "Bedtime Story" is lovely and the pop-based "Kay's Theme" is suitably cheesy, but it's the furious action music that will take its place in film music history.

Also appearing on this disc is the less-famous Outland which shares the same director, Peter Hyams (not exactly renowned for his subtle approach to things).  These were the only times he worked with Goldsmith, but you struggle to understand why.  Anyway, it's another excellent score, if anything even more relentless.  The movie is a kind of western in space - it's been described as "High Noon on Jupiter" - but the score paints a very vivid picture of a cold, miserable life that is (appropriately enough!) worlds away from the colourful one usually depicted in westerns.  The score reminds me of a beefed-up version of Alien that lays the chills and thrills on even thicker.  The triumvirate of action cues in the middle, "Hot Water", "The Hunted" and "Spiders", are as exciting as any Goldsmith's ever written.  The only real misfire is "The Rec Room", an attempt at futuristic pop music that fails as miserably as all other attempts at futuristic pop music.

The scores were released by GNP Crescendo in 1993 with excellent sound and detailed, interesting liner notes by Daniel Schweiger.  The album is an essential part of any Goldsmith collection.

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  1. Outland - The Mine (3:52)
  2. Early Arrival (4:09)
  3. The Message (2:07)
  4. The Air Lock (4:42)
  5. Hot Water (4:49)
  6. The Hunted (5:14)
  7. Spiders (2:29)
  8. The Rec Room (3:23)
  9. The Hostage (4:18)
  10. Final Message (3:27)
  11. Capricorn One - Main Title (2:47)
  12. Bedtime Story (3:01)
  13. Docking (2:55)
  14. No Water (2:26)
  15. The Message (4:33)
  16. Break Out (3:13)
  17. Kay's Theme (3:17)
  18. The Station (3:30)
  19. The Snake (3:37)
  20. The Long Climb (3:53)
  21. The Letter (2:52)
  22. The Celebration (3:04)