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Artwork copyright (c) 1983 World Wide Pictures, Inc.; review copyright (c) 2005 James Southall



Early Broughton is attractive but shows its age


One can't help but feel that the underemployment of Bruce Broughton in recent years has been one of film music's greatest missed opportunities; in terms of writing high quality, old-fashioned orchestral music he's right up there will John Williams and, but for one helping of good fortune along the way like Williams had when he met Steven Spielberg, I'm sure he would be just as world-renowned today.  Sadly, despite working on a handful of high-profile projects, Broughton's talents have never been allowed to shine through in major films the way they deserved to be, and in recent years he has been working on an endless stream of tv movies, most disappointingly of all not even resulting in soundtrack albums.  Hopefully someday Broughton's longtime supporter Intrada Records will be able to get some of the material out; they've released so many of his scores in the past.

Their latest release is an intriguing one: The Prodigal is the third in their Signature Edition series, and was the first score Broughton ever composed for a theatrical movie.  He'd worked in television for a number of years, but this marked his step up into the world of films, and shortly thereafter the composer found himself working on things like Young Sherlock Holmes and Silverado.  Unlike those movies, few people remember The Prodigal today: a somewhat evangelical film based around the biblical parable from which it takes its name, set in then-contemporary America.

Broughton's theme for the film is heard in nearly every track, and it's unmistakably his, showing us the kind of attractive melody he would go on to write many times over the course of his career to come.  What the score does not have in common with most of the composer's efforts, though, is that he took the contemporary setting and composed for contemporary instruments, with several tracks seeing the small orchestra accompanied by synths or electric guitars; indeed, when the main theme is heard for the first time in the main title, it is performed electronically.  While sometimes this works well enough, at others the sound is just too dated to be entirely satisfying.  On the other hand, sometimes things are perfectly nice enough - the light pop accompaniment to "Anne Meets Riley", for instance, cannot detract from the sheer attractiveness of the melody.  The delicious orchestration of "Off to Shelia's" certainly reminds one of John Williams's music; the semi-source music of "French Restaurant" sees some delightful continental acoustic guitar stylings.

On occasion, Broughton steps the pace up.  "Leisure Accessory" is too cheesy for its own good (it wouldn't have sounded out of place in Miami Vice or something similar), but later on "In the Drink" introduces some of the jagged, propulsive action music for which the composer would later become so well-regarded.  Rounding out the album are some tracks of source music by Broughton and three original songs, which are all very nice.  This is not top-tier Broughton and it's a pity he chose to use such a contemporary sound because inevitably it means the score now sounds somewhat dated, but it is certainly a fascinating listen for fans of the composer.  Only 1,000 copies were pressed but, surprisingly, some are still available from Intrada at the time of writing.


  1. Main Title (2:31)
  2. Scott's Search (3:38)
  3. Goodbye to Ursula (1:47)
  4. Off to Sheila's (2:23)
  5. Sheila (1:21)
  6. Anne Meets Riley (2:15)
  7. French Restaurant (1:43)
  8. Leisure Accessory (2:33)
  9. Runner (1:18)
  10. Sorry, Son (2:34)
  11. Anne, Riley and Amadeus (:33)
  12. Literary Tea (1:13)
  13. A Time for Thinking (2:18)
  14. In the Drink (3:07)
  15. Greg's Goodbyes (2:43)
  16. Going Forward (1:21)
  17. Legend (1:47)
  18. Greg's Radio (2:30)
  19. Tennis Congrats (1:27)
  20. Leaflets (1:45)
  21. Factory Town Shuffle (1:45)
  22. Slumlords Rule (1:18)
  23. Where Nowhere Is John Hammond (2:08)
  24. I Have Today BJ Thomas (2:11)
  25. Till Today Bob Joyce (2:22)