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014 114-2

Artwork copyright (c) 2001 Universal Music France review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall


Idiosyncratic western score is Jarre's take on a spaghetti western

Terence Young had the good fortune to make the first (and best?) two James Bond films, Dr No and From Russia With Love, along with the bad fortune to make a string of failures including the monumental flop Inchon.  He also had the good fortune to work with some of the best film composers in the business, ranging from John Barry to Jerry Goldsmith to Ennio Morricone... to Maurice Jarre, for his 1971 western Red Sun, which features the somewhat odd story of a Japenese ambassador who has his priceless samurai sword stolen and so much enlist the help of a gunman - Charles Bronson - to recover it.

The somewhat offbeat story sees perfect for Jarre, who always specialised in incorporating various ethnic elements into his scores.  Of course, everything always comes out just sounding like typical Jarre music played by exotic instruments, but it's all great fun.  Red Sun opens with a most unusual theme played by ondes martenot - it's a delightful, catchy melody but its setting makes it sound terribly odd.  And things don't get any more normal through the rest of the score - off-kilter rhythms, themes on accordion, cimbalom, koto - there's no doubt that Jarre was going for an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach similar to Ennio Morricone's work with Sergio Leone.  In some ways, this is less a spaghetti western, more a "sushi western"!

A few tracks are suspense music which are just as strange, but not so easy to listen to.  "Les rouseaux en feu" is a particularly bizarre blend of pounding piano, shaken percussion and primitive synthesisers.  This contrasts with the romantic material, such as the beautiful "Samurai".

Red Sun is available as part of the series of releases by Universal Jazz in France.  The booklet includes an interview with Jarre in which he is much more illuminating than most composers who've been interviewed for CD booklets over the years - "it's not the best film in my career" - "it wasn't my biggest goal in life to work with Terence Young but I didn't refuse" - and so on.  Sound quality is reasonable enough.  Overall it's a fascinating score from Jarre, who doesn't get the recognition he deserves, and is worth picking up if you can.  It's available from Amazon from the link below.

Buy this CD by clicking here!


  1. Soleil rouge (2:26)

  2. L'enterrement (2:45)

  3. Vers la montagne (2:34)

  4. Commanches (3:23)

  5. Just testing (2:06)

  6. Les rouseaux en feu (2:01)

  7. Samurai (2:36)

  8. Poursuite (1:55)

  9. Terreur dans les roseuax (2:00)

  10. Seduction (4:09)

  11. Le sabre (2:20)

  12. Finale (2:57)