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Artwork copyright (c) 1993 Silva Screen Records Ltd; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



Lengthy and simplistic superhero score - but it's good fun


Playing second fiddle to John Williams again, Jerry Goldsmith somehow ended up with the scoring duties on Supergirl, the misguided spinoff from Superman starring the delectable Helen Slater.  While he never seemed to have a particularly good radar for picking decent films to work on, Goldsmith did at least seem to pick movies that offered a wide canvass on which a good piece of music could be painted, and this - his first of only two forays into the seemingly unendingly-popular superhero genre - was certainly one.  Critics and audiences may not have been kind to the movie, but most of the composer's fans hold this music in high regard.

Like Williams's for Superman, Goldsmith came up with a march for his main theme.  I've always thought that Williams's piece is one of his more overrated, a slightly tacky and twee theme that doesn't really deserve its place alongside the many classics from the composer (though of course, it's perfect for the film); and I suppose the same could be said of Goldsmith's, an even-simpler and even more infuriatingly catchy piece of music that is quite dynamic and quite fun, but does get just a little irritating by the time you've heard it for the tenth time on the album.  While the Overture is a wonderfully rousing and delightful piece of music (which makes a great concert piece, complete as it is with the score's two other main themes), sadly through the score Goldsmith tends to overlay the main theme with an incredibly ill-advised "whoosh" from a keyboard that I can't believe seemed like a particularly sensible thing to do even at the time, and now it seems just downright embarrassing.

The first real highlight in the underscore proper is the superb "Flying Ballet", similar in a way to The Secret of NIMH, though with electronics and choir this time; a beautiful and wistful piece full of youthful innocence, it's great to hear.  "Street Attack" is something very different, a bleak piece of synthesised action music that somehow seems to belong in a different score.  "The Superman Poster" offers a brief hint of Williams's own theme, and the album's producers gave us one of the most peculiar track credits of all time, "Composed by Jerry Goldsmith (75%) and John Williams (25%)".  "Ethan Spellbound" is an unusual piece, an ethereal, new-agey bit of music mixing orchestra and synths, complex and arresting.  "The Monster Tractor" is an entertaining bit of comicbook horror scoring, dark and menacing but never overbearing.  It showcases the rather simplistic villain theme, hardly the most complicated piece of music to come from Goldsmith, but it works well enough.

"First Kiss", as you may expect, is more romantic, offering a lovely rendition of the sweet love theme; but the same track segues into the menacing "The Monster Storm", which is good apart from more of those dodgy electronic effects.  "The Flying Bumper Car" is another lovely piece, with here the shimmering synths seeming to add an air of beauty rather than make the listener cringe.  "The Phantom Zone" goes into fantasy horror territory, with an otherworldly choir being deployed to great effect, mixing with instrumental effects and synths for a wonderfully atmospheric piece of music.  "The Final Showdown & Victory" offers a rousing conclusion to the score with some great action music and a satisfying finale, culminating in a shortened version of the Overture.

I suspect that Goldsmith is somewhat embarrassed to have scored this movie, though he certainly approached the score with his usual enthusiasm, which shines through.  The synths can be somewhat annoying (and it's a pity that the producers of this expanded album chose to mix them at a higher level than on the previous release - though this way does reflect how things were heard in the film mix) and the album is too long, but it's still good fun.  It was reissued by Silva Screen fairly recently so should be possible to find, and fans of Goldsmith's more boistrous family fare of the early 1980s such as The Secret of NIMH and Night Crossing will find much to enjoy (though it never reaches quite the same dizzy heights as those two scores).

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  1. Overture (6:07)
  2. Argo City (3:15)
  3. Argo City Mall (:56)
  4. The Butterfly (1:36)
  5. The Journey Begins (1:12)
  6. Arrival on Earth / Flying Ballet (5:36)
  7. Chicago Lights / Street Attack (2:23)
  8. The Superman Poster (:52)
  9. A New School (2:13)
  10. The Map (1:10)
  11. Ethan Spellbound (2:13)
  12. The Monster Tractor (7:34)
  13. Flying Ballet (alternate) (2:13)
  14. The Map (alternate) (1:13)
  15. The Bracelet (1:44)
  16. First Kiss / The Monster Storm (4:35)
  17. Where is She? / The Monster Bumper Cars (2:57)
  18. The Flying Bumper Car (1:28)
  19. Where's Linda? (1:21)
  20. Black Magic (4:08)
  21. The Phantom Zone (3:42)
  22. The Vortex / The End of Zaltar (5:49)
  23. The Final Showdown and Victory (12:10)