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Album running time

1: Red Two Reporting (6:37)
2: The Black Mass (2:30)
3: What Happened? (1:08)
4: The Bees Picnic (2:15)
5: On Their Way (:55)
6: Get Him Out (2:09)
7: Old Friends (1:24)
8: High Toxin (4:24)
9: The Boys and the Bees (2:02)
10: Oh Maureen (2:28)
11: Bees on Fire / Towards Marysville (2:02)
12: The Lollipop (:39)
13: A Gift of Flowers (1:57)
14: The Bees Arrive (4:52)
15: Out of the Closet (1:47)
16: The Park (:38)
17: Rita and the Doctor (:56)
18: Brad and Helena (1:33)
19: Train Wreck / No Effect (3:31)
20: Tommy's Dead! (3:21)
21: Exact Instructions (7:10)
22: Oh Walter! (1:11)
23: The Glasses / Houston Headquarters (3:43)
24: Burn 'em Out (1:08)
25: Get Reinforcements! (2:26)
26: The Bees Inside (5:18)
27: End Title (3:05)

Performed by
Conducted by


Engineered by
Edited by
Produced by

Released by
Serial number
PCR 517

Artwork copyright (c) 2002 Prometheus Records; review copyright (c) 2003 James Southall

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Bee afraid

Jerry Goldsmith's filmography contains two subsets remarkable in size - those films which are utterly god-awful but which received marvellous scores (I won't bother listing them, there isn't enough time in the world), and those on which he seems to be playing second-fiddle to John Williams. Williams gets Jurassic Park, Goldsmith gets Congo; Williams gets Raiders of the Lost Ark, Goldsmith gets King Solomon's Mines; Williams gets Superman, Goldsmith gets Supergirl. And-- Williams gets the tremendously-successful The Towering Inferno, Goldsmith gets the catastrophically-unsuccessful The Swarm. Unlike with those other films, Goldsmith not only managed to transcend the quality of the film for which he was writing, but managed to eclipse the quality of Williams's music by an unmeasurably large degree.

Between the late 1960s and late 1970s, Goldsmith went through probably the most inventive and high-quality period experienced by any film composer - even when the films failed to match (which was frequently), Goldsmith was breaking new ground and pushing the boundaries as far as they would go. He basically invented action music in the way we have known it ever since (with Hans Zimmer the only film composer to try something new since then) and when he came onboard The Swarm, he had just won his only Oscar, for The Omen. He had of course worked with director Irwin Allen years earlier on various "classic" tv shows.

Goldsmith is known to admire Bernard Herrmann's ability to score a film, and there are certainly parallels with Herrmann to be made when considering Goldsmith's main action motif for The Swarm, a snarling brass motif. In truth, there isn't all that much action music in the score, but when it does turn up, in cues like "The Bees Picnic", "The Bees Arrive" and "The Bees Inside" (who wrote these titles!?) it is thrilling and impressive. On that point, it's important to note that the majority of the album is taken up by suspense music. It's particularly tense and effective, however, and never gets too dull. The action music might be quite sparse, but it appears often enough to relieve the tension. There are even a couple of romantic moments, perhaps most effective being the lovely "Oh Maureen".

What could be termed the main theme, a victorious piece given its fullest treatment in the end title cue, contains a rare film music joke, in that it is a three-note motif - and those three notes are B-E-E (the latter two an octave apart). That Jerry Goldsmith, eh?

This album from the Prometheus CD Club marks the score's first appearance on CD. The sound is very harsh but I feel this makes the music all the more effective; Gary Kester's liner notes give an impossibly-thorough account of the film (though don't, it has to be said, say much about the music). The album is probably a trifle long at 72:38, but nevertheless this is a treat of a score, and Goldsmith enthusiasts will I'm sure be buzzing.