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TANGO AND CASH
Blissfully awful film music serves as a reminder of how bad things used to be
A review by JAMES SOUTHALL
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Album cover copyright (c) 2006 Warner Bros., Inc.; review copyright (c) 2007 James Southall
Many people these days - including myself - can be heard lamenting the state of film music today, with Hans Zimmer and his troupe dominating the industry in terms of blockbuster releases, people who have never been trained to compose somehow managing to get paid a fortune for doing exactly that - but it is always worth stopping for a moment and thinking back 20 years when the likes of Giorgio Moroder and Harold Faltermeyer were around, and recognising that it was that period and those people that represented film music's true nadir, the point at which it reached rock bottom (and it is hard to imagine how it could ever get worse than it was then). People like Faltermeyer make Hans Zimmer sound like CPE Bach.
He was hugely popular at the time, with his "scores" for films like Beverly Hills Cop and Top Gun making a bizarre impression on people. I used inverted commas around "scores" because they weren't dramatic film scores per se, they were just a series of instrumental pop songs which happened to be playing at the same time as the film, but such was the way of the world at the time. Faltermeyer retains something of a fan base today, impossible to fathom though that might be to someone like me, and on the back of that La-La Land Records released his score for Tango and Cash, one of the 1980s' best guilty-pleasure action films, with amusing turns from Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell.
The music, which lasts for an hour but seems to go on for several, does exactly what you think it will do - it is inordinately, unbelievably cheesy and dated in a way that no other style of film music is (this type of music is as alien to the modern ear as anything by Max Steiner from 75 years ago) but with a theme which is not without its own level of amusing charm - and with the kind of "suspense" music at which you can only smile, hearing a "composer" so utterly out of his depth attempting to do something he simply can't. (Check out Danny Elfman's Midnight Run to hear what a score for this film written by a competent film composer would have sounded like.)
Still, I am quite sure that I don't fall within the target market for this album, and I imagine it will be a reasonable seller. The package is good, with long liner notes (though the film and its composer do seem to be placed on a pedestal in a rather odd fasion) and a hilarious interview with Faltermeyer in which he actually puts down the quality of film scoring today compared with when he did it.