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 302 066 197 2

Artwork copyright (c) 2000 Canal+ DA; review copyright (c) 2004 James Southall



Stunningly exciting science fiction score


Surprisingly witty for a science fiction movie (especially one starring Arnold Schwarzenegger), Paul Verhoeven's Total Recall sees Arnie enter a world of paranoia after having memories implanted in his head, unsure as to which are real and which are not, with exciting chases and action scenes ensuing on both Earth and Mars.  Of course, it's fundamentally silly stuff, but is done with style and panache by Verhoeven, and is one of Schwarzenegger's most entertaining movies.  For whatever reason Verhoeven didn't work with Basil Poledouris, who had scored his previous couple of films, but instead gave scoring duties over to Jerry Goldsmith.  Goldsmith includes a nice little nod to the only other possible candidate for the coveted accolade "Best score for a Schwarzenegger movie", Poledouris's Conan the Barbarian, by opening his main title with a very similar percussion figure.

After that, it's pure, unbridled Goldsmith magic.  Cues come into one of two categories - either furious action music or new agey music for the future, which may sound awful by that description, but is anything but.  Anyway, after Goldsmith introduces his main theme in "The Dream" (curiously, the main theme is probably the least interesting thing about the score), we go straight into some action music.  An early highlight comes in the form of the pair of tracks "For Old Times' Sake" and "Clever Girl", which sees the composer pushing the kind of action material he had been honing on the minor, disappointing Warlock and taking it to previously-unthinkable extremes, setting a new standard for the genre in the process.  Combining furious brass, strings, percussion (xylophone, piano, many drums) and electronics, it must have taken an absolute age to write, and was so difficult that the recording sessions in Munich had to be abandoned because the musicians simply weren't up to performing the score, so everything was relocated to London and started again.

There are numerous great action tracks through the score, but the best is saved for last, with the simply sensational "End of a Dream", the single finest piece of action music Goldsmith's ever written - and that's saying something.  Never letting go from start to finish, much of it was inexplicably missing from the film, but it is truly a breathless piece of entertainment which is so incredibly detailed that more can be discovered from it with each new listen.  The other side of the coin - while the coin is certainly weighted towards the action music - is the quasireligious, futuristic music that reaches its culmination in another stunning track, "A New Life", with the brass now muted somewhat, but performing a theme of great majesty and beauty that in some way recalls the later orchestral segments of Logan's Run, culminating in a finale which sees the theme simply soaring ever-upwards; it's actually one of the composer's most affecting pieces, in some strange sort of way.

Total Recall is certainly one of Goldsmith's best scores.  The original album release - even though reuse fees were not an issue, the score having been recorded in London - omitted a great deal of excellent music, rectified ten years later when Varese Sarabande released a Deluxe Edition featuring the complete score, running over 70 minutes.  It's a terrific album with dynamic sound highlighting an excellent recording from Bruce Botnick, and good liner notes from Robert Townson.  An essential part of the collection of any fan of modern-day Goldsmith music, it is breathlessly exciting from start to finish.  He's never written anything better in the action genre.

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  1. The Dream (3:32)
  2. First Meeting (1:10)
  3. Secret Agent (:52)
  4. The Implant (2:41)
  5. The Aftermath (:30)
  6. For Old Times' Sake (3:00)
  7. Clever Girl (4:30)
  8. The Johnny Cab (3:47)
  9. Howdy Stranger (2:00)
  10. The Nose Job (1:55)
  11. The Space Station (:47)
  12. A New Face (1:29)
  13. The Mountain (1:27)
  14. Identification (1:02)
  15. Lies (1:04)
  16. Where Am I? (3:59)
  17. Swallow It (3:07)
  18. The Big Jump (4:33)
  19. Without Air (1:15)
  20. Remembering (1:50)
  21. The Mutant (3:16)
  22. The Massacre (2:34)
  23. Friends (1:40)
  24. The Treatment (5:36)
  25. The Hollowgram (5:36)
  26. End of a Dream (5:46)
  27. A New Life (2:22)