Ten Tracks Today – Remembering Jerry Goldsmith – 21st July 2011


I had not remembered but people better organised than myself reminded me that 7 years ago today film music lost one of its greatest – arguably greatest – film composer, Jerry Goldsmith. I remember driving with my wife to Liverpool and hearing the news of Goldsmith’s death on the BBC Radio news bulletin. The death of a film composer being mentioned on the news! I remember feeling quite emotional on hearing the news: I was familiar with a lot of Goldsmith’s music and, although I much preferred his earlier output compared to what he had been putting out more recently, his music from scores such as The Omen, Alien, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Final Conflict and Tora! Tora! Tora! were firm favourites.

In celebration of his life and his music I’ve been listening to some of my favourite tracks:

01 – “Take Him Home / Broken Toe” – InnerSpace

I hadn’t heard this until the recent release from La-La Land Records. This track highlights to me Goldsmith’s emotional writing for winds. And there’s just a hint of electronics to give it a bit of colour.

02 – “Retreat” – The Blue Max

I just love the way this one starts with low strings and then the martial snare drums. It shows up Goldsmith’s raw power in his scoring: a rawness that I associate with this specific composer. The orchestrations, small motivic devices as well as variations in themes all come together to give a sense of an almost frenzied retreat in places. To me, this is “vintage Goldsmith”. The composer seems to hint at the well-used Dies Irae without actually stating it in full.

03 – “The Harvest” – Medicine Man

I particularly like the pizzicato harp in this track as it starts; very delicate. Then the track picks up to a jaunty melody that’s very geographically set. As with InnerSpace there’s just enough electronics included to colour the cue rather than dominate.

04 – “Free Advice” – The Brotherhood of The Bell

Really just a filler track clocking in at just 27 seconds but Goldsmith (like Bernard Herrmann) can throw in several things to make it interesting: descending strings, a devilish string solo.

05 – “Trust Me” – Small Soldiers

Booming horns and other brass to the fore! Coupled with an overriding drive, the cue is a good example of Goldsmith’s latter action scoring. There can be many things happening on-screen but Goldsmith can score it with music that holds together as a stand-alone listen.

06 – “Hyper Sleep” – Alien

I was hoping a cue from this score would crop up. A more delicate and tuneful cue than some from this excellent score, it was scores such as this that highlighted Goldsmith’s talent to me many years ago. And it shows again the power of small, well-selected orchestration in getting across ideas in the music.

07 – “Broken Bottles” – The Boys From Brazil

Quite similar in feel to the previous cue: relatively small orchestration that powerfully transmits the action. The late ’70s and early to mid-80s were such a fruitful time for this composer.

08 – “Escape and Pursuit” – 100 Rifles

One of my favourite tracks from Goldsmith. The frenzied start to the cue is Goldsmith at his best and then we segue to a great theme. A cue that would get a funny look most general listeners but it highlights to me all that’s great in film music listening. Love the Mexican feel too!

09 – “The Rescue” – Baby – Secret of The Lost Legend

Not a score I listen to often but this track sticks out as one that I play again and again. Has many of the hallmarks of a great action track. Trademark brass, strings underneath in support with punctuation from percussion.

10 – “Bowed Down” – Rambo: First Blood Part II

This score, for me, is where Goldsmith melded live orchestra and electronics it a perfect partnership. A perfect start to a cue. Oozing raw power with miminal effort this is a track that I can play again and again. Perfect. Shame I can’t sit through the film to bask in Goldsmith’s excellent music.

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