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Category:    Home > Reviews > Western > Soundtrack > Wild Rovers (Limited CD)

Wild Rovers (Limited Edition CD Soundtrack)

 

Sound: B     Music: B

 

 

It is always a curiosity that Blake Edwards, known for mostly directing comedies, did a Western.  That film is Wild Rovers (1971), which put William Holden, Karl Malden and newcomer Ryan O’Neil together as O’Neil’s hit film streak was underway.  Warner has not put the MGM production out on DVD yet, but we have this limited edition (only 3,000 copies) of the soundtrack by a composer great much more at home with the Western: Jerry Goldsmith.

 

This FSM label CD release of the music of the film offers it in two versions.  One is the music as it was recorded for and appears in the original film, while the second is a vinyl album release that offers a “commercialized” version with some differences, but does not offer any of the music as it appeared in the film.  Add two bonus tracks and you have a strong collection of Goldsmith music for a single project and sets like this offer more insight on how a great thinker of music composes for a film.

 

Though not as self-reflective as John Barry’s amazing score for William Frakers’ Monty Walsh (1970, reviewed elsewhere on this site and also available from the FSM label of Film Score Monthly Magazine; www.filmscoremonthly.com), Goldsmith’s take for this late Western of the original era of the genre is more layered and clever than most, especially considering he was making it for the longer cut of the film that was not originally released theatrically.

 

This is the kind of Goldsmith score that knows how to build suspense while enhancing the film narrative.  The quiet sparseness of the music reminds us of the Post-Beatles “soft rock” era that was upon us, while Vietnam ironically raged on.  The terrific booklet is correct in noting the Aaron Copeland influence, and though Goldsmith was constantly experimenting and innovating with electronic sounds, he leaves the electronica (so to speak) behind.  Nothing here sounds like Emerson, Lake & Palmer’s great take on Fanfare For The Common Man.

 

There are various lead vocals on the title song, but it is not bad.  Goldsmith does not stay stuck in genre conventions, bringing his knack for diversity and appropriate dramatic license to many of the tracks.  It just makes you want to see the director’s cut, it is so good.

 

The PCM 2.0 Stereo is in good shape on both sets of tracks.  I like the original film cuts a bit more, but the vinyl-intended version also has good sonics for its age.  There was a sort of strange expectation for a very long time (it would seem) that soundtrack buyers needed watered-down versions of scores or the full scores would be too layered for home playback, as if those buyers were more Pop than Classical oriented, perhaps.  Either way, this is the definitive Wild Rovers soundtrack and those interested should look into it.

 

 

-   Nicholas Sheffo


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