Vangelis

Chariots of Fire [Original Score]

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Vangelis' electronic score for a film set in 1930s Britain seemed an odd match at first, but the title theme, with its echoing, manipulated rhythm box and melodic hook, became one of the most popular theme songs of the early '80s. Just hearing the opening 30 seconds conjures up -- for those who have seen the film -- shots of men running on the beach in slow motion, and has been borrowed, adapted, and ripped-off ever since. Suffice it to say that the other six tracks here can't quite match the punch (if that's the word for something so fey) of the title theme. Much of the rest is very sappy, if often melodic, proto-smooth jazz with a burnish of electronic screeches, washes, and fuzzy fake strings. If it works for the insular "Five Circles," it doesn't for "100 Metres," which so desperately wants to be Elgar's "Pomp and Circumstance" but can't quite get there with its watery synths -- suddenly you realize what a full orchestral arrangement could have added. Side two is a side-long "suite" of the themes on side one, created, one feels, to fill up space. Vangelis went on to snag more soundtrack work, notably Blade Runner.

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