Jerry Goldsmith

Ransom/The Chairman

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This dual-score release suffers mainly from the common neglect shown to film score elements over the course of years -- the master tapes for both scores had vanished without a trace, forcing the reissue producers to utilize cassette tape and vinyl copies and forego the inclusion of any additional score material (indeed, several tracks were dropped from the Ransom section because they were direct repeats of other cues). The good news is that, for all the compromise, the disc sounds remarkably good -- once in a while a spurious pop, crackle, or click may be heard, but this is very rare. The scores themselves represent two different and distinct styles -- the Ransom score has the distinct tone of a 1970s British potboiler, though Jerry Goldsmith's orchestral authority is very much in evidence and there is hardly a sign of electric guitar (no wah-wahs to be heard; this is a good thing). Mostly, however, the score is serviceable, and little more, functioning to prop up the noisier moments of a convoluted thriller. The Chairman is no less of a convoluted thriller, mind you, with Gregory Peck sent on a secret mission to China, unaware that a small bomb has been implanted in his skull in case things should go wrong. For Goldsmith, this seems to have been a golden opportunity to bring his taste for unusual instrumentation and musical structure to the fore. Chinese instruments, including the yang chin, are incorporated throughout the score, melding with both traditional suspense scoring and passages built out of artfully arranged dissonance or unexpected scales -- a seemingly traditional chase theme, for example, becomes jarring as a familiar rhythm is applied to an unfamiliar scale. The result is one of the most remarkable scores of Goldsmith's lengthy career. This CD reissue does it a fair bit of justice.

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