John Williams

The Paper Chase/The Poseidon Adventure

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In the early '70s, John Williams was first coming into his own as a film composer, and this CD provides a welcome glimpse at the sleeping giant who would truly awaken with 1975's Jaws. Paving the way for this later success was his Oscar-nominated score for Irwin Allen's star-studded blockbuster from 1972, The Poseidon Adventure. Opening with a rumbling, foreboding "Main Title" quickly followed by a short, calm-before-the-storm piece and a very '70s-sounding source music cue, Williams finally unleashes his suspense music as "The Big Wave" crashes, scoring the action with relatively low-key orchestral maneuvers. Hints of the main theme appear infrequently while Williams relies primarily on maintaining a sense of disquiet and discord, keeping the orchestra's bottom rumbling throughout the score. "End Title" makes for a terrific summation, giving listeners a full, hopeful reading of the main theme that, at the same time, still seems burdened with the sense of loss the film's characters must feel. A note of warning: The majority of the tracks are in mono and the song most associated with this film, "The Morning After," is not present at all. The CD actually opens with the score for the 1973 sleeper The Paper Chase, a pleasant bit of '70s-style orchestral pop interlaced with snippets of classical repertoire and harpsichord pastiche, used to highlight the Ivy League setting of the film. Williams created a tender, memorable "Love Theme" that appears in several settings, most often on piano, along with more atmospheric tracks, source cues, and amusingly frantic riffs for electric guitar. Buffeting the two scores is a single representative track from 1974's Conrack, a pleasant-enough slice of Williams' Americana style, heavy on folksy guitar. This CD demonstrates the versatility that made Williams the premiere film music composer of the late 20th century.