November 2000 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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The King's Guard
 CITADEL STC 77129 [70:24]
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Swashbuckler scores have become a rare breed indeed and few modern day composers get an opportunity to try their hand at one. John Debney gave a credible cutlass stab at it a few years ago with Cutthroat Island, but we have to delve into the long distant past to find any other really significant forays into that territory. There was a time when the skull and cross bones was a staple of Hollywood and composers such as Erich Wolfgang Korngold (Captain Blood (1935), The Sea Hawk (1940)) and Alfred Newman (The Black Swan (1942)) created memorable motifs for these high seas adventures. But nowadays it comes as something of a surprise when a new soundtrack appears in this genre, but that's exactly what we have here with Ray Colcord's work on The King's Guard.

Although traditionally these kind of scores have always been very much big orchestral works, presumably because of budgetary considerations synthesiser is employed here. Unfortunately though it's not really up to the task. The sounds utilised are often weak and wishy-washy where they needed to have timbre and resonance and to be truthful this particular score would have greatly benefited from an orchestral approach.

From the fanfare of the 'Main Title' through action cues like 'The Battle', 'Chasing the Cart' and 'Donald's Fight', the synth work is rather lacking and its attempts to ape authentic instruments often fall flat. In other places there is a more wistful, romantic tone on tracks like 'William and Roxanne' and 'Katie Returns' and although they make a slightly better impression, there's still nothing that really stands out.

There's a great deal of music included here at over seventy minutes, but very little possesses any real vitality or originality and the poor synth work does nothing to enhance the overall effect. In the end the sheer amount of cues wears you down with each subsequent piece sounding too similar in style and tone.

I'm afraid there's no yo-ho-ho to be found here. Bring on the rum!

Mark Hockley


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