According to Jack Smith, who writes in the CD booklet, Bite the Bullet
is considered the last great feature western. Similarly, the music is considered
Alex North's last great Hollywood score. This brilliant representation of
the score on CD does justice, indeed, to those words. Bite the Bullet
is a film about being and what it takes to be an American. Through this movie,
avenues of gender, social groups even relationships with the environment
and nature are explored.
Appropriately, North paints the music canvas with American colours, detailed
orchestrations and textured motifs. The string and brass main title is the
typical American muscular western theme albeit engraved with North's musical
signature, sculptured with his unique music style. Vibrant, galloping music
induces spontaneous images of sunny, desert landscapes, worn leather,
larger-than-life characters. North's music always tested the limits of percussion
and this is more than apparent in this score where a percussive undercurrent
is almost constantly present, giving the score a hard edge. Atonality and
even dissonance is not absent in several cues, like in 'Badlands', where
a medley of strings and brass statements flood discomfort and suspense. Short
romantic passages float through the score such as in 'Miss Jones', full of
restrained sentimentality, yet not completely devoid of the score's hard-edged
texture. Banjo and time for resting and contemplation in 'Night Pause', in
the familiar American campfire mode.
Mexican influences are occasionally injected to provide an ethnic flavour
-- one of North's specialities! As an additional treat, the CD contains delicious
Mexican source music, some traditional, some written by North as well as
pompous period marches, one again composed by North.
This is a worthy of attention for any western music aficionado -- it is not
the typical Americana, but spiced with North's colourful strokes, refined
orchestrations and intense motifs. The sound quality is not the best possible
but is more than adequate to enjoy this different western score. Finally,
the booklet contains detailed and very informative notes.