August 2001Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

index page/ monthly listings /Aug01/



Rio Lobo  
  PROMETHEUS PCR 511   [44:02]

Here’s a very welcome album! A cracker of a score from Jerry Goldsmith that has never been officially released before! It is relatively early Goldsmith: Rio Lobo, the legendary Howard Hawks’s last film, was released in 1970. It starred John Wayne with Jennifer O’Neill and Jack Elam and Jorge Rivero. By 1970, Goldsmith had written a number of scores for small tube westerns including episodic music for Gunsmoke and Rawhide plus the wonderfully introspective score (yet with powerful action cues) for Kirk Douglas’s big screen hit Lonely Are the Brave.

Prometheus is to be congratulated on this important coup. The album comprises some 26 minutes of material in stereo, with the remaining music in very acceptable mono. The album’s split, under the direction of the composer, who has released some of the stereo masters from his personal collection, is organised into separate stereo and mono tracks so that the listening experience is not jarring even if the material is not presented in chronological order.

The music has compelling colour and vitality. It is strongly melodic and much of the score has striking Mexican/Latin rhythms. The music is original and inventive with Goldsmith’s complex yet transparent harmonies and imaginative orchestrations and a few telling uses of synth to impart a feeling of desert aridity.

The opening Main Title music (disappointingly in mono) is heard as the camera pans back from three horizontal lines that are seen to be guitar strings while the music is a hollow wooden rhythm tapped out on the classical guitar. The main theme, as simple and delicate as any Goldsmith has penned, is played by the guitarist Tommy Tedesco (intriguingly he was the son of one of Goldsmith’s former teachers (Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco).

Goldsmith’s score captures and holds the ear throughout as he introduces a wide variety of styles and moods. There is the heroic, broad-horizons type of music of ‘New Arrival’; the folksy, Copland-like charm of ‘Quiet Town’ (yet with disquieting brass rasping, hinting of trouble beneath the surface); the ironic humour implicit in cues like ‘A Good Teacher’; plus the malevolence lurking beneath the emphatic Latin dance rhythms of ‘Cantina’ and stalking ‘Scar’.

For Goldsmith fans this is treasure-trove. Don’t hesitate

Ian Lace


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