When I first heard back in 1984 that the pop group Toto had been hired to score the much anticipated adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, I have to admit I was far from enthusiastic. But from the moment the commanding Main Title began to play I knew that this was going to be one of the great scores, a timeless work that would always rank among my very favourites. And now we have another opportunity to pick up the expanded release of Toto’s music with this reissue and as far as I’m concerned that’s something to get excited about!
Dramatic, mysterious, stirring and above all emotionally poignant, cues like the dynamic ‘Big Battle’, the subtle, hauntingly beautiful ‘Paul Meets Chani’, the powerfully evocative ‘Final Dream’ and the magnificent up-tempo, pop based ‘Dune (Desert Theme) create a true sense of epic wonder. In fact one of the most attractive aspects of this score is the fusing of these pop influences with a more classical symphonic approach. Remarkably the composers were able to produce something unique; a rich, varied, innovative musical tapestry.
Although most of the new selections are variations on other cues, they are always inventive and worthwhile and add a great deal to the overall depth of the score. Pieces like ‘Guild Report’, ‘House Atreides’ and ‘Departure’ to name only a very few of the fourteen new tracks all make a significant contribution. These extra cues give the score greater scope and resonance, something that was perhaps slightly lacking in the original release, the sheer weight of the cumulative build-up of so much extraordinary music having a telling effect. Another nice addition is the original demo version of the ‘Main Title’ which actually stands up rather well. The dialogue excerpts that appeared on the original soundtrack recording have been removed, but there is one other significant omission, namely the ‘Prophecy Theme’ composed by Brian Eno, Daniel Lanois and Roger Eno. I can’t really understand why this decision was made as it featured prominently in the film, unless it was some kind of copyright issue.
If there is a real criticism to be made, then the general quality of the recording would be the only area. At times the sound does seem to be slightly fuzzy, but not enough so to really detract from the wonderful music.
Although the movie itself has often been criticised and sorely undervalued, as a cinematic/aural experience it is a stunning achievement. Toto, perhaps a little surprisingly, were the perfect partner to aid David Lynch in bringing his interpretation of Herbert’s famous work to life. Very few scores can be hailed as truly great but make no mistake, this is one of them.