July 2004 Film Music CD Reviews

Film Music Editor: Gary S. Dalkin
Managing Editor: Ian Lace
Music Webmaster Len Mullenger

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Dances With Wolves   expanded soundtrack
Music composed and conducted by John Barry
  Orchestrations by Greig McRitchie and Mark McKenzie
  Available on Epic/Legacy EK 63555
Running time: 75.48
(original release running time: 53.25)
Amazon UK   Amazon US

dances with wolves

In what seems a very strange marketing decision, there is no indication looking at the front cover of this new version of John Barry's Dances With Wolves soundtrack that this is a new version. Indeed, the front cover is identical to the edition with which most film music enthusiasts have been familiar for the past decade and more. So if you see what looks like the original disc in a shop, turn it over if you are looking for this release. You may just have found it.

If you have you'll see a different back cover, listing 24, rather than 18 tracks, totalling 22 minutes of additional music. Meanwhile, the new booklet may look the same from the front, but inside it contains more pages, stills and notes by renowned film music journalist Jon Burlingame. He points out that this was Barry's comeback score after two years away from the screen following a burst esophagus, and that at 100 minutes it was the longest, most complicated score of the composer's career. We might today, 14 years later, consider it Barry's last truly great score; a wonderfully romantic, lyrical, pastoral epic filled with melody and tender nobility.

The tracks are resequenced to more closely follow their appearance in the film, but though there is 22 minutes more music a casual listen would be hard put to suggest what is new. Heard for the first time is the longer, more powerful film version of the key 'Buffalo Hunt' cue, and the film version of the famed 'John Dunbar Theme' though both the re-recorded versions which appeared on the original album are also included. Several cues have been expanded with additional material, notably the opening 'Main Title / Looks Like A Suicide' sequence, which is here almost doubled in length to 7.34.

Also significant is the inclusion of the previously unreleased and completely enchanting 'Falling In Love', though sequencing it right next to the original album 'Love Theme' is perhaps not the wisest of decisions.

A very nice release of a great score, but the additional 22 minutes is really mostly more of the same. If you don't have the original album then by all means add this release to your collection. Otherwise only the most dedicated followers of the composer need upgrade. A five star album non-the-less.

Gary Dalkin

***** 5

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