Music Webmaster Len Mullenger



Elmer BERNSTEIN Wild Wild West Music conducted by the composer   OST    VARÈSE SARABANDE VSD-6042 [30:14]






Slammed by the critics, loved by audiences, this weird western, with its jaw-dropping special effects, including neck-seeking razor-frisbees and 80-ft high steam-powered mechanical spiders, must have been quite a challenge to Elmer Bernstein. He has risen to it by creating a rip-roaring and amusing score that embraces practically every musical genre that you can think of.

The first track immediately sets out the conflict between the traditional old west and the new mechanical age. Bernstein uses uses the theremin (sounding like a demented musical saw) against whirling percussion and swift monotonous piano chords to evoke remorseless, relentless, impersonal machinery, then he counterpoints one of his bracing high-spirited Western themes reminiscent of The Magnificent Seven.

The mechanical evocations thread their way through the score with Bernstein using great imagination and resourcefulness in harmony and orchestration. The score is often very colourfully witty especially in ‘East meets West’ and ‘Of Rita, Rescue and Revenge’ in which there are some quite off-colour glissandos and other peculiar effects. Sometimes he will use weird jazz-inflected music again with the theremin giving it an inhuman sheen.

The most interesting cue is the kaleidoscopic ‘Loveless’s Plan’ Beginning with a guitar solo over rambling woodwinds that quietly contemplate a western theme in Coplandesque style, the music passes through a bewildering series of transformations. First, we hear solemn organ chords that introduce a noble Elgarian theme (with chorus joining in in Handelian mode). Then castanets interrupt a rendition of ‘God Save the Queen’, to introduce a few bars of Baroque music which then becomes an electronic "escaping-steam" caper with guitar. Suspense, creepy figures follow with the most extraordinary music of all a sort of demented mechanical belly dance presumably for the mechanical spider as it lumbers over the desert?

An extraordinarily colourful, exciting and witty score for an OTT movie.

Great fun.


Ian Lace


Ian Lace

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