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David Coscina

Intrada's First Blood

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Stefancos is gonna love this one. To me, there are many many compelling reasons why I find First Blood by Jerry Goldsmith to be as good as the best of anything Williams has ever written. In some ways, I prefer it to almost any action writing from Williams' canon (make no mistake though- Williams is my favorite film composer of all time!). I think the quality I find so omnipresent in Goldsmith's action writing that is slightly elusive in Williams' is that raw, almost savage tenor. Williams' action scores can be muscular but there's always a sense of refinement to them and perhaps a little dressiness. I think part of this relates to the personality of a composer. Williams is a very quiet natured, even tempered individual based on all the interviews I've seen and having met him once in Pittsburgh. Goldsmith had an irascible, even mean temperament at times and I think it shows in his music. Also, his influences were more heavily centered in modernism which eschewed prettiness for orchestral violence on more than one occasion (Varese's Arcana is possibly one of the most violent pieces you can hear- or Bartok's Miraculous Mandarin).

So, anyway, back to First Blood. The quality I find so enduring about this score in particular is its breadth of styles that Goldsmith infused but never once stray from the over-all tone of the music. It's all part of a piece rather than incidental vignettes. The mournful plaintive trumpet melody, the driving 5/4 string ostinatos, thunderous percussion accents (most modern composers would do well to study this score to properly learn how to use percussion in their music!!!), eerie atonal sections for the forest attack, and straight out dissonance for the violence that ensues. I could write volumes about why this score is probably the epitome of what made Goldsmith such a great composer.

I actually don't want to lift Goldsmith up at the expense of Williams' music because it's not really about that- I just used that in my subject heading as a means of being provocative. I value each composer for their own gifts which were different. I don't like Goldsmith's Supergirl score as I find it pales to Superman. But I don't think Williams could have scored Planet of the Apes, Papillon, Alien, ST:TMP, or First Blood in the same deft manner Goldsmith did. It's like comparing Prokofiev to Stravinsky. One had a sublime way of putting music together and the other one excelled at rhythmic intensity, innovative orchestration and raw primal savagery.

BTW- I prefer Prokofiev to Stravinsky. Although I would say Goldsmith was probably more influenced by Bartok if you look at his whole career. Harmonically at least. :(

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I agree. It's an amazing score, very lean and tense, but reflective and introspective and served not only as a springboard for Rambo's character but some fantastic action writing.

Someone on FSM posted a message from David Morrell about the score, and how the theme made Rambo a more sympathetic and even more understandable character, which is a feat.

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This is one of those scores I keep promising that I should pay more attention to...have seen the movie a couple of times but never, ever owned or otherwise possessed Goldsmith's music. Seems like high time for me to catch up....

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I'm not sure which one is raw and savage. Stravinsky or Prokofiev? :( If it's Stravinsky, Prokofiev and his Cannon-Founders beg to differ!

Yeah I should actually qualify that better. I guess my sense of Prokofiev, whose music I adore, see my avatar, was always very refined, even when he was delving into more aggressive music. Witness "The Fight" from Romeo & Juliet (some of you will know it by a different name- "Stealing the Enterprise" :(). It's energetic, the B section has that wonderful portentous brass statement, but it's all very precise. Stravinsky's insistence of changing meters every 2 bars and his orchestration seemed to convey a sense of the "ugly" that Prokofiev never approached, even when he was trying, ie Third Symphony. I also would say that savagery from Goldsmith was more akin to Bartok's influence than Stravinsky. Alien has some flat out vicious moments that one can reference right to Miraculous Mandarin, although most would say that was the most "Stravinskyesque" that Bartok ever got.

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I and Dan Hobgood are pleased!

Well, I'm a very strong advocate of this score. I think Goldsmith got close to this approach on The Edge as well. Perhaps not as complex for the action cues but certainly in the manner of bringing different influences together to form a cogent musical statement.

He was laughing at Steef's Hobgood remark.

My apologies. I have removed that blurb. :(

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It's a great score but the best thing about this particular release is that it's unlimited so I can order it sometime after New Year when my poor wallet hopefully recovers somewhat ... :( THANK YOU INTRADA, for another gem! :(

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Great to see this finally getting the release it deserves.

It's a brilliant score, and it would be followed by the MOTHER of all action scores: Rambo: First Blood Part II!

Goldsmith's It's A Long Road theme is so perfectly mournfull.

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A great post Fiery Angel. You make great points about the differences of the composers and the strengths of this Goldsmith gem.

I just saw the latest Rambo film a few days ago and what struck me while the end credits were rolling was how much I miss Goldsmith's sound and musical persona. The music in the film was wallpaper until Goldsmith's theme rolled in during the final moments and was a painful reminder that one of the great voices of film music is not with us and is sorely missed. Brian Tylers of this age pale in comparison with Goldsmith's skill and creativity.

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It's a brilliant score, and it would be followed by the MOTHER of all action scores: Rambo: First Blood Part II!

No way, First Blood is 'real man' action compared to the wonderful but 'toy soldier' action from the sequels.

They don't even come close to the greatness of the original, in spirit or tone.

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Sorry mate, the second film takes what made the first score so great, injects it with 10 ton of dynamite, 12 pints of pure testosteron and unleashes it upon the world.

Except it doesn't :cool:

What you've just listed is everthing I find inferior about the sequel scores compared to the original.

I'll take tone over plastic muscle any day.

Then again I think Total Recall sounds like great music for a Hart to Hart TV movie.

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Whatever your preference, any of the action musiv from the rambo films makes John Williams action scoring look like a nancyboy attempt...

Well, of course ...at least to a superficial, plastic muscle loving nancyboy anyway :D

Although, what this has got to do with JW, I do not know??? :cool:

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Zimmer power anthems make everything Goldsmith wrote sound like "nancyboy attempts"...doesn't mean they're better. :cool:

I was going to point that out .Some Goldsmith scores like Rambo and Total Recall and some Poledouris scores like Conan sound like "pre-Zimmer Power anthem " .That's why I never liked them I think

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I'm not sure which one is raw and savage. Stravinsky or Prokofiev? :cool: If it's Stravinsky, Prokofiev and his Cannon-Founders beg to differ!

I guess my sense of Prokofiev, whose music I adore, see my avatar, was always very refined, even when he was delving into more aggressive music. Witness "The Fight" from Romeo & Juliet (some of you will know it by a different name- "Stealing the Enterprise" :D). It's energetic, the B section has that wonderful portentous brass statement, but it's all very precise. Stravinsky's insistence of changing meters every 2 bars and his orchestration seemed to convey a sense of the "ugly" that Prokofiev never approached, even when he was trying, ie Third Symphony. I also would say that savagery from Goldsmith was more akin to Bartok's influence than Stravinsky. Alien has some flat out vicious moments that one can reference right to Miraculous Mandarin, although most would say that was the most "Stravinskyesque" that Bartok ever got.

I've always thought that much of Goldsmith's style is more a reflection of Bartok's influence than Stravinsky's too, although a good case can be made for either. Spot on about your comparison of Prokofiev and Stravinsky, although Prokofiev did get his barbarism "ugly" on with the Scythian Suite I thought. Outside of that, definitely more refined in his more aggressive stuff.

In any event, JG chose some GREAT influences!

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I admit I don't know what I'm talking about. But it's just too "loud" for me

Maybe you do, and maybe you don't (alright, you don't), but what "Capricorn One"'s main title sets up very powerfully, is the idea of the little man being crushed by the twin wheels of industry, and government. The "Kay's Theme" section represents the humanity of hope in a hopeless situation; and all this in just on 3 minutes. This is something that a hack like Zimmer could not possibly hope to understand.

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Just to clarify that Zimmer's power anthems are loud, not ballsy. I would love someone to point me to any example throughout Zimmer's entire career where he matches the intensity and kinetic rawness of the following Goldsmith awesomeness:

"opening credits" Finale Conflict- basically the finest culmination of ideas from the entire series. The opening horn statement is so ominous and bold it makes mere mortals shiver in their boots

"New Friend" from Papillon- the use of dissonance in the trumpets (semi tone clusters and fluttertongue at the same time) not only sets off this cue on an astringent, gutsy course but amplifies the urgency of the scene. Note that some of the motivic and passages in this cue also appear earlier in the score where Goldsmith underscores the grizzly execution of a young inmate with the same two-tiered effect.

any part of Alien- sorry, Zimmer and shit, most current film composers for that matter, will never write like this, nor do I believe they have the skill to do so. Snobby of me? Hell yes. Correct? Probably (although I will submit that Giacchino's Let Me in has some pretty damn close moments)

The Edge- any cue with Bart the Bear in it- this was during Goldsmith's more streamlined era but he still managed to get a lot of mileage out of those downward glides from the trombone section along with some terrific writing for auxiliary percussion

Total Recall- sorry but nowhere near a Hart to Hart score and the mere suggestion of this worries me about the listening tastes of some on this forum. :cool:

Planet of the Apes- there's some meaty writing in this and Elfman, who I do admire, never even got close to this brilliance. Not even.

Wind and the Lion- Another colossal theme from a colossal score. Alternating 5ths in the horns is pure power. It also serves to introduce a seed of the main theme by extrapolating the first and strongest interval within the theme

Okay, this could go on ad infinitum

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To even begin to compare Zimmer's music to Conan, Total Recall etc etc is one of the greatest insults anyone could ever hurl at Goldsmith and Poledouris.

Total Recall is a masterpiece that has very few peers in the world of action scoring, if it even has any peers.

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Yet the comparisons will happen.

At one point, it was probably unthinkable that the upstart Tchaikovsky would have been compared to Beethoven or even Mozart and Bach.

Now we lump them all into the same bucket.

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Yet the comparisons will happen.

At one point, it was probably unthinkable that the upstart Tchaikovsky would have been compared to Beethoven or even Mozart and Bach.

Now we lump them all into the same bucket.

You do have a point. But comparing Zimmer to Tchaikovsky and Beethoven is even more insulting! :cool:

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