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SCORE: The River (John Williams) A Review of the Soundtrack Album


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The River Music Composed and Conducted by John Williams   A review by Mikko Ojala   This is a little gem from 1984 that shares the year with Indiana Jones and the Temple of Do

Let me put it this way, if KM is humming The Imperial March while he's taking a shower, would you open the door and say: "Hmm, I think you're the perfect candidate for Images"? Really?

Good album, and because of its stong Noir elements, it's not all that typical for JW. For indeed, a Harry Potter fan checking out more work of Williams would be disappointed by it.

Depends entirely on the said fan's wider tastes but yes for those who have gotten used to JWs big sound such scores are usually a complete surprise. For a dedicated JW fan it is a delightful little new facet to his musical persona.

Speaking of the jazzy/bluesy noir aspect, it would have been great if JW had had a chance to score a real film noir in this style or in the Steiner/Rózsa feel (hints of that can be heard in the Last Crusade and the fun film noir source music in Home Alone 2).

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Not the conventional film noir, but what about "The Long Goodbye"?

Ah true. A noir but highly unconventional one indeed and with a great score although with a rather brilliant concept. Far cry from classic style of the genre. Johnny channels so well the great Maxie Steiner film noir sensibilities. :)

And I guess Minority Report is a more modern take on the genre with an equally modern orchestral take on the subject.

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Nice summary, Incanus - The River is a wonderful score. I believe that the soundtrack album was recorded directly after the actual film soundtrack, so is not exactly the same as what we hear in the movie.

There was a nice story I read somewhere (it might have been in FSM) about the guitarist Tommy Tedesco finding it especially tough to get through the Growing Up track, because his son was seriously ill in hospital at the time and his friend Shelly Manne (the famous jazz drummer) had recently passed away.

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Great review as always Incanus!

Good album, and because of its stong Noir elements, it's not all that typical for JW. For indeed, a Harry Potter fan checking out more work of Williams would be disappointed by it.

Nah, it's a perfectly entertaining and terse album. I'd recommend it to most people, even Harry Potter fans..

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Nice summary, Incanus - The River is a wonderful score. I believe that the soundtrack album was recorded directly after the actual film soundtrack, so is not exactly the same as what we hear in the movie.

There was a nice story I read somewhere (it might have been in FSM) about the guitarist Tommy Tedesco finding it especially tough to get through the Growing Up track, because his son was seriously ill in hospital at the time and his friend Shelly Manne (the famous jazz drummer) had recently passed away.

Ah that is an interesting little anecdote about Tedesco. It is a beautiful piece, Growing Up, which has that tender almost dream-like feel to it. And I did not know they re-recorded the OST. Must have been one of the last Williams scores to have a separately reimagined musical programme recorded specifically for the album. JW assembled some great soloists for this score, again from the ranks of the Hollywood studio players I believe.

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Great review as always Incanus!

Good album, and because of its stong Noir elements, it's not all that typical for JW. For indeed, a Harry Potter fan checking out more work of Williams would be disappointed by it.

Nah, it's a perfectly entertaining and terse album. I'd recommend it to most people, even Harry Potter fans..

It is but it isn't very Potter-ish. It's Williams at his most reflective.

To a Harry Potter fan, I would say, check out Hook, man.

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Speaking of the jazzy/bluesy noir aspect, it would have been great if JW had had a chance to score a real film noir in this style or in the Steiner/Rózsa feel (hints of that can be heard in the Last Crusade and the fun film noir source music in Home Alone 2).

I'd say the Main Titles for CATCH ME IF YOU CAN are quite film-noirish.

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Speaking of the jazzy/bluesy noir aspect, it would have been great if JW had had a chance to score a real film noir in this style or in the Steiner/Rózsa feel (hints of that can be heard in the Last Crusade and the fun film noir source music in Home Alone 2).

I'd say the Main Titles for CATCH ME IF YOU CAN are quite film-noirish.

Well that stuff harkens back perhaps more to the 1960s swinging comedies in the vein of Mancini's Pink Panther but there are slight hints of noir in there but it is much more humorous and playful in general. Something like Irina's Theme from KOTCS or To Austria or The Austrian Way from TLC are closer to the Steiner-esque vein I am talking about. Recollections (Father's Theme) is perhaps closer to the noir, actually to my mind sharing the some of that longing feel as the Love theme from The River.

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For CMIYC, there is something too studied, too academic about it that kind of kills the fun for me, but whatever. THE RIVER, on the other hand, is pure old-style Williams when every score had 3 or 4 hummable melodies - with the impressionistic flute bookending the end title being one of my earliest non-STAR WARS sightings of Williams music (movie was on tv in the late 80's).

It's not his best Rydell but then, neither is the movie.

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For CMIYC, there is something too studied, too academic about it that kind of kills the fun for me, but whatever. THE RIVER, on the other hand, is pure old-style Williams when every score had 3 or 4 hummable melodies - with the impressionistic flute bookending the end title being one of my earliest non-STAR WARS sightings of Williams music (movie was on tv in the late 80's).

It's not his best Rydell but then, neither is the movie.

Catch Me if You Can is far too bleak and disjointed for me, especially compared to the stylistic and breezy main title cue. It's one of my least favorite post-77 Williams scores.

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Really? I like the music of Catch Me If You Can more than War Horse, Tintin or Crystal Skull. Then again, I'm always bored with Williams' wall to wall action scores. Not that I listen to CMIYC that often. Maybe it's time to give it another spin.

Alex

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Oh, I wasn't really thinking of JWfan members. I was thinking of some random kid jumping on his bed with a replica of Harry's wand in his hand. I wouldn't go to that kid and say "I think The River might be something for you".

Maybe that's why the kid will never discover anything beyond Harry Potter. Why pigeon hole people?

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I'll wait a few years until he's ready. For now, let him enjoy the world of Potter. I mean, if a kid is playing with his Star Wars toys, who am I to say "Put those away, kid, and let me introduce you to the world of 2001: A Space Odyssey"?

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