The Second Disc

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John Williams Welcomed to Kritzerland with Complete “Missouri Breaks” Soundtrack

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The Missouri Breaks OSTIn 1976, John Williams was between Oscars – for Jaws and Star Wars, to be exact.  The year was filled with great film scores from the future legend – among them, Family Plot, Black Sunday and Midway.   Another of his fine works during America’s bicentennial year was for Arthur Penn’s western The Missouri Breaks, headlined by Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson.  The actual score tracks heard in the United Artists picture have never been released, either on LP or CD; Williams re-recorded his compositions for an album, much as his old friend and mentor Henry Mancini frequently did.  And so the release of Williams’ original Missouri Breaks music would be cause enough for celebration, but its upcoming limited edition 2-CD presentation also marks another “first”: the first appearance from John Williams on the Kritzerland label.  The new Missouri Breaks is a deluxe edition befitting the ambitious film.  The label will present the original score recordings with bonus material on the first disc, and a completely-remastered edition of the familiar soundtrack LP on the second disc.

Arthur Penn (Bonnie and Clyde, The Miracle Worker) assembled a top-notch cast to bring Thomas McGuane’s screenplay to life, also including Randy Quaid, Frederic Forrest and Harry Dean Stanton.  Nicholson portrayed Tom Logan, leader of a gang of horse thieves being pursued by Brando’s Robert E. Lee Clayton.  Penn was no stranger to the western genre, having directed such films as The Left-Handed Gun (1958) and Little Big Man (1970), and McGuane had recently written the contemporary comic western Rancho Deluxe (1975).  The production was in the shadow of Brando’s eccentric behavior as well as some unfortunate mishaps that resulted in the death of one horse and the injuries of others.  Though a hotly-anticipated film, The Missouri Breaks ultimately became a box office disappointment best remembered today for the bold performances of its stars.

For his score, John Williams didn’t write in the symphonic style with which he soon became closely associated.  Instead, he composed for a small ensemble including guitars, electric bass, harmonicas, and mandolin.  Kritzerland describes Williams’ evocative score as follows: “Williams had already done big, brash, outdoorsy Americana before with The Reivers and The Cowboys.  But The Missouri Breaks wasn’t big and brash, and so required a different kind of score – smaller in scale, but one that would capture the characters and the drama as well as the period and the feel of the film.  And, of course, Williams delivered a perfect score (albeit atypical for him during this period), mostly composed for guitars, harmonica, percussion, and a handful of other instruments.  Williams never wants for coming up with an instantly memorable and beautiful theme and The Missouri Breaks has a beauty in its love theme – never overused, always right.  His main title music sets the mood with tense bass notes, and off-kilter harmonica and guitar – it’s wonderfully evocative and haunting.  There are up-tempo infectious cues and cues for Brando that are really off-kilter.  It’s Williams doing what he did (and still does) better than anyone, and it’s a score that’s completely unique to him.”

After the jump: more specs on what you’ll find on Kritzerland’s new release, plus the full track listing and pre-order link!

When The Missouri Breaks was first issued on CD in 1999 by Rykodisc, the original United Artists Records soundtrack album was the basis of the release, with three bonus tracks from the actual film added (“Main Title,” “Train Robbery,” “Jane and Logan”).  This edition was reissued by Varese Sarabande in 2004.  Kritzerland’s new and definitive Missouri Breaks has been derived from the original film scoring session masters, and includes a handful of never-before-heard cues that went unused in the film.  In addition, the complete soundtrack album as re-recorded by Williams is also included, freshly remastered from the original master tapes.

The Missouri Breaks is limited to 1,200 units.  CDs will ship the second week of August, but preorders placed directly at Kritzerland usually ship one to five weeks early (with an average of four weeks).   You can order this vintage slice of Americana from the one and only John Williams at the link below!

John Williams, The Missouri Breaks: Original MGM Motion Picture Soundtrack (Kritzerland, 2013)

CD 1: The Original Score Tracks

  1. The Missouri Breaks (Main Title)
  2. Logan’s Entrance
  3. Logan and Calvin Talk (Unused)
  4. The Train Robbery
  5. After the Trial/The Hanging Foreman/Riding the Horse
  6. Boys Will Play
  7. Clayton at the Wake (Unused)
  8. Crossing the River
  9. Clayton’s Binoculars
  10. Logan and Jane
  11. The Cabbage Patch
  12. The Mounties Attack/Lee Chases Tod
  13. The Drowning of Tod
  14. News of Tod
  15. The Rustling Sequence
  16. Si and Cary
  17. Calvin
  18. End Titles
  19. Unused Cue 1-3
  20. Organ Cue 4-2
  21. Banjo and Harmonica Cue 11-3
  22. Fiddle Cue 11-3A
  23. Harmonica Cue 13-2

Tracks 19-23 are bonus tracks

CD 2: Original Soundtrack LP Re-Recording (originally released as United Artists LP UAS-29971, 1976)

  1. The Missouri Breaks (Main Title)
  2. Arrival of the Rustlers
  3. Love Theme from The Missouri Breaks
  4. The Train Robbery
  5. Bizarre Wake
  6. Celebration
  7. Confrontation
  8. Love Theme (Reprise)
  9. Crossing the Missouri
  10. The Chase
  11. Remembrances
  12. The Horse Rustlers
  13. Love Theme (End Title)

Written by Joe Marchese

July 1, 2013 at 10:37

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