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Someday, Somehow, Someone’s Gotta Play

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La-La Land Records has a one-man army for their latest film score reissue: James Horner, for his score to the hit action film Commando.

Unless you’ve been living in a particularly nonviolent box these past 26 years, Commando was one of the first major starring vehicles for bodybuilder/actor/future governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Yes, Schwarzenegger was certainly in the national consciousness in two killer sci-fi/fantasy roles, as the title characters in Conan the Barbarian (1982) and The Terminator (1984). But Commando was special because it was the first picture to create the actor’s now-exhaustively-familiar archetype: a thinly-characterized good guy, perhaps of military descent, who single-handedly destroys a cadre of bad guys to save some good guys. (In this case, he’s pitted his turncoat ex-Marine partner and an ousted South American dictator, who’ve kidnapped his teenage daughter.)

The action, sick humor, one-liners and general over-the-top atmosphere was greatly aided by a strange if active score from James Horner, well-established with his work for the Star Trek sequels and a year away from his work on Aliens. Horner relied heavily on electronics for the soundtrack, scattering keyboards and drum machines heavily into the mix. The real kicker, though, is the presence of some heavy-duty steel drums and saxophones throughout – not nearly the first choices for an action score, but adding to the overall fun of the score.

While the original score was released in part on a limited edition, long sold-out CD by Varese Sarabande in 2003, this release remasters and expands the score to completion, breaking up all the individual cues and including four bonus tracks – two alternates, an alternate mix of a track and “Someday, Somehow, Someone’s Gotta Pay,” the upbeat end-credits pop song written and performed by Duran Duran side-project The Power Station.

The disc, limited to 3,000 units, is ready to order now. Full information is after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

August 30, 2011 at 18:31

Soundtrack Round-Up: La-La Land Goes “Commando,” Intrada Goes “Galactica”

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Another pair of great stories for catalogue film score fans from around the way – another great sci-fi release from Intrada and a surprise expansion from La-La Land Records!

Intrada’s first in a series of archival titles devoted to Stu Phillips’ score for the original Battlestar Galactica television show, released earlier this year, was a considerable hit. Naturally, the label was ready to partner with Universal on more volumes, and the second was released Monday – a nice companion piece to the label’s other great sci-fi soundtrack, Disney’s The Black Hole. The second volume of BSG music features two full scores from the first season, presented in mono (as kept in the Universal vaults) across two discs. Act fast – this one is limited to 1,500 copies.

Another wildly exciting title was La-La Land’s announcement yesterday for their release next Tuesday: an expanded, remastered edition of James Horner’s score to Commando. The over-the-top action blockbuster, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as an ex-Marine/one-man-army in pursuit of his beloved daughter, features one of the most offbeat scores of Horner’s career, relying heavily on steel drums and saxophones against pulsating rhythms. A limited, eight-track soundtrack CD, released by Varese Sarabande in 2003, was a quick sellout; this new release, limited to 3,000 copies, features the complete score on CD for the first time, alongside “We Fight for Love,” the end-title theme written and performed by The Power Station. (The track, the only studio performance featuring touring frontman Michael Des Barres instead of Robert Palmer, was released on EMI’s 20th anniversary expansion of the supergroup’s debut album in 2005.)

Check out the track list for Intrada’s title after the jump, and stay tuned next Tuesday for the full scoop on Commando!

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Written by Mike Duquette

August 24, 2011 at 13:21

Friday Feature: “Commando”

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As a forgiving film fan, I was appalled by the recent news that 20th Century Fox was planning on remaking Commando, the 1985 action flick that became Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first star vehicle after The Terminator the previous year. Hollywood’s fascination with remakes is too well-known, but surely someone could have drawn a line with Commando.

The film has Schwarzenegger as – what else? – a one-man wrecking crew named John Matrix determined to rescue his daughter after she’s kidnapped by a South American dictator and his band of goons (the leader of which is one of Matrix’s old war buddies). Unsurprisingly, Matrix wins, having relentlessly slaughtered well over a hundred bad guys in the process and delivered the first of many hilarious quips in Schwarzenegger’s film career.

If this plot sounds familiar, it’s because it’s been done a million times since. That’s why a Commando remake – no matter how much of a “real-world spin” Fox promises to give it – makes no sense. Just make another movie about one determined, skillful man who has to rescue a family member from a bunch of silly thugs. (As a matter of fact, Fox did just that two years ago with Liam Neeson in Taken.)

A Commando remake would likely earn demerits for mucking with the over-the-top action violence, eminently quotable lines and unnecessary homoerotic tension between Matrix and the villainous Bennett (who, through actor Vernon Wells, comes off as an Australian Freddie Mercury on steroids). It would also miss out on one of the most goofy, enjoyable turns by composer James Horner. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

April 30, 2010 at 13:32