Jerry Goldsmith's score
for Walter Hill's gritty modern day western features one of the
composer's most striking orchestral/electronic integrations.
Scored at the height of the composer's flirtation with the Hungarian
orchestras, the score for Extreme Prejudice in a way harks
back to the 60's when Goldsmith found himself scoring numerous
violent westerns set south of the border. Back in 1987 Extreme
Prejudice proved Goldsmith had lost none of his touch in
defining location and character for these kinds of picture but
with his palette of electronics was able to dramatically enhance
and modernise a familiar story.
Goldsmith's association with Hill seems to have been a happy
one but of course Ry Cooder, Hills preferred composer, was originally
going to score, but thanks to producers Kassar and Vajna Goldsmith
got the gig and the necessary support. Though Goldsmith did have
to re-write the lengthy cue for the Plan back in L.A.
with an inferior electronic alternate to appease a director not
keen on traditional orchestral forces.
This impressive new release from La-La Land records features
what looks to be now the complete score, kicking off with a cue
that remained a curio from the first album release; Extreme
Prejudice actually turns out to be an un-used trailer score
cue and introduces us to Goldsmith's militaristic soldier theme
by way of an upbeat workout. Though this and the next cue; the
exciting 'Ramboesque' Carolco logo should have been
placed at the end of the album as bonuses. Film order is fun
but cues like these spoil the flow of the main programme.
The score begins proper with one of the composer's coolest openings.
Arrivals/Main Titles introduces us to the special forces
operatives arriving at an airport, all officially listed as dead.
Goldsmith provides percussive and brass exclamations as each
soldier's records are shown to camera, each time building in
intensity before launching into the relentlessness main theme.
Dramatically benefiting from La-La Lands re-mastering, the soundstage
for this piece in particular finally has breadth. The strings
are no longer being beaten into submission by the electronics,
though they too are enhanced.
Cash explores three themes. The first is a lament for
Benteen and Sarita and reveals their faltering relationship and
the inevitable loss of Sarita to Cash. Electronic manipulations
capture the stifling heat and dust of the border and lead into
the malevolent Cash theme, and finally by way of muffled
vocalisations on to a suspenseful variation of the soldier's theme.
Next Time is a new but short cue that briefly states the
Cash theme during Benteen's cross the border confrontation. The
Set Up follows as Goldsmith deploys his 'squelching'
synth beat with layered strings for the soldier's theme before
evaporating into the love theme and a haunting trumpet solo.
Though only partly used in the film, Dust deals with the
aftermath of a bloody gun battle in which Benteen loses his friend
and mentor Sheriff Pearson. The second portion recalls the love
theme but this time it's more elegiac for the sense of loss suffered
by Benteen, before the soldier's theme returns for Hackett's
dealings with Benteen. While A Nice Fellow, another new
cue, provides a short reprise of the Cash theme as he slips into
town to claim Sarita and take her back over the border.
Goldsmith's superior nine minute version of The Plan,
heard on track twelve, was replaced by the next few cues,
presented here for the first time. The first is titled The
Plan and mainly deals with the soldier's elaborate diversionary
plan to lure the police out of town and away from the bank by
detonating a tanker truck in an abandoned warehouse. Goldsmith
essentially provides a synth action beat but combines it with
his main theme as the truck is delivered and spectacularly destroyed
in a huge explosion. The next cue, stupidly titled The Bank
Parts 1 to 3, features some string backing but is essentially
a synth driven suspense cue with Goldsmith's penetrating sound
design augmented with all manor of synthesised bells and whistles
for the tense Bank robbery itself. Bank Part 4 deals with
the violent and botched getaway in the border town streets in
which two of the soldiers are eventually captured by Benteen.
Goldsmith builds on the previous cue but a pounding synth beat
intensifies as desperation ensues.
The Plan is the original version which Goldsmith scored
for orchestra and electronics. Goldsmith's stunning cue consistently
impresses as it steadily raises the excitement quotient, recycling
and intensifying as the events above play out. By the time you
reach the 'getaway' Goldsmith's robust orchestration has become
a brilliant blaze of sound crescendoing in the brass for an elaborate
Identities deals with Benteen's discovery of whom the
captured soldiers really are and interestingly includes a echoing
Pattonesque fanfare. While To Mexico adapts both
the love theme and Cash's theme for Goldsmith's south of the
border tour, later joined by the trumpet motif for the soldiers,
notably here much in the style of an earlier Goldsmith effort;Twilight's
No Friendlies allows for a full statement of the Mexico
theme replete with castanets as Benteen makes his way through
Cash's town and a confrontation to reclaim Sarita. While Positions
is a previously unreleased but short cue for synth, brass and
snare drums as the soldiers position themselves for their assault
on Cash's strong hold.
They Don't Care deals with the final act and a classic
duel between hero and villain surrounded by his henchman. Goldsmith's
brooding and tense cue utilises Cash's music with synth beat
ticking away the seconds before the showdown. But before they
can shoot all hell breaks loose in Fighting and Dying,
another premiere cue, that employs atmospheric and distorted
sonics for the bloodbath, ala The Wild Bunch.
The Funeral is revealed in the notes to have been
intended for an earlier exercised scene in which Sheriff Pearson
is buried. Goldsmith utilises both a solemn reading of the love
theme here and a trumpet motif akin to a military burial.
A Deal/End Credits closes Goldsmith's score in impressive
fashion with a chance to savour the composer's gloriously melodic
theme for Mexico. Goldsmith focuses on orchestral forces for
this 'barn burner' of a cue but keeps the Latin pop tempo up
with the synth beat utilised throughout the score. As the theme
is recycled Goldsmith adds further layers as it's stated powerfully
for keyboards, strings and brass.