Album Review (CD 2)
Jerry Goldsmith's creative
score helped define John Rambo: his struggles, frustrations,
and his identity as an individual. The use of a solo trumpet
to introduce the Rambo theme in Home Coming and reprise
it several times in the score was a masterful idea. The solo
trumpet cries out proclaiming itself as if to say "I exist"
while the melody signifies a combination of feelings. In this
wonderful theme one hears loneliness, solitude, sadness, but
also pride without regret. Rambo did his duty for his beloved
country, yet feels betrayed. As this reviewer recalls, we were
hated by all political persuasions upon our return. Goldsmith,
with his talent and genius for understanding characters aptly
represented these complex feelings and issues.
Escape Route depicts Rambo's escape from an underground
cavern and opens with an electronic keyboard and a motif heard
throughout the score in First Blood, The Tunnel,
Mountain Hunt, No Power, and Over the Cliff.
As the main theme is used to identify Rambo, this motif signifies
his purpose. Once outside Rambo prepares to steal a passing Army
truck, with various solos from woodwinds and snare drum evolving
into a very powerful brass punctuated passage as he makes his
First Blood is made up of two sequences. It opens with
trilled woodwinds and a variation of the main theme with paired
horns for Rambo's radio conversation with his mentor Coronal
Trautman. Its tempo portraying a sad but respectful fanfare.
The second sequence finds Rambo evading the National Guard, with
Goldsmith's martial rhythms interrupted by the electronic mission
motif before a chase ensues and the full orchestra rallies for
a dramatic virtuoso passage.
The Tunnel begins with a subdued version of the main theme
again on solo trumpet and is soon joined by the electronics,
strings and woodwinds as Rambo makes a perilous journey through
the cavern. The overall tempo is slow yet the mission statement
signifies Rambo's progress. As Rambo stumbles upon hundreds of
Rats that attack him in the darkness a violent explosion of orchestral
energy represents the horrifying and traumatic event.
Hanging On is another cue made up of two separate set
pieces. It begins with Rambo's preparations to destroy the hardware
store by utilizing as much explosive material as he can find
and setting light to it. In classic Goldsmith tradition the composer
captures every nuance of Rambo's exploits as he builds up to
the explosion. For the second part a simple two note rhythm sustains
Rambo's perilous trudge through the wilderness before punctuated
horns, strings, and full orchestra announce his arrival at the
edge of a cliff. The tempo quickens and is later disrupted as
Rambo hangs on for dear life, the desperate nature of the moment
powerfully captured in the brasses.
Mountain Hunt is perhaps the most musically complex and
interesting cue on the album and again covers two sequences.
The first is the elaborate truck stunt in which Rambo smashes
through a police blockade in the stolen Army truck. Goldsmith
provides his most powerful rendition of his Rambo theme yet,
which explodes in the cymbals accompanied by a five note motif
heard throughout the score. The second part briefly includes
the National Guard march before focusing on the earlier sequence
when Rambo is hunted by Sheriff Teasle and his men. Goldsmith
provides stark suspenseful orchestration, capturing the atmosphere
of the dense forest undergrowth punctuated by bursts of brass
as Rambo snares each of the men.
My Town is for another two sequences. The first part deals
with Trautman's attempts at communicating with Rambo on radio
with a suspenseful passage on bass accompanied by timpani and
then snare drums with horns and woodwinds emerging as Rambo answers.
The second is a heartfelt rendition of the theme as Rambo discovers
the last of his unit has died. The Patton-like horn signature
surfaces followed by a very sensitive and beautiful rendition
of the main theme on violin and solo guitar as Rambo's loneliness
is now complete.
Chimes, then a repetition of the keyboard mission motif open
The Razor as Rambo defies Sheriff Teasle and walks back
into town after being 'politely' told to leave. Woodwinds carry
the main theme interpolated with other instruments and a painfully
dissonant passage leads us into the next sequence from the film.
After being arrested Rambo is humiliated by some of Teasle's
officers and restrained during a shave with a cut throat. This
brings back a horrifying flashback of his incarceration at the
hands of the Viet-Cong, with Goldsmith providing unsettling electronic
effects, distorted strings and woodwinds for these harrowing
moments. As Rambo breaks free Goldsmith instigates a dynamic
confrontation with electronics, timpani, and snare drum in a
blend of sounds resulting in a tribal-like barbaric identity
for Rambo's escape from the police station. The cue concludes
with a triumphant full orchestral rendition of the main theme
as Rambo escapes on motor bike.
No Power is the extra cue missing from the vinyl release
and covers the scene in the latter part of the movie as Rambo
takes out the power of the town and makes his way to a confrontation
with Teasle. It begins slowly without much melody or development,
but midway through we hear the main theme counter pointed by
a slow martial tempo on timpani expressing more of a funeral
dirge as Teasle bickers with Trautman.
Over the Cliff opens with a melancholy arrangement of
the solo trumpet fanfare for the finale of the movie as Rambo
is arrested and lead away. Suddenly the cue evolves into another
energetic and violent piece for the earlier sequence as Rambo
makes a dramatic leap off the cliff and into a tree. Goldsmith
provides a blistering cacophony of sound, highlighting low end
brass for Rambo's painful decent through the branches.
The vocal version of It's a Long Road concludes the album,
but the score closes with the original un-used orchestral version.
This is a reprise of the main title theme heard in Home Coming
with solo guitar followed by woodwinds and full orchestra. Although
the melody line is the same heard throughout the score, and as
in the Home Coming expresses solitude and loneliness,
here the theme makes a statement and brings closure to the story.