Track by Track Analysis:
1. The Hero (:41)
Some huge orchestral main themes are overwhelmingly exciting, complex, and popular. Others, like this track, are not. Crashing, over-the-top brass fanfares with cheesy percussion accompaniment comprise this track, making the 40 seconds go on like 40 minutes.
2. Opening Scenes/Killer Storm/Plane Crash (7:15)
Thankfully, the underscore happens to be much better than the theme (a relatively unual characteristic for a score.) Blake's opening scenes come off as a suite of dark, organic orchestral writing reminiscent of Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, and Wagner, with the National Philharmonic brass frequently pouring out huge clusters of diminished chords amidst the lush string atmosphere. These antiquated sounds won't appeal to some because of the sense of pre-Williams darkness, in a period where every score had to sound exactly like Star Wars.
3. Rocket Fight (1:30)
While this action cue features some exciting brass writing, it also houses a comical clarinet theme that some may find off-putting.
4. Arrival/Mongo Greeting/Palace Entry/The Court of Ming (3:59)
A huge brass version of the main theme forms "Arrival," which segues into a section of transparent woodwind and celeste. This builds into another grandiose version of Gordon's theme. Finally, the track ends with assorted fortissimo underscore passages.
5. Barin and the Hawkmen (3:14)
Blake's nostalgic serial sound continues in this period of bombastic underscore, punctuated by the Herrmannesque orchestration of flutes and vibraphone.
6. The Princess/Dale's Seduction/Football Fight (2:13)
Blake composes a celestial theme for the princess, comprised of evocative strings and woodwinds. The final cue is a hilariously pretentious series of diminished chord outbursts with deliriously tacky percussion.
7. Bell and Coffin/Zarkov/Rocket Ship Fight (3:20)
This seemingly endless track is comprised of long stretches of transparent underscore punctuated by huge minor chord outbursts. It get better with a strangely evocative high string theme reminiscent of Jerry Goldsmith.
8. Flight to Arboria/Harem (2:06)
The first cue houses some vibe/string orchestration, with an exotic flute theme and tribal percussion emerging in Harem, along with a passage reminiscent of Horner's modulated arpeggios.
9. Telepathy/Dale's Drug (2:07)
More bland underscore in the manner of the previous 2 tracks.
10. Arboria (:51)
This combines more of the synth arpeggios with, you guessed it, fortissimo minor and diminished chords. A (GASP!) tritone ends it.
11. Dale's Fight (1:32)
This action cue is based completely on an ostinato introduced in the first seconds.
12. Zarkov and Dale Escape (1:25)
This provides more Hornerific music in the style of Krull. (Surprisingly, Horner wasn't around back then as a huge composer - no I'm not drawing any parallels with the composers' work - it IS possible to extrapolate too far with that.)
13. Torture/The Swamp (2:11)
Not surprisingly, this is made up mostly of utterly uninspiring underscore, which turns dissonant at the end.
14. City of the Hawkmen (1:01)
One of the better tracks, this begins with modulating arpeggios and impressive brass chords, which dissolves into a dance-like melody.
15. Tree-Stump Duel/Beast in the Swamp (6:00)
"Duel" is easily the most boring cue in the score, consisting of a huge pianissimo minimalism passage. "Beast" is a serviceable action cue with several exciting brass fanfares (and a noticeable absense of diminished chords, at least until the end.)
16. Romantic Reunion (:27) (awww...)
A quick recapitulation of the love theme from track 6.
17. Duel on the Sky Platform (7:48)
Surprisingly, this lengthy cue is quite enjoyable, usint all the familiar techniques with an almost Goldsmithian frenetic energy. I sill hate the overdone diminished figures, though.
18. Firefight/Finale: Death of Ming and Flash's Victory (2:37)
The final action cue is an intriguing series of leaping string figures, followed by the predictably huge finale.
19. Main Titles (3:20)
20. Car Death (3:16)
21. The Boat Dock (2:57)
22. The Mermaid (2:15)
23. The Doll (1:08)
24. Mother (2:27)
25. The Beast (1:45)
26. End TItles (3:51)
This 1983 score contains a lot of the same devices and flavors as Flash Gordon, but blankets them in a rich supernatural setting with heavy use of soprano vocals and wild theremins. Highlights include "The Beast" with its wailing theremins and End Titles, with a ghostly reprise of the main theme.
In short, this promo release should be left for die-hard fans of Flash Gordon
or Howard Blake. SuperTracks, however, should be lauded for their quality production
values for this album.