Until The Last Run, I thought I had heard every style in which Jerry Goldsmith could compose. Ironically, this album was as surprising to me as Alien - I was expecting a typical 1970's Goldsmith score with mounds of grinding dissonances and action cues. Imagine my surprise when I discovered a rock backbeat and the score's melodious themes. Don't be fooled, however - this is definitely not a pop score - Goldsmith was simply working in the same genre as Lalo Schifrin for this particular piece, and managed to compose one of his most satisfying listening experiences. Quite simply, The Last Run contains some of the most rapturous and passionate themes of Goldsmith's career, rivaled only by some of his '90s work - indeed, the arching strings sound much more like the Goldsmith of 2000 than the Goldsmith of 1975. The main theme, played on electrically amplified acoustic guitar, conveys a heart-wrenching sense of loss and bittersweet nostalgia and sets the tone for the entire album, which contains at least five more of these superb themes, blended with a lush, Spanish atmosphere exemplified in the rich orchestration for guitars and dense harmonies that place the themes almost on the level of Richard Wagner's Die Walkuere. Another major facet of this score is its action music, an offshoot of Escape from the Planet of the Apes that fuses orchestral atonality, a rich melodic sense, and a mild pop backbeat into an insanely enjoyable experience. This is another of the Chapter III Classics line, paired with Goldsmith's Wild Rovers western score from the same year. Although The Last Run's half amounts to under thirty minutes, it presents all of the score, beefed up into concert suites arranged by the composer. The remastered sound is phenomenal, and the packaging is delightfully nostalgic. Unfortunately, the liner notes again sound like a press release, and the track listings and times are only to be found inside the booklet. In the end, this album is recommended to nearly all soundtrack collectors - Goldsmith collectors will undoubtedly be pleasantly surprised, and the uninitiated will find this to be an insanely satisfying "back door" to the composer's 1970s work.
Track by Track Analysis:
1. Main Title (2:51)
Goldsmith begins the score with a concert arrangement of The Last Run's main theme, introduced in a lengthy solo for mournful guitar. As this resolves, an ostinato for harpsichord and light percussion begins, on top of which the composer places increasingly passionate orchestrations of the theme, accompanied by the dark, rich tone color of alto flutes and strings. Again, this is one of the Maestro's most appealing themes, embedding the unspeakably tragic melody line in a pool of opulent harmonies.
2. Border Crossing (2:52)
The first of Goldsmith's fun action cues, this fuses a jazzy electric guitar and percussion backbeat with acoustic guitar, Spanish brass fanfares, and intermittent outbursts of horn cluster chords. In the middle section, an offshoot of the main theme appears in the woodwinds, embellished by the anachronistic sounds of a harpsichord. This rapturous, jazzy theme continues to build, and Goldsmith passes it around the delightfully eclectic ensemble in increasingly creative ways.
3. Spanish Coast (2:39)
For possibly the most rapturous cue of the score, Goldsmith composes an exciting bolero around a completely new Latin-flavored theme, first stated in guitars, and passed to lush, towering string chords and brass fanfares. At the end, the theme suddenly climaxes in an absolutely creamy rush of major chords that only Jerry Goldsmith could devise.
4. Claudia Says Yes (1:59)
Goldsmith forms this cue around the main theme - this track presents it in several straightforward arrangements for acoustic guitar and the orchestra.
5. Rickard Escapes (1:55)
The first true action cue, this is comprised of an exciting backbeat ostinato for electric guitars, a new action theme, virtuoso runs for harpsichord, and a new version of the main theme that proves its adaptability as an action motif.
6. The Last Run (2:36)
Another instrumental reprise of "The Last Run's" main theme forms this cue, stated in guitars with a fascinating cadenza for harpsichord. Following this typical arrangement, Goldsmith repeats the theme, scored now for absolutely overwhelming violins that add to the epic nature of the score. Ironically, the fade-out of the cue is one of its most fascinating aspects - a duet of Spanish guitars begin to improvise on the chord progression of the theme - it's a pity it couldn't have gone on a bit longer!
7. Double Cross (2:45)
Another of Goldsmith's unspeakably cool action cues, this opens with rushing strings and dissonant horns, only to meld into low electric guitar and jazzy percussion. This is quite reminiscent of Escape from the Planet of the Apes with its jumping rock-based intervals and eclectic instrumentation - probably the score's best action cue. In the final minute, the orchestra attempts to eclipse the proceedings with dissonance, but soon gives way to another reprise of the earlier guitar and piano action music.
8. Yo Te Amo (2:31)
Easily the most nostalgic cue, and one of the most moving, this starts with a rapturous string melody - probably one of Goldsmith's best of all time, and places it against a cyclical, epic backbeat, complete with guitar and cheesy female choir! Quite simply, I could listen to this all day - it is seldom equaled in the score for pure melodic genius.
9. Claudie's Stockings (2:57)
Another track based around the yearning main theme, this presents the music in another typical yet moving arrangement for guitars, backed by the ethereal sounds of a vibraphone. Eventually, the strings enter, and Goldsmith melds this main theme into the action music from "Border Crossing," now with an evocative string descant combined with lush harp and percussion glissandi. A moving postlude for guitar based on the main theme concludes the track.
10. The Trap (1:55)
The final action cue, this takes Goldsmith's unnaturally cool guitar and percussion backbeat and combines it with outbursts of orchestral cluster chords and the ecstatic action theme from "Border Crossing" in another track reminiscent of Escape from the Planet of the Apes, another unnaturally cool score.
11. End Title (2:11)
Goldsmith's end title is unexpectedly quite disturbing, with the orchestra shooting down attempts at the main theme with high dissonances. Soon, however, another euphoric version of the theme for strings and harpsichord takes hold, driving the score towards its inevitable finale.
12. The Last Run (Vocal) (2:13)
I think most people know my opinions of songs generated from film score themes. Surprisingly, this one breaks the mold admirably - one of the only score-based songs to which I can listen all the way through. Steve Lawrence provides a serviceable Sinatra impression, but the most appealing aspect is the orchestral accompaniment, which takes the usual arrangement of the main theme and expands it into an unspeakably tragic tone poem, reaching achingly operatic heights throughout.
In the end, everyone should get a copy of this album. Those searching for access to Goldsmith's '70s oeuvre will be pleasantly surprised by the lush themes, and the composer's usual collectors will be elated with this counterpart to Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Additionally, Chapter III's release provides a complete second score - Wild Rovers.