by James Horner
One of the best scores of his "mature (i.e. Let's
see how many rip-offs we can fit on one CD)" period, this has very little
of his infamous borrowings. The theme is very patriotic, and there
are quite a few memorable themes. The launch sequence is to die for,
and the pulse-pounding action cues are strikingly appropriate. Unfortunately,
this CD marrs the listening experience by inserting numerous dialog sequences
over the music, as well as period songs sprinkled in between most score
tracks. The music more than makes up for this, however, and I can
recommend the CD to anyone. Still, I'd love to have a copy of the
score-only promo, which reinstates several tracks, making for a 60-minute
running time (as it is, we only have about 37 minutes of score on a 70
minute CD. Why did they have to do this?). Also, the packaging
on the regular CD release is really screwed up, listing 15 tracks, while
the album has 23. Thus, even though there are no liner notes, I'm
still deducting points from the packaging category.
1. Main Title (2:28)
Our first glimpse of the patriotic theme begins
with a snare drum solo and a trumpet fanfare of the main theme. Although
it's somewhat simple, it has an understated elegance. The theme continues
on moving strings punctuated by solo trumpet. Portions of the brass
rushes are from The Rocketeer. The titles end with a final trumpet
section, and this segues into some dialog.
9. The Launch (10:04)
This is simply one of the best cues in the entire
Horner canon. It opens with patriotic brass, and that theme transfers
to the woodwinds. Over this is the first statement of another theme
played by solo trumpet (the basis for the beginning of the end credits.)
The strings build, and we get a section based on the earlier theme.
Following this is the introduction to Southampton from Titanic, nearly
identical. The earlier theme reappears, this time played on surging
strings. After some more "Southampton" he plays another version of
the surging string theme. Eventually, a pattern later to be used
as the basis for "Take Her to Sea, Mr. Murdoch" in Titanic appears, only
this has a choral motif over it. The brass return and continue to
build into a full statement of the end credit theme, complete with chimes
and percussion. He extends the credit theme, adding a nice epilogue
to it. The chorus reappears singing their motif, and this segues
into some more ominous music, foreshadowing later events. Various
statements of the end credit theme followed by assorted tension music follow.
One last credit theme statement ends the track.
13. Master Alarm (3:36)
This is the first major action cue on the CD,
which holds one of the first uses of his favorite crashing pianos.
A snare drum and piano ostinato opens the track, under a new action motif
that plays through most of the orchestra. The crashing pianos enter,
and join another statement of the motif. It continues to modulate
into higher keys, becoming more frenzied in the process. The pianos
become a constant in the continually building action. I suspect this
was the basis for "Hard to Starboard" in Titanic. The cue fades on
an ominous note.
15. Into the Lem (4:18)
Following the breakneck action of the previous
track, this gives us a melancholy motif as the astronauts abandon part
of the rocket. Eventually a tension motif enters, which continues
to build throughout the track, adding several nonthematic variations.
17. Darkside of the Moon (4:49)
I'd have to say that this track is one of the
most moving on the album. It opens with a melancholy string motif
with an exotic female vocal over it. The main theme makes one of
its appearances for a short time. Much of the rest is a pounding
piano ostinato under various chord progressions of string and voice, which
is my single favorite aspect of the album. Later the strings play
the motif alone, leading into an extension of the solo trumpet main theme
in its most moving statement yet.
22. Re-Entry & Splashdown (8:53)
This lengthy climactic piece is mainly made of
tension ostinati, but it's still very good. It opens with an excellent
trumpet motif accompanied by bittersweet choir (one of the best parts of
the track.) After about two statements of this, is drifts into various
tension sections with trumpet, string, and horn meanderings. A few
highlights are the return of the choral motif and the most blatantly derivitave
thing I've ever heard a composer do. He incorporates a complete statement
of John Williams' Schindler's List theme on trumpet instead of violin.
Apparently he liked this idea, because he did the same thing in Titanic.
After more tension, he gives us a victorious version of the main theme
on strings. Later we hear a complete version of the end credits theme
in the chorus. Another statement of the now-victorious main theme,
followed by a complete quote of the choral motif from track 9. One
last playing of the main theme, and the music builds up and segues into...
23. End Titles (6:59)
One of Horner's most creative end titles, the
first theme stated is the one first introduced in "The Launch", but this
time it is sung by Annie Lennox with a French horn, both accompanied by
synths. The full choir sings another quote of the theme, and Lennox
gives a final statement and finishes it. The synths fade, and we
hear another major theme, the triumphant statement of the main title theme
from track 22. A full version of the choral motif follows, this time
with both male and female vocal lines. Next, Horner combines the
Lennox theme (played on strings) with the choral motif, and both are played
for the final time. The solo trumpet returns, finishing the previous
theme, and playing a final quote of the title theme. The album ends
as it began with a fading trumpet.
Overall, even though the album release is sloppy,
I'm going to have to recommend this. As hinted to above, many motifs
in this were the basis for several cues in the vastly inferior Titanic.
It's one of my favorite '90s Horner scores.
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Apollo 13 is copyright 1995 by MCA Records. Like always, its appearance
on this site is for nonprofit purposes. Review Copyright 1999 by
Andrew Drannon. Tripod's opinions are not present here. (I was looking
for a new way to say it.)