This mammoth 872-page book attempts to catalog, rate, and review every
regular-release soundtrack. Each release contains a 1-5 "bone" rating,
as well as a 1-2 paragraph capsule review. It may sound like a great
idea at first, but the result is a widely variable book that is made somewhat
obsolete by the Internet. At least on a web site the reviews are
(somewhat) coherent, but in the book the releases are reviewed by about
20 different people with a wide range of opinions. In the previous
edition they countered this by giving more facts about the music rather
than opinions, but all the new reviews say either "I love this" or "I hate
this" with not many reasons as to their opinion. Also, they took
out one of the most useful features - a tracklisting and times. Of
course, with all the new material, the book would probably be about 300
pages thicker, but at least with this they could have put the total time.
Also covered in the book is a wide range of television, Broadway musicals,
and composer compilations. There are lots of stills from both movies
and the composers, and there are a few interesting sidebars such as Top
10s and composer commentaries. Unfortunately, the Top Ten lists are
really flawed, listing what a certain reviewer thought were that composer's
10 best scores. However, the choices contradict themselves and lots
of great scores are ignored. Case in point: Jerry Goldsmith.
Here are the choices:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture - who could argue with that?
The Blue Max - um, not really. Sure it's good, but one of his
Islands in the Stream - not really.
Legend - sure.
Chinatown - maybe.
Logan's Run - not really.
Coma - definitely not.
Planet of the Apes - definitely.
Gremlins - What the #$%^?
That's it. What about Alien? Lionheart? The Final
Conflict? POLTERGEIST? Um, what was this person thinking?
In another case, Titanic is ranked as one of Horner's best, but the review
in the book gives it 2 bones (about right.)
The other features are better, such as long composer commentaries.
Again, the reviews don't let you make the choice for yourself, instead
leaving it to a reviewer. Here's an example: The Matrix, which you
all know I love:
"The score by Don Davis, a combination of orchestral
flourishes, percussive effects, and synthesizer riffs, is, with minor exceptions,
not too terribly inspiring. It sound (sic) perfunctory on a purely
audio level, and while it may enhance the atmosphere of the film as a subliminal
support to the screen action, it does little to attract a casual listener
trying to get into it."
See? No mention of the awesome atonality or choral effects.
Also, many of the reviews are far too glowing, and there's at least 2 5-bone
albums per page. I really think the original edition was better at
this, but not much.
Finally, what is the deal with the artwork on the cover? What
does Madonna have to do with most soundtracks? Why is the entire
layout riddled with ridiculous pastel colors? If I was tempted to
buy the book, I might even be scared off by this artwork.
Although I may sound like I'm bashing this, it's still a pretty good
buy, although not worth $25. Most of it serves as a pretty good buyer's
guide for soundtrack fans. But, like I said, the Internet combined
with all the book's shortcomings makes it a flawed piece of material.
MusicHound: The Final Score
MusicHound Soundtracks is Copyright 1999 by Visible Ink Press. Review
Copyright 1999 by Andrew Drannon. All Rights Reserved.