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The Spitfire Grill

The Spitfire Grill Soundtrack  (James Horner) - CD cover
Composer: James Horner
Released: 1996
Label: Sony Classical US (0074646277621)
Sony Classical Austria (5099706277620)
Type: Movie
Listen: Amazon.com MP3 Amazon.fr MP3 Amazon.co.uk MP3 Amazon.de MP3
Format: CD, Download
Reviewers (10.00/10)
Members (8.57/10) (14 votes)
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1. An Uncertain Future/Main Title (3:38)
2. Shelby and Percy (5:55)
3. Hannah's Fall (1:58)
4. The Mystery of the Night (1:21)
5. Open for Business (2:25)
6. Remembering Eli (1:54)
7. The Trees (1:39)
8. A gift from the Forest (4:43)
9. Reading the Letters (2:02)
10. A Healing Balm (5:59)
11. A new Life for Gilead (1:25)
12. Wrongfully Blame (2:15)
13. A Desperate Decision (5:07)
14. ...Care of The Spitfire Grill (9:53)

Total duration: 50 minutes
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Review of Andreas Lindahl, submitted at , score: 10/10
From the first to the last note, James Horner's score for The Spitfire Grill is pure magic, but for some strange reason this is an often overlooked, and almost never mentioned, score. The Spitfire Grill premiered at the Sundance film festival, and when the movie was about to get an official, nation wide, release, Horner was brought in to spice up the original score, written by some other composer, but instead he gave the film an entirely new and fresh score - one of the very finest in his career, so far.

With the music Horner perfectly captures the nature and the small town life in Gilead. Horner often says that writing music is very much like painting. The Spitfire Grill is a perfect example of that philosophy and approach to scoring films. "The Trees", for instance, is a wonderful piece. When listening to that cue one can almost smell the leaves and the grass, and see the sun through the tree tops high above. Film music at its best! Another example is the twittering, bird like, flute motif, heard in "The Mystery of the Night" and "A Gift from the Forest", among other cues. That simple, but so incredibly effective, phrase creates, together with low woodwinds and harp, a wonderful nightish sound. It's as though you can almost feel the cool night breeze.

Horner uses a rather small orchestra, concisting of the traditional instruments - strings, brass, and woodwinds - as well as solo performances by piano, guitar and fiddle, for the score, and this creates a very warm, relaxed and lovely sound, not like anything we have heard by Horner before. The Spitfire Grill is a big kick in the stomach for all the people who claim that Horner is unoriginal, "stuck in a rut" and without talent.

The music does not rely on themes that much - although there are of course themes - but mostly it is "just" textures and motifs (such as the already mentioned bird motif and a playfull and sparkling piano ditty). This will probably sound a little boring to some, I guess, but it is not. However, for persons who need themes to fully enjoy music, The Spitfire Grill has one of the best - if not the best - and most lovely themes Horner has ever written. It is first presented in "Reading the Letters", performed by solo violin, and later taken up by the entire orchestra. I cannot express my love for this theme enough. It is a typical feel good theme, which will make you smile and your heart all warm. Once, when I was in the Air Force, we were out walking. I was tired, it was hot, my feet hurt and I felt miserable. Luckily I had brought my Walkman with me, and was listening to The Spitfire Grill. When this theme started to play, life suddenly felt so much better. I forgot about my sore feet, the heavy backpack and I almost started to laugh. That is how good this theme is...

And that is how good this score is. It belongs in every film music collection, and the fact that this score wasn't even nominated for an Academy Award is, at least to me, a mystery, and a big shame. Horner has said that he really loves to score small, independent films, such as The Spitfire Grill. It really shows, and I am really looking forward to Horner's next score in this genre. Let us all hope that the wait will not be too long.

Read other recent reviews by Andreas Lindahl: The Rock, The Phantom of the Opera, Peter Pan

Review of Tom Daish, submitted at , score: 10/10
Naughty James Horner critics should not read this review, it contains scenes of graphic James Horner worship and superlative praise, you have been warned! OK, so I like it all right! Yes, this is a lovely, understated work by Horner, that retains his usual warm persona, but doesn't let on that it is actually by Horner. There are none of the usual mannerism (i.e. self plagiarism or plagiarism of something else) and it enters the Horner canon as being one of his most original works. It mixes quiet folk-like music with a dash of Aaron Copland and you get a gentle 50 minutes of refreshingly inspired James Horner. There are also some blues-like harmonies that are surprising without being intrusive.

Starting with a twinkling piano motif and moving into gentle horn, flute and guitar sections backed by warm strings, it moves along at a very gentle pace (perhaps too gentle for some people). The orchestrations are different to the normal Horner interpretations, yet they still have his likeable and warm persona. A new theme is introduced in Reading the Letters that is one of the most wonderful themes Horner has created, it just bubbles along beautifully. There are more bustling moments, such as the folk music in Open for Business, but they don't interrupt the tranquillity of the rest of the score in any way at all. The mood tends to a more serious mode in A Desperate Decision and comes closest to being described as action music, albeit wonderfully understated. The final track sums up all the elements of the score from the opening piano sections to the other delicious themes that appear, it perfectly sums up the score. Even for non-Horner fans, I recommend this thoroughly, it is a timelessly beautiful work and is an example of what Horner can do if he throws out his usual box of tricks and opts for something new.

Read other recent reviews by Tom Daish: The Snow Files: The Film Music of Mark Snow, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Andromeda

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