Jerry Goldsmith has a pretty decent history when it comes to cop thriller type things (the kind of films that I don't honestly much like, but still). His score to Chinatown is a classic and the one he composed for the more recent L.A. Confidential got him an Oscar nomination (sunk by a ship in the end sadly). There are two main elements, suspense/action type motifs and slightly moody jazz sections. This is definitely Jerry in uncompromising mode, there are no lush themes, the lighter jazzy sections are still pretty dark and don't totally alleviate the tense atmosphere. This is the kind of scoring that just doesn't appear that much these days, this (TV) film was evidently pretty brutal and so a harder edged score was just what was needed. There are hints of other Jerry scores, the piano parts could be from any number of other scores, but in this case are a pre-cursor to the forceful main title to Capricorn One. Indeed, the Main Title here is almost a cut down, sparse version with a definite rhythm moving the whole thing along with pretty much a minimum of thematic material.
Some of the more sombre sections such as in Eulogizing still have a great uneasiness about theme with strings countering against low end piano that is both reflective and slightly unnerving. The suspense motifs are some of the most interesting, musically that I've heard in a long time. Suspense often just means repeating phrases that don't go anywhere, but Jerry of course builds on these phrases, alters the orchestration and gives the music (and movie as well presumably) some momentum. Suspense that doesn't go anywhere is the most boring sort, but this is most definitely in a different league. A list to The Deal or One Way Ride or any other number of tracks demonstrate how to create an icey atmosphere that could any moment explode - and indeed does at the end of The Deal. The action sections are more like hyperactive versions of the suspense material, which is why I classified them together earlier, after all, action is just suspense where we can see what's going on more clearly.
As it's a limited edition, Jerry fans will almost certainly pick it up anyway and it makes a great addition to any collection. I'm not a great fan of this kind of score (although I enjoyed L.A. Confidential a lot more than I anticipated), but the quality of the writing here might persuade me otherwise. The sound quality is notably clear, crisp and every detail of the marvellous orchestrations can be heard. The liner notes are reasonably interesting and give some background to the score and film (which is useful since I've never heard of the film). It is interesting to note that the score features no trumpets and all the brass parts are trombone which gives it a much more gutsy sound than it might otherwise and is a definite highlight during the more ferocious action writing. Try it and see; if you're not sure (like I wasn't), then I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how good it actually is and even if it's not as good as Chinatown, it's easily as good as L.A. Confidential and in some ways (most notably the interesting orchestrations) is better. An interesting, much better than expected find.
Read other recent reviews by Tom Daish: The Snow Files: The Film Music of Mark Snow
, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad