1. Indy's Very First Adventure (8:11)
2. X Marks the Spot (3:07)
3. Scherzo For Motorcycle and Orchestra (3:49)
4. Ah, Rats!!! (3:36)
5. Escape from Venice (4:21)
6. No Ticket (2:42)
7. The Keeper of the Grail (3:21)
8. Keeping up with the Joneses (3:53)
9. Brother of the Steal Beast (1:53)
10. Belly of the Steel Beast (5:26)
11. The Canyon of the Crescent Moon (4:16)
12. The Penitent Man will Pass (3:23)
13. End Credits (Raiders March) (10:36)
After the slightly disturbing Temple of Doom, Spielberg went for a more light hearted adventure for the third (and at the time, last) Indiana Jones installment which more re-captured the magic of Raiders of the Lost Ark. For a change of pace and a little more character development, Spielberg introduces Sean Connery as Indy's cantankerous old Dad, which works a treat with Connery and Ford trading barbs and banter, a nice alternative to the romantic interactions of the prior movies. Another inspired addition was to have the prologue showing how Indy got his hat, fear of snakes and developed his love of archeology, the late River Phoenix playing Indy as a boy scout, which works remarkably well. Spielberg and Williams felt that the thrill of the Raider's march would wear a little thin this time around and so Williams gets to be somewhat more creative with his action material. Indeed the theme appears only a handful of times which greatly increases its effectiveness. The opening cue starts with eerie unsettling high strings soon breaks out into an absolutely delightful scherzo as junior Indy attempts to take an artifact off a gang of mercenaries. The action is a lot more light hearted and less densely orchestrated than in either of the preceding films. Similarly, the Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra being a very transparent 6/8 chase cue which, as Spielberg says in his customarily generous liner comments, is equestrian sounding in nature and would be ideal for a horse race (although for a genuine Williams horse race cue, try The Reivers).
More than either of the other two, The Last Crusade plays out as a series of set pieces with each cue functioning perfectly within itself, while still contributing to the ongoing fabric of the score. Aside from the above scherzos are the comedic No Ticket and the exciting Belly of the Steel Beast, the latter making a nice companion for the Desert Chase from Raiders, even if it doesn't have quite the visceral impact, but is perhaps a more interesting musically. As one reviewer has noted, it's harder to make a lumbering tank exciting compared to a truck or mine car. On the Tank, an addition to the expanded release, is actually meant to appear within Belly of the Steel Beast, but the slightly incorrect ordering makes little difference to the flow of the music itself. Other action highlights include Escape from Venice which is one of the few times where the Raiders March is used more extensively. The father and son relationship is given some witty counterpoint in Keeping Up with Joneses. The Grail theme itself is a pastoral melody that bears some resemblance to the liturgical theme from Goldsmith's Patton. A strange coincidence at worst.
The album and film end with a quite lengthy finale and End Credits containing both the Grail theme and an excerpt from the Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra, sandwiched between the Raiders March. There is less missing here than for Temple of Doom, although the addition of a couple more minutes to Indy's First Adventure are especially welcome. Due to the way it was produced, the finale - Wrong Choice, Right Choice - appears on the fifth disc of additional cues, but it's worth putting things in sequence if you have iTunes. The expanded release also increases the bite in the recording from the rather wooly sound of the original album. A more considered score than either of the first two so it doesn't quite have the visceral impact of
The Last Crusade is perhaps the most easily enjoyable of John Williams's three Indiana Jones scores. In the late 80's and early 90's Williams penned scores for movies such as Hook, Home Alone and Far and Away. They are perhaps some of the most playful and melodic scores in the composer's career, and The Last Crusade, written in 1989, certainly belongs to this group.
The score and soundtrack opens with the eight minutes long "Indy's Very First Adventure", which is a rousing adventure cue, based on one of the minor themes in the score for the first Indy film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. It's bouncy, playful and, well, fun. The same goes for the charming "Scherzo for Motorcycle and Orchestra", which features staccato strings and upbeat woodwinds and brass, with appearances of the catchy Nazi motif. It's one of those amazing action pieces, similar in style to many of the action cues written for the first three Star Wars films. "Escape from Venice" is in the same style, with almost slapstick sounding music, complete with mandolin and low strings, brass and subtle percussion, imitating the steady beat of slowly spinning propellers, supported by bursts of syncopated brass. Classic Williams. "Belly of the Steel Beast" is also one of those classic Williams cues, with its low staccato strings and busy brass and woodwinds augmented by exciting percussion.
"Ah, Rats!!!" features some dissonant strings and a low, rumbling orchestra. Suspense music with a playful twist, and appearances of the scores' Grail theme, which gets its center stage treatment in the beautiful "The Penitent Man Will Pass", which, dominated by solemn brass and woodwinds sounds like a chorale. Very beautiful and grand.
The CD closes with the wellknown Raiders March. This classic theme isn't really used that much in the actual score. The easy way would of course have been to insert this theme whenever Indy does something heroic, but, to quote Spielberg's little note in the liner notes, "we felt the movies had grown up to the point that we didn't have to lean on your thrill button every time something heroic occurs as we had done in the previous two motion pictures". A wise choice, as this makes the theme even more effective when it finally appears.
The Last Crusade is one of Williams' most entertaining scores. A real gem. The only real problem with this soundtrack is the sound. It's muffled and the orchestra almost seems to be under water at times.