|5.||Call Me Red||2:54|
|10.||Red's First Win||3:35|
|17.||To The Line||3:37|
|18.||The Unkindest Cut||3:30|
|20.||A Nice Ride||3:16|
| ||46:25| Submit your review
I must admit that I gleamed with pride when I noted that the plastic wrapping for Seabiscuit had a sticker affixed upon it, noting that the album was from 'Oscar Winning Composer Randy Newman.' A shame it wasn't for an original score, as Newman has deserved a win on several occasions, particularly on his first collaboration with director Gary Ross, Pleasantville which was a note perfect effort, complimenting a superb, somewhat underrated film. By all accounts, their second collaboration wasn't quite so harmonious, with composer and director having some differences of opinion. I rather hope it was simply two artists challenging each other than anything personal, as Ross and Newman have started going with great things and I rather hope that they continue their working relationship. Seabiscuit is a mixture of Champions, a touch of Rocky and a little of The Horse Whisperer, featuring Tobey Maguire and William H Macy, both of whom also starred in Pleasantville.
I am often disappointed at how unpopular Randy Newman seems to be. I can understand those who don't 'get' his songs or dislike his singing voice, but his film music is some of the best in the last couple of decades. The scoring is sensitive, emotional without being manipulative or sappy, has a strong style, is tuneful and functions well as pure music - Ok, these don't always apply to his Pixar scores, but his more serious scores are almost unfailingly wonderful. That Seabiscuit doesn't quite reach some of his earlier heights is more a testament to the quality of Newman's previous scores that to any deficiencies in this one. The main theme is, unsurprisingly, quite lovely and introduced on acoustic guitar, but reprised by Newman on solo piano on the titular fourth track. The biggest stylistic detour are the cues with Mexican inspired riffs, some of which are quite fun, although La Tequilera - the score's only vocal - isn't really to my taste, sounding a bit like the comedic Mexican music Newman penned for a couple of scenes in A Bug's Life.
As well as performing the main theme on a few occasions, acoustic guitars play quite a large part, notably as a pulsing backdrop to the exciting Red's First Win. Whether intentional or not, Newman pays slight homage to his cousin with a couple of passages that recall the style of The Horse Whisperer, although the resemblance is only skin deep. No film about horse racing would be complete without some excitingly staged racing and rousing orchestral passages to accompany. As well as the aforementioned Red's First Win, the most notable racing cue is The Derby, which makes for great entertainment, although Newman's heroic anthem doesn't quite feel right; it seems just a little superficial, lacking the grandeur of his theme for The Natural. Something a little broader against the racing accompaniment might have worked better.
The last few tracks are a bit of a downer, up until A Nice Ride, which includes a rousing reprise of the main theme for full orchestra and makes for a pleasing conclusion. Despite plenty of great tracks, it sometimes feels as though there are a few too many styles in the mix, particularly around the middle, where the music moves between quiet guitar, racing guitar, Mexican and more typical Newman orchestral passages. Most of these moments are great unto themselves, but don't quite work well together, not helped by the brevity of some of the tracks. Although Seabiscuit doesn't have the outstanding moments of Newman's best scores - that extra something and spark of brilliance never quite materialise - it has enough great moments to recommend it. Here's hoping Randy and Gary get on better next time.
Composer/singer/songwriter Randy Newman once again teams up with producer/writer/director Gary Ross (Pleasantville). The result is a sweet Americana score for Seabiscuit. Based on a true story, this film stars Toby Maguire, Jeff Bridges. And a bunch of horses.
Randy has done a small number of Americana scores before, Pleasantville being the latest and many of the ideas found in those scores are expanded on in Seabiscuit, although he really doesn't take the ideas further, so to speak. There's just more of them. It's a typical Randy Newman Americana score, with soft strings, woodwinds and his typical brass writing. Nothing original, but rather pleasant. The use of an acoustic guitar adds a nice touch to a number of cues, as does the composers' piano solos. The latter best heard in "Seabiscuit", which is a one minute piece performed entirely on piano. And the guitar is allowed to shine in "Wedding". Nice stuff.
The quiet material gets repetive rather quick and is nothing that sticks, although the main theme is quite nice. Instead, it is the more upbeat cues that manage to make a lasting impression. "The Derby" features some uplifting scoring, with a lot of racing strings, brass and percussion.
But the problem with Seabiscuit is that you tend to forget it after you've listened to it, and the only way to recall the music is really to listen to it again. This is nice background music, sometimes sentimental - which I always like - but fairly unoriginal. And there's no song by Randy included. Which is a pity.