It seems odd that Elmer Bernstein wasn't asked to score this or the original City Slickers since it would have combined his skills as a composer of Westerns as well as his recent scoring of crummy comedies... However, Marc Shaiman was the man and what a great job he's done too producing an exciting and varied western scor,e that while having some comedic moments never descends into slapstick or becomes irritating. After a brief prologue the main title introduces the main theme which is actually one of my favourite western themes, even if it is for a comedy western. The on-screen animated title sequence is matched with some appropriately ludicrous variations on the main theme including some in the house basketball music. There aren't really any other themes in the score, but that doesn't mean to say there is a lack of variety. After numerous brief cues, Let's Get That Gold! slightly breaks the mood with a kind of weird jazz/country and western rendition of the main theme that doesn't sound as weird when heard and works well. Duke Saves the Day is quite eerie and the contrast is heightened due to the nature of the tracks either side. It builds to include a choir that reminds of the music to the final scenes from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade of all things.
What could perhaps be deemed the central point of the score is a thrilling, sustained action cue in the form of The Stampede. After a very upbeat rendition of the main theme where the full force of Bernstein influence can be felt with the syncopated backing brass (a la The Magnificent Seven). Then a short trumpet blast intervenes and commences a well sustained and very dramatic action cue from which subtly emerges with the main theme and then slows and comes peacefully to a halt. One of the other famous Western themes, that from The Big Country by Jerome Moross gets a brief airing over the Slickers main theme in track 15. The only credited 'homage' is to The Treasure of the Sierra Madre by Max Steiner which appears in track 7 and 17. I don't ever remember to listen out in track 7, but with There's Gold in Them Thar Hills, it is quite noticeable toward the end of the cue. The choir also makes another brief, very heavenly sounding appearance just beforehand. Rounding out with Jackpot! which builds from a quiet opening to having an epic rendition of the main theme, choir, guitar and brass blaring for a marvellously rousing conclusion.
I guess it's not saying much, but this is probably the finest comedy western score about and if considering buying the score to the original, I would go for this one since it features a much richer sound, more music and more variety. Bernstein's comedy westerns (The Three Amigos for a start, although it's only on LP) are excellent, but for sheer fun and variety, Shaiman has done another bang up job. There isn't much to detract from the score, it would be pointless to criticise any plagiarism since this is after all a comedy and you have to lampoon something, even if the film itself isn't a spoof as such. While the main theme is quite dominant, it doesn't appear too often and there are plenty of other asides and changes in style and pace to keep the interest up. If you want just one Marc Shaiman score then I think this would be the one to get since it sums up all his best attributes, comedy scores don't come much better than this.