Danny Elfman, nuff respect, yeah.... Well, something like that anyway. In amongst those fantastically gothic epics of the early decade of the Elfman he also produced this score which honestly doesn't sound like any other Danny Elfman score before or since. OK, none that I've heard anyway. It does rather come as a throw back to his time as lead singer of rock group The Mystic Knights of Oingo Boingo (and if their songs were this kind of style, I'd have to buy their albums). There is no orchestra, just an ensemble of electric guitar, various acoustic guitars and pluck-ed things (like bass), harmonica, drums, keyboards and probably the odd other thing in for good measure. The main title and a few other tracks push the boat out and include brass, trumpets and probably saxophone as well. I'm not entirely sure exactly how I'd describe the sound since I get hideously confused differentiating between all the different types of rock, but it's essentially quite funky, pseudo rock, maybe hints of country music. I dunno, a kind of mixed bag as far as I can tell. It doesn't exactly sound ground breaking in execution, but is certainly a somewhat more eclectic mix than just rock.
The opening track begins with some very laid back, western electric guitar, perhaps a bit of the blues coming here and there, but this soon moves into the very groovy main title which (once you've heard the song) realise forms the backbone of the vocal rendition and is essentially just an instrumental version. I must admit it doesn't sound like that, it's too well written to sound like merely a grotty song instrumental. It is definitely one of those pieces of music that you will enjoy playing at high volume to enliven a dull day and possibly one of the only pieces of film music one could play at a party. This is one of those annoying-to-review scores since many of the tracks are short, similar without being the same and having not seen the film mean absolutely sod all to me. Essentially they are all offshoots of the main titles music, funky chase music interwoven with the occasional cotton pickin' cue of more laid back guitar, y'all. If you love the opener, you'll love the rest is what it boils down to. The aforementioned end title song performed by Mosely & The B-Men which, as one eagle eyed reader pointed out is an in-joke as one of the characters in the film is called Alonso Mosely and the ensemble is in fact Danny Elfman's old group, Oingo-Boingo and the composers own terrific vocals in the lead. It's a great song, ultra catchy and exuberant to the last. A definite highlight.
Unlike all those John Williams scores that MCA release, Midnight Run is rather difficult to pick up these days and you'll have to beg, borrow or, preferably, steal a copy (OK, just beg or borrow - don't want to be leapt on by the more self righteous). Failing that, I can thoroughly recommend picking up the original Music for a Darkened Theatre compilation which is much more widely available and features Walsh Gets the Duke, the Main Titles and a brief prologue in the form of Diner Blues. While this contains the main theme, it features perhaps the only two more sombre pieces of music on the score. Everything else is pretty much relentlessly upbeat, or at least excitable. However, it gives a flavour of the score and the Main Titles are well worth having. Elfman fans might be surprised by how different it is and while it's not exactly a work of genius, it makes for a refreshing change from symphonic over dose and it's the kind of thing your friends might actually like, blimey.