The Wild West - The Essential Western Film Music CollectionSilva America (SSD-1099)
Released: September 21, 1999
Formats: CD, Digital (141 min)
Review: Silverado (complete)
5 / 5 Stars
By 1985, the Hollywood Western had seemingly gone the way of the wagon wheel, but Lawrence Kasdan\'s charming, energetic effort, Silverado, did much to restore the luster and fire to the sturdy genre. Not only did the film\'s story, characters and action win over critics and audiences, but also Bruce Broughton\'s winning score, providing both engaging themes and a constant sense of propulsion, earned him his first Oscar nomination. It has been released several times on album, including a previous CD pressing in 1992 by Intrada containing 12 tracks for a total time of 46 minutes. Now, Intrada has gone back to the original session masters to present the complete score on two discs, in a sparkling re-mix.
The "Main Title" begins in a dissonant fashion, but soon introduces the heroic main theme in a slow yet noble, brass setting, which then explodes into more confident variations with sonorous backing from the full orchestra. "Paden\'s Horse" presents the first taste of the kinetic, dissonant component of the score, in a brief atmospheric cue punctuated by tight snare drum riffs and punchy low brass. "Tyree & Turley" also starts ominously but develops into a warm setting highlighting acoustic guitar, then into a rendition of the main theme with glowing, Copland-esque colors for woodwinds, trumpet and strings. We also hear the first appearance of a gentle, secondary theme on oboe, what Broughton has called the "Settlers Theme”.
Tentative, rhythmic percussion and guitar open "Paden\'s Hat", as woodwinds and string also join hesitantly, but the tension increases through col legno strings, slap sticks and low end piano and horns. An extended version of "The Getaway / Riding As One" follows with exciting glimpses of Broughton\'s use of Stravinskian-harmonic language in the brass and odd-meter rhythms before jubilant versions of the main "Silverado" theme erupt, confidently leading racing strings, xylophones, brass and snares. "Den of Thieves" continues the rhythmic pace with both main and secondary themes appearing, but this fades to darker material from woodwinds, low brass and guitar. "The Strongbox Rescue" returns to the bright, thrilling action material for its start but like the previous track it is also replaced by a more ominous tone.
"On to Silverado" is a lengthy highlight of the score. As a trotting pace is set, brass, strings and woodwinds each respectively present major key variations on the heroic main theme. The warm, even-tempered "Settlers Theme" is then presented, first by cellos, and then taken up by almost every section of the orchestra, from oboe to flute to trumpet. A more subdued version of the main theme rounds out the selection. Darker, low range, atmospheric material is explored in "McKendrick\'s Men", "Ezra\'s Death" and "An Understanding Boss", with some dramatic exclamations. "Party Crashers" (titled "The McKendrick Attack" on the original release) lets the action loose for a brief yet brutal romp, with an insistent pulse, wild woodwinds and the threatening, Stravinskian brass taking charge. Similarly rough hewn, pounding textures punctuate "You\'re Empty, Mister / Emmet\'s Rescue" and "Augie is Taken", amid dry, high strings, mid-range winds and scurrying percussion.
The second disc opens with uneasy textures in strings, cymbalom, muted horns and percolating trumpets in "Worried About the Dog", while "Prelude to a Battle" (titled "This Oughta Do" on the original release) continues these colors, adding more menacing low brass and even a troubled, minor key version of the main theme. The strident, powerful version of the "Silverado" theme returns early in the lengthy "McKendrick Waits / The Stampede / Finishing at McKendrick\'s", but pounding, menacing timpani, percussion and low brass soon battle against it for dominance throughout. The selection resolves with the courageous main theme winning this round. "Hide and Watch / Jake Gets Tyree / Slick, Then McKendrick" continues the furious action, with the brass strongly stating the main theme at various junctures. A brief, anxious respite occupies the mid-section of the track before brutal brass and timpani tower forth again, leading into the fevered, kinetic and brilliantly chaotic climax.
The boldness and optimistic spirit regains control for good in the "End Credits" with charging variations on the main theme bracketing the nostalgic "Settlers Theme". Following the finale are bonus tracks of Broughton-composed source music ("The Bradley Place", "The Silverado Waltz") and an alternate version of "Jake Gets Tyree". Broughton would explore the Wild West again in George Cosmatos\'s 1993 feature Tombstone, but dive even further into the brooding and brutal end of the pool with that effort and to great effect. His work on both films ranks among the finest music written for the genre over the decades, with Broughton adding his own compelling blend of lyricism and energy, plus a potent mix of harmonic intervallic language and rhythms inspired by both Copland and Stravinsky.