Pick Of The Week

[Pick Of The Week - Heart Of The Ocean - by James Horner]
James Horner has been very popular lately. With TITANIC hitting the top of the music charts a few months back and the upcoming 2nd CD release later this year, it seems almost appropriate that a new compilation CD release should be titled "Heart of the Ocean".

This CD, released through Sonic Images, contains themes from 13 of Horner's films, including COMMANDO, VIBES, WOLFEN, TITANIC, and others. It should be noted, however, that none of these are from the films' original soundtracks with the exception of one, WHERE THE RIVER RUNS BLACK. The remaining tracks are all re-recordings, which were either previously available on different albums, or new recordings that have never been released until now.

The packaging is top-notch. A nice blue slipcover slides off to reveal the jewel case; all of which have a nice blue color scheme which I find to be calming to look at.. It is while looking at this nice cover that I found myself listening to the first track of the CD: the piano solo from the film TITANIC, as performed by Mark Northham. This is a new recording that is a solo piano version of the hit song, "My Heart Will Go On". It is nicely performed, and very relaxing.

The next track contains a 7-minute suite from THE ROCKETEER, as performed by the Orchestra of the Americas. This track was previously released on another cd. I found it to be a reasonable substitute for the original score performance, but at times the tempo seemed either too slow, or too fast.

COMMANDO has its main theme performed by John Beal. This score has never been released, and I'm told does not exist. Mr. Beal was required to reconstruct the score by ear, and has done a great job in doing so. Completely synthesized and sweetened with a real saxophone player, this is a great piece, which reminds me of how dated some action movies in the 1980s really sounded.

We are then presented with recordings of the main titles from LEGENDS OF THE FALL, and "Re-entry and Splashdown" from APOLLO 13, both of which have been previously released on other CDs. Once again, not bad, but I prefer the original recordings wherever possible. Which is why the inclusion of the original recording from the film WHERE THE RIVER RUNS BLACK is a nice treat. It has a lot of rhythmic guitar and synth running through it, and actually reminded me of VIBES.

We are next presented with John Beal's arrangement of the "Epilogue" from NAME OF THE ROSE. While synthesized, it should be noted, however, that these samples are much better than those that James Horner himself used in the original film score. The European CD release was a re-recording with an orchestra, so comparisons to that end should not be made. The dark strings worked extremely well in the film, and serve more as a tool for atmospheric enhancement than any "theme" for the movie.

VIBES was released on CD, but was very limited and is now one of the rarest soundtracks in existence. As such, it is nice to hear the main theme from VIBES without having to see the movie, or spend a fortune on the original CD. Once again, John Beal provides us with a wonderful reconstruction of the main theme - complete with a live flute player. If I wasn't told so directly, there is nothing to indicate that this is a synthesized performance. Wonderful percussion (reminiscent of WHERE THE RIVER RUNS BLACK) and flutes make this a different type of Horner score than I was expecting.

We are also provided with previously existing re-recordings of music from WOLFEN, COCOON, FIELD OF DREAMS, BRAVEHEART, and STAR TREK II. All of them have the same "re-recorded" feel to it - nicely done, but something just a little "off" - especially noticible if you own the original score releases. But that is to be expected of every re-recording - it can never be exactly the same as it appears in the film.

"Heart of the Ocean" was released on June 2, and should be available in stores.

Track Listings

1. TITANIC ("My Heart Will Go On") (3:50) -Solo Piano Version, performed by Mark Northham
2. THE ROCKETEER ("Rocketeer To The Rescue / End Theme") (6:57) -Orchestra of the Americas
3. COMMANDO ("Main Theme") (3:50) - Arranged and performed by John Beal
4. LEGENDS OF THE FALL ("Main Theme") (4:20) - Orchestra of the Americas
5. APOLLO 13 ("Re-entry & Splashdown") (6:59) -Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
6. WHERE THE RIVER RUNS BLACK ("Main Theme") (5:30) -Conducted by James Horner
7. NAME OF THE ROSE ("Epilogue") (4:51) - Arranged and performed by John Beal
8. VIBES ("The Journey Begins") (5:00) - Arranged and performed by John Beal
9. WOLFEN ("Epilogue / Finale") (6:00) - The City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra
10. COCOON ("End Credits") (6:38) - Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
11. FIELD OF DREAMS ("Suite") (6:09) - Arranged and produced by Goetz Steeger and Gunther Landahu
12. BRAVEHEART ("End Theme") (4:46) - The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra
13. STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN ("Overture") (5:20) -The Cincinnati Pops Orchestra