Carl is on hand with his recommendations of the best soundtracks to listen to whilst in lockdown
To help beat the coronavirus blues, for the foreseeable future, members of team Future of the Force will be on hand with our recommendations of awesome soundtracks to listen to during the COVID-19 lockdown. Whether its lesser-known gems, Oscar-winning classics or just celebrating the best composers – we’ll be here to give you our top picks during this difficult time.
Die Hard (30th Anniversary Edition) By Michael Kamen
Michael Kamen was, during his all too brief career probably the go-to guy for scoring action movies back in the 80s and 90s. Although his start in movie scores started with 1976s political action thriller ‘The Next Man‘ and continued with scores to the likes of ‘The Dead Zone‘ and ‘Brazil‘, it was for his collaboration with David Sanborn and Eric Clapton for the score to 1987s ‘Lethal Weapon‘ that really put his career into overdrive. He even managed to get the honour of scoring 1989s James Bond film ‘Licence To Kill‘, bringing his own brand of music to proceedings and his score, while not one of the better Bond musical recordings, did manage to suit the action on screen well. You could argue that some of his scores all sounded the same and while I can agree to a certain degree, it would be an insult to the composer. Sadly, Michael Kamen died aged 55 in London back in 2003 from a heart attack, robbing the world of the New York-born composer and what would possibly be more great movie scores. But he left us with a great number of classic action movie soundtracks to some of the best action movies Hollywood could offer including ‘Die Hard‘.
La-La Land Records released a 3 disc set of the score to the 1988 action thriller in celebration of its 30th anniversary. And of course, I snapped it up straight away. How could I not? ‘Die Hard‘ is probably THE finest action movie ever made and part of its brilliance is the score the film has. Michael Kamen scored the film to total perfection, bringing us a score that thrills us, entertains us and keeps us guessing and in suspense at times. Its majestic themes and action cues are wonderful to listen to. If like me, you’ve seen the film multiple times then you’ll understand when I say it is fantastic to sit back and listen to the music, knowing what is happening at the exact point in the film by hearing the themes we are accustomed to. The set has the film score on discs one and two with additional music on the second disc while disc three houses ‘The Vault‘, bonus music from the film. Altogether, the set is the complete package and what makes it that much better is the way the finale is presented. It is common knowledge that the music that accompanies the surprise finale (Karl is still alive and pops up again to try and kill McClane) was actually a piece of music by James Horner that was deleted from ‘Aliens‘ and appears on that score album too but here, the piece is included on the album and makes the score feel complete.
Other tracks that give the listener smile are ones that accompany some of the best moments in the film such as the elevator shaft bomb piece, a piece of music that encompasses every single frame and second of the action sequence as it builds up to its explosive (literally) ending, the rooftop shootout and helicopter attack, the shootouts inside the building between McClane and the terrorists and of course, the delightful scene where Sgt Al Powell gets the life scared out of him when his car is hit by a falling body thrown from a window by McClane to get his attention (It worked).
All the classic themes and cues are here for the collector and listener to enjoy. Kamen’s other scores for the two sequels he composed music for are also available in an extended 2 CD set for each film and I recommend that any serious collector and film score fan adds them to their library if they can get them. But they have to pay their respects to the original score, the benchmark for all action film scores to aspire to. Lock, load and prepare to take on all comers as Michael Kamen’s excellent action score powers from your speakers.
Stay safe and look after each other.
Let us know if you have any suggestions of great soundtracks our readers should check out and we’ll feature and share them with the FOTF community.
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Carl Roberts is a Senior Staff Writer and Books and Literature Correspondent for Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter @CarlRoberts2 where he uses the force frequently!