Rob Price
Gutbrain Records
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2012 August 13 • Monday

The 230th Soundtrack of the Week is my new regular Saturday night thing: Michael Kamen's music for Road House!

The soundtrack CD from Intrada doesn't have any diegetic music, so The Jeff Healey Band isn't on it. Also missing is the doo-wop hit "Sh-Boom", which Ben Gazzara listens to in his car while driving recklessly. (The same song was also used memorably in Cars.)

But Kamen's score is excellent, beginning with the sober and atmospheric "The Homestead (Dalton's Theme)", an orchestral piece featuring French horn and harmonica. After that is the meditative, slightly New Age/jazz/exotica "Tai Chi".

"Nobody Every Wins a Fight" is a more menacing sounding version of Dalton's theme while "Drop Like a Stone" has a different mood from, but some things in common with "Tai Chi". "Invitation to Brads" is similar to "Drop Like a Stone" but has more percussion and a second section that provides a feeling of mystery.

"On the Rooftop" begins as a love theme but ends up as tense, dramatic underscore while electric guitar and synthesizer dominate "Loading Dock Fight" There's a lot of impressive guitar soloing and more space than you might expect.

The villain is represented by "This Is My Town", which starts out appropriately mean and creepy-sounding but gets a bit New Age at the end.

A Hendrix-like solo guitar flourish is the main feature of "Emmet's House Explodes [Original Version]". "Dalton and Reno Fight" is ominous, low, propulsive and tense music while "Heads or Tails?" is creepy and suspenseful.

After this come two different versions of "The Final Confrontation", a shorter early version that wasn't used in the movie and the longer one that was. The first three minutes of the original version are filled up by solo electric guitar, sometimes played with a slide. Synth and piano come in with a part that's similar to Dalton's theme. The film version is totally different, denser and more textural with varied orchestration of several instruments, including string section.

Everything gets wrapped up with "Final Theme", a recapitulation of Dalton's theme.