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CD: Red Tails (2012)
Review Rating:   Excellent
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Sony Classical

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February 7, 2012

Tracks / Album Length:

32 tracks / (72:06)



Terence Blanchard


Special Notes:

6-page foldout colour booklet

Comments :    

There’s a peculiarity that’s endemic to Terence Blanchard’s scores whenever he’s involved with Spike Lee – an almost ritualistic repetition of the same theme, regardless of the movie’s length or different dramatic beats (Clockers perhaps being the most brutal towards listeners) – which is why Red Tails isn’t hard to approach with some trepidation, but free from Lee’s music tastes, Blanchard actually delivers a pretty solid action score with the requisite heroic, romantic, and combat themes.

Blanchard’s use of chorals gets a bit heavy-handed near the end (and the female voices in earlier cuts like “Operation Shingle” border on the shrill side), but Red Tails is a fairly muscular wartime score, performed by a large symphony orchestra with mixed chorus, military percussion, and lots of rich brass. The hour-plus selection of score cuts makes up a very satisfying album, swerving from action to gentle romance, and flipping to hardcore percussion sections, but the integration of synths, electric pulses, fuzz guitar, and other contemporary sounds might be jarring if one expects a more classical approach, given the film and source cues (some included at the end of the CD) are set in the 1940s.

It still works, and Blanchard’s score may yield more of an impact on listeners away from the film’s melodrama and clichés, standing quite well on its own as a contemporary symphony on the Tuskegee Airmen, and Sony’s CD features a perfectly mastered score which favours the crisp brass instruments and thunderous bass & percussion.



© 2012 Mark R. Hasan

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