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CD: Rio Lobo (1970)
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June 19, 2012

Tracks / Album Length:

30 tracks / (76:59)



Jerry Goldsmith


Special Notes:

24-poage colour booklet with liner notes by Jeff Bond / Limited to 3000 copies.

Comments :    

The contrasts between Jerry Goldsmith’s westerns scores for Stagecoach [M] (1966), 100 Rifles (1969), and Rio Lobo (1970) reveal the composer’s gradual shift towards incorporating more experimental sounds within otherwise highly thematic works. Rio Lobo is grounded by an engaging western theme – first heard on acoustic guitar, and later in fuller orchestral renditions – but for the score’s more dramatic, darker moments, Goldsmith delved into his arsenal of weird sonics.

In Stagecoach, the approach was minimal score with an emphasis on character states, whereas 100 Rifles attacks all areas of the drama with brilliantly written action cues, and stellar dirge material where characters are directly confronted with cruelty and tragedy. Having delved into bits of electronic effects, echoplexing, and evoking futuristic sounds in often dystopian sci-fi dramas, Rio Lobo benefits from the fusion of melody, dissonance, and sonic weirdness.

It’s also a sometimes self-referential score, in that Goldsmith revisits small dramatic gestures which worked so well in greater form in prior scores, such as the eerie sustained notes with an almost wind-blown quality from The Sand Pebbles (1966); low brass grunts from Planet of the Apes (1967); the up-tempo percussion slams within the “End Title” reminiscent of Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971); or warbling echo effects for keyboards (which Ron Grainer made central to his underrated masterpiece, The Omega Man, in 1974).

Intersecting rhythms are also prominent in Rio Lobo, as do the recurrent inclusion of marimba, castanets, harp, and mandolin to lend some exotica, while the use of electric guitar lends a contemporary feel, and besides the occasionally formal theme statement, Goldsmith filled his score with moody, not-quite-grim variations that are designed to evoke a skulking, suspenseful atmosphere as theme fragments spin in and out of busy sections. When the orchestra is marshaled into full form, Goldsmith slams the listener with wonderful dynamic power, as in the finale of “Cordona’s Capture.”

La-La Land’s CD presents the score in two forms – surviving mono mix-downs of the full score, and the surviving stereo material (about 27 mins. in variable qualitative states) which was used for the stereo / mono narrative from Prometheus Records in 2001. LLL boosts their disc with source cues (10) and an alternate score track, and fans wanting a blend of the stereo / mono tracks similar to the 2001 CD can program their player. It’s a shame the full score didn’t survive in complete stereo, but the uniqueness of Goldsmith’s instrumentation and the slight electronic effects might make Rio Lobo a challenging score to re-record, especially since his orchestras often performed his music with an inimitable rush of excitement and energy.



© 2013 Mark R. Hasan

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