The Delta Force (Alan Silvestri, 1986): Alan Silvestri’s score to the Chuck Norris action film Delta Force is one of the most prominent fully-electronic scores of Silvestri’s film career. There are no orchestral elements in the score at all. It is instead entirely performed on a Synclavier synthesizer, giving it a very energetic, modernistic sound. Silvestri’s musical style is definitely evident in the score, but the electronics gives it a somewhat different flavor.
The “Main Title” cue starts off with some very rhythmic, fairly dissonant material before eventually transitioning into a melodic, anthem-style main theme. This theme melody is worked into other parts of the score and Silvestri also provides some other effective melodic elements, such as the music heard in the cue “First Class”. Rhythmic action music is definitely the dominant feature of this score, though, and the album is pretty much packed with high-energy action cues. The main theme is often well woven into the action cues, as in the excellent cue “Rescue”. The theme does a good job of providing a solid anchor for the score. In several cues, Silvestri also programs the synthesizer to present a melody in a style that resembles a bell choir, providing an occasional bit of gentility during an otherwise intense score.
Intrada’s 2008 limited edition CD release is somewhat notorious among film score fans for the fact that all 1,000 copies had sold out within about 15 hours after the announcement. This title is often cited as a case study for the growth of the soundtrack fan community and the demand for titles by major composers (particularly titles from the 80s and 90s), even when the movie and/or score isn’t thought to be particularly popular. Used copies of this CD now regularly sell for well over $100, a price probably defined more by its reputation for rarity than by the quality of the score itself.
The Intrada CD contains the complete score and runs for about an 1 hour and 15 minutes. A 38 minute LP of excerpts from the score was released at the time of the film’s release. A previous CD release on the Milan label paired about 32 minutes of the score (it was missing one cue from the LP release) along with excerpts from Jerry Goldsmith’s score to “King Solomon’s Mines”. The Milan CD is generally easier to find at more reasonable prices, although the Intrada release is definitely a preferable presentation of the score.
Demetrius and the Gladiators (Franz Waxman, 1954): This biblical epic was the sequel to The Robe, the hit film that had famously introduced the CinemaScope widescreen format to theaters a year earlier. While The Robe featured a score by Fox’s music director Alfred Newman, the sequel was scored by Franz Waxman. While Waxman does occasionally re-use some of Newman’s key themes from the previous film, the majority of the sequel score consists of original compositions.
The score is pretty much what you expect from biblical epics during that era, which certainly isn’t a bad thing. The score is a large-scale orchestral work with lots of strings and brass as well as some dramatic choral elements. The central theme is an exciting march that is loosely derived from Newman’s music for the earlier film, but with orchestrations and surrounding material that is original to the new film.
Waxman’s most substantial original themes include a lush and seductively charged theme for the character of Messalina and a darkly menacing villain’s march for Caligula. Messalina’s theme is first heard in a short presentation in the cue “Messalina” and is developed further during several later cues, some of which contain the character’s name. The villain’s march is prominently featured in the cue “Caligula Enters”.
The soundtrack CD was released by Film Score Monthly as part of their Golden Age Classics series. It is a limited edition of 3000 copies, but still readily available. The score is presented in stereo with generally decent sound quality, considering the age of the recording. A handful of damaged cues are presented as bonus tracks at the end of the CD. Other bonus tracks include some original temp tracks that were provided by Newman and some brief alternates.
The album ends with a 5 minute cue from Film Score Monthly’s previous release of Newman’s The Egyptian, repeated on this release in order to correct a mixing error that was present on the previous release.
Demon Seed (Jerry Fielding, 1977): Jerry Fielding’s score to Demon Seed was released on CD by Film Score Monthly in a Silver Age Classics limited edition that was paired with Fred Myrow’s score to Soylent Green. The result was a CD release that definitely tends towards the strange.
Fielding’s score definitely falls into the weird category. The score is dark and atonal, pretty frequently straddling, or even crossing, the line between music and sound effects. Much of score is performed on synthesizers, although even the orchestral elements are rarely melodic. Only very rarely are bits of melody introduced, including in the final segment of the album’s first cue as well as much of the surprisingly brassy “End Credits” cue. The overall effect of the score is definitely creepy and fairly unsettling.
Some of the motifs are presented on the CD both in electronic and symphonic versions, with the liner notes explaining that some of these electronic bits were unused in the film in favor of the symphonic versions.