Executive Decision (Jerry Goldsmith, 1987): The score to the Kurt Russell/Steven Seagal action thriller Executive Decision is not one of Jerry Goldsmith’s more memorable efforts from the late 1980s. It certainly isn’t helped by the Varese Sarabande soundtrack CD’s exceptionally abbreviated 30 minute running time, something all to common at the time due to union re-use fees.
The score certainly isn’t bad, though, even if it doesn’t stand with his best work. As was commonly the case for Goldsmith’s action music late in his career, the score is orchestral, but with a pretty substantial assist from synthesizer elements. Brass and percussion are highly dominant in the score, underlining the military focus of the film. In these ways, the score somewhat resembles Goldsmith’s much more familiar Air Force One score, but without that score’s much more memorable main theme.
The Executive Decision score is certainly a competent effort on Goldsmith’s part and, perhaps, would be better served if an expanded soundtrack album were ever released. With only the abbreviated presentation available, though, it seems like a minor and mostly forgettable effort.
Explorers (Jerry Goldsmith, 1985): Jerry Goldsmith’s score to Joe Dante’s Explorers is high on my list of scores that I would most like to receive an expanded re-issue on CD. The existing Varese Sarabande soundtrack CD (a port of the old LP release) only contains a little over 30 minutes of Goldsmith’s score, as well as a handful of pop songs. It is also fairly rare and expensive to obtain. What is there is quite wonderful, though, and I’d absolutely love to have much more of the score on CD.
The score’s infectious main theme is established in the album’s opening cue, entitled “The Construction”. It opens with a rhythmic, synth-driven baseline that it then overlaid with a distinctive, playful melody. Both of these components of the main theme are frequently revisited throughout the score, sometimes separately and sometimes together. The score is primarily synthesized, helping to bring a bit of an otherworldly quality to what is still a largely melodic presentation. This is one of the best of Goldsmith’s synth-dominated scores.
The entire score has a strong sense of wonder as well as a frequent romantic quality to it. One of the strongest cues is the soaring “First Flight”, which is built around the main theme, but with slow builds to crescendos, representing the sense of excitement and adventure central to the accompanying scene in the film.
The film takes a very quirky turn towards the end, which is heavily reflected in the last couple score cues on the CD. The score becomes much more blatantly electronic, with the otherworldly tone moving fully into the forefront. These portions of the final two cues take on a bouncy, kind of swing-style that is both unusual and exceptionally appealing. Goldsmith very effectively interweaves this with the more melodic style that played in the earlier part of the score, bringing these two aspects of the story together in a way that Dante was not otherwise entirely able to do in the film itself.
The soundtrack CD ends with three pop/rock songs that were used as incidental music in the film. These are “All Around the World” by Robert Palmer, “Less Than Perfect” by Red 7 and “This Boy Needs to Rock” by Night Ranger. The original LP release interspersed these cues with the score cues, but Varese Sarabande wisely grouped them at the end for the CD version. All three are pretty decent songs, in my opinion, but they are very easily skipped if you want to hear score only.