First Blood by Jerry Goldsmith

Mike Kuhlman By Mike Kuhlman, 19th Sep 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Music>Soundtracks

Lightning struck twice in 1982, when Jerry Goldsmith, arguably one of the greatest film composers of all time, right up there with John Williams, composed two spellbinding scores: First, Poltergeist. Then, First Blood. Thanks largely to Goldsmith's wonderful score, First Blood is an action movie...with heart and soul.

The Movie: The Origins of John Rambo

For anyone who is not familiar with the film, First Blood stars Sylvester Stallone as John Rambo, a disaffected, disenfranchised Vietnam veteran who happens to be a Green Beret with exceptional skills. After learning that the only other surviving member of his team has succumbed to cancer as a result of the Agent Orange used in Vietnam, he wanders the highway, depressed, and wanders into the small town of Hope, Oregon, only to encounters a power-mad, small-town sheriff, Will Teasle. Teasle and his deputies push Rambo a little too far and, haunted by flashbacks of his horrific experiences while captured in Vietnam, he goes berserk, assaults all of Teasle's deputies down in the basement holding cell area of the police station, flees town on a motorcycle into the mountains, and becomes a fugitive who is on the run for his life.

The Score: A Triumph of Tenderness and Power

Goldsmith's score to First Blood is a mixture of tenderness, in the French horn of the main "It's a Long Road" theme, that captures Rambo's loneliness as he walks the land of the U.S. looking for a friend, and menacing ugliness, in the deep bass viol, bass drum, timpani, piano and synth machinations, that begins, in Track 4-Under Arrest, when Rambo decides to defy the sheriff, who has ordered him out of town, and continues, as his machine-like survival skills emerge. It is this conflict of warmth and militarism that makes this score so compelling.

The Product

The Limited Edition remastered 2-CD set from Intrada Records, despite its costlier price, is the way to go. On Disc 1, the entire score is presented, in sequence, with one exception: Tracks 16-No Power/Night Attack and 17-Hide and Seek appear to be flip-flopped in order compared to the order they are heard in the film. This can be easily corrected if you rip the CD and burn yourself a new CD with the tracks in their proper sequence. Thankfully, Night Attack now, for the first time, contains the sustained violin note when the ammunition store blows up and Rambo sees Teasle on the roof of the police station!

On disc 1, the entire score to First Blood is preluded by a "pop orchestra version" of the Theme from First Blood, which was not used in the film, on Track 1 of the Intrada release.

Disc 2 is the original 1982 album version of the soundtrack. It's shorter, contains a more limited number of tracks, and was mixed, in 1982, by Jerry Goldsmith himself, in a more "concert" arrangement, with tracks out of sequence compared to how they are heard in the film and some tracks mixed together, in an arrangement designed by Goldsmith to be pleasing to the ear.

After the album version, there is a somber piano and vocal demo of "It's a Long Road" performed by Goldsmith and lyricist Hal Shaper. It's fascinating to hear how some of the lyrics in this early version of the song differ from the final version sung by Dan Hill!

This is followed by the music Goldsmith composed and conducted for the now-familiar logo that begins Carolco pictures' movies, and trailer music for a 1984 trailer for the then upcoming Rambo-First Blood-Part II!

It's Been a Long Road

Jerry Goldsmith's spirit continues to live on far beyond his passing through his music, music that leaves an indellible impression that will continue to inspire many generations, legions of new fans, to discover Goldsmith's musical treasures for the first time, while those of us already familiar with the master's genius will hear his music, in this deluxe set, presented the way it was meant to be heard!


Film, Jerry Goldsmith, Movies, Scores, Soundtracks

Meet the author

author avatar Mike Kuhlman
Mike Kuhlman was born in Fort Wayne, Indiana, in 1965. His love of movies and blossomed at a very early age. His articles will focus on the cinematic arts.

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
20th Sep 2013 (#)

Thank you for the share and a well deserved tribute - siva

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