Sky Riders/Schifrin

August 6, 2009


It is hard for this reviewer to imagine that this is the 43rd release of material on the Schifrin owned and operated Aleph label. With the exception of one release, The Enforcer by Jerry Fielding, they all feature Lalo material. His latest entry, Aleph 043, is Sky Riders a 1976 film starring James Coburn, Robert Culp, and Susannah York. It is the story of kidnapping and a daring rescue from an inaccessible monastery using hang gliders. I can’t comment too much on the film as I’ve never seen it and likely won’t but I’ve read enough to get the general idea of the film. The director Douglas Hickox never set the world on fire but he did choose his film composers well for his movies. ”Brannigan” with Dominic Frontiere, “Zulu Dawn” with Elmer Bernstein, and “Theater of Blood” with Michael Lewis were some of his other films, all good scores that I have listened to and have in my collection. We can now add Sky Riders with Lalo Schifrin to the collection.

The opening track, “Flying Circus” will take you back to your childhood when you rode the carousel or perhaps attended a carnival. It is divided into two sections, the first being a merry-go-round theme, a memorable one, followed by a circus/magician style theme. “Climbers” is also divided into two distinct parts. The first is a happy theme with pizzicato strings and flute. The flutes definitely giveaway that Schifrin sound and I could easily imagine this cue coming out of the Mission Impossible series. The second part begins with tremulant bars from the strings and follows with more tension underscore. If you are a listener of Schifrin the horn harmony is yet another giveaway for his sound. “The Riders” begins with a pleasant Greek theme but quickly changes to a few bars of the main theme and then it is back to the tremulant tension underscore again. “Gliding,” “The Terrorists,” “The Last Kite,” and all but the ending of “Copters and Gliders” are underscore material for the film. There is no melody and the majority is classified as tension type music, all with the trademark sound of Schifrin. “End Credits (Original Version)” restates the themes that are heard in ”The Riders.”

While this score is certainly not going to be an all time favorite it is Schifrin and for that reason alone there will be appeal to his fan base. The first track will have a huge appeal to anyone interested in circus/carousel type music, some of the best this reviewer has heard in a long time. Take a moment and check out the sound clips.

Maintitles rating is ***

Produced by Nick Redman

Score Restoration by Mike Matessino

Mastered by Daniel Hersch

Track Listing:

1…Flying Circus (6:21)

2…Climbers (4:08)

3…The Riders (8:31)

4…Gliding (4:43)

5…The Terrorists (9:14)

6…The Last Kite (6:23)

7…Copters and Gliders (7:13)

8…End Credits (Original Version) (2:09)

Total Time is 48:24


2 Responses to “Sky Riders/Schifrin”

  1. James MacMillan Says:

    sdtom, nice to read your review, but ZULU DAWN was the work of Elmer Bernstein, not John Barry as
    you’ve written here…

    – JMM

  2. Maureen MacKenzie Says:

    I look forward to hearing this with the reviewer.

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