The War Wagon/Tiomkin

November 18, 2010


In the last month we have been blessed with three Dimitri Tiomkin releases from the films The Champion (SAE) (1949), The Unforgiven (Kritzerland) (1960), and this Intrada release of the John Wayne, Kirk Douglas film The War Wagon (1967),one of the final films that Tiomkin did for the silver screen. He authored so many western scores that it became his trademark, somewhat typecast and he was sought after when Hollywood was looking to do another.


The Main Title “Ballad of the War Wagon,” is sung by Ed Ames/male female chorus, and is one of those melodies that can easily become stuck in your head. RCA (47-9249) released it as a 45 RPM in 67 but it wasn’t anything that was on the billboard charts. Ed Ames fans were interested but beyond that it was just another release. I found myself humming and singing it when I really had other things on my mind. The song also includes a Tommy Morgan harmonica solo that easily sets the flavor for the campfire tune that could easily be a sing-along. His easy to listen to style makes this easily digestible. While the main title lyric is a bit corny I can’t imagine you not liking the theme but if you don’t for some reason then this 2000 limited edition soundtrack is not for you as it is used or referenced on many of the cues. It appears in a western saloon piano solo in “Bronco Saloon,” a rollicking bawdy version, a harmonica solo in “Fivestone Shaving,” a brass somewhat dissonant statement in “Dust Gag,” a harp enhanced romantic version in “The Flour Wagon,” and a proud majestic arrangement in the “End Cast.” “Lupe” is a Spanish flavor love theme with guitar and romantic strings with a reference to the main title too.


The Tommy Morgan harmonica is also featured on “A New Life,” and “Chores,” a serene campfire setting, as well as what I mentioned above. He has a distinct sound that has set him apart from other players. As a result he is often sought after when a harmonica is necessary. “Friendly Indians,” is a nice underscore track with some nice flute work and the Indian motif sound.


The recording is a true multi-track complete with additional mixing as explained by Douglass Fake, CD producer/engineer at Intrada. Other than a small amount of orchestra noise, also explained by Fake, it is a nice clean crisp recording with a full sound. I found it to be distortion free and a pleasant listen.


Any fan of western soundtracks or Tiomkin will certainly find this release a welcome addition to the collection. It is very nice to see new material from Dimitri being released on such a regular basis. Recommended


Intrada Special Collection #146


Track Listing:


1.       Ballad Of The War Wagon (03:24)

sung by Ed Ames

2.       Enter Pierce (01:28)

3.       Dark Street (00:37)

4.       Meeting (01:15)

5.       Lotus Leaf / Fivestone Shaving (01:32)

6.       Livery Stable (01:34)

7.       Lupe (03:00)

8.       Mexican Getaway (00:46)

9.       Bronco Saloon (01:27)

10.     Wading War Wagon (00:42)

11.     Friendly Indians (02:58)

12.     Cuarto Cinco (01:32)

13.     Chores / Knife Talk (02:54)

14.     Indian Trades (01:03)

15.     War Wagon / The Bridge / War Wagon Departs (02:41)

16.     Steady Fingers (02:32)

17.     Spool Of Wire (01:01)

18.     Vantage Point (00:31)

19.     Dust Gag / Ambush (05:09)

20.     The Flour Wagon (01:21)

21.     Tatahey (00:26)

22.     Get That Wagon! (02:06)

23.     A New Life (01:02)

24.     Lomax Hits Bottom And End Cast (01:01)


Total Duration: 43:21


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