October 10, 2013
“Wyatt Earp” was ambushed by a film “Tombstone” which also dealt with similar historical events specifically the gunfight at O.K. Corral which Hollywood has had a completely different take on what actually happened. “Tombstone” was released a few months before “Wyatt Earp” and became a successful money making film while “Wyatt Earp” became a copy cat film in the eyes of the general public. The 191 minute running time didn’t help matters and as a result its 63 million dollar budget only resulted in sales of 25 million dollars while “Tombstone’s” budget at 25 million grossed over 56 million at the theaters. The Lawrence Kasdan directed, produced, and written film starred Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid, and Gene Hackman and chronicled the life of Wyatt Earp. Kasdan shot nearly one million feet of film over a period of five months plus another six months of editing. The film was actually nearly 4 hours but was trimmed to the three plus hour length.
Although the music should have been nominated for an Oscar it was in competition with “Lion King,” “Shawshank Redemption,” “Little Women,” “Forrest Gump,” and “Interview With A Vampire.” This new rerelease/expanded CD from La-La Land (LLLCD 1250) consists of three CD’s with over 160 minutes of all of the music written for the film written by James Newton Howard including alternate takes, music from the film which was cut, source cues, and even synth mockups. It is priced at $29.98 and includes a 28 page booklet, written by newcomer Tim Greiving, which tells you about the background, making, and the music in great detail. Tim and I would get along fine as we both agree that “Signs” is one of the greatest scores of all time. As is usually the case this release is of the limited edition variety (3000) and will at some point sell out so it is better to act sooner than later.
Disc One begins with a previously unreleased track which features a low growl from the orchestra before a trumpet fanfare briefly introduces a peaceful and laid back version of the Wyatt Earp theme, one you’ll hear often throughout the entire 3 CD set. It ends with a danger motif of what is to come in the film. The main title offers a “Big Country” style of expansive full symphonic treatment that is mixed in with touches of delicate romantic touches along with swirling passages that take you in other directions. “Boys Go to Town” features folk material, one of several tracks which have roots that go back to Celtic material as well as early American western times.
“The Wedding” is one of the more proud, majestic, and romantic cues that he has ever done. Just think about some of the work he did in “Prince of Tides” and you have a pretty good idea what you’re in store for. As “The Wedding” shows the beauty of life the contrasting “Urilla Dies” gives us the sadness of death in a dirge tempo that is also heart wrenching in a completely different way. After a C major rendition of the Wyatt theme we switch to a fiddle and guitar for the track “Skinning Buffalo” followed by a Celtic theme with a fiddle solo followed by the orchestra with pipes that makes you want to get up and dance. This is yet another contrasting piece to what we have heard. “Dodge City” is bright and full of vigor making you think about Copland’s “Rodeo” before it shifts gears in a section of danger. The lower register instruments shine as we’re waiting for something to happen. Howard makes fine use of the bassoon in “The River Seduction,” which is in contrast to the sweet higher register violins. He adds an oboe line for just the right touch. “Tombstone” is a short cue that offers more of the guitars, a brief appearance from the fiddle and a quick reference of the Wyatt theme from the strings. The “End Credits” which are known to appear on many a compilation CD will not disappoint as it conjures up the Wyatt, Dodge, and Wagon Chase (a theme that sounds like it came right out of “Signs”). It is a job well done by Howard. The third CD offers an additional 21 cues of the themes offered on the first two CD’s. They are shorter or longer with a different orchestration, an instrument added or deleted. It seems after listening to this 162 minute offering Howard left no stone unturned to make it perfect.
If you don’t own the original release from 1994 and want to hear the original presentation there is a track listing in the liner notes that will allow you to program the cues from all three CD’s. If you do own the original as many of us do I would still recommend that you get the expanded version as it will leave no stone unturned. I don’t think you can get too much of a good thing. Recommended!