For the past three years La-La Land Records has received the International Film Music Critics Association award for best soundtrack label. With coveted titles like The Fury (1978), Rosewood (1997), Patriot Games (1992), a 3-CD set of Wyatt Earp (1994), and their latest jaw-dropper The Warriors (1979) released in 2013, La-La Land Records may have already assured themselves a fourth.
The Walter Hill-directed The Warriors, featuring music composed by Barry DeVorzon (Limited Edition of 3000 units) has to be one of my favorite soundtracks released so far this year. It's a welcome throwback to a time oft forgotten where the blossoming technology of the day helped define a unique musical style that audiences are unlikely to experience again except through homage or parody.
In the liner notes, co-author Tim Greiving claims that Walter Hill wanted "a genuine rock & roll score for his youth-oriented gang movie" and called upon Barry DeVorzon to deliver it. What DeVorzon (Night of the Creeps, Mr. Mom) created is a blissful amalgam of synthesizer-heavy rock music that perfectly captures the spirit, tone and serious playfulness of the film. While similar scores were all the rage in the late 1970s, DeVorzon's music possesses a bizarre sophistication that you may not expect from a film like The Warriors. I've even seen the film several times and was shocked to realize how creatively evolved the music plays on its own considering how simply its constructed.
There are the ubiquitous buzzing synthesizers of the day (likely performed live), heaps of wah-wah pedaled guitar, funky organs, piano, sultry saxophone solos and plenty of rhythm section. It's the fusion of this hip urban ensemble with these once high-tech synthesizers that helps create an exceptional score worthy of attention especially if you're a disciple of the film. I find myself continually calling for it in my day-to-day listening.
This pristine-sounding CD is presented in two ways. The first ten tracks comprise the original A&M Records album released in the United States in 1979 which also include songs from the film including "Nowhere to Run" by Arnold McCuller and "In The City" by Joe Walsh. The remaining eleven tracks constitute the most complete assembly of DeVorzon's immortal score to date. Several years ago, La-La Land solved the debate between the pure archivists' who preferred that every note of each cue be released versus those that opted for an edited "album" version, by releasing both together.
According to album producer Dan Goldwasser, The score was primarily sourced from a set of ½" reels containing the rhythm, synth, and guitar tracks. The score was mixed for the film in mono so no stereo mixes have existed prior to this release. Mixer extraordinaire Mike Matessino created brand new stereo mixes exclusively for this album. There's even a nice easter egg at the end of the last track that is sure to make you smile.
It's difficult to single out a particular title from La-La Land these days because everything they release is worthy of acquiring; however, The Warriors specifically deserves attention as a coveted rare score that benefits from the loving care and attention that La-La Land so often puts into their titles.
For more information including a track listing and audio samples, check out the La-La Land Records web site.