After putting out a 3-CD set of Basil Poledouris’ numerous pit stops towards ultimately “fixing” his score for the Kurt Russell classic BREAKDOWN, La La Land goes the troubled creative process one better by releasing a second triple album that charts another Paramount movie’s long road to its final score. This time it’s both John Barry’s elegant, tossed work, along with Michel Colombier’s final, and far funkier soundtrack for Eddie Murphy’s THE GOLDEN CHILD– a far less-regarded star vehicle that’s foremost a winner for soundtrack fans as the discs contrast two disparate musical approaches.
Using John Barry’s slow, jazzily elegant approach for Murphy’s ADD-hip brand of comedy seemed like an unusual fit in the first place, an attempt to dress up the antic star’s adventure in a Bond-ready dinner jacket. But beyond the smooth orchestra, brassy action hits and exotic rhythms that often make THE GOLDEN CHILD play like the sequel to YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE that never was, complete with the Maurice Binder graphics-ready theme song “The Best Man in the World.” Barry’s score also includes sweeping musical vistas, ghostly voices, dark military suspense and lyrical emotion that also makes this truly golden Barry score turn into a love child mash-up of OUT OF AFRICA, CHAPLIN and THE BLACK HOLE. Yet the oddball directions all miraculously flow together, making this score another example of John Barry’s legendary golden touch when it came to melodic construction. Used or not, his CHILD is still a dazzling revelation for fans, and another example of how his elegant, slow-moving approach started falling out of favor for a new, fast-paced Hollywood.
With this being said, any score, no matter how great it is, has got to fit the film (no matter how uneven said movie might be). And when it comes right down to it, Murphy’s wisecracking vibe was far bettered suited to the brash, synth-pop vibe of Michel Colombier. This late composer was one of the best, unsung players of the 80’s electronic rhythm scene with such soundtracks as PURPLE RAIN, WHITE NIGHTS and AGAINST ALL ODDS. Obviously charged with turning the character into Axel F., Columbier deftly brings out the go-with-the-flow Harold Faltermeyer beat with rock guitars and bouncy synths. Sure his approach isn’t as subtle as Barry’s, but darn if it isn’t a lot more “fun,” a lot more Murphy. Columbier also makes more use of Asian instruments and demon synth weirdness, while also impressing in the Barry way with an equally lush and memorable romantic theme for orchestra. While it’s fashionable for soundtrack snobs to look down on a grand symphonic score getting tossed in favor of a contemporary one (i.e. Jerry Goldsmith getting dumped for Tangerine Dream on LEGEND), the final fact is that both Barry and Colombier’s scores for THE GOLDEN CHILD are as valid as they are enjoyable- even if there can be only one. But thanks to La La’s continued musical archeology, not to mention their welcome enthusiasm for multiple disc sets, Barry and Colombier’s ersatz kids can finally play together in all of their old school, and funky glory.
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Article: Review – THE GOLDEN CHILD soundtrack