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Section Header
Black Rain
(1989)
1989 Virgin

2000 Bootleg

2012 La-La Land

Composed and Co-Produced by:
Hans Zimmer

Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Shirley Walker

Co-Produced by:
Jay Rifkin

Labels and Dates:
Virgin Records America
(October 3rd, 1989)

(Bootleg)
(2000)

La-La Land Records
(September 25th, 2012)

Also See:
Rain Man
Backdraft
Drop Zone

Audio Clips:
1989 Virgin Album:

7. Sato (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

8. Charlie Loses His Head (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

9. Sugai (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

10. Nick and Masa (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Availability:
The 1989 Virgin album was a regular U.S. release and has always remained available for roughly $5. The early bootlegs that congealed into the 2000 item with the number "HZCD 011LR" have traded widely on the secondary market. Cover art varies on the many bootleg versions. The 2012 La-La Land album is limited to 3,000 copies and initially retailed for $25 primarily through soundtrack specialty outlets.

Awards:
  None.










Black Rain

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Sales Rank: 406662


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Buy it... if you're curious to know where the action truly started for Hans Zimmer, Black Rain being the composer's first entry into a genre that eventually evolved directly out of the sound heard in this score.

Avoid it... on any album if you have no interest in hearing Zimmer's intuitively smart but not particularly well refined merging of Eastern solo instruments with his comfortably familiar rock-influenced tones.



Zimmer
Black Rain: (Hans Zimmer) A popular cops versus gangsters film of 1989, Black Rain led to director Ridley Scott's unequivocal denouncement of filming in Japan, claiming after being forced out of the country during the shooting of this movie that high production costs in Japan are prohibitive. The story is one of standard intrigue for the genre, tackling the subject of the Yakuza and all of the violent traditions associated with the Japanese mafia. Two New York cops are witness to a power struggle within the Yakuza in a local eatery and arrest an ambitious, ascending mob boss after he assassinates a representative of his competition. Upon losing this villain after escorting him to Japan for trial, they create trouble for Japan's police force and, after the gruesome killing of one of the Americans, Michael Douglas in the lead role takes matters into his own hands. The title comes from the Yakuza's belief that the counterfeiting of American dollars is revenge for the "black rain" caused by the nuclear attacks of World War II. Despite its production hiccups, Black Rain earned almost ten times its budget worldwide, snagged a couple of Oscar nominations for its sound, and forever changed the life of the composer of its score, Hans Zimmer. The German (via London) had appeared suddenly in the mainstream with Rain Man the previous year and was about to receive even greater recognition with Driving Miss Daisy. Zimmer had aspirations of coming to Hollywood and writing big action scores like John Williams, but he did not have the classical training and was only familiar with orchestration through his friendship with composer Stanley Myers. At the end of the decade, Zimmer was, sometimes with the assistance of Shirley Walker, beginning to explore orchestral accompaniment to his comfortable synthesizers which, to that point, had emulated an organic, symphonic sound well enough to suffice. Black Rain represented the composer's first foray into the genre of action, and Zimmer wasn't sure if his techniques would suffice for the picture. It didn't help to have a completely unsupportive producer on the project.

Movie producer Stanley Jaffe famously shouted to Zimmer at a Paramount screening of Black Rain that the composer's score was the worst piece of music he had ever heard, at which point the composer claims to have fainted. Pressure from Jaffe and/or Paramount caused Scott to butcher Zimmer's score in the final edit of the picture. In fact, little of what made the film is recognizable from the original flow of the composition. Zimmer has always been humble about his position in the industry, deferring credit for the best Digital Age action scores to the likes of Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, and James Horner. In addition to that uncertainty, Black Rain was something of a production nightmare for Zimmer, and he acknowledges that its eventual success was the result of originality that resulted from his own lack of experience. He later recounted, "...by the time we got to the dub stage, I was just living in fear. We were battling the system." What he could not have predicted was just how influential his music for the film would become, not only in leading to and informing his later assignments, but also in emulation from other composers. The irony of Zimmer's approach to Black Rain is that it really wasn't radically different from John Carpenter and Alan Howarth's equally discordant sound for Big Trouble in Little China. Both scores utilized keyboarded samples and drum pads with the assistance of stereotypical Eastern solo elements (and both had now dated songs on their albums that are frightfully similar). For Zimmer, his trademark action sound of the 1990's is mostly derived from seeds of ideas heard in Black Rain, and although this score would have its most prominent influence on Backdraft (and thus, everything that developed out of that score), pieces extend all the way to The Last Samurai and Batman Begins. The basic ingredients of Black Rain are all familiar in retrospect, too, beginning with the keyboarded samples, rhythmic pacing, distinctive electric guitar, slapped drum pads, and metallic percussion effects. Walker's assistance in this entry manifests itself in fuller faux-string accompaniment, and she contributed one original source piece of pleasant diversion heard on the early airplane scene.

Among the standard Zimmer techniques in Black Rain, the exotic woodwinds proved to be frequent in Zimmer's early 1990's output, their lyricism especially informing Beyond Rangoon. Some of the more soothing, treble-inhabiting keyboarding (which sometimes imitated plucked oriental tones) would develop further in the composer's light drama and romance scores to follow, aided by the composer's obvious love of the soft tone of pan pipes. The cool, somewhat restrained electric guitar representation of Douglas' character would blossom in Days of Thunder and countless other early 1990's works. Thumping bass, pairs of hits, and broad swooshes deep in the bass region are a precursor of Crimson Tide. The string applications foreshadow Backdraft, especially the minute or so at the end of the pivotal "Charlie Loses His Head" cue, a sequence that Ron Howard was so infatuated with that it eventually, after much toil and miscommunication between the composer and director, was reprised almost identically for the ultra-dramatic fire scenes in the 1991 drama. Thematically, Zimmer handles Black Rain with a few ideas that mostly play to American notions of compassion and kick-ass attitude. The score's primary theme of friendship is best heard in "Nick and Masa," though an attractive secondary theme in "Sugai" serves as both an action motif and a convenient melody for the Japanese elements to chew on. A separate minor-key theme idea for "Sato," the Osaka location, and harsher impressions of the Japanese culture exists frequently in the score, heard with frightening, foreboding force as the city is seen from an airplane for the first time in the plot. This final "villain" theme is the most frequently referenced one throughout the score, often integrated into the less interesting percussive sequences of stalking. The blurring of lines between the oriental woodwind tones and the electric guitar in the background of the "Sugai" material is a particularly enjoyable aspect of that theme's development. The dissonant passages of pure ruckus from Zimmer are highlighted by the actual beheading portion of "Charlie Loses His Head." For the scene that immediately follows, as Douglas' cop is seen comforted by the woman he meets in Japan, Zimmer reinforces his friendship theme with satisfying contemporary keyboarding. A stereotypically oriental subtheme for this character is absent from on the commercial album.

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The roughly 22 minutes of score music on Virgin's 1989 commercial product is presented in a continuous suite of major cues condensed into four tracks, faded together as per the composer's norm. Casual fans of Zimmer and the film should be satisfied with this material, especially when accompanied by the composer's outstanding rock song performed by Gregg Allman, "I'll Be Holding On," which coincides with the main "Nick and Masa" identity in the score. Much incidental score music, as well as the shorter, opening title version of "I'll Be Holding On," was absent from the commercial product, however. A bootleg version of Black Rain thus long circulated in the secondary collector's market and offered over 70 minutes of Zimmer's contributions. While much of that music remained redundant, especially in short cues that simply drone with ominous keyboarded bass or sporadic drum hits, there were a few cues from that presentation (which sounds decent and is absent sound effects) that could have been added to the commercially available suite to form a more representative 30 to 35-minute album. These additional cues of interest include the sorrowful "Joyce's Theme" and the American bad-ass attitude of "The Final Confrontation," the latter hinting at the ballsy sound of Drop Zone. In 2012, an official 2-CD presentation of Black Rain pressed essentially the bootleg's contents on its first CD and filled the second with the original commercial album's presentation and eight bonus tracks. While this limited La-La Land Records product does toil at times with the same redundancy issues as the bootleg, the additional offerings in the bonus section are a particular highlight. The "Monks Wild" version of a sequence in "Charlie Loses His Head" is vital to the film, dubbed in during several scenes, and finally available is the shorter main title version of "I'll Be Holding On," though with arguably diminished sound quality. The alternate version of "Bikes/Fight" will thrill fans of early Zimmer action as well. The composer has often commented that it's somewhat amazing (and even baffling) to see his music for Black Rain become so influential and, to an extent, some head-scratching is merited. It's a good score, but not particularly refined or impressive in its sum. The fuller album treatment by La-La Land Records is good to see, however, and no matter your opinion, Black Rain is an important work in the history of Digital Age film music, and it deserves appreciation and even study at the very least. ***   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Hans Zimmer reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3 (in 87 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.02 (in 262,805 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  


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 Track Listings (1989 Virgin Album): Total Time: 48:25


• 1. Livin' on the Edge of the Night - performed by Iggy Pop (3:40)
• 2. The Way You Do the Things You Do - performed by UB40 (3:15)
• 3. Back to Life (Jam on the Groove Mix) - performed by Soul II Soul featuring Caron Wheeler (5:09)
• 4. Laserman - performed by Ryuichi Sakamoto (4:48)
• 5. Singing in the Shower - performed by Les Rita Mitsouko and Sparks (4:23)
• 6. I'll Be Holding On* - performed by Gregg Allman (5:40)
• 7. Black Rain Suite: Sato (4:45)
• 8. Black Rain Suite: Charlie Loses His Head (7:03)
• 9. Black Rain Suite: Sugai (6:55)
• 10. Black Rain Suite: Nick and Masa (2:52)

* composed by Will Jennings and Hans Zimmer




 Track Listings (2000 Bootleg): Total Time: 74:25


• 1. The Restaurant/Sato (6:06)
• 2. Through the Mirror (0:26)
• 3. Osaka (0:38)
• 4. The Handing Over (1:13)
• 5. Black Rain (0:28)
• 6. The Club (4:56)
• 7. Joyce's Theme (2:02)
• 8. Motorcycle Gang (1:57)
• 9. The Photo/The Tip (3:59)
• 10. Nick Steals the Money (2:03)
• 11. Charlie Loses His Head (2:28)
• 12. Sorrow (2:50)
• 13. Outburst of Rage (3:16)
• 14. The Overshadow (2:40)
• 15. Chase to the Steel Plant (3:50)
• 16. The Steel Plant - Part 1 (0:29)
• 17. The Steel Plant - Part 2 (0:22)
• 18. The Steel Plant - Part 3 (0:40)
• 19. The Steel Plant - Part 4 (1:36)
• 20. Sugai/The Deal (8:59)
• 21. Sato's Escape/Nick's Arrest (4:12)
• 22. Nick's Decision (2:06)
• 23. Nick's Confession/Waiting (1:58)
• 24. Creep Up (2:05)
• 25. The Yakuza Codex (3:20)
• 26. The Final Confrontation (2:38)
• 27. Nick and Masa (5:54)




 Track Listings (2012 La-La Land Album): Total Time: 141:43


CD1: (74:02)

• 1. Sato Pt. 1/One-Way Glass (6:34)
• 2. Osaka/Phony Cops** (1:46)
• 3. You Gonna Be Nice?*/Sato Pt. 2** (5:21)
• 4. Sato Watching/Circling Motorbikes (1:59)
• 5. Sugai's Photo/Sato Pt. 3 (3:58)
• 6. Sato Pt. 4 (2:05)
• 7. Charlie Loses His Head** (8:22)
• 8. Sequins (2:42)
• 9. Masa's Reprimand/Sugai Pt. 1 (5:33)
• 10. The Steel Mill (2:45)
• 11. Steel Mill Chase/Airplane/Escape*** (6:18)
• 12. Sugai Pt. 2 (8:50)
• 13. Arrival of Oyabuns/Sato's Arrival/Meeting (7:55)
• 14. Bikes**/Fight**/Nick and Masa** (9:29)


CD2: (67:41)

Original EMI Album: (48:35)
• 1. Livin' on the Edge of the Night - performed by Iggy Pop (3:40)
• 2. The Way You Do the Things You Do - performed by UB40 (3:15)
• 3. Back to Life (Jam on the Groove Mix) - performed by Soul II Soul featuring Caron Wheeler (5:09)
• 4. Laserman - performed by Ryuichi Sakamoto (4:48)
• 5. Singing in the Shower - performed by Les Rita Mitsouko and Sparks (4:23)
• 6. I'll Be Holding On - performed by Gregg Allman (5:40)
• 7. Sato (4:45)
• 8. Charlie Loses His Head*** (7:03)
• 9. Sugai (6:55)
• 10. Nick and Masa*** (2:52)

Bonus Tracks: (19:06)
• 11. Airplane Muzak (Source) - composed by Shirley Walker (2:05)
• 12. Charlie Loses His Head Pt. 1 (Alternate Percussion) (2:32)
• 13. Charlie Loses His Head Pt. 2 (Alternate With Koto and Oboe) (2:47)
• 14. Masa's Reprimand (Alternate)*** (1:49)
• 15. Bikes/Fight (Alternate) (3:18)
• 16. Bikes (Percussion Only) (1:35)
• 17. Charlie Loses His Head (Monks Wild) (2:12)
• 18. I'll Be Holding On (Main Title Version) - performed by Gregg Allman (2:36)

* Not used in film
** Contains material unused in film
*** Contains instrumental melody of "I'll Be Holding On"




 Notes and Quotes:  


The insert of the 1989 Virgin album includes no extra information about the score or film. The bootlegs contain no consistent packaging. The 2012 La-La Land album's insert contains extensive information about the film and score, including a track-by-track analysis.





   
  All artwork and sound clips from Black Rain are Copyright © 1989, 2000, 2012, Virgin Records America, (Bootleg), La-La Land Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 3/23/10 and last updated 10/15/12. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2010-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.