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Section Header
Crimson Tide
Composed and Produced by:
Hans Zimmer

Orchestrated and Conducted by:
Nick Glennie-Smith

Hollywood Records

Release Date:
May 16th, 1995

Also See:
Beyond Rangoon
The Rock
The Lion King
The Hunt for Red October

Audio Clips:
1. Mutany (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (244K)
Real Audio (152K)

2. Alabama (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

4. 1SQ (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

5. Roll Tide (1:01):
WMA (455K)  MP3 (583K)
Real Audio (145K)

Regular U.S. release. Hollywood Records also released it in a double-CD package with The Rock in 1996.

  Winner of a Grammy Award.

Crimson Tide
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Used Price: $0.33

Sales Rank: 18007

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Buy it... if you seek the vastly superior music that inspired the revolution of the synthetic blockbuster score concept in the late 1990's.

Avoid it... if you're part of the mutiny among score fans that has rejected Hans Zimmer's revolution on a matter of principle, regardless of the strengths of his initially successful re-definition of the genre.

Crimson Tide: (Hans Zimmer) If any man thought that Crimson Tide would make a good date movie, then either he had an extremely rare breed of woman or, more likely, he failed to get laid that night. Submarine thrillers appeal to a very specific subsection of the movie-going public, and narrowing the target even further is the Tony Scott/Jerry Bruckheimer style of machismo that saturates every moment of Crimson Tide. That said, this film is quite entertaining, floated entirely by remarkable performances by Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington, and even Viggo Mortensen. The script poses the unrealistic scenario of an American submarine caught in the uncomfortable position of not knowing if it has been given the order to launch its nuclear weapons, and a mutiny divides the two top officers as they argue about whether or not to launch. Tension between Hackman and Washington's officers address underlying racial prejudices, allowing them to act and, in some cases, overact with conviction. The success of the film is owed in part to the score by Hans Zimmer, who had just come off of his Academy Award win for The Lion King. He had dabbled with the large-scale merging of orchestra, choir, and synthesizer in previous scores, including the popular Disney venture, but the scores that would largely point Zimmer in the right direction for Crimson Tide would be Backdraft and Beyond Rangoon. While Crimson Tide conveys an entirely different personality from those previous (and both very strong) scores, the techniques with which Zimmer executes his aquatic score are related in several ways. When you think about Crimson Tide in retrospect, it's hard to remember (or imagine, for younger listeners) the blockbuster scores in the generation before the Zimmer and Bruckheimer revolution. The masculine, synthetic style of Crimson Tide has been so influential in defining the sound of the countless Media Ventures/Remote Control production house scores that have come since that it's somewhat awkward to realize that all that electronic bravado derives from Crimson Tide, the first and greatest score of their kind.

Indeed, whether you like it or not, Crimson Tide was a revolutionary piece of music. It was the right score for the right film at the right time. Imitations of the same sound, occasionally from Zimmer himself, have proven obnoxious in different concepts. But Crimson Tide is defined by its testosterone, both in the acting performances and the dark technical edge to the pitching sets built for the film, and as such, Zimmer's brooding electronic action is an essential and perfect match. When Crimson Tide won the Grammy award for "best soundtrack of the year" in February of 1996, the new sound was affirmed as boasting a sudden mainstream popularity. A man whose career had been followed affectionately by many of the same soundtrack fans that collected strictly orchestral works (along with the recently found Disney enthusiasts) was suddenly the hero of a whole new breed of film score collector. That Crimson Tide spawned a fresh generation of fans for Zimmer's newest blend is still a good thing, despite the fact that many of these collectors have melded into the worst fanboys of the soundtrack community. Regardless of your opinion about the direction that Crimson Tide sent the industry, it's a remarkably effective score. The combination of synthesizer, orchestra, and choir is much shorter on the orchestral end of the scale this time, with the obvious organic elements mostly limited to solo performances on trumpet and acoustic guitar. There is speculation about the degree to which Zimmer employed an orchestra to provide depth to his synthetic samples, but given that the score's fuller pieces sound largely synthetic anyway, that ratio is likely unimportant. Performances of the title theme do seem to have authentic strings and brass to offer, but the fact that each section plays completely in unison (don't come to this score looking for intelligent use of counterpoint) somewhat cheapens their contribution. The choral ensemble, recorded in London, is heavy on the male end of the spectrum and is typically heard during one of Zimmer's plentiful adaptations of the tradition sea-hymn "Eternal Father Strong to Save." The choral ensemble often performs in the lowest depths of the male voices, establishing another typical sound for a Media Ventures score.

While the score may seem on the surface to be mono-thematic, the dominant title theme is joined several other ideas that Zimmer returns to regularly. That title theme is a hymn that respectfully builds momentum in its two fullest statements, combining the deep choral performances with an extremely powerful electronic bass rhythm of chopping string effects and (likely) synthetic brass sampling. It is featured prominently three times in the film, carrying two of those three scenes by itself. Listeners are introduced to the theme, representing the ship and, more interestingly, the bravado of Hackman's captain, during the boarding sequence when the captain rallies his men. Every good submarine film needs its heroic "sailing from port" scene to feature an outstanding thematic statement, and the use of the title theme during the ship's sunrise departure is equal to Michel Legrand's early sailing scene music in Ice Station Zebra (though worlds apart in style, of course). Later in the film, the theme receives a victorious burst as the ship avoids crush depth and the crew celebrates (heard on album at the end of "1SQ"). A final concert arrangement of the theme accompanies the last scene of the film (as the captain departs with his ridiculous little dog) and the opening of the end titles. Of the secondary themes, the most attractive is a noble idea likely meant to represent Washington's executive officer and his sense of morality. Heard on acoustic guitar as the officer leaves his family (before the first main theme performance on the album in "Mutiny"), this theme is usually the domain of Malcolm McNab's trumpet solos. A short, lonely statement is heard at 18:00 into "Alabama" and, with far more class, the theme gracefully segues into the film's epilogue at the outset of "Roll Tide." A motif for the act of the mutiny itself is a recurring idea that opens with a simplistic, alternating minor key rhythm at 15:15 in "Alabama" (with almost a touch of Toys to it), and is featured more fully at 17:00 and 19:00 into the same cue. A singular "decision" motif in the form of a menacing choral crescendo is heard in both "Alabama" and "Roll Tide," highlighting a scene when Mortensen's character chooses sides in the mutiny.

All of these themes, interestingly, are arranged by Zimmer to appear in the last cue of the film and album. From the trumpet solo for the executive officer at the outset of "Roll Tide," Zimmer proceeds with the obligatory main theme performance but then follows it with variations on the decision-making motif and the mutiny theme (though this last one is considerably softer in tone here). Finally, he closes out the credits with the standard choral performance of "Eternal Father Strong to Save," which serves as another theme --one of hope-- throughout the score. As far as listenability is concerned, Zimmer doesn't allow much time to transpire at any moment in the score without referencing one of these aforementioned themes and lesser motifs. There are a few minutes of grinding electronic ambience that is difficult to enjoy album, mainly from the first half of "1SQ," but a cue like "Alabama," despite its 24-minute length, manages to maintain your interest in its less spectacular moments. The variety of sound effects used to create rhythms or simply as individual accent pieces is another point of interest. In their softer rhythmic incarnations, a companion to the tense conversational moments in the film, the effects are typically driven by a throaty performance by either a shakuhachi flute or pan pipes. There is some speculation as to which it is; the performances suggest the shakuhachi, though Zimmer had just made great use of pan pipes in The Lion King and Beyond Rangoon. There's also speculation that they may be completely synthesized. The array of tingling, swooshing, and zapping sound effects is a highlight of the score. They foreshadow the kinds of sounds that Graeme Revell and Craig Armstrong would utilize in coming years, and they're often mixed in an echoing effect to much the same degree that Basil Poledouris accomplished with The Hunt for Red October. In an underwater setting with reverberating sounds, the echoing seems like a natural and logical use. A balance between drum pads and live percussion (led by lengthy progressions of deliberate snare rips) usually enhances the bass realm of the soundscape. A clanging chime is a somber accent to several weightier scenes.

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Overall, Crimson Tide is a remarkably effective and obviously influential score. On album, however, there are several issues to contend with. The mix is a bizarre combination of extremely dry synthetic blasts in the forefront and the meandering choir at a wet distance. A good example of this sound discrepancy exists at 14:30 into "Alabama," where the choral performance of the decision motif is accompanied beautifully by echoing sound effects, only to yield to a stubbornly mixed, bass-heavy presentation of the mutiny theme. The two primary title theme performances do benefit from the addition of a little reverb back into the mix, if you're equipped to do so at home. As with most Zimmer scores, don't expect what you heard on the album to match the mix you heard in the film. The most problematic aspect of the album is Zimmer's preference to have his music heard in lengthy suite-like formats. In this case, Media Ventures regular and composer Jeff Rona rearranged the score into four lengthy cues (with one choral presentation of "Eternal Father Strong to Save" occupying the whole of the only short cue), one of which is 18 minutes in length while another is 24 minutes. Luckily, Crimson Tide is a score that tends to play well in extended sequences. But with thematic highlights spread throughout both of the two longer cues, you really need --if you're a fan of this score-- to do some editing of your own. The "Alabama" cue alone has several changes in direction and important performances littered throughout its length, and "1SQ" has the pivotal title theme performance near its end. For the most part, however, the major ideas of the score are seemingly presented in chronological order. Historically, many fans have hoped that Zimmer and his pupils would return to the sophisticated simplicity (how about that for an oxymoron?) of Crimson Tide, only to be thwarted by the crashing electric guitars and the intolerably relentless pounding of synthetic percussion in scores like The Rock. The score for Crimson Tide, conversely, never resorts to simple volume to accomplish its goal, and the admirable result would go on to play a prominent role in the trailers for Independence Day early in 1996. Regardless of where the style has gone wrong (or tired) in recent years, Crimson Tide sails on victoriously. ***** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Hans Zimmer reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 2.98 (in 89 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3 (in 266,335 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 4.18 Stars
Smart Average: 3.89 Stars*
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   Re: Is the end credits music entirely writt...
  Michael McDaid -- 1/19/10 (9:14 a.m.)
   Crimson Tide = Electronic Mastery
  Rex -- 1/9/10 (2:15 p.m.)
   Re: John Williams + Inventiveness
  Richard Kleiner -- 11/9/09 (11:09 p.m.)
   Re: Is the end credits music entirely writt...
  Levente -- 6/5/08 (1:15 p.m.)
   Is the end credits music entirely written b...
  Nick -- 2/12/08 (1:27 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 60:17

• 1. Mutany (8:57)
• 2. Alabama (23:50)
• 3. Little Ducks (2:03)
• 4. 1SQ (18:03)
• 5. Roll Tide (7:33)

(track lengths not listed on packaging)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes extensive credits but no extra information about the score.

  All artwork and sound clips from Crimson Tide are Copyright © 1995, Hollywood Records. The reviews and other textual content contained on the 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 9/24/96 and last updated 1/17/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.