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Joe Versus the Volcano
Composed and Conducted by:
Georges Delerue

Produced by:
Robert Townson

Varèse Sarabande

Release Date:
May 28th, 2002

Also See:
Great Composers: Delerue
The Black Stallion Returns

Audio Clips:
4. Love Theme (0:33):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (266K)
Real Audio (165K)

9. Shopping Spree (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

16. The Storm and The Rescue (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

21. End Credits (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (241K)
Real Audio (150K)

A Varèse Sarabande "Masters Film Music" release. Only 3,000 copies of this album were pressed, though the units are not numbered. It was primarily purchased through the label's website, but it fell out of print quickly and is now a top collectible. Full index: SRS 2014


Joe Versus the Volcano

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Buy it... if you're enamored by each of Georges Delerue's highly melodic romance scores, for Joe Versus the Volcano is among the last great genre entries in a career sadly cut short.

Avoid it... if you have only casual interest in Delerue's predictable styles, because this album is long out of print and difficult to obtain.

Joe Versus the Volcano: (Georges Delerue) The almost forgotten first pairing of Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, Joe Versus the Volcano shamelessly plugged the ultimate corny, modern fairy-tale love story. It was along the same quirky lines as Big for Hanks, but not remotely rising to the same level of popular or critical success. The film remains a more prominent footnote for Ryan, who played three entirely different characters for the production. The silly plot of Joe Versus the Volcano involves the misdiagnosis of Hanks' modern day man with an incurable condition called a "brain cloud," and along his journey to throw himself into a volcano, he inevitably is sidetracked by Ryan's presence. The failure of the film led to an early exit from the directorial scene for John Patrick Shanley (which ultimately lasted 18 years). Far more bittersweet was the venture for fans of composer Georges Delerue, who was only two years away from his surprising death in 1992. This project was one of a dozen scores to his credit in the 1990's, showing his enormous productivity in the film composing scene even up to his final days. Luckily, because Delerue had a strongly established following of collectors by that point in his career, nearly all of these scores were released in album form. The most notable absence in Delerue's scores of the 1990's on album, however, was Joe Versus the Volcano. Because the film flopped so terribly at its debut, Delerue's score was never treated to a commercial release. This shouldn't be surprising for an additional reason; Delerue's contribution to the film was originally to comprise about fifteen minutes of screen time. By 1990, films had just re-discovered the popular idea of inserting series of pop songs into the mix instead of using an orchestral score, and Joe Versus the Volcano made extensive use of this notion. Interestingly, however, after hearing the mastery that Delerue had created in those fifteen minutes, the producers of the film asked the composer to beef up the content to beyond 45 minutes in length, and Delerue, at the last minute, was happy to oblige.

As fate would have it, however, the producers of Joe Versus the Volcano ended up removing a handful of Delerue's lengthier cues in favor of pop songs anyway, including the notable recordings for "Brain Cloud," "Shopping Spree," "Alone in New York," and "Fishing." Much of the remaining score was undermixed in the film, deflating its impact in many parts of the love story. In fact, as you will notice if you have watched the film in one of its numerous television reruns, the fabulous "End Credits" suite is dubbed out and most casual viewers won't likely get the idea that a strong score for the film exists at all. As for the score's contents, the music for Joe Versus the Volcano follows the fairy tale genre of the story very faithfully. Delerue begins with a music box theme that repeats with innocence several times throughout the score before eventually concluding it. The central romance is treated with one of Delerue's many remarkable career-defining love themes, flourishing in rich strings and melodic key shifts. This one in particular is even loftier than many of his other, similar entries, though Delerue, as always, manipulates the theme for insertion into nearly every cue in some way or another, whether it be with a sax, full brass, or even a chorus. The lengthy "End Credits" suite, which had been a popular bootlegged representation of the entire score (likely yanked from the end titles of a foreign-released VHS tape), presents the love theme in not only a solid performance of full strings, but also a lyrical song as well. In terms of integration, the lyrical version of the theme melds with the surrounding score much like Jerry Goldsmith's accomplishment in his rejected fantasy score for Legend. For Delerue enthusiasts who collect his plentiful love themes on album, there are plenty performances of the one here, and because this theme didn't appear on his popular compilations, the belated 2002 album of Joe Versus the Volcano from Varèse Sarabande will suffice to meet your desire for yet another sugary romance melody from the master.

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Several cues highlight Joe Versus the Volcano with breaks from the standard Delerue romance formula, however. The sax interwoven with the love theme in "Shopping Spree" is a success in its contemporary tones, and the light rock of the rejected "Fishing" cue is a welcome change, as well as the acoustic guitar performance in "Dinner with Dee Dee," which finishes with a flash of gusto. Ironically, the most notable use of music in the film itself is the humorous adaptation of "Hava Nagila" and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," arranged by Delerue into the tribal chants of the native "Waponis" people of the volcano island late in the film. Orchestrally, the most powerful standout cue in the film exists for its only major action scene: the typhoon sequence. As the storm ravages the ship and forces the main characters to be marooned, Delerue explodes with a full brass statement of a secondary "despair theme" of dramatic tragedy that was explored less melodramatically in "Brain Cloud." The sheer size of this extended cue, and the mastery with which Delerue creates the perfect "storm at sea" atmosphere, elevates it beyond even the love theme on the album. It is fitting that this cue was seemingly Delerue's favorite when scoring the film; driving brass in the minor key build to one magnificent major key crescendo, after which the love theme is performed in full. This cue alone is worth the price of the album. The 2002 CD had been a project of love for the Varèse Sarabande label's Robert Townson for some time, as he was a close associate and friend of Delerue. Mounting requests from fans, along with the simple fact that Joe Versus the Volcano was the last of Delerue's great 1990's scores yet to be released on album, eventually led to this "Masters Film Music" release. How these "Masters Film Music" albums differ in intent from the label's CD Club albums (a series which had been resumed just a year prior) isn't entirely clear, but the fact remains that Joe Versus the Volcano was also a limited pressing of 3,000 albums. For both Delerue collectors and general film music fans alike, this album was long overdue and will not disappoint you if you enjoy his predictably strong romance scores. Unfortunately, it sold out within a few years and has been a top collectible ever since. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Score as Written for Film: ****
    Music as Heard on the 2002 Album: *****
    Overall: ****

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 Track Listings: Total Time: 48:19

• 1. Once Upon a Time... (0:20)
• 2. Brain Cloud (3:04)
• 3. Dinner with Dee Dee (2:03)
• 4. Love Theme (1:12)
• 5. Joe Alone (0:26)
• 6. Graynamore's Pitch (1:53)
• 7. I'll Do It (1:18)
• 8. New York (0:28)
• 9. Shopping Spree (2:14)
• 10. Alone in New York (1:30)
• 11. To the Hotel (0:48)
• 12. To the Ship (2:41)
• 13. History of the Waponis (0:38)
• 14. Pat Tells Joe (2:26)
• 15. Fishing (3:25)
• 16. The Storm and The Rescue (9:10)
• 17. Hava Nagila and When Johnny Comes Marching Home (1:32)
• 18. I've Got to Go (3:28)
• 19. Explosion and In the Water (2:03)
• 20. They Sail Away (1:08)
• 21. End Credits (6:14)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert contains a lengthy note from album producer Robert Townson, for whom it is customary to include lengthy analysis of both the film and score in many CD Club and Masters Film Music releases from the label.

  All artwork and sound clips from Joe Versus the Volcano are Copyright © 2002, Varèse Sarabande. 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 6/1/02 and last updated 11/20/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2002-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.