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1987 Southern Cross

1992 SCSE

1998 Super Tracks

2010 La-La Land

Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Produced by:
James Horner

Co-Orchestrated by:
Greig McRitchie

Performed by:
The London Symphony Orchestra and Ambrosian Singers

Super Tracks and La-La Land Albums Produced by:
Ford A. Thaxton

SCSE Album Produced by:
Douglass Fake

Labels and Dates:
Southern Cross Records, SCCD 1004

Southern Cross Records, SCSE CD-4

Southern Cross Records, SCSE CD-4-G

Super Tracks Music Group, STCE - 01/02

La-La Land Records

Also See:
Star Trek II
Star Trek III
Battle Beyond the Stars
The Rocketeer

Audio Clips:
1987 SCCD Album:

1. Riding the Fire Mares (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

2. Slayer's Attack (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

4. Colwyn and Lyssa (Love Theme) (0:33):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

6. The Widow's Lullaby (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

The 1987 album was a regular U.S. release, though printed in low quantities. The SCSE releases were desirable collectibles from 1992-1998. Only 2,000 copies were printed of the SCSE CD-4, with an estimated value in 1997 of $200 or more. The SCSE CD-4-G (gold) was limited to 750 copies, but was only worth about $125. Their values were diminished upon Super Tracks' limited 2-CD release, on sale for $40 in early 1998. All the older releases remained in demand on the secondary market; the SCSE CDs still sold for as much as $75 in 1999. After all of them had long disappeared from the market, the 2010 La-La Land album was limited to 3,000 copies and sold at soundtrack specialty outlets for a retail price of $25.



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Buy it... if you enjoy any of James Horner's early action scores, for this one embodies his distinct 1980's style and foreshadows many of his later classic scores for blockbuster adventures.

Avoid it... if the derivative rhythms, motifs, and instrumentation of Horner's action style of this era have lost their appeal over the years for you as his music has cannibalized itself and matured.

Krull: (James Horner) At a time when every other studio was venturing into the glittery new realms of science fiction space epics and sword and sorcery extravaganzas, Columbia Studios decided to sink the impressive sum of $27 million into The Dragons of Krull, a 1983 film that would merge the two genres into one bizarre collection of ideas pulled from Star Wars, The Sword and the Sorcerer, Excalibur, and Conan the Barbarian. Director Peter Yates claims many years later that the resulting failure wasn't meant to be either a "sword and sorcery" flick or a bandwagon jumper. Upon the resounding thud that greeted Dragonslayer in the theatres, Columbia shortened the title of its project to Krull, but unfortunately the end result was equally campy and bordered on ridiculous. Among the planet-domineering beasts in spaceship castles, princes and princesses from rival kingdoms uniting the people in rebellion, and fabulous creatures and tech toys from wild imaginations, audiences quickly identified the concepts as both unoriginal and relatively high on the cheese meter, even for the time. Decades later, Krull is remembered for really only two things: a very early performance by a young Liam Neeson in a small role and an ambitious score from James Horner written before his 30th birthday. The rising composer was fresh off of his burst into the ears of mainstream listeners with his rousing music for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and it became clear to many that what Columbia wanted out of him was another space opera along the same lines as that popular 1982 effort. Several reviews of the film through the years have criticized the score not only because of the film's rather poor audio mix, but its obvious similarities in style and motif to Star Trek II. The production was among the first to allow Horner a free range of choice on his compositional approach, which makes the score's repetition of style a bit surprising. A more thorough examination of the score for Krull, however, exposes it as a more unconventional and, in many ways, interesting endeavor.

While Columbia didn't spare any expense in securing the London Symphony Orchestra and a suitable choir for Horner's recording, the studio was less generous on its time frame for the completion of the music. Overwhelmed by the post-production schedule of a film already missing its target of opening with Return of the Jedi (by several months), Horner was tasked with writing 110 minutes of massive orchestral music in a matter of seven weeks, a job more daunting at the time than it would be with the help of software in later decades. Battling illness and a shortage of staff, Horner would eventually write a score that would both extend his previous stylistic expressions while also exploring ideas that would prove extremely effective in his scores of the following eight years. Despite criticism of rehash from many film reviewers, the Krull score is showered with praise from their film score counterparts, and most of those positive vibes are warranted. Many of Horner's early scores featured the same derivative structures in their attempt to glorify their fantasy elements. Without a doubt, Krull is similar to Battle Beyond the Stars, the two Star Trek scores from Horner's pen, Aliens, and Brainstorm. You hear the same harsh brass tones, rising figures, and static metallic rhythms in all of these scores, and Krull is equally guilty of that continuity. Themes for the heroic prince, evil slayers, and the relationship with the princess are all developed well in the score, each offered in lengthy, prominent fashion. The main title introduces the first of these themes with a choral accompaniment perhaps somewhat shallow in power, but combined with "Colwyn's Arrival" and "Slayer's Attack," the first fifteen minutes are explosive thematically and creatively. You'll immediately note that despite a well-rounded orchestration, Krull is absolutely dominated by its layers of brass. Trombones offer the title theme with trademark Horner resonance, though the French horns are restrained and the trumpets shrill at times. High strings perform a love theme that would share many characteristics with the composer's more elaborate successor for The Rocketeer.

As a highlight of Krull, the woodwind-conveyed love theme is provided with three full, unadulterated performances in the film and expanded albums, featured best in the cue "The Slayer's Attack" (which likely should have been split into two separate tracks on the albums to set this performance aside from the rambunctious action that follows it). In the final sequence of the film, during the track entitled "Destruction of the Black Fortress," the strings perform an awkward march with swishing percussion and wailing trumpets; its staggered rhythms could easily be mistaken for the final starship battle sequence in Star Trek II. Percussion in a few of the battle scenes echo the Klingon material in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, with conceptual hints of Aliens in its development as well. The frenzied volume of hysteria in some of these outrageously chaotic action cues, brutal in their brass tones, are a foreshadowing of Brainstorm. Conversely, the opening minutes of "Riding the Fire Mares" offer some propulsive adaptations of the score's heroic theme into far more unique and enjoyable harmonic forms. The expansive creativity in the handling of the ensemble is what makes Krull both interesting and, unfortunately, occasionally obnoxious. Horner's experimentation with grinding electronic sound effects would continue, though the score would use the choir in ways that the composer would not explore much further. This, along with the sheer attitude of the brazen, in-your-face brass performances, combine with a few frighteningly dissonant passages to make Krull a more difficult listening experience than some comparable scores. Much of the methodology in the handling of themes, unique percussion, and rhythmic explosiveness would reach maturation in Willow, still a far better score. While Krull remains a fascinating listening experience for any Horner collector, it is simply too derivative of the composer's other concurrent efforts, with most of its elements put to better use in later scores. By that time, Horner would also have jettisoned the overused motifs of his first five years and the sound quality of his recordings was destined to improve drastically.

Learn about

Both the score and the film hold a distinct cult status, and the great desire of film music fans to experience Krull on CD led to three releases of it from 1987 to 1998. The Southern Cross Records specialty label offered a 45-minute album in 1987 with all the essential music before expanding that album to 75 minutes with two limited collector's pressings in the early 1990's (the second pressing was a "gold" CD). The short-lived Super Tracks label offered a limited 2-CD set of Krull with 93 minutes in 1998, effectively providing all viable music from the film. The original 1987 album offers a balanced presentation of the score and its sound quality isn't as archival as it could have been (bass strings are undermixed, though). The expanded albums would mostly concentrate on extensions of the battle music, often in the realm of irritating dissonance; some collectors held on to their original 1987 copies of Krull for its consistent flow. The only absolutely essential cue missing from this first album is "Main Title and Colwyn's Arrival," available on all the subsequent albums. Even completists were largely satisfied with the two limited SCSE editions. With superb sound quality and correct sequencing, the presence of these albums made the announcement of an even fuller Krull release in 1998 a significant surprise. For Horner fans, this 2-CD release of Krull is a fan's dream come true, and long after it disappeared from the market, La-La Land Records issued a re-pressing of the set that rearranged the tracks slightly and offered two album arrangements as new bonus cues to bring the total time up to nearly 100 minutes. The 2010 product was itself limited to 3,000 copies, and instead of really improving upon the previously released material, the focus of the set was to bring the music back into commercial availability. The SCSE albums had sold at one time for $200, and the Super Tracks one retailed for $40 before selling out. The additional music on the 1998 and 2010 albums is interesting, but by no means exceptional. With no new performances of the primary or love themes in its contents, most listeners will not really need this material. Sound quality is a non-factor in this equation; it's about the same on the La-La Land, Super Tracks, and SCSE releases. Regardless of which product you choose, the score is outstanding for much of its length, but not worth unconditional love. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For James Horner reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 98 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.19 (in 187,905 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.6 Stars
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   Alternative review at
  Southall -- 8/13/13 (2:58 p.m.)
   One of Horner's Best!!
  Chris_FSB25 -- 1/20/12 (10:04 p.m.)
   Will Always Be My Favorite!
  Randal -- 10/1/10 (7:31 p.m.)
   Man, I gotta get me one of those
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 Track Listings (1987 Southern Cross Album): Total Time: 45:12

• 1. Riding the Fire Mares (5:24)
• 2. Slayer's Attack (9:22)
• 3. Widow's Web (6:20)
• 4. Colwyn and Lyssa (Love Theme) (2:36)
• 5. Battle on the Parapets (2:32)
• 6. The Widow's Lullaby (5:10)
• 7. Destruction of the Black Fortress (8:40)
• 8. Epilogue and End Credits (4:48)

 Track Listings (1992/1994 SCSE Albums): Total Time: 78:50

• 1. Krull Main Title and Colwyn's Arrival (7:34)
• 2. Slayer's Attack (9:17)
• 3. Quest for the Glaive (7:22)
• 4. The Seer's Vision (2:17)
• 5. The Battle in the Swamp (2:40)
• 6. Quicksand (3:37)
• 7. Leaving the Swamp (1:59)
• 8. The Widow's Web (6:17)
• 9. Colwyn and Lyssa (Love Theme) (2:34)
• 10. The Widow's Lullaby (5:01)
• 11. Ynyr's Death (1:39)
• 12. Riding the Fire Mares (5:21)
• 13. Battle on the Parapets (2:52)
• 14. Inside the Black Fortress (6:14)
• 15. Death of the Beast/Destruction of the Black Fortress (8:33)
• 16. Epilogue and End Credits (4:52)

 Track Listings (1998 Super Tracks Album): Total Time: 93:01

CD 1: (46:13)

• 1. Main Title and Colwyn's Arrival (7:35)
• 2. The Slayer's Attack (9:20)
• 3. Quest for the Glaive (7:24)
• 4. Ride to the Waterfall* (0:54)
• 5. Lyssa in the Fortress* (1:29)
• 6. The Walk to the Seer's Cave* (4:11)
• 7. The Seer's Vision (2:19)
• 8. Battle in the Swamp (2:41)
• 9. Quicksand (3:39)
• 10. The Changeling* (4:05)
• 11. Colwynn and Lyssa - Love Theme (2:35)

CD 2: (46:48)

• 1. Leaving the Swamp (2:01)
• 2. The Widow's Web (6:20)
• 3. The Widow's Lullaby (5:03)
• 4. Vella* (3:47)
• 5. Ynyr's Death (1:42)
• 6. Riding the Firemares (5:23)
• 7. Battle on the Parapets (2:53)
• 8. Inside the Black Fortress (6:16)
• 9. The Death of the Beast and the Destruction of the Dark Fortress (8:32)
• 10. Epilogue and End Title (4:50)

* Previously unreleased tracks

 Track Listings (2010 La-La Land Album): Total Time: 99:39

CD 1: (45:23)

• 1. Main Title and Colwyn's Arrival (7:34)
• 2. The Slayers Attack (9:18)
• 3. Quest for the Glaive (7:23)
• 4. Ride to the Waterfall (0:53)
• 5. Lyssa in the Fortress (1:28)
• 6. The Walk to the Seer's Cave (4:10)
• 7. The Seer's Vision (2:18)
• 8. The Battle in the Swamp (2:39)
• 9. Quicksand (3:38)
• 10. The Changeling (4:04)
• 11. Leaving the Swamp (1:58)

CD 2: (54:16)

• 1. Vella (3:46)
• 2. The Widow's Web (6:18)
• 3. The Widow's Lullaby (5:01)
• 4. Ynyr's Death (1:41)
• 5. Ride of the Firemares (5:22)
• 6. Battle on the Parapets (2:53)
• 7. Inside the Black Fortress (6:13)
• 8. The Death of the Beast and the Destruction of the Black Fortress (8:31)
• 9. Epilogue and End Title (4:52)

Bonus Tracks:
• 10. Colwyn and Lyssa Love Theme (2:35)
• 11. The Walk to the Seer's Cave (Album Edit Version) (2:16)
• 12. Theme From "Krull" (4:48)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The Southern Cross albums include notes by David Stoner about the score and film. Both SCSE limited releases are hand numbered. The Super Tracks album has elaborate and attractive packaging, with liner notes by David Hirsch. The La-La Land album matches its predecessor, with notes by Jeff Bond.

  All artwork and sound clips from Krull are Copyright © 1987, 1992, 1998, 2010, Southern Cross Records, SCCD 1004, Southern Cross Records, SCSE CD-4, Southern Cross Records, SCSE CD-4-G, Super Tracks Music Group, STCE - 01/02, La-La Land 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 8/18/97 and last updated 9/15/10. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.