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Composed, Orchestrated, and Conducted by:
Andrew Powell

Produced by:
Alan Parsons

GNP Crescendo Records

Release Date:
December, 1995

Audio Clips:
1. Main Title (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

10. Navarre's Ambush (0:33):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

17. Wolf Trapped on Ice (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

22. Final Reunion/End Title (0:34):
WMA (222K)  MP3 (284K)
Real Audio (199K)

Regular U.S. release, but completely out of print and difficult to find.



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Sales Rank: 54741

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Buy it... only if you still have big hair and can't get enough of that early-80's Alan Parsons Project keyboard and guitar sound.

Avoid it... if you were as horrified by the inappropriateness of the score in the film as 98% of the public was.

Ladyhawke: (Andrew Powell) In the rush to capitalize on the popularity of the blossoming fantasy genre in the early 1980's, studios had to be somewhat nervous about the offerings they were each about to produce in 1985. Most of them were complete failures, including Red Sonja and Legend, though Ladyhawke actually managed to become a moderate success at the box office. Director Richard Donner as an established force, the cast was filled with young stars and old favorites, and the story was romantically set in a familiar medieval universe. That plot loosely involves a curse that has caused two lovers (Michelle Pfeiffer and Rutger Hauer) to take the shape of animals against their will, one at night and one during the day, so that they can never be together. Their encounters saving the life (and utilizing the services) of a mousy Matthew Broderick provides the action. The film has a loyal cult following even two decades later, and the project is a rare example of a circumstance in which it has always been controversial because of its music. Donner had worked with both John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith, though with Williams on tour and taking a break from film scoring and Goldsmith mired in the disaster of Legend for Ridley Scott, Donner came up with the idea of combining the services of orchestrator Andrew Powell and taking advantage of the pop culture music fad invading fantasy films at the time. It's hard to figure exactly where the genre switched its allegiance from the robust orchestral fantasy scores of Williams, James Horner, Trevor Jones, and Basil Poledouris to the more contemporary 1980's rock scene. Some point to Toto's strangely effective Dune score in 1984 as the source. But in any case, 1985 fantasy films hastened the popular demise of the genre through this "popification." In the last gasps of the Conan franchise, Ennio Morricone would infuse his orchestral score with rock elements, while Goldsmith's score for Legend would be tossed by the studio in favor of a Tangerine Dream replacement. And for Ladyhawke, Donner and the producers reportedly heard music from the Alan Parsons Project while scouting locations in Italy and decided to incorporate it as part of their film as well.

The end result is one of the most widely mocked soundtracks in the history of film. The Philharmonia Orchestra in London is largely supplanted by music directly out of the Alan Parsons Project, with the same musical producer and engineer for this film that also produced "Dark Side of the Moon" by Pink Floyd, among others. Performances here include their normal guitarist, Ian Bairnson, as well. Powell never made a career of film scoring, before or after Ladyhawke, and the lack of experience in integrating the orchestral and rock elements of the score are its fatal flaw. Critics actually laughed at the score in their reviews at the time, and reviews of the movie's DVD release have been even less kind to the score due to its very aged sound. When describing the music of Alan Parsons, some people refer to it as cheesy disco holdovers from the 1980's, some use the technically correct terminology of "80's progressive rock," and most people write it off as "painful 80's synth crap." For collectors of tradition film scores, Ladyhawke is an insufferable tragedy and unsuccessfully begs to be forgiven as a blatant mistake of its era. Even a significant portion of Alan Parsons Project collectors going back to the LPs of the early 80's find the score distracting in the film. And it certainly is. There's nothing as bizarre as hearing 80's progressive rock in a sword and sorcery film, and what makes the situation in Ladyhawke worse is that it's alternating with ten to fifteen minutes of really decent orchestral material by the London ensemble in the film. You get bludgeoned by the 80's rock rhythms and electric guitars over cheesy keyboarding for the first half of the film, only to be treated to some significantly rendered orchestral passages in the third quarter, only to be slapped once again by the non-descript rock at the end. The rock passages all sound alike, with the heartbeat effect from "Dark Side of the Moon" leading a whining synth brass theme and occasional early-80's digital orchestra hits. Both nauseating and punishing, these sequences accompany fight scenes, conversation pieces, and travel sequences with little regard for pacing, scene change, or any other cue identifiers.

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The most frustrating aspect of Powell's score for Ladyhawke is the potential it shows in its more traditional moments. A Gregorian chant, for instance, accompanies a procession for the evil bishop of the story, but is abandoned thereafter. The title theme for Ladyhawke is beautifully tragic, and while it is used without any effect by the rock style in the opening of the film, Powell introduces the listener to its orchestral side with longing woodwinds and strings in "She Was Sad at First." Unfortunately, a mass error in the string section at about 1:45 in that cue nearly ruins its listenability. Despite representing the lost love at the heart of the film's mysticism, the theme is badly underutilized until the "Final Reunion," which is the orchestral highlight of the score. The triumphant statement of this theme is very compelling in this finale, with well-conceived brass counterpoint to the string performance. Once again, the performance is ruined by two factors: first, the end titles are immediately mixed into the final notes of the theme, forcing the orchestra to engage with the terrible keyboard opening of the rock version of the theme. Secondly, the string section is not powerful enough to carry the theme over the counterpoint of the far-more engaging horns, leaving the horns in the intriguing position of providing their own sort of solo theme at the end. The orchestration and arrangement of the orchestral portions are poorly handled throughout, meaning that any compilation performance of the otherwise outstanding title theme from Ladyhawke would have to be significantly arranged for that purpose. Fans of the Parsons side of things delighted in a late 1995 CD pressing that expanded the available music from the film. The original LP releases of Ladyhawke included less than 40 minutes of music, often leaving off the more compelling, non-rock recordings. A little-known Italian CD release under the Genoa label in 1993 featured identical contents in a limited 2000-copy pressing. The 1995 GNP Crescendo album adds another half hour of score, including, most importantly, the full finale music. While the release is commendable, the score is still an atrocious mess, most of which is nothing less than painful to tolerate by today's standards of pop culture and orchestral music. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for Film: FRISBEE
    Music as Heard on Album: *
    Overall: *

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 2.66 Stars
Smart Average: 2.7 Stars*
***** 60 
**** 32 
*** 46 
** 67 
* 93 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Music following 'Trotto'
  acrabtreegirl -- 10/24/12 (2:53 p.m.)
   ..i think..
  cognac -- 2/1/10 (12:46 a.m.)
   I don't get the soundtrack criticism
  Caile76 -- 10/14/09 (8:32 p.m.)
   Parsons, Woolfson, Powell
  Rene' A. Rodri'guez -- 3/11/09 (9:08 p.m.)
   Music is great!
  Navarre -- 8/29/07 (2:01 p.m.)
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 Track Listings: Total Time: 63:40

• 1. Main Title (2:59)
• 2. Phillippe's Espace (1:40)
• 3. The Search for Phillippe (3:25)
• 4. Tavern Fight (Phillippe) (2:08)
• 5. Tavern Fight (Navarre) (2:38)
• 6. Pitou's Woods (4:04)
• 7. Phillippe Describes Isabeau (1:11)
• 8. Bishop's Procession (2:50)
• 9. Wedding Music (1:41)
• 10. Navarre's Ambush (4:53)
• 11. Imperius Removes Arrow (1:33)
• 12. Chase/Fall/Transformation (2:06)
• 13. Cezar's Woods (5:29)
• 14. She Was Sad at First (2:06)
• 15. Navarre Returns to Aquila (1:36)
• 16. Turret Chase/The Fall - Film Version (2:46)
• 17. Wolf Trapped on Ice (2:34)
• 18. Navarre and Isabeau's Dual Transformation (3:23)
• 19. Navarre and Marquet Duel (4:22)
• 20. Marquet's Death (1:59)
• 21. Bishop's Death (2:26)
• 22. Final Reunion/End Title (8:14)
• 23. Ladyhawke Theme: Single Version (3:35)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The insert includes no extra information about the score or film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Ladyhawke are Copyright © 1995, GNP Crescendo 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 12/13/96 and last updated 6/24/06. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.