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Section Header
The Poseidon Adventure
1995 Bootleg

1998 FSM

2010 La-La Land

Composed and Conducted by:
John Williams

Orchestrated by:
Alexander Courage

1998 Album Produced by:
Lukas Kendall
Nick Redman
Jeff Bond

2010 Album Produced by:
Nick Redman
Mike Matessino

Labels and Dates:
Johnny Boy Bootleg
(October, 1995)

Film Score Monthly
(August, 1998)

La-La Land Records
(April 27th, 2010)

Also See:
The Towering Inferno
Black Sunday

Audio Clips:
1998 FSM Album:

The Paper Chase: 1. Love Theme (0:34):
WMA (222K)  MP3 (284K)
Real Audio (199K)

Conrack: 13. Main Title (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

The Poseidon Adventure: 18. Raising the Christmas Tree (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

The Poseidon Adventure: 25. End Title (0:32):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

The 1995 Johnny Boy bootleg was available only through soundtrack specialty outlets and eventually sold on the secondary market for $150 before the release of the score by Film Score Monthly deflated it. That 1998 FSM album was a limited release of 3,000 copies and was also available only through soundtrack specialty outlets for $20. It sold out and escalated beyond $100 in value. The 2010 La-La Land album was also limited to 3,000 copies and sold out quickly through specialty outlets, achieving a value of $65 almost immediately.

  The Williams score and Kasha/Hirschhorn song "The Morning After" were both nominated for Academy Awards, the latter winning. Both were also nominated for Golden Globes.

The Poseidon Adventure
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Sales Rank: 196940

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Buy it... if you're exploring the early triumphs of John Williams' transformation into a master of large-scale orchestral action and desire a taste of his grim, dissonant style of dread.

Avoid it... if lingering sound quality issues due to poor master tape availability, as well as the perpetual scarcity of the score on album, deter you from its often unreasonable prices when also considering that it lacks enough typical Williams harmony to satisfy casual collectors.

The Poseidon Adventure: (John Williams) After the surprising success of Airport in 1970, the stage was set for a series of highly popular disaster films in that decade, led by a leap from television to big screen by producer Irwin Allen. Having offered several documentaries and fantasy TV series in the years prior, Allen would jump from the massive success of The Poseidon Adventure in 1972 to The Towering Inferno in 1974 before The Swarm several years later would end his run. At the height of the genre's dominance in the early 70's, however, audiences couldn't get enough of these films, which usually put stellar casts on display and dazzled with their mammoth production values for the time. Riding this wave of popularity, The Poseidon Adventure would receive nine Academy Award nominations (winning for its song and special effects), an important recognition of the quality of the film despite its incredibly outdated technology and cultural elements from today's perspective. A 2006 remake did not challenge Allen's authority on the topic even when attempting to address these aspects of the original. Among the Oscar nominations for the 1972 film was one for the score by John Williams, who had morphed from the "Johnny" Williams of 1960's jazz into a capable symphonic action composer by the time his collaboration with Allen reached the big screen. While having no association with the production of the famous song, Williams incorporated Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn's popular "The Morning After" (performed by Renee Armand for the screen version but made famous by Maureen McGovern's single version) into some of his underscore where appropriate, creating a subtle but important link to the film's lasting musical identity. Regardless of Williams' soon-to-come reputation, however, casual observers tend to forget that his work here is largely atmospheric. His harsh, brass theme of epic proportions for the title is utilized often, but always in the context of a tumultuous rhythmic base. It stylistically resembles the title theme for The Towering Inferno, and also shares similar chord progressions with some of David Arnold's 1990s disaster themes.

But unlike The Towering Inferno, in which the title theme receives a glorious performance of optimism in technological advancement before the disaster strikes, Williams gives The Poseidon Adventure a doomed demeanor from the very start. Judging from Williams' earlier recorded versions of the "Main Title" cue, his inclination was to make the score even more dissonant and challenging that what the film eventually received. There is little setup time before the cruise ship is struck by a tidal wave and flipped, and the music that introduces the liner at the opening doesn't vary much from the troubled environment of the escape attempts during the rest of the film. Only a few source cues of light jazz in the main dining hall sequence interrupts Williams' perpetually gloomy string and brass rumblings in the deep layers of bass. Even the piano is tethered to these dark bass regions, often crashing to accentuate an orchestra hit or rambling without direction in the more tentative cues. The major effects sequence involving the rogue wave and the capsizing of the ship is scored counter-intuitively, utilizing high string whining, occasional groaning from brass, and intrigue from harp to function as another form of sound effects for the scene. As such, anyone looking blazing Williams action will be left very cold by this listening experience. For casual appreciation, the plethora of tumultuous underscore doesn't have the muscular, more harmonic appeal of a work like Black Sunday, instead serving up Williams' avant garde tendencies without much more than infrequent respites in the form of longing, subdued references (usually on horns) to the title theme. Some sequences are so minimally rendered that listeners may not receive enough reminders of Williams' typical mannerisms to satisfy themselves. The composer does excel at creating an atmosphere of dread, however, and no matter what qualms one might have about the score's grim personality, its effectiveness is rarely questioned. The nonstop environment of dread finally yields to a slightly more upbeat variation on the score's memorable, tumbling string rhythms in the finale cue, slowly building in E.T. fashion to cymbal crashing statement of triumph in the title theme (during the rescue scene) that remains the highlight of the score.

On album, The Poseidon Adventure has suffered from sound quality and availability issues from the start. Since it's a score that relies upon textures, the former is a significant drawback. During "The Aftermath," for instance, it's difficult to tell if electronic clicking sounds in the background of the dissonant blanket of strings is an intended Williams effect or simply an artifact of the poor sound quality and the efforts to master the surviving tapes into a presentable form. A 40-minute bootleg was released in 1995 with all pertinent cues, and though its sound quality was horrendous, it remained the only available source of music from the film and sold for as much as $150 in the years that followed. In 1998, the Film Score Monthly magazine was introducing its fledgling Silver Age Classics CD series to collectors, and after a somewhat lackluster opening entry with Stagecoach, FSM sent cheers through the crowd with a compilation of three John Williams scores of the early 1970's on their second entry. The selling point of the album was The Poseidon Adventure, with a source cue added to the bootleg material and the entire score transferred directly from the original tapes; unfortunately, only the mono backup recordings remained viable at that time for most cues. Listeners of that album will note a significant improvement in quality for two seemingly random cues in the middle of the score for which the stereo tapes were available. The album also features premier recordings of The Paper Chase and Conrack, both of which differ in style from the disaster classic. The contemporary drama The Paper Chase exhibits both some of Williams' more romantic, jazzy pop themes and modern classical interpretations. An unassuming, relaxing score, its pop-influenced love theme is genuinely enjoyable, swinging with a small ensemble through an eclectic collection of cues that includes some classical source material. The societal commentary of Conrack, on the other hand, runs parallel musically to Sugarland Express, and its heartfelt theme is dominated by vibrant solos. Presented on the album is the only surviving music from the film (roughly a third of the overall length of Williams' composition for the project), but easily the most important. This cue, as Jon Voight prepares to teach school in a backwards Southern community, features guitar and flute solos that mark some of the best thematic material Williams composed for small-scale drama in that period.

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Still, even with the popularity of the FSM album, issues of sound quality continued. Especially when you consider John Barry's scores of the era, the recordings of the 1970's were often worse than those of the 1960's, and The Poseidon Adventure is clear evidence of that misfortune. Contrary to original rumors, the 1998 album featured better sound quality than the bootleg, but still not satisfying by any means. Nevertheless, the three scores together sound equivalent in their muted qualities, and this shouldn't stop any ardent Williams fan from seeking the FSM album. Along with FSM's even more impressive release of The Towering Inferno, the limited The Poseidon Adventure edition of 3,000 copies disappeared within a short time and escalated in price on the secondary market in the years that followed. Indeed, these two have proven to be FSM's most popular releases ever. As technology in the music mastering process matured over another decade, the opportunity to finally clean up the surviving stereo masters and make them suitable for another album release finally came. La-La Land Records presented this update of The Poseidon Adventure in another limited 3,000-copy run in 2010, also adding numerous alternative takes and the film versions of the song. More importantly, the entire score was offered in stereo; the only trouble spot unfortunately remained "End Title," for which the stereo version is really warped beyond listenability, a truly unfortunate coincidence given that it is easily the highlight of the score (Black Sunday's finale suffered a similar fate). For those who had grown accustomed to the decent but still mono presentation of the score on the 1998 FSM album, the 2010 product may seem redundant, especially with the additional, alternate takes and source cues not really offering much more than a curiosity factor for those inclined to study these scores from an intellectual standpoint. Many collectors didn't have the opportunity to purchase the 2010 album at all; it sold out within weeks and became yet another source of income for speculators at online auctions. For completists and the most serious enthusiasts of Williams' disaster genre works, the score does sound better in most of its parts on the 2010 album and that presentation is as good as it will ever likely get. For others, the product's value as a collectible will not justify the improvements, and investing in Black Sunday (given that The Towering Inferno remained insanely out of print and expensive as of 2010) is a more economical method of tasting this style of Williams dread. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: ****
    Music as Heard on the 1995 Bootleg: **
    Music as Heard on the 1998 Album: ****
    Music as Heard on the 2010 Album: ****
    Overall: ****

Bias Check:For John Williams reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.74 (in 69 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.59 (in 337,529 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.08 Stars
Smart Average: 3.09 Stars*
***** 77 
**** 120 
*** 135 
** 87 
* 73 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Re: Poseidon
  Evan -- 5/7/06 (3:24 p.m.)
  Thom -- 4/20/06 (9:16 p.m.)
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 Track Listings (1995 Bootleg Album): Total Time: 38:46

• 1. S. S. Poseidon (2:01)
• 2. Shipboard Life (1:34)
• 3. The Wave/Aftermath (4:04)
• 4. Raising the Christmas Tree (1:26)
• 5. Martin and Nonnie (0:51)
• 6. An Appeal to the Living (2:16)
• 7. Reverend Scott Explores the Kitchen (1:13)
• 8. Inferno (1:12)
• 9. Bow or Stern? (1:35)
• 10. Hell, Upside Down (2:37)
• 11. Snip Snip Snip (1:45)
• 12. Trapped Underwater (1:24)
• 13. Belle Dies (2:27)
• 14. Climb to Freedom (4:30)
• 15. Rogo Takes the Lead (1:39)
• 16. Rescue/End Titles (3:35)
• 17. The Morning After - performed by Maureen McGovern (2:22)

 Track Listings (1998 FSM Album): Total Time: 75:51

The Paper Chase:
• 1. Love Theme from The Paper Chase** (2:37)
• 2. The Passing of Wisdom*** (3:06)
• 3. Bach: "Little Fugue" in G minor   (2:05)
• 4. Be Irrational* (2:55)
• 5. Kevin's House (source) (2:32)
• 6. Hart in a Hurry (1:16)
• 7. Thinking of Susan/Kingsfield's Study/The Empty Classroom (3:12)
• 8. Kevin's Tutor (source)(3:36)
• 9. To the Hotel*** (2:02)
• 10. Telemann: Concerto in D Major (Allegro) ** *** (1:39)
• 11. Real Identity/Into the Sea* (3:35)
• 12. End Title* (2:38)

• 13. Main Title* (6:07)
The Poseidon Adventure:
• 14. Main Title (2:13)
• 15. Rogo and Linda** (1:32)
• 16. To Love (source) (3:07)
• 17. The Big Wave* (4:01)
• 18. Raising the Christmas Tree (3:24)
• 19. Death's Door (5:02)
• 20. Search for the Engine Room   (2:49)
• 21. The Barber Shop* (3:05)
• 22. Death of Belle*** (3:26)
• 23. Hold Your Breath* (3:06)
• 24. The Red Wheel (3:00)
• 25. End Title (3:34)

* Contains music not used in the film
** Not used in the film
*** Stereo

 Track Listings (2010 La-La Land Album): Total Time: 60:39

• 1. Main Title (2:12)
• 2. Rogo and Linda (1:34)
• 3. The Big Wave/The Aftermath (4:02)
• 4. Raising the Christmas Tree (1:28)
• 5. Nonnie and Red/Up the Tree (1:59)
• 6. Death's Door/The Upturned Galley (2:01)
• 7. Through the Galley (1:13)
• 8. The Other Survivors (1:37)
• 9. Search for the Engine Room (2:51)
• 10. Barber Shoppe Scene (1:46)
• 11. Saving Robin (1:24)
• 12. The Death of Belle (3:25)
• 13. Hold Your Breath (3:08)
• 14. The Red Wheel (1:25)
• 15. Rogo Takes Command (1:38)
• 16. End Title (The Rescue) (3:36)
Alternates and Source Music:
• 17. Main Title (Alternate Version 1) (1:58)
• 18. New Year's Party (Version 1) (0:58)
• 19. To Love (3:12)
• 20. New Year's Party (Version 2) (2:11)
• 21. Main Title (Alternate Version 2) (1:59)
• 22. "The Morning After" (Version 1) (2:10)
• 23. "Love is a Many Splendored Thing" (2:19)
• 24. "Give Me the Simple Life"/"A Certain Smile" (1:49)
• 25. "The Morning After" (Instrumental Version) (2:09)
• 26. "Auld Lang Syne" (1:34)
• 27. "The Morning After" (Version 2) (2:10)
• 28. End Title (Alternate Version) (2:38)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The 1995 bootleg insert includes no extra information about the score or film. The 1998 Film Score Monthly album includes the label's usual standard of outstanding, in-depth notes about films and scores for all three scores represented on the product. The 2010 La-La Land album's insert also features an extensive analysis of the film and score.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Poseidon Adventure are Copyright © 1995, 1998, 2010, Johnny Boy Bootleg, Film Score Monthly, 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 9/24/96 and last updated 9/14/10. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.