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Section Header
The Hunt for Red October
1990 MCA

Sample Bootleg

2013 Intrada

Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Produced by:
Basil Poledouris

Co-Orchestrated by:
Greig McRitchie
Richard Stone

Labels and Dates:
MCA Records
(June 12th, 1990)


Intrada Records
(October 28th, 2013)

Also See:
Crimson Tide
Ice Station Zebra
Free Willy

Audio Clips:
1990 Album:

2. Nuclear Scam (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (237K)
Real Audio (147K)

4. Course Two-Five-Zero (0:33):
WMA (130K)  MP3 (156K)
Real Audio (97K)

8. Red Route I (0:28):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

2000 Bootleg:

27. End Titles (0:34):
WMA (222K)  MP3 (284K)
Real Audio (199K)

The 1990 MCA album is a regular U.S. release. The bootleg floated around the secondary market throughout the 2000's, always consistent in track selection and sound. The 2013 Intrada album is a limited product of unspecified quantities, originally available through soundtrack specialty outlets for $20.


The Hunt for Red October
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Sales Rank: 58066

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Buy it... on the DVD and watch the film if you want to hear Basil Poledouris' intelligent blend of orchestra, synthetics, and choir in the dynamic, crystal-clear sonic environment in which they were intended to be heard.

Avoid it... if you expect much of the majesty of the score to carry over from the film onto the muffled and dry presentations on any of the currently available commercial and bootleg albums, including the official 2013 expansion.

The Hunt for Red October: (Basil Poledouris) Among the many major big-screen adaptations of Tom Clancy's novels about American intelligence agent Jack Ryan, The Hunt for Red October is almost unanimously considered the highest achievement. With both critical and massive popular acclaim as a summer blockbuster in 1990, the finely crafted John McTiernan film would stir Paramount's interest in creating a film franchise around the Ryan character, though by The Sum of All Fears over a decade later, the idea had arguably worn out its welcome. There were a plethora of reasons why The Hunt for Red October succeeded so well, both on campy pop levels and at highly skilled technical ones. Its story's intrigue speaks to the novel's bestseller status; in the waning days of the Cold War, the Soviets' top submarine commander violates orders and sails his revolutionary new and 'silent' nuclear submarine on a direct course for the United States, with the Americans not knowing whether he intends to launch his nuclear arsenal or defect for the cause of peace. The cast of the film begged early questions, especially with Sean Connery, Sam Neill, and Tim Curry in primary Soviet roles, but if you look past their sometimes waning control over their accents, the supporting players put the sequel ensembles to shame. A thrilling story and outstanding art direction are joined by an undeniably masterful job of sound production for film. Winning the Oscar for "Sound Effects Editing" and nominated for "Best Sound" and "Film Editing," the aural soundscape of the film was well beyond its time for a 1990 production, and part of the success in The Hunt for Red October's appeal to the ears is owed to composer Basil Poledouris, who won a BMI Film Music Award for his score for the picture. The assignment was a dream come true for Poledouris, whose capability in scoring raw action films and the threat of devastating Soviet attacks on America was only eclipsed by his love of the sea. It's no coincidence that many of Poledouris' most cherished scores exist for films that involve the ocean. His knowledge of sailing and desire to be oceanside have figured into some of his most creative film scores, and Red October rivals the lesser-known, sailing-inspired Wind as the pinnacle of these high seas inspirations.

Several unique challenges were posed to Poledouris when tackling The Hunt for Red October, ranging from the prestige of the Russian military to the techno-thriller elements begging for synthetic treatment. Add to this equation a director obsessed with the composer's prior music (which had been tracked into early edits of the film) and a dwindling music budget as the film's overall production costs ballooned, and there was ultimately procedural discontent expressed by the composer that led, in some part, to his eventual abandonment of the industry. His score ultimately balanced an ethnically appropriate chorus (to provide the Russian hymns) with a full orchestra and Poledouris' expected range of trademark electronics. Among these elements, the orchestra seems to simply be along for the ride, with the chorus and, primarily, the synthetic elements navigating the score's sound, the latter forced into a more pervasive role as studio money was pulled away from the recording sessions. The most remarkable aspect of Poledouris' efforts for Red October is the fact that he intentionally blurs the lines so effectively between a standalone melodramatic score and the kind of source music that a film like this requires. Not only does hymnal material receive a source-like performance in the context of the film's story, but Poledouris' array of synthetic sounds, developed over the course of the 1980's, merges with the sound effects so well that it's difficult to distinguish between the music and the effects in the film. The most memorable music from Red October for a majority of listeners will be the choral sequences, and the title hymn in particular. While speculation has raged for years that Poledouris used a Russian national anthem or a traditional Red Army hymn as the basis for the "Hymn to Red October," the fact is that Poledouris' material is his own. The director originally insisted upon the use of a traditional folk song as the inspiration for the theme, but Poleoduris eventually convinced him that originality, along with a better ability to integrate the theme into the remainder of the score, was a superior plan. Despite some typical references to classic Russian composers, such comparisons are expected given the constructs of the music, and Poledouris should be commended for both his melody and lyrics for the hymn, the latter a source of much toil. The falling "Oktyabreh" segment of the theme is used during the heroic moments of the Russian crew during the film, both with and without the choir, providing an effective and lyrical title identity for the film to revisit for grand occasions.

Outside of the main hymn, the remaining thematic material in The Hunt for Red October exists in mostly simple motifs of harmoniously elegant chord progressions. One of the better developed motifs exists in the form of a graceful choral movement for the title submarine itself, used repeatedly during underwater shots of the ship's movements. The crescendo heard in "Course Two-Five-Zero" is a teaser for the ballet-like sways of "Red Route I," during which the ease with which the massive sub navigates treacherous depths is given an almost effortless poise and flow. While the choral majesty of "Course Two-Five-Zero" and "Red Route I," as well as the curious variant of the hymn for a more pensive choir in "Ancestral Aid," have the most dramatic impact on the film's visual beauty, Poledouris' action material has a far more technologically cold side to its precision. As in many of the composer's works, rhythm is key to Red October, launching cues like "Nuclear Scam" and "Kaboom!!!" with unabashed vigor and attitude. Many of the same sound effects that Poledouris would use in Free Willy and his other intelligent synthetic/orchestral combo scores were utilized in full for Red October. The early cue, "Putin's Demise," offers the methodical rhythmic incorporation of the upper ranges of these keyboarded effects, while the brilliantly paced evacuation sequence in "Nuclear Scam" shifts this application to a lengthy, nearly solo portion in the lower ranges of the same effect. Many of Poledouris' other effects utilized sounds manipulated for underwater imitation or pressurized air release. For instance, the most obvious sound effect used by Poledouris in Red October is an echoing synth orchestra hit that bounces between the left and right front speakers, dissipating like an underwater signal bouncing through the ship and mirroring the ping-like variant used as a sound effect in the film. An interesting, but barely noticeable sound effect in the score is the use of a "release of air" sound heard at the end of "Putin's Demise," though it's not as clearly audible in subsequent cues. Some of the action sequences in Red October feature a more traditional set of synthetic aides, including the use of somewhat tired drum pads in "Chopper" and "Kaboom!!!." The latter track is evidence that Poledouris was forced to abandon the orchestra in the later action sequences due to disappearing recording funds; for the final battle involving the Red October and two other submarines, Poledouris approaches the cue from an almost completely synthetic approach, recording nearly all of these cues by himself at his home studio.

While effective in the context of the action of The Hunt for Red October, the synthetic choral substitute in "Kaboom!!!" is legitimate reason for dismay. The emergency surfacing of the American submarine in this scene is given the best majesty that Poledouris can muster given the tools at hand, but the cue, despite some good low-range rhythmic pulsing later in the recording, is cheapened by the embellished drum pads and fake orchestra hits. The lingering elements of minor dissatisfaction involving the score for Red October don't stop there, either. Some of the work was removed from the film and several other cues were arranged and inserted repeatedly where Poledouris probably didn't intend them to be. As many as ten major cues were either removed completely, such as the opening moments of the film that featured silence instead, or cut short, including some of the score's major action pieces. The dual-purpose scene depicting a discussion between Sean Connery and Sam Neill about their personal lives, interspersing shots of submarine navigation, replaced Poledouris' original cue ("Two Wives") with one from the composer's No Man's Land, a McTiernan favorite. Some of the lesser conversational cues utilized the limited orchestral time in the score rather than leaving that session money for the important scenes at the end of the film. Even the end credits features music consisted of a highly rearranged version of "Nuclear Scam," the budget for Poledouris' more unique "New World" cue for that conclusion not available. Listeners looking for answers to questions about the Red October score on its initial, woefully short commercial album were not greeted kindly. The 30-minute album was nothing short of a disgrace, partly due to the music not included in its length, but mostly because of a truly terrible quality of sound that fluctuates wildly from track to track. For a film with such glorious surround mixes, including a superior presentation of the score's recording in the movie, Red October teases you with musical creativity on screen that you were not destined to hear with the same vibrancy on album. On that MCA product, Poledouris' recording is muffled and dry, with poor balance between synthetic and orchestral, orchestral and choral. That disservice is exactly what this finely tuned score does not need, and if you read criticisms of Red October's score from other reviewers who don't appreciate all the hoopla about this score, then rest assured that those writers probably haven't done the necessary research into this massive difference in quality between the film and album presentations.

Learn about

Through the years, soundtrack collectors turned to a bootleg with over an hour of music from The Hunt for Red October that began to surface a decade after the MCA product's debut. This bootleg never solved many of the sound quality issues, however, which is why an official 2013 Intrada Records expansion of the score on album was so highly anticipated. This CD does offer the complete score with some alternates (though not everything included on the bootlegs, interestingly), and the highlights of the newly released material gravitate towards the early, orchestral portions ("Tupolov"). The illuminated late action and suspense cues reveal secondary rhythmic devices that Poledouris relied upon to supply depth to the final cat and mouse chasing game in the story, though these pulses are not as satisfying apart from the film as other sequences. The late torpedo cue, for instance, is rather sparse in its rendering. By contrast, the earlier character-building scenes feature equally minimal but much more interesting orchestral tones similar to what Michael Kamen provided to the director's original Die Hard. The 2013 album has a pair of brutal flaws, however, that make it only a marginally recommended product. First is the lack of improvement in sound quality. The score still sounds muffled in much of its length, a result of the decision by the album's producers not to attempt a full remastering of the score. Apparently, Poledouris tweaked the complicated merging of orchestra, synthesizer, and chorus so many times in his mixes that a recreation of them from the separate elements was deemed too daunting. This choice, while perhaps practical, dooms Red October to mediocrity in its album sound quality. The other flaw of the album is the poor attempt to reassemble the end credits arrangement of the film for this product. For many years, fans have taken this rearrangement of the title hymn and "Nuclear Scam" from the DVD directly, and when you compare the DVD's distilled stereo sound with that of the Intrada album, you'll be astonished by the difference. Even the 2013 album's assembly of the "End Credits" suite is inferior to what comes off the DVD in the finesse of the fades between cues. Overall, having a muted mix of this score on album completely defeats the purpose of the synthesizers' intentional movements across the sonic spectrum, leaving Poledouris enthusiasts with hearing the stylistic leftovers on the better presented Free Willy album from 1993. Still, historically, Red October stands alongside Ice Station Zebra and Crimson Tide as a thoroughly enjoyable submarine score of immense popular appeal to its generation. But until the lingering sound quality issues are finally addressed, don't expect any album presentation to end years of frustration for fans of the film. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for Film: *****
    Music as Heard on the 1990 MCA Album: **
    Music as Heard on the Bootlegs: ***
    Music as Heard on the 2013 Intrada Album: ***
    Overall: ****

Bias Check:For Basil Poledouris reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.47 (in 33 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.22 (in 33,622 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 4.01 Stars
Smart Average: 3.78 Stars*
***** 6333 
**** 4077 
*** 1855 
** 908 
* 828 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Re: Lyrics to Hymn to Red October
  Mindwalker -- 5/17/15 (4:04 p.m.)
   Re: Lyrics to Hymn to Red October
  skyfall -- 10/17/14 (7:55 a.m.)
   Film version tracks
  Polo-fan -- 4/25/14 (2:00 p.m.)
   Kaboom - film version?
  new-englander -- 12/18/13 (10:35 a.m.)
   Red October complete sometime in 2013??
  new-englander -- 8/14/13 (8:51 a.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings (1990 MCA Album): Total Time: 30:11

• 1. Hymn to Red October (Main Titles) (5:04)
• 2. Nuclear Scam (7:17)
• 3. Putin's Demise (0:54)
• 4. Course Two-Five-Zero (0:21)
• 5. Ancestral Aid (2:10)
• 6. Chopper (2:52)
• 7. Two Wives* (2:41)
• 8. Red Route I (3:28)
• 9. Plane Crash (1:46)
• 10. Kaboom!!! (3:15)

* Contains music not used in film

 Track Listings (Bootleg Albums): Total Time: 61:25

• 1. Polijarny Inlet*/** (0:44)
• 2. Hymn to Red October (Main Title) (5:06)
• 3. Putin's Demise* (1:01)
• 4. Graving Dock #4/Two Keys** (1:41)
• 5. Dallas' Sonar** (1:17)
• 6. Course Two-Five-Zero/On Course** (1:02)
• 7. "Let Them Sing" (Soviet Hymn)/U.S. National Command Meeting** (1:22)
• 8. Three Days Only*/** (0:43)
• 9. The Chase Begins** (2:05)
• 10. "Buckaroo"** (0:24)
• 11. Jonesy's Theory*/** (0:38)
• 12. Red Route 1 (3:34)
• 13. Ancestral Aid (2:07)
• 14. Plane Crash (1:54)
• 15. Ryan Leaves to Dallas** (0:53)
• 16. Ryan Leaves to Dallas (Alternate)*/** (0:52)
• 17. Two Wives* (2:46)
• 18. Turbulence**/Chopper (4:10)
• 19. New Orders** (0:37)
• 20. Red Alert*/** (2:31)
• 21. A Chance** (2:15)
• 22. Nuclear Scam* (7:17)
• 23. Americans!** (3:24)
• 24. Konovalov's Attack** (3:02)
• 25. Torpedo Impact... Now!** (0:40)
• 26. Torpedo, Bullets, and the Cook**/Kaboom!!! (6:17)
• 27. The New World/End Titles** (3:41)
• 28. Demo Theme #1*/** (0:40)
• 29. Demo Theme #2*/** (0:21)

* Contains previously unreleased material
** Contains music not used in film

 Track Listings (2013 Intrada Album): Total Time: 70:01

• 1. Never Happened (0:41)
• 2. Hymn to Red October (Main Titles) (5:08)
• 3. Putin's Demise (1:04)
• 4. Tyler's Office/Ramius and the Doctor/Dallas Listens (2:44)
• 5. Course Two-Five-Zero/Interlude/Two-Five-Zero/Padorin Reads (1:25)
• 6. Ryan's Wheels (Original Version) (0:39)
• 7. Ryan's Wheels (Revised)/Tupolov/Buckaroo (3:17)
• 8. The Line/Red Route I (4:15)
• 9. Ancestral Aid (2:16)
• 10. Plane Crash (1:51)
• 11. Ryan Lifts Off/Emergence (1:35)
• 12. Two Wives (2:45)
• 13. Chopper (4:09)
• 14. Submarine Dive/Necessary Force (2:50)
• 15. Outer Doors (2:14)
• 16. Nuclear Scam (7:22)
• 17. Mini-Sub/Contact (3:18)
• 18. Tupolov's Torpedo/Torpedo Hits (3:29)
• 19. Kaboom!!! (6:21)
• 20. End Title (Ancestral Aid/Hymn to Red October/Nuclear Scam) (4:36)

The Extras: (7:58)
• 21. Putin's Demise (Album Version) (1:03)
• 22. Red Route I (Album Version) (3:33)
• 23. Necessary Force (Alternate Mix) (2:23)
• 24. The Anthem of the Soviet Union (Vocal) (1:06)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The inserts of the 1990 MCA and bootleg albums contain no additional information about the score or film. That of the 2013 Intrada album offers notes about the film, score, and recording, including an explanation for the lack of improvement in sound quality.

Unofficial Lyrics for the "Hymn to Red October:"

      Lyrics and Music by Basil Poledouris
      Russian Translation by Herman Sinitzen

Holodna hmoora. -- Cold, hard, empty.
Eemruchnoh v'doosheh --Light that has left me,
Kak mohg znat ya shtoh tee oomriosh? --How could I know that you would die?

Do svidonia, byehreg rodnoy --Farewell again, our dear land.
Kak nam troodnag pridstahvit shtoh eto nyeh sohn. --So hard for us to imagine that it's real, and not a dream.
Rodina, dom radnoy, --Motherland, native home,
Do svidonia Rodina. --Farewell, our Motherland.

Ay. Avepakhod, avepakhod, nass val nahmarskaya zhdyot nyehdazh dyotsyah. --Let's go; the sea is waiting for us.
Nass zah vootmarskaya dah, ee preeboy! --The vastness of the sea is calling to us, and the tides!

Salute otsam ee nashem dedum --Hail to our fathers and forefathers.
Zahvietum eekh fsigdah vierney. --We are faithful to the covenant made with the past.
Tepierre nichtoh, nee astanoivit, --Now nothing can stop
Pabiedney shark, radnoy straney. --Our Motherland's victorious march.

Tiy pliyvee, pliyvee bestrashna, --Sail on fearlessly,
Gordest say viernykh marieye. --Pride of the Northern Seas.
Revoluytziye nadezhdah sgoostk vierif sekh luydeye. --Hope of the Revolution, you are the burst of faith of the people.

The last two stanzas repeat a couple of times, then:

V'oktyabreh, v'oktyabreh,--In October, in October,
Rahpar tu ium miy nashe pabiediy. --We report our victories to you, our Revolution.
V'oktyabreh, v'oktyabreh, Novie meeir fahli numnashy dehidiy. --And to the heritage left by you for us.

  All artwork and sound clips from The Hunt for Red October are Copyright © 1990, 2000, 2013, MCA Records, Bootleg, Intrada 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 3/15/97 and last updated 1/30/14. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.