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Rio Conchos
1989 Intrada

2000 FSM

2013 Intrada

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

2000 Album Produced by:
Nick Redman

1989 Album Performed by:
The London Symphony Orchestra

Labels and Dates:
Intrada Records

Film Score Monthly
(Original Recording)
(January, 2000)

Intrada Records
(July 8th, 2013)

Also See:
Stagecoach/The Loner
100 Rifles
The Comancheros

Audio Clips:
1989 Intrada Album:

The Agony And The Ecstasy: 1. The Stone Giants (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Rio Conchos: 4. Bandit's Ho (0:30):
WMA (200K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

Rio Conchos: 8. Wall of Fire (0:29):
WMA (188K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

Rio Conchos: 13. Special Delivery (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

The 1989 Intrada album was a regular commercial release, but is long out of print. The 2000 album is a limited release of 3,000 copies, available only through FSM or specialty outlets, and it was sold out as of 2007. The expanded 2013 Intrada album is also a regular commercial release.


Rio Conchos
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Buy it... on the 2013 album featuring Jerry Goldsmith's own re-recording of most of the score if you seek an early glimpse at the composer's darker, folksy Western style in pristine digital sound.

Avoid it... on that re-recording if you are a Goldsmith purist interested instead in a superior presentation of the original recording on the Film Score Monthly product, regardless of how badly aged the sound may be.

Rio Conchos: (Jerry Goldsmith) With Westerns at their all-time high in popularity during the early 1960's, director Gordon Douglas' Rio Conchos provided in 1964 much of the same story as the John Wayne film The Comancheros just a few years earlier. But despite the common threads in character stereotypes and plotline progressions, Rio Conchos examined the same genre through a much cloudier lens. Like many of its counterparts, the story offered good and evil in various shades of gray and applied those hues to men and women of several cultures and occupations in the Old West. A decidedly downer of a conclusion was a foreshadowing of more difficult treatments of similar topics in the 1970's. Composer Jerry Goldsmith was early in his career, but already he had extensive experience in the Western genre. After his success with Lonely are the Brave and a variety of lesser known television and feature scores for the open expanses of America's West, Goldsmith's contribution to Rio Conchos allowed him even more mainstream attention and the opportunity to utilize his fine skills in ethnic variations and Western themes. Because the film is so much darker in content and theme than previous, more popular Westerns, Goldsmith was both an interesting and ultimately appropriate composer for the job. The king of Western composers at the time was Elmer Bernstein, of course, yet his more upbeat, heroic style inspired by Aaron Copland wouldn't have been a viable fit for Rio Conchos. Through his explorations of folk rhythms and Latin flavor, and a mixing of these sounds into the soundscape of a fully orchestral ensemble (pioneering a distinct identity in Westerns that Basil Poledouris and many other later composers would adapt as well), Goldsmith successfully seized the opportunity and produced a strong, memorable score for the film and previewed many of his own action trademarks still under development.

While Western scores were well admired at the time for their bold themes, Goldsmith had a habit of composing music for the genre that extended beyond those galloping, glorious identities. With this new direction in mind, Rio Conchos consists mostly of ethnic interpretations representing both the Apache and the Spanish influences in the film. Goldsmith seamlessly integrates them with his orchestral underscore, spicing up the mix with his own budding mannerisms. There are lengthy sequences of ethnic variations here, with many of the same flamenco styled motifs performed by mirambas and guitars that would appear in his later Western scores. An excess of percussion, with castanets, bristles, tambourine, woods, and timpani provide the rest of the setting needed for the film. Even more creative is the use of percussive elements to imitate the sounds of spurs and whips as rhythm-setters. To some listeners' surprise, there are lengthy sequences of simmering underscore in Rio Conchos, barely audible moments when the film's characters are engaged in close, conversational turmoil. Goldsmith decided to stop short of building up the complexity of different themes for individual characters. He does, however, compose one of the most satisfying title themes of his career. Though not presented in a heroic manner at every turn, Goldsmith inserts the necessary bounce and vigor to keep an American audience enthused about the genre. And, in the end, even beyond the plethora of ethnic subthemes and underscore, it is the title theme that will capture the attention of any Goldsmith fan. The folksy swing of this easy-going melody's rhythm ranks it near his best, though its sheer size can be better appreciated in Goldsmith's own, more recent re-recording of the score rather than in the original recording made for the picture itself. Interestingly, the theme loses steam as the score progresses, most of the notable performances of the identity confined to the first half of the work. Don't expect a rousing Western-styled performance of it at the end; instead you get a dramatic version worthy of a biblical epic film.

There have been three commercial releases of music from Rio Conchos on CD. The first came on the Intrada Records label in 1989, and featured a re-recording of select cues from the film, chosen and conducted by Goldsmith himself. Not only are the performances by the London Symphony Orchestra superb on this album, but the title theme emerges with even more robust energy. As producer Douglass Fake states, "Our intent at Intrada was to present some Goldsmith music from an historical view, but not simply an overview. This meant the challenge of preparing one or two works in full as opposed to a collection of suites and themes. We turned to the most famous period in Goldsmith's early career, the years at 20th Century-Fox. After selecting two scores with very diverse elements all of us involved agreed to record the works in an authentic manner. This meant working with the original manuscripts and recreating the exact orchestral needs of each score without change or adaptation." The second score referred to is the prologue Goldsmith wrote for The Agony and the Ecstasy in 1965, a remarkable piece with several impressively melodramatic string climaxes. Students of Goldsmith will find this 12+ minute suite to be an interesting study, though the piece came at a time when Goldsmith had not yet established some of the more dramatic trademarks that would place the work at home with later achievements. As such, the prologue for The Agony and the Ecstasy isn't spectacular by any means, with the exception perhaps of the performances by a massive French horn cluster. The crisp stereo sound of the Intrada re-recording, as well as the true-to-the-original style that results from Goldsmith's close involvement with the project, has always made the 1989 Intrada release an excellent buy. After the 1989 product went out of print in the 2000's, the label revisited it in 2013 and remastered the digital recording with the newest capabilities. Also included on this unlimited pressing are three previously unreleased takes from those sessions, including two versions of the short, more upbeat "End Cast" cue, the latter of which has some intriguing studio dialogue featuring Goldsmith speaking with musicians.

Learn about

The Film Score Monthly release over ten years after Intrada's original offering of the recording finally provided the original score in its entirety. Goldsmith purists will delight in the several extra cues available from the original recording that were never performed by the London Symphony Orchestra in 1989. The whole score was pressed onto the CD, including the source-like cantina music, in mono sound; the producers of the album chose these tapes over available stereo ones because the mono tapes were in better condition. For a comparison, however, FSM offered five select tracks that had been mixed into stereo sound and were in decent shape. The difference in the quality of the soundscape is very evident, especially in the incorporation of the non-traditional elements like the whip. Even within the stereo selections, there is a vast difference in clarity; the "Main Title" stereo cue is a highlight of the entire production, vastly superior to its mono counterpart (and it even gives the re-recording a run for its money). Thrown in as a bonus on the FSM product is the little-known vocal version of the title theme, which has all the fun characteristics of those overly-dramatic songs that often blessed Westerns of the 1950's. Avid fans of the composer will note interesting differences in pacing and mixing between the two recordings, with the rhythms of the original recording often performed at significantly faster paces and the percussion reduced in presence for the re-recording. The reason these choices are of interest is because the nature of Goldsmith's control over the re-recording would suggest that these "corrective" moves were by his own choice. Also factoring into the equation is the issue involving the difficulty of the composition; the London performers tackle Goldsmith's complex constructs a bit differently. Overall, the 1989 re-recording will likely best satisfy digital-era listeners curious about the composer's early ventures for 20th Century Fox, especially with The Agony and the Ecstasy attached, and the 2013 Intrada album is the clearly the better presentation of that version. Veteran collectors will likely want to hear both recordings, though, and will be better tempted by the badly aged, but well presented sound of the original recording pressed to 3,000 copies by FSM. On any album, be prepared for a more thoughtful listening experience once you pass the obvious performances of the main theme. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    1989 and 2013 Intrada Albums: ****
    2000 Film Score Monthly Album: ***
    Overall: ****

Bias Check:For Jerry Goldsmith reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.26 (in 113 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.26 (in 138,584 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.44 Stars
Smart Average: 3.31 Stars*
***** 201 
**** 222 
*** 198 
** 117 
* 74 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   Rio conchos is available on eMusic
  Film Scores on imeem -- 5/16/09 (1:11 a.m.)
   Rio Conchos Lyrics
  Ray Peterson -- 12/4/08 (8:40 a.m.)
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 Track Listings (1989 Intrada Album): Total Time: 56:20

The Agony And The Ecstasy: Prologue
• 1. Rome/Florence/The Crucifix/The Stone Giants/The Agony of Creation (12:37)

Rio Conchos:
• 2. Rio Conchos (2:26)
• 3. Where's the Water (1:56)
• 4. Bandit's Ho (6:58)
• 5. The River (2:04)
• 6. River Crossing (4:22)
• 7. The Aftermath (2:06)
• 8. Wall of Fire (2:21)
• 9. Lonely Indian (3:24)
• 10. Chief Bloodshirt (2:27)
• 11. The Corral (2:45)
• 12. The Intruder (6:00)
• 13. Special Delivery (6:12)

 Track Listings (2000 FSM Album): Total Time: 75:28

• 1. Main Title (2:37)
• 2. The Prisoner (0:19)
• 3. Get Me Out (0:39)
• 4. The Exterminator (0:32)
• 5. Where's the Water (1:52)
• 6. The Fuse (1:00)
• 7. Bandits Ho (6:03)
• 8. Smoke Signals (0:54)
• 9. The River (1:53)
• 10. Unlucky Lover (0:55)
• 11. River Crossing (4:21)
• 12. The Aftermath (2:09)
• 13. Lassiter Remembers/The Lance (1:37)
• 14. Wall of Fire (2:15)
• 15. Lonely Indian (3:11)
• 16. Cantina 1 & 2/A Change of Luck (4:26)
• 17. The Captive (0:57)
• 18. Big Deal (1:20)
• 19. Chief Bloodshirt (2:36)
• 20. Drag Race/The Corral (4:01)
• 21. Free Men/The Intruder (5:02)
• 22. Special Delivery (5:41)
• 23. Cast Credits (0:29)

Title Song:
• 24. Rio Conchos - performed by Johnny Desmond (2:36)

Stereo Bonus Tracks:
• 25. Main Title (2:37)
• 26. River Crossing (4:21)
• 27. Drag Race/The Corral (4:01)
• 28. Special Delivery (5:41)
• 29. Cast Credits (0:29)

 Track Listings (2013 Intrada Album): Total Time: 60:03

The Agony and the Ecstasy: Prologue
• 1. Rome/Florence/The Crucifix/The Stone Giants/The Agony of Creation (12:37)

Rio Conchos:
• 2. Rio Conchos (2:26)
• 3. Where's the Water (1:56)
• 4. Bandit's Ho (6:58)
• 5. The River (2:04)
• 6. River Crossing (4:22)
• 7. The Aftermath (2:06)
• 8. Wall of Fire (2:21)
• 9. Lonely Indian (3:24)
• 10. Chief Bloodshirt (2:27)
• 11. The Corral (2:45)
• 12. The Intruder (6:00)
• 13. Special Delivery (6:12)
• 14. End Cast* (0:22)

The Extras:
• 15. Wall of Fire* (Alternate Take) (2:19)
• 16. End Cast Take 1* (With Voices of Composer and Engineer) (0:58)

* previously unreleased

 Notes and Quotes:  

All of the albums contain extensive notes. The FSM album contains the usual excellent quality of pictorial and textual information established in other albums of FSM's series, with extremely detailed notes about the film and score. The 2013 Intrada album's insert includes notes about the circumstances of the additional music.

  All artwork and sound clips from Rio Conchos are Copyright © 1989, 2000, 2013, Intrada Records, Film Score Monthly (Original Recording), 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 1/21/00 and last updated 7/27/13. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2000-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.