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1987 Varèse

1987 TER (U.K)

2004 Varèse

2010 Intrada

Composed and Produced by:
Basil Poledouris

Orchestrated by:
Steven Scott Smalley

Conducted by:
Howard Blake
Tony Britton

Labels and Dates:
Varèse Sarabande

That's Entertainment Records, U.K.

Varèse Sarabande
(January 27th, 2004)

Intrada Records
(April 12th, 2010)

Also See:
Cherry 2000
RoboCop: Prime Directives (TV)
Flesh + Blood
Starship Troopers

Audio Clips:
2004 Album:

4. Rock Shop (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

5. Home (0:29):
WMA (191K)  MP3 (235K)
Real Audio (146K)

12. Robo Drives to Jones (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (241K)
Real Audio (150K)

15. Showdown (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (250K)
Real Audio (155K)

The 1987 Varèse Sarabande album is completely out of print, as is the identical T.E.R. album released concurrently in the U.K. The 2004 Varèse Sarabande album is another regular U.S. release. The 2010 Intrada album is limited to 3,000 copies and did not immediately sell out upon its debut at soundtrack specialty outlets.



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Sales Rank: 529725

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Buy it... on the 2004 or 2010 expanded and remastered pressings even if you're content with the original 1987 album, for Basil Poledouris' consistently robust action writing is presented in far better light on the reissues.

Avoid it... if you expect to hear the composer's best merging of synthesizers and orchestra, in which case his concurrent Cherry 2000 is far more accomplished in this area.

RoboCop: (Basil Poledouris) Among the top action franchises of the 1980's was that of RoboCop, the cheesy, violent, and entertaining science fiction story of a Detroit city gone to hell (nothing too fictional about that part) and the cyborg supercop that battles its criminal masterminds. The first American venture by director Paul Verhoeven, RoboCop and its pop success would produce two sequels and a television show, all of which featuring the robotic officer against either the criminals who killed his previous, human self, other criminals who are just bad dudes, or even mega badass robot killing machines conjured to replace or destroy Robocop. Like other Verhoeven films, such as Total Recall, Basic Instinct, and Starship Troopers, RoboCop is extremely violent; the image of seeing a melting human struck and dismembered by a car is typical of the highly stylized brutality seen in this film. And yet, with little public appreciation of the comparisons, RoboCop was a film full of Verhoeven's supposedly heavy parallels between Murphy (the cop who becomes the cyborg upon his gruesome death) and the crucifixion and resurrection of the ever-popular Jesus Christ. Whether you believe these messiah intentions or not, RoboCop did become part of a more simplistic genre of American "blow 'em up" action films. The director had originally dismissed the script as simply this kind of juvenile American punk fun; he had just finished Flesh + Blood but had decided to abandon Europe's censorship rules and take his work to United States. One member of his crew remaining with the rising director was composer Basil Poledouris, who had written the romantic and yet brutal score for Flesh + Blood. For RoboCop, Poledouris would be able to tinker with a trend that would soon become a passion of his: combining synthesizers with hugely orchestral constructs. The resulting experiment was suitable for the half-human, half-machine cyborg at the heart of the story, and score collectors should be grateful that the producers of the film ultimately elected for this approach rather than the tempting, totally synthetic (i.e. Tangerine Dream) or hard rock alternative. In fact, the recording of the electronics was made live with the symphonic ensemble in London, Poledouris observing the hybrid result in the control room rather than conducting. Ultimately, however, RoboCop remains a somewhat overrated score that doesn't really merit its long history on album and consequent fervor from collectors.

Poledouris' style for RoboCop would be similar in its synthesized accompaniment to Jerry Goldsmith's writing for subsequent Verhoeven pictures. A mostly identical reprise of this Poledouris style eventually resurfaced in Starship Troopers nearly ten years later. If you study Poledouris' mingling of orchestra and synthesizer, a marriage he explored on a large scale for the first time in 1987, then you have to consider RoboCop and the concurrent Cherry 2000 together. They share the same fundamental ideas, much of the same orchestration and instrumentation, and the same attempt by Poledouris to find that perfect balance between real and synthesized instruments. Of the two, RoboCop received the bold theme and determination that you often heard in broad brass throughout Conan the Barbarian and its sequel. The title theme, appearing after the emergence of the cyborg in the film and featuring two distinct phrases, is one of confidence and rightful revenge. It is heroic in attitude and almost mechanized in its progression. The action music often features early synthetic rhythms as a pulse in the background, although the standard of excellence heard in Poledouris' action underscores of past and future is strangely absent from RoboCop. While functional, the music for Murphy's slow, painful recollection of his previous life is scored without the kind of emotional depth that appeared in the composer's other works. An intriguing use of the violins is heard in "Home" (a.k.a. "Murphy Goes Home"), with only a few notes slurred as Murphy's memories waver, but this application is never repeated. A three-note phrase heard immediately over the opening title is a better structured representation of this material, as is the interlude sequence in the "Across the Board" re-assembly of the end credits on the 2010 Intrada album. Despite the rest of the work's straight forward marching style and sometimes underdeveloped action material, Poledouris maintains enough volume throughout RoboCop to keep it entertaining, with the "Showdown" ("Looking For Me") cue hinting at the robust nature of Flesh + Blood. That final cue, however, does expose a potential problem with the score as heard in context; Poledouris' use of that bold identity is so optimistic in its performances here, especially with trilling flutes, that all of the suspense is eliminated from the scene. For such a martyr, Robocop's thematic identity is arguably too enthusiastic, adding another level of cheese to an already potentially ridiculous picture. It creates an environment suitable for a comic book hero when one may not have been called for.

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Getting back to the comparison with Cherry 2000, however, it would seem that all of the best ideas that Poledouris had collected concerning electronic and orchestral mingling were realized in Cherry 2000 rather than RoboCop. The propulsive style, thematic diversity, and recording integrity of the synthetic elements with the ensemble seemed more mature in Cherry 2000, even though it is easily the less demanding score. Also a detriment to RoboCop by comparison to its close cousin is the relative lack of consistent development of theme or instrumentation for secondary elements of the plot. No identity for the clear villains of the tale can be heard in this score, with the cue "Directive IV" missing a significant opportunity for such exploration. Both scores were released by the Varèse Sarabande label in the late 1980's, with the limited Cherry 2000 album becoming a top collectible and the commercial RoboCop one eventually going out of print. The contents of the original American and European pressings of RoboCop were unsatisfying in their mismanagement of the cues, arranging them poorly and in some cases providing incorrect track names. In 2004, Varèse Sarabande partially solved the problem by re-releasing RoboCop in remastered sound and with a rearranged order, reduction of redundant material, and four source cues from television commercials in the film (not on the original album). These source cues are remarkably entertaining (anyone familiar with Verhoeven's films knows that fake commercials are a favorite of his). American television was a prime target for comedic jabs in RoboCop, and Poledouris wrote the source material for several of these pieces (as well as the bright nightly news rhythm in "Main Title"). While none is particularly outstanding, the cue "Nuke 'Em" (advertising a video game in which you can blow up the world) has a particularly cute ending. Despite new availability, better sound, corrected mistakes from the previous issues, and the additional cues, the Varèse pressing was eventually surpassed by a 3,000-copy Intrada expansion in 2010, for which the score was finally made totally complete (adding most importantly the fire extinguisher-banging "Drive Montage" cue) and remastered from more recently discovered sources. No matter the album, don't expect to hear Poledouris at the top of his game, and if you enjoy his technique of combining orchestral and synthetic elements, you'd be better served by finding a copy of Cherry 2000. Leonard Rosenman would score RoboCop 2 in 1990, but Poledouris would return for RoboCop 3 in 1993. The Latin-flavored music by Norman Orenstein for the "Robocop: Prime Directives" television show was an embarrassment that still disgraces the memory of the late Poledouris. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

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.

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 Track Listings (1987 Varèse and T.E.R. Albums): Total Time: 38:05

• 1. Main Title (0:32)
• 2. Van Chase (4:50)
• 3. Murphy's Death (2:30)
• 4. Rock Shop (3:38)
• 5. Home (4:05)
• 6. Robo vs. ED-209 (2:00)
• 7. The Dream (3:00)
• 8. Across the Board (2:28)
• 9. Betrayal (2:12)
• 10. Clarance Frags Bob (1:40)
• 11. Drive to Jones' Office (1:40)
• 12. We Killed You (1:30)
• 13. Directive IV (1:00)
• 14. Robo Tips His Hat (2:00)
• 15. Showdown (5:00)

(These track titles from the packaging are erroneous)

 Track Listings (2004 Varèse Sarabande Album): Total Time: 42:20

• 1. Main Title (0:39)
• 2. Van Chase (4:51)
• 3. Murphy's Death (2:36)
• 4. Rock Shop (3:42)
• 5. Home (4:15)
• 6. Robo vs. ED-209 (2:07)
• 7. The Dream (3:06)
• 8. Across the Board (1:50)
• 9. Betrayal (2:18)
• 10. Clarence Frags Bob (1:43)
• 11. Care Package (2:09)
• 12. Robo Drives to Jones (1:46)
• 13. We Killed You (1:44)
• 14. Directive IV (1:03)
• 15. Showdown (5:15)

Bonus Tracks:
• 16. Have a Heart (0:31)
• 17. OCP Monitors (1:15)
• 18. Nuke 'Em (0:26)
• 19. Big is Better (0:27)

 Track Listings (2010 Intrada Album): Total Time: 56:04

• 1. Main Title (0:45)
• 2. Have a Heart (0:33)
• 3. O.C.P. Monitors (1:41)
• 4. Twirl (0:25)
• 5. Van Chase (4:56)
• 6. Murphy Dies in O.R. (2:35)
• 7. Robo Lives (1:05)
• 8. Drive Montage (1:04)
• 9. Helpless Woman (1:16)
• 10. Nukem (0:26)
• 11. Murphy's Dream (3:05)
• 12. Gas Station Blow-Up (1:44)
• 13. Murphy Goes Home (4:15)
• 14. Clarence Frags Bob (1:45)
• 15. Rock Shop (3:42)
• 16. Robo Drives to Jones (1:47)
• 17. Directive 4 (1:04)
• 18. Robo & Ed 209 Fight (2:10)
• 19. Force Shoots Robo (2:43)
• 20. Big is Better (2:33)
• 21. Care Package (2:58)
• 22. Looking For Me (5:13)
• 23. Across the Board (End Credits) (7:32)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The original pressings contain no extra information about the score or film, and their track titles reference the wrong cues. The inserts of the 2004 Varèse Sarabande and 2010 Intrada albums include detailed information about the score and film.

  All artwork and sound clips from RoboCop are Copyright © 1987, 2004, 2010, Varèse Sarabande, That's Entertainment Records, U.K., Varèse Sarabande, 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 1/30/04 and last updated 5/24/10. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2004-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.