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The Rock
Co-Composed, Co-Conducted, and Co-Produced by:
Nick Glennie-Smith

Co-Composed and Co-Produced by:
Hans Zimmer
Harry Gregson-Williams

Co-Conducted and Co-Orchestrated by:
Bruce Fowler

Co-Composed and Co-Conducted by:
Don Harper

Co-Orchestrated by:
Suzette Moriarty
Ladd McIntosh
Walt Fowler
Dennis Dreith

Hollywood Records

Release Date:
June 26th, 1996

Also See:
Crimson Tide
The Peacemaker
The Man in the Iron Mask

Audio Clips:
1. Hummell Gets the Rockets (0:31):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (245K)
Real Audio (152K)

3. Jade (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (241K)
Real Audio (149K)

7. Fort Walton - Kansas (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (243K)
Real Audio (151K)

8. The Chase (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (240K)
Real Audio (149K)

Regular U.S. release. There was some initial difficulty finding it internationally. It was also available bundled in a 2-CD set with Crimson Tide (by the same label), though that product contains no extra music.


The Rock
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Sales Rank: 36902

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Buy it... if you seek the official origin of the collaborative Media Ventures sound made famous by the many electronic imitation scores that have accompanied blockbusters in the following decade.

Avoid it... if you prefer hearing Hans Zimmer's solo writing talents and loathe the simplistic and bombastic synthetic style of action score to emerge from his numerous pupils and assistants since.

The Rock: (Nick Glennie-Smith, Harry Gregson-Williams, and Hans Zimmer) It's interesting to look back at initial reactions to a movie like The Rock and ponder the fact that it received positive reviews from major critics at the time. Director Michael Bay has, in the following decade, worn out his welcome with many in the mainstream, though in 1996 his teaming with producers Jerry Bruckheimer and the (already deceased) Don Simpson extended the style of movies like Crimson Tide and Bad Boys to an even further extreme. It was also an era when a Bruckheimer and Bay production could haul in a fantastic Oscar-winning cast, led in The Rock by Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, and Ed Harris. The preposterous story involved a group of renegade ex-Marines who steal rockets tipped with poison gas and threaten to unleash it on San Francisco from the island of Alcatraz, unless (of course) Sean Connery and his witty tongue can save the day. Aside from spectacular visual effects, the birth of the late 1990's Media Ventures score, as a concept, cranked up the testosterone level with frantic, electronic zeal. Hans Zimmer, successful in the official creation of a modern blockbuster sound that was monumentally successful the previous year in Crimson Tide, didn't actually spend much time delving into the genre himself over subsequent years. While he is indeed to be credited as the brain behind the bombastic new style of action scoring, he would hand over the everyday duties of scoring such assignments to his vast array of assistant composers at his co-owned Media Ventures talent farm. While fans, both for and against Zimmer's production habits, would come to expect collaborative efforts between these young assistant composers in the following years, the scenario with The Rock came as a surprise to those expecting a score from Zimmer alone. For the first few years after its release, the common misperception was that Zimmer wrote most of the score and needed assistance in meeting the hectic post-production schedule.

In fact, The Rock would be the first blockbuster project for which Zimmer would really serve as a contributor rather than a composer. The assignment would land in the lap of Nick Glennie-Smith, a regular Zimmer collaborator who would go on to his own brief solo career in the mainstream after The Rock. When asked about his involvement in the score, Zimmer once stated, "I never really wanted to write any of it. It was always supposed to be Nick Glennie-Smith's score." Contrary to his wish, and due to Bruckheimer's unhappiness with Glennie-Smith's material, Zimmer would actually write the title theme of the film and contribute insight into other aspects of the score. The extent of his involvement in the writing of the score's other two major themes is a fact that has remained elusive through the years, though Glennie-Smith adapts Zimmer's sound from Crimson Tide and Backdraft well enough that the exact credits don't much matter. Since the opening titles feature Zimmer's music, Glennie-Smith reportedly refused to have his name appear on screen at the same time, and Zimmer thus got more credit than he wanted or deserved. Somewhere along the line, Glennie-Smith needed assistance in providing enough music for the long film (well over two hours) in such a tight schedule, and another Media Ventures regular, Harry Gregson-Williams, was brought in to substitute for a few major cues. Veteran composer James Newton Howard has often been mentioned as offering something to The Rock as well, though it's unlikely that his work extended to compositional duties. Veteran collectors of Media Ventures scores can typically determine which cues were written and/or arranged by the various composers, though the muddled re-arrangement of the score on the commercial album doesn't make the task any easier. In Hans Zimmer's own words in 1997: "I just want to say, categorically, the CD of The Rock stinks." Still, you can hear three distinct, major themes in The Rock, with several lesser motifs that are adapted throughout. Interestingly, while the theme that Zimmer wrote for the opening titles of the film is the general representation of the entire score, most of Zimmer's contributions seem centered around the villain of the tale, Brigadier General Frank Hummel (played by Ed Harris). The sense of tragic nobility that Zimmer inserts into this material is quite suitable for the character, and is consistent with the composer's previous thematic tendencies.

This title theme, heard over the rainy opening title sequence, is an intriguing cross between the styles of Crimson Tide and Backdraft. You hear the choral and electronic instrumentation from the former while the deliberate, snare-ripping movement of the theme itself has all the heroic stature of the latter. The theme would be about as bold as Zimmer would ever get in the genre (with the possible exception of his more satisfying experience on The Peacemaker), with many of his assistants carrying this torch ahead in scores like The Man in the Iron Mask and Armageddon. In The Rock, this theme would receive its most fluid expansion in the middle of "Rock House Jail," reminding of some of the more attractive, propulsive statements of theme in Crimson Tide. Both of the other two major themes would come from Glennie-Smith, and they couldn't be more incongruous in sound. The second major theme in the score follows the opening title sequence and serves as the primary action idea for The Rock. Heard extensively at the end of "Hummel Gets the Rockets" and at the opening of "Rock House Jail," this theme is rather standard in the ranks of Media Ventures action themes, sharing characteristics with Mark Mancina's similar, choppy moves in Speed. The third and more obvious theme is one for the family element in the film. Heard in "Jade" and at the end of "Rocket Away" (the conclusion of the story's climax), this pretty theme seems like an attempt to draw from Irish mannerisms, both in the swing of its progressions and the penny whistle/recorder type of performance of its woodwind lead. The gorgeous, though simplistic five minutes of this theme's running time on the commercial album for The Rock is deserving of a place on a compilation far different from the one that would carry the other highlights from the score, and this theme, more than any other part of the work as a whole, somewhat betrays the fragmented personality that results from such collaborative efforts. Several other motifs abound in The Rock, though the thorough integration of the first two themes lessens their impact.

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The synthetic style of The Rock is both the score's greatest asset and weakness. Unlike the smart use of electronics in Crimson Tide, the overemphasis on powerful bass, wailing electric guitars, and staccato keyboarding ruins the score for many listeners. The contributions by Gregson-Williams account for some of the more intolerable parts of the score; you can tell which portions of the score he wrote because of the accelerated use of tingling percussion effects, best exemplified by "In the Tunnels" and the ear-splitting "The Chase." In Glennie-Smith's "Fort Walton - Kansas," the modern edge seems quite innocent (though it reminds of Mancina's Twister), but the spirited finale to the film is out of step with the remainder of the score. Conversely, listeners who found most of the successive score in the series, The Peacemaker, to be irritating and obnoxious will find little of interest here. Overall, The Rock is a mess of last-minute arrangements and poorly constructed orchestration and electronic accompaniment. But given the effectiveness of both Zimmer's title theme and Glennie-Smith's family theme, it's easy to get the impression that this score could have been significantly better had there been ample time to make it more coherent. Glennie-Smith would go on to adapt many of the same ideas (with frightening similarity) in a more balanced package for The Man in the Iron Mask two years later. For fans of the Media Ventures (and eventually Remote Control) sound machine, The Rock remains a favorite. Those fans have compiled 2-CD bootlegs with an additional 42 minutes of material (at least) and have arranged the cues into their film order. For devoted fans of the score, the bootlegs, which eventually improved their sound quality and removed sound effects through the years, will make it easier to hear the distinct musical voices of the composers at work. For the majority of the mainstream, though, the commercial album will offer satisfying suites of the major parts. Many love affairs with Hans Zimmer began and ended with The Rock, and for those who have always wished for more of Zimmer's solo writing, it's bitter point of division. *** Price Hunt: CD or Download

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.25 Stars
Smart Average: 3.15 Stars*
***** 1602 
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  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   this soundtrack rocks!!
  jeroen -- 2/11/11 (11:10 a.m.)
   one of the best action scores ever written!
  kharol -- 1/19/09 (1:06 a.m.)
   Re: Excellent score
  E. Bell -- 4/28/07 (1:17 p.m.)
   Excellent score
  Sheridan -- 8/19/06 (10:31 a.m.)
   the rock soundtrack
  abdoo_hossam -- 7/29/06 (11:40 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings: Total Time: 60:20

• 1. Hummell Gets the Rockets (6:25)
• 2. Rock House Jail (10:12)
• 3. Jade (2:01)
• 4. In the Tunnels (8:40)
• 5. Mason's Walk - First Launch (9:34)
• 6. Rocket Away (14:25)
• 7. Fort Walton - Kansas (1:37)
• 8. The Chase (7:35)

 Notes and Quotes:  

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

  All artwork and sound clips from The Rock are Copyright © 1996, Hollywood 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 2/16/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.