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Total Recall
1990 Original

2000 Deluxe

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Orchestrated by:
Arthur Morton

Performed by:
The National Philharmonic Orchestra

Deluxe Edition Produced by:
Robert Townson

Labels and Dates:
Varèse Sarabande (Original)
(June 12th, 1990)

Varèse Sarabande (Deluxe)
(December 5th, 2000)

Also See:
Total Recall (2012)
Air Force One
The Mummy
Extreme Prejudice
Executive Decision
Hollow Man
Basic Instinct

Audio Clips:
2000 Album:

1. The Dream (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

11. The Space Station (0:22):
WMA (148K)  MP3 (178K)
Real Audio (111K)

21. The Mutant (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

27. A New Life (0:33):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (266K)
Real Audio (165K)

Both albums are regular U.S. releases, though the 1990 product is out of print.


Total Recall

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Buy it... if you love Jerry Goldsmith's top-notch, energetic, and cohesive action material that is saturated with his trademark styles of the 1980's and 90's.

Avoid it... if you prefer the earlier generation of Goldsmith action that didn't rely as heavily on considerable synthetic accompaniment to the orchestra.

Total Recall: (Jerry Goldsmith) A blockbuster of low moral character and extraordinary special effects, Total Recall was a top grossing, critically embraced action film of the highest order, with the right director, the right actor, the right story, and the right composer happening upon each other for an enormously entertaining result. Of director Paul Verhoeven's line of extremely violent films in the 1990's, Total Recall easily maintains the most mainstream praise in retrospect, even if it lands on plenty of viewers' "guilty pleasure" lists. Undemanding but enthusiastic performances by Arnold Schwarzenegger (fresh off his spirited role in Kindergarten Cop) and Sharon Stone countered a silly premise and dialogue so corny that it actually works (in context, that is). The film is a classic example of a concept and finished product that is so overwhelmingly stupid, but zealously tackled by its crew that is undeniably likable in almost every aspect. In his first collaboration with director Verhoeven (one that would eventually include the Oscar-nominated Basic Instinct and the less inspired Hollow Man), Jerry Goldsmith writes one of the best action scores of the Digital Age for Total Recall. The film's futuristic, outlandish story and flashy visuals are well-suited for Goldsmith's synthetically paced score. The composer was well experienced in the genre by 1990, having produced popular scores for Outland, Capricorn One, Alien, and the Star Trek films, and for Total Recall, Goldsmith would have the opportunity to engage his audience with his maturing use of light electronics while also brandishing his talents for raw, orchestral action. It is the delicate, but well-maintained balance between these two basic elements that makes Total Recall such an enjoyable score, even when divorced from the stunning visuals of the film (which won an Academy Award for its special effects without even any other nominated competition).

When the recording of the score was first planned, the producers wanted to save money by sending Goldsmith to Munich, where musicians could be employed at a more inexpensive rate. After several days of disappointing results from the players who were not familiar with Goldsmith's style, the money was then allotted to recall Goldsmith back to London, where he often recorded with the superior National Philharmonic Orchestra and the musicians are familiar with the kind of vigorous, sharp edge that Goldsmith prefers. There is merit to Goldsmith's claims; any collector whose has heard another ensemble attempt to re-record the title theme to Total Recall will notice a severe lack of the gritty punch that was inherent in the original performance. With a three month break in the middle of recording to allow Verhoeven more time to edit the special effects, Goldsmith recorded the wacky Gremlins 2: A New Batch before returning to finish the job in the final days before the film's release. Despite the score's overwhelming presence in the film, it's not a very lengthy work in its complete form. Many of the cues written by Goldsmith were source cues, such as the "Rekall, Rekall, Rekall" jingle in the train near the start of the film, and numerous other ten to twenty-second commercial jingles heard in the background of other scenes. Even the ambient "elevator music" peppered throughout the various locales in the film, including the conversational, morning apartment scene near the beginning, was the work of Goldsmith. While not known by many, the composer enjoys writings these little source cues because of the freedom and creativity they allow him. Ultimately, while these short pieces do play a memorable role in the film (they are indeed catchy, which matches perfectly the comedic attitude of the screenplay's first half), Goldsmith enthusiasts will likely shake them off as a temporary amusement but nothing more. The relentlessly vibrant action material and soaring fantasy interludes are easily what define the mass of the work.

Almost all of Goldsmith's action scores of the 1980's were highly engaging, but at the end of that era, Total Recall reaches a level of energy and cohesiveness not heard since The Wind and the Lion fifteen years prior. On one side of the score is the relentless brass, which chops at its motifs with the same ferocity as the bullets flying around on screen. At a wickedly rapid pace (even for Goldsmith), the action cues are plentiful and expansive in length. The sheer number of chase scenes in the film required Goldsmith to produce an enormous amount of dynamic, fully orchestral material, much to the delight of his fans. On the other side of the score is the aspect which makes Total Recall a truly unique experience. Because of the futuristic setting of the film and the questions of individual identity suffered by the story's primary character, Goldsmith unleashes his electronics with unequivocal force, allowing them to not only supplement the orchestra, as they do during the chase scenes, but also commandeer entire cues with their majesty. No better of an example is "The Mutant" track, in which a dream-like sequence of free flowing flight reveals the massive alien secret hidden within the Red Planet. Even the mechanically precise title theme of the film is made distinct by the percussive electronics used to set its rhythms. For the more whimsical scenes, Goldsmith compliments the wide choice of synthetic mixings with a full string section of the orchestra. It has been intriguingly suggested that because of the similarities in "futuristic identity issues" between the plots of Total Recall and The Matrix, the latter film would have greatly benefited from a comparatively engaging Goldsmith score. Finally, there is extraordinary beauty to be heard in "The Mutant" and several other cues (including the redemptive finale), with several cues offering the kind of soaring Goldsmith romanticism that exists in Medicine Man and many other scores from the composer at that time.

2000 Album:
Only $9.99
Shortly after the film's debut, the Varèse Sarabande label released a short album of Goldsmith's most interesting music from the film. Although fourty-minute albums are not uncommon for orchestral scores, the short release for Total Recall would turn out to be almost as controversial for film score fans as the same label-composer pairing for Air Force One a few years later. Under considerable pressure from fans for an entire decade, Varèse's Robert Townson finally produced a "deluxe edition" of the score in 2000, with countless new cues combining to make a superbly comprehensive album of Goldsmith's score. The major cues newly available on the expanded album include three memorable moments: the short, but epic scene of the spaceship traveling to Mars, the moment on the Martian train when Quaid (Schwarzenegger) first sees the mountain where the alien machine is housed, and the massacre scene of gun fighting between rebel and Cohaagen forces, which restates the unique synth rhythms of the title theme. Also a worthy addition is the "Johnny Cab" track, which is a decent extension of the many other chase cues in the film. With seventeen more tracks of music from Total Recall (all of which ordered as they are heard in the film), the deluxe album is packed to its limits with pure Goldsmith mastery. The packaging contains lengthy notes about the score itself, though some early copies of the product suffered from alignment problems with the printing of the insert, causing words to unintentionally run off the top and bottom of the pages at a slant. The "Hologram" track from the original album has been respelled to make "Hollowgram," perhaps as a jest to the later Hollow Man collaboration. The sound quality of the expanded album is noticeably better than that of the original, though no technical information is given to explain what level of remastering was attempted. Finally, there is an extra, hidden source cue at the very end of the "New Life" track which true Goldsmith fans will get a chuckle over. For all collectors of solid, modern action scores, and without a doubt for every collector of Goldsmith's music, the fabulous expanded album treatment of the score for Total Recall is simply a necessity on your shelves. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for Film: ****
    Music as Heard on the 1990 Album: ***
    Music as Heard on the 2000 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 138,497 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.87 Stars
Smart Average: 3.66 Stars*
***** 1131 
**** 1032 
*** 562 
** 246 
* 152 
  (View results for all titles)
    * Smart Average only includes
         40% of 5-star and 1-star votes
              to counterbalance fringe voting.
   FVSR Reviews Total Recall
  Brendan Cochran -- 5/11/15 (3:17 p.m.)
  Sheridan 2 -- 11/17/06 (8:50 a.m.)
   Goldsmith best Score
  Martin -- 8/2/06 (7:13 a.m.)
   Source Cue
  Mark - 224 -- 10/28/04 (11:29 a.m.)
   Re: Similar to Conan the Barbarian
  Edgar Diaz -- 9/20/04 (7:14 p.m.)
Read All | Add New Post | Search | Help  

 Track Listings (1990 Album): Total Time: 40:13

• 1. The Dream (3:33)
• 2. The Hologram (5:36)
• 3. The Big Jump (4:33)
• 4. The Mutant (3:16)
• 5. Clever Girl (4:31)
• 6. First Meeting (1:10)
• 7. The Treatment (5:30)
• 8. Where am I? (3:56)
• 9. End of a Dream (5:45)
• 10. A New Life (2:23)

 Track Listings (2000 Album): Total Time: 73:58

• 1. The Dream (3:35)
• 2. First Meeting (1:13)
• 3. Secret Agent* (0:55)
• 4. The Implant* (2:44)
• 5. The Aftermath* (0:33)
• 6. For Old Times' Sake* (3:03)
• 7. Clever Girl (4:33)
• 8. The Johnny Cab* (3:50)
• 9. Howdy Stranger* (2:03)
• 10. The Nose Job* (1:58)
• 11. The Space Station* (0:50)
• 12. A New Face* (1:32)
• 13. The Mountain* (1:30)
• 14. Identification* (1:05)
• 15. Lies* (1:08)
• 16. Where Am I? (4:03)
• 17. Swallow It* (3:07)
• 18. The Big Jump (4:36)
• 19. Without Air* (1:18)
• 20. Remembering* (1:53)
• 21. The Mutant (3:19)
• 22. The Massacre* (2:37)
• 23. Friends* (1:43)
• 24. The Treatment (5:40)
• 25. The Hollowgram (5:40)
• 26. End of a Dream (5:46)
• 27. A New Life (3:30)

* previously unreleased track

 Notes and Quotes:  

The original 1990 album's insert included no extra information. The expanded 2000 album's insert includes lengthy notes about the film and score, but early printings of the insert contained badly misaligned text. Contrary to the claims of a few wildly juvenile fanboys, neither insert includes a nude picture of the three-breasted midget featured in the film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Total Recall are Copyright © 1990, 2000, Varèse Sarabande (Original), Varèse Sarabande (Deluxe). 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 12/13/96 and last updated 8/18/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1996-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.