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1990 Varèse
2013 Varèse
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Composed, Orchestrated, Conducted, and Produced by:
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Varèse Sarabande

Varèse Sarabande
(December, 2013)
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The 1990 album was the fourth of Varèse Sarabande's original Club CD series (VCL 9001.4). It was limited to 1,000 numbered copies, and since selling out from the label, the rare album has sold for as much as $400. By 2013, when the same contents were re-issued in 2,000 copies by Varèse as part of its later Club series and offered for $18, the value of the original CD plummeted to only $30.
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   Availability | Viewer Ratings | Comments | Audio & Track Listings | Notes
Buy it... only if you maintain an absolutely complete James Horner collection and wish to seek this score's historically elusive album for half an hour of rhythmic, flute-led jungle funk and odd ambient textures.

Avoid it... if Horner's early, improvised, electronically experimental works serve more as a curiosity for you rather than a necessity, in which case Vibes isn't worth your time.
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WRITTEN 9/24/96, REVISED 2/2/14
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1990 Album
Vibes: (James Horner) There are only two groups of people in the world who would have any reason to even want to remember the 1988 movie Vibes: Cyndi Lauper fans and James Horner collectors. The film was, for some reason, backed by Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment production company, with a horrendous script from two of the co-writers of Howard's Splash who were attempting, probably, to take advantage of the resurfacing popular interest in parapsychology and the supernatural at the time (spearheaded by the wildly successful Ghostbusters). The premise of the film involves two psychically gifted characters, one a hair-stylist played by Lauper and the other a museum expert played by Jeff Goldblum. They are conned into seeking adventure in Ecuador, thinking that they'd be helping someone find a lost child when indeed their psychic powers would be needed on a perilous mission to find a mystic pyramid of gold and unlock its powers. Along the same idea as Romancing the Stone, the two city folk in a jungle environment manage to hook up by the end of the film, a predictable but truly frightful event. For Lauper, the film represented her big screen debut, and for director Ken Kwapis, Vibes followed his own debut with the Sesame Street film Follow That Bird in 1985. Needless to say, the recipe was perfect for disaster. The summer 1988 release floundered and has long since been forgotten, with Lauper's career stalling and Kwapis sent back to the dark corners of television directing. The only notable aspect of the film that remains is the score by then upstart composer James Horner. Already nominated for Academy Awards for his work on An American Tail and Aliens, the composer had completed the most lengthy and ambitious score of his career, Willow, an enduring orchestral classic, the same year. The era of improvisational, electronically defined music in Horner's career, whether contemporary in tone or primitively ambient in intent, was waning. And the peasants rejoiced.

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Average: 2.64 Stars
***** 27 5 Stars
**** 30 4 Stars
*** 37 3 Stars
** 44 2 Stars
* 54 1 Stars
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Alternate Review at Best Original Scores
orion_mk3 - April 26, 2014, at 10:16 a.m.
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Matt C. - May 16, 2013, at 10:45 a.m.
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Newest: March 16, 2014, at 4:16 p.m. by
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Track Listings Icon
Audio Samples   ▼
All Albums Tracks   ▼Total Time: 35:40
• 1. Main Titles (4:40)
• 2. Opening the Pyramid (2:06)
• 3. Andes Arrival (1:36)
• 4. Mountain Trek (4:55)
• 5. The Secret Revealed (2:22)
• 6. The Lost City (8:24)
• 7. The Journey Begins (5:57)
• 8. Silvia's Vision (2:57)
• 9. End Title (3:10)

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The insert of the 2013 album replaced Kevin Mulhall's dated notes from the 1990 product with new commentary from Jim Lochner. Strangely, the 2013 album's insert contains no credits information about the score. The contents of the 1990 album's notation by Mulhall include the following:

    James Horner has become one of the more prolific American composers currently working in film. Consequently, it is interesting to learn that he expressed little interest in film scoring prior to his first feature assignment, 'The Lady In Red (1979)'. In fact, Horner appeared to be headed for a life of academia and composition solely for the concert hall. Born in California in 1954, Horner acquired an impressive formal background in music, including early studies at London's Royal College of Music and later degree work at U.S.C. and U.C.L.A. However, after accepting several offers to score films, Horner developed an appreciation of the challenges and possibilities of working in cinematic composition and quickly assembled a voluminous filmography which includes such well known films as Star Trek II : The Wrath of Khan (1982), 48 Hours (1982), Brainstorm (1983), Cocoon (1985), Field of Dreams (1989), and Glory (1989). One of the most recent additions to Horner's list of credits is Vibes (1988), directed by Ken Kwapis. Vibes introduces us to Sylvia (Cyndi Lauper, in her film debut) and Nick (portrayed by Jeff Goldblum), who meet at an institute designed to study persons endowed with extraordinary psychic abilities. They have both come to realize that, unfortunately, their special talents do not necessarily bring happiness and, with their lives in a state of disarray, agree to help a wise-cracking stranger named Harry (Peter Falk) search for his missing son in Ecuador. Adventure ensues as Sylvia and Nick realize they have been conned by Harry, who is searching the mountains not for his son but for the 'Room of Gold', which holds untold riches that are also being sought by other interested (and shady) parties.

    James Horner's interestingly constructed score provides Vibes with an important source of atmospheric shading and a sense of local color. In the opening sequence, Horner uses a mixture of orchestral and electronic instruments to communicate an ethereal quality which suggests a mysterious presence in the mountains. The exotic and rhythmic music following the entourage's arrival in Ecuador is mostly electronic, but features the haunting sonority of a pan flute. At other times, the composer uses electronics exclusively to convey an otherwordliness about Sylvia and her paranormal friend Louise. The notable absence of music to document the growing love interest between Sylvia and Nick represents a shift from the conventions of film scoring in that Horner allows the script and performances to become the primary sources of romantic tension. Toward the conclusion of Vibes, Horner mixes portentous brass, atonal strings and a spray of electronic effects to support the pyrotechnics of Richard Edlund's visual effects and the expert camerawork of John Bailey. Ultimately, this score demonstrates the composer's ability to write music in many styles for a variety of ensembles.

    James Horner's meteroic rise to the forefront of today's film composers is attributable to his solid education, his inherent musical talent, some good fortune and his understanding of the film scoring process. Ten years after his first project, Horner is now known for his willingness to compose large amounts of music (Willow, 1988) in short periods of time (Wolfen, 1981). Moreover, he has already been recognized with a Grammy award, an Oscar nomination for his contribution to the song 'Somewhere Out There' (from An American Tail, 1986), and an Academy Award nomination for his work on Aliens (1986). James Horner's well-crafted score for Vibes is yet another example of his diversified contribution to the art of scoring films.
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or redistributed without the prior written authority of Christian Clemmensen at Filmtracks Publications. All artwork and sound clips from Vibes are Copyright © 1990, Varèse Sarabande, Varèse Sarabande and cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 9/24/96 and last updated 2/2/14.
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