Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Apocalypse Music

I’ve been obsessively listening to the Apocalypse Now soundtrack this past week, the single CD, music-only edition, and last night I alternated it with the double CD containing music, dialogue and sound effects. I don’t dig out this particular edition out very often, but it’s good to be reminded that it’s not just a conventional soundtrack but rather a specially prepared sound map of Willard’s mission up the Nung River to exterminate Colonel Kurtz, augmented with subtle stereo and electronic effects not featured in the sound mix of the film. In addition the album features music cues that are not heard in any other version of the film, Redux included, and interesting to note that one of these cues, used for the scene where the dying Chief wrestles with Willard sounds very similar to one of Rick Wakeman’s atmospheric fills in The Burning.

More significantly though, is the extra narration not featured in the film. In the scene where the Bunnies are airlifted to safety after the Playboy show, Willard wryly comments:
Only the Americans could build a place like this in the middle of the jungle. Only the Americans would want to.” 
In the scene prior to the san pan massacre, Willard makes an admission:
I didn't belong on this mission anymore because I had begun to doubt it. Kurtz was turning from a target into a goal.”
And there’s one curious substitution of narration. In the film, Willard advises: “Never get out of the boat. Absolutely goddamn right. Unless you were going all the way.” On the soundtrack it’s replaced by
Never get out of the boat, absolutely goddamned right. Not unless you were ready to take it all the way, no matter what happens

Worth mentioning that both CD soundtrack editions come with one glaring omission – the original 2LP pressing of the soundtrack included an insert listing personnel who worked on the score and it’s an interesting who’s who of musicians and players. I mentioned Herbie Hancock’s 1972 album Crossings in my previous post, and I’m pleased to see that Patrick Gleeson who played Moog on that album was the chief synth player on the Apocalypse Now score. Grateful Deadites Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Phil Lesh moonlighting as the Rhythm Devils are also listed, as well as Don Preston and Bernie Krause. Here’s the full list…

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