It has taken eight years and over 130 CDs but FSM finally releases a score by the great Ennio Morricone: Guns for San Sebastian (1968), commonly known as a western but more accurately a historical adventure set in Mexico circa 1750. The film stars Anthony Quinn as an outlaw who is mistaken for a priest and protects a humble village against a violent tribe of Indians; Charles Bronson is the antagonist and Anjanette Comer the love interest. Filmed in Mexico, the international production is a sunburnt, action-packed look at a violent time in colonial Latin American history. The late 1960s were an especially fertile period for Ennio Morricone, whose prolific genius has enhanced hundreds of films for over 40 years. By 1968 Morricone had already scored the groundbreaking Dollars trilogy for Sergio Leone—establishing the revolutionary style for the "spaghetti" westerns—and Guns for San Sebastian preceded their western masterpiece, Once Upon a Time in the West.
Fame was a film directed by Alan Parker, a serious auteur (some would say overly serious, especially in light of the work that came later) who designed the film for posterity, and the same attitude carried over the music. Yes, the production techniques often do sound dated – the over-reliance on state-of-the-art synthesizer ironically now sounds helplessly tied to the year of its creation – but the music by Michael Gore is dynamic, varied, and alive, sung with real passion and vigor, and it still retains its essential spark 23 years after it was a pop culture phenomenon. Sure, it's glitzy and glossy, sounding like show tunes, but that's the tradition of this music, and it was done better than most Broadway tunes and movie soundtracks of the '80s. Years later, this still has the spark and vitality of kids trying to make their big break, no matter the kind of music they're singing, and that's one of the main reasons (along with Gore's fine compositions) Fame retains its power and entertainment value years later.
There’s nothing disastrous about Daniel Pemberton’s fine score. Pemberton’s star has been on the rise for a few years now and it was 2015 that turned out to be his real breakthrough year, with his very impressive (and very different) scores for The Man from UNCLE and Steve Jobs. There’s a bit of the effortless cool of the former heard in Gold but by and large this is another very different affair, a fun action/adventure score that stays refreshingly free of the turgid sounds that tend to dog these things these days.