Film Music Review
The Sammy awards









Music composed and conducted by Lalo Shifrin

22 Tracks (Playing Time = 58:51)




Album produced by Nick Redman. Score arranged, orchestrated, and copied by Bruce Babcock, Harvey Cohen, Stephen Dorff, Barbara Franklin, Dan Franklin, Joel Franklin, Jack Hayes, David Izzard, Cindy Koller, Angela Morley, Eric Stonerook, and Fred Sutenski.

Music remixed from the original multi-track masters by Michael Matessino. Edited and mastered by Daniel Hersch at DigiPrep, Hollywood, CA. Music edited by Donald Harris. Music recorded at Scoring Stage 1, Warner Brothers Studios—Burbank, September 1983. Album art direction and design by Theresa E. Schifrin.

Aleph Records 040

Rating: ****

The Dirty Harry character has had a steady following over the years and each Lalo Schifrin’s scores for the series is a glimpse at the changing world of film music. By the 1980s, there were plenty of options available to accompany a film score, with a tendency towards an increase in electronically-produced sounds or incorporation of modern pop rock songs. The full orchestral score still had its place but it was harder to find an instrumental sound that could be original and contemporary. This was the fourth of the five film series (THE DEAD POOL would also be scored by Schifrin five years later). It also picks up where Jerry Fielding’s fascinating score for the previous Dirty Harry film, THE ENFORCER left off.

Schifrin’s approach in SUDDEN IMPACT was to continue the funky rhythmic drive of earlier parts of the series but the orchestral writing, often a little jazzier with a prominent sax sound, is more dissonant and explores splashes of atonal writing for dramatic emphasis (both on display in “Too Much Sugar”). Fielding had done the same in THE ENFORCER tending to borrow a sound found in music by the likes of Penderecki or Lutoslawsky. In some respects, SUDDEN IMPACT is a more nocturnal score that hints at the darker inner drive of its characters motivation before occasionally exploding into a brief action cue.

Effects are incorporated as well into parts of the score, beginning with the “Main Title” music. And Schifrin revisits the sort of calliope music heard in ROLLERCOASTER in “Remembering Terror.” Thematic ideas for Dirty Harry and Sondra Locke’s murderous character, Jennifer Spencer, serve to connect the score together more as well. The variety of musical styles explored here moves from avant-garde 20 th century styles, through an updated funk style, to lyric jazz thematic statements—a far more disturbing score for a darker film. Schifrin integrates many of these styles within single tracks on this disc maintaining a dramatic continuity that is fascinating to hear since it seems almost effortless. You can hear this especially in the “Remembering Terror” track where we move through a variety of musical styles in its near 7-minute playing time including a hard rock segment. Schifrin uses electronic ideas as well in this score as a layered idea alongside the orchestral writing. Some of the score is reminiscent of 1970s/1980s television crime dramas with a bit larger musical force.

As has been true of other historic Aleph releases, this one features a fine booklet essay. The music has all been remixed and remastered from the original multi-track recordings. Fans will realize that there are longer cue segments here that have been restored as well. An alternate “Main Title” fills out the disc. The disparate musical elements may not be appreciated by all listeners who wish a choice to be made between an orchestral or purely pop score, but this tension is precisely indicative of the period and SUDDEN IMPACT becomes a score that allows us to hear how great film composers were trying to solve this shift in music.


--Steven A. Kennedy, 21 April 2008

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