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THE ENFORCER (1976)

13 Tracks (Playing Time = 40:11)

Music composed and conducted by Jerry Fielding.

Album produced by Nick Redman. Score arranged, orchestrated, copied by Jack Dulong, Daniel Franklin, Joel Franklin, Jack Furlong, Bill Mays, Greig McRitchie, Lennie Niehaus. Music remixed from the original multi-track masters by Michael Matessino at Sharpline Arts, Glendale, CA. Edited and mastered by Daniel Hersch at DigiPrep, Hollywood, CA. Music edited by Donald Harris. Music recorded at Warner Brothers Studios, October 1976. Album art direction and design by Theresa E. Schifrin.

Aleph Records 038

Rating: ****

 

It might not seem like 1976 was all that banner of a year in film music until you realize that there are some important scores that were heard that year which are admired even to this day. This is the year of Goldsmith’s THE OMEN and LOGAN’S RUN, Conti’s ROCKY, Barry’s KING KONG, Mancini’s SILVER STREAK, Bernstein’s THE SHOOTIST, Williams’ MIDWAY, and Herrmann’s TAXI DRIVER.

Fans of the DIRTY HARRY series would also add Jerry Fielding’s THE ENFORCER to that list and now they and others will have a chance to hear this score for the third film in the franchise. The only one not to boast a score by Lalo Schifrin whose Aleph label is behind this release. This was one of several collaborations between Fielding and Clint Eastwood including the same year’s Oscar-nominated score to THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES.

One hears the two sides of Fielding’s music in the opening “Prologue/Main Title.” The prologue is full of highly dissonant writing swirling around in a rather diffuse way, unsettling and fascinating. The main title proper is pure classic 70s action music with just little of that funk sound thrown in for good measure. The score has moments of unusual sounds and musical effects that continue to illustrate the composer’s mastery of avant-garde compositional approaches (similar to the music of Pendericki or Lutoslawski from that same decade). These reappear sporadically in the score but often serve as tension building cues that underline action as in “Alcatraz Encounter.” That he blends these things together throughout the score is a mark of the very genius so many have come to admire in his work. Just listen in “Warehouse Heist” to the jazzy drum set, a mark of Schifrin’s scores, set against an aleatoric string line and unusually constructed ostinato lines that are not set in any harmonic realm either. Here again one hears a master at work.

When Fielding moves into music that tends to have a jazzy feel, his harmonic language is nothing short of stunning. “Code Blue” is a perfect example of the wildly interesting ways that he takes his harmonic ideas. The action sequences have everything from those classic 1970s diso-esque guitar backgrounds making them easily fit the period,though here they sound less anachronistic than one might have expected. These are all various expressions musically that somehow make perfect sense. When Fielding’s music swings it really swings and even within the 1970s musical language it somehow transcends this into something so much more than it sounds, effectively in “Rooftop Chase.” There are plenty of moments that the music has to kind of vamp, “Kidnap Zap” is the longest stretch of this, but even here there are a variety of touches to keep your interest. Fielding’s thematic ideas are engaging and cast from big band jazz to funk and groove are fun to listen to as is his jazzy arrangement of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” which appears in “Tiffany’s Number 11”—classy stuff.

Throughout the score you hear what a great composer can do with minimal materials and ensemble and with everything at his/her disposal. This is the kind of score we don’t really get much these days from the standard Hollywood sound. Fielding never was standard anything and this score is a perfect example of this.

The recording features an alternate version of the finale which is less heroic in some respects giving listeners a chance to hear two takes on how to end the film that are fascinating to hear. The “original” one has a bittersweet elegiac quality to it that brings the film to an appropriate close, stating the thematic material connected to Inspector Moore. It grows into something that both states the tragedy of the story but there is something deeply moving and far reaching to its rather intimate conclusion.

The only thing is that the release leaves you wishing Aleph could have packaged a second score either from the series itself or from Fielding’s oeuvre. As it is though, this is worth every penny and is one of the best releases of the year.

It is perhaps one of Fielding’s more accessible scores for new ears which should also encourage you to explore a bit more of his music as it hopefully becomes a bit more available.

 

--Steven A. Kennedy 15 May 2007

Comments regarding this review can be sent to this address: stev4uth@hotmail.com

 


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Film Music Review (Volume 9, Number 3, May - June 2007)


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