CD: Bad Girls (1994)

August 30, 2011 | By

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Rating: Very Good

Label: La-La Land Records / Released:  June 28, 2011

Tracks & Album Length:  26 tracks / (60:27)


Special Notes:  24-page colour booklet with liner notes by Jeff Bond / Limited to 3000 copies.


Composer: Jerry Goldsmith




Between 1990-1995, Jerry Goldsmith scored 25 feature films, which wasn’t abnormal for a composer who lived to work, loved to tackle new challenges, and enjoyed solid relationships with major directors like Paul Verhoeven and Joe Dante.

Bad Girls, directed by Jonathan Kaplan, came amid a cluster of films spanning comedy, drama, period, sci-fi, social commentary, adventure, and comic book, but amid all that productivity, fans were able to choose between the strong works, the fluff, and scores that held the composer’s recognizable gift for rhythm, massive orchestral colorations, and fiddling with a theme in every conceivable guise.

Kaplan’s film sort of fell between period adventure, and blatant cash-in on the recent novelty of assigning male Brat Pack actors in Young Guns 1 (1988) and 2 (1990). Featuring an all-female cast of hot new talent (or talent newly hot, according to prior box office successes), in Bad Girls, Goldsmith was able to mine his interest in folk themes, classical western scoring, and investing shades of humour, tenderness, and kinetic action.

In this newly expanded CD – almost doubling the original album’s length – La-La Land’s disc offers every nuance, but there are aspects that feel borrowed from several of the films that happened to have been written during that 25-film cluster. The most overt resemblance, in terms of rhythmic patterns and ferociously urgent brass, is Total Recall (1990); whereas the guitar strums, with slight Latin touches, do recall a bit of Under Fire (1983), as in the lengthy “Ambush,” which then dips into a bit of Rambo (1985) before sliding back into the Total Recall rhythm.

This isn’t to say Bad Girls was being wholly derivative, but there are elements that clearly show what sounds and sonic devices where on the composer’s mind at that time; since the punchy rhythms of Total Recall proved so effective, consciously or unconsciously, they worked their way into some of Bad Girls’ most kinetic cues.

Every aspect fans expect from Goldsmith – big sound, sweeping drama, and a wonderful balance of singular and collective character experiences & emotional arcs – are present in this hour-long score, but it has its share of flaws.

Besides some overly familiar elements, there’s the synth keyboards which bookend the film, opening and closing Bad Girls with a theme statement that’s terribly dated. By including every cue, the expanded album also reveals the heavy reliance on recapping the theme in its most familiar form, so there’s a repetitiveness at times, but knowing Goldsmith’s ability to meet the demands of his distinctive filmmakers, the heavy use of one theme is probably tied to Kaplan’s desire to evoke a classic western score – classically orchestral, and classically theme-reliant.

La-La Land’s production is top-notch, mastering the album from what sounds like pristine elements, and balancing the sonics to ensure the robustness of the orchestrations are clear, and listeners can relish Goldsmith’s knack for exceeding the depth (or at least our perception) of bass by spreading out the sonic levels among diverse percussion hits, and fluid brass accompaniment.

This isn’t a masterwork, but those nostalgic for Goldsmith’s nineties period will be pleased one of his many epic scores is no longer showcased in an abbreviated format.



© 2011 Mark R. Hasan



External References:

IMDB Soundtrack Album Composer Filmography


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