Review: City Slickers 2 - The Legend Of Curly's Gold (1994)

Composer: Marc Shaiman

Label: Chaos Records

Catalogue Nr.: OK 66183

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Billy Crystal's Mitch Robbins and his gang of city slickers ride again in City Slickers 2 - The Legend Of Curly's Gold and the title already suggests that they are after a treasure this time. Mitch finds an old map in the cowboy hat of their dead former track leader Curly which shows the way to the gold, so Mitch and his friend Phil Berquist see it as another opportunity for a new adventure in the prairie to escape their normal life. More or less voluntarily, they are joined by Mitch's brother Glen... a lazy guy who knows the godfather films like the bible. Billy Crystal's special sense of slapstick and humour is spread all over this film which makes it one of those movies that you can either love or hate. It really helps to love the film if you are either a fan of Crystal's mimics, Stern's slapsticks or Lovitz's way of talking. In case all that applies to you (just like it did to me) then you are in for a good time. Everyone of those folks who hated the film (and there are quite a few) can relax because the box office results indicated that this one was the first and last sequel to City Slickers (1991).

The score:

Producer Billy Crystal rightfully decided to get his long-time collaborator Marc Shaiman back on the horse to compose the sequel's score and to musically continue where the first City Slickers ended. Shaiman is right back on track with his new score though this time backed up by a notably bigger ensemble. Just like in the first score, Shaiman integrated various different musical styles into the score while the core of his work the highly memorable big sky main theme naturally remains the core of his work. Several other signatures from the first film return as well, however, the new score is certainly an improvement because it all comes along as much more fleshed out, consistent and developed than in the first score.

The rousing City Slickers theme with its romantic big sky feeling of freedom and prairie kicks off the score in "Mitch's Dream" which accompanies a nightmare sequence and therefore goes into some banging and clashing horror music at the end. Shaiman's musical versatility is really amazing because he can go from dead serious horror music to funny and totally frenetic and toon-ish clang-bangs ala Bugs Bunny for the "Main Title" cartoon sequence. Typically for cartoon mickey-mousing, the cue sometimes changes from jazz to hip-hop beats within a heartbeat which can make it a little confusing during your first listen. Innocent woodwinds, strings and a steady french horn accompaniment that sometimes resembles Jerry Goldsmith's more light-hearted musical moments is featured in "Found: One Smile" which accompanies Mitch's everyday life as radio station manager.

A tense note for Harmonica starts off "Discovering The Map" followed by some guitar playing before it becomes comic again with a naughty dark waltz - one of Marc Shaiman's trademarks since The Addams Family (1991). The composer integrated a new musical motif for the relationship between Mitch and his brother Glen which is introduced for the first time in "Oh! Brother" played by flute, woodwinds and strings. "Gold Diggers Of 1994" brings back another broad moment of the main theme and more clichés of romantic western music. Don't be too surprised if you, notice some more or less direct quotes of classic western scores such as Max Steiner's theme for The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948) in the cue "The Map Is Real... And On Fire". Time for some quiet subtle moment with a lovely arrangement of the main theme for solo trumpet and flute in "On The Trail". The next cue "Real Men" has a calm string passage of the brother's motif and goes right into "Let's Get That Gold" which is a clever fusion of poppy big band jazz and country music with a fiddle instead of sax.

The score continues with suspense music in "Duke Saves The Day" before the main theme explodes again with full orchestral power in "Come And Get Me". However, the best rendition of the theme and the climax of the score has yet to come in "The Stampede" which starts with Harmonica and goes into the greatest performance of the main theme ever. At one point, there is even a clever hint to Elmer Bernstein's theme from The Magnificent Seven (1960) and this is exactly the moment when Shaiman grabs you musically and does not let go for the cue's entire seven minutes that continue with one of his most impressive action writing ever. A busy horn section really sells the cue and a heroic fanfare version of the brother's motif is heard when Mitch is riding to rescue his brother who's carriage is out of control. Subtle romantic tones for woodwinds return in "Look Who's Bonding Too". A nice shock effect breaks up the subtlety for a moment in "Over The Buffalo's Back, Under The Frozen People" before Shaiman unleashes another brass firework in the middle of the cue.

"To The Bat Cave" has some more clashing and frenetic horror music ala Shaiman to over and "There Is Gold In Them Thar Hills" brings yet another quote of Steiner's The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948) and more exciting action music reprising some material from "The Stampede". The remaining 10 minutes of the score are actually lacking a bit of the excitement heard in the previous cues due to a melodramatic plot twist which is also the reason why "A Box Full Of Lead" goes on with a rather depressive tone and a short outburst of swing at the end, accompanying some Las Vegas scenes. Mysterious music and a triumphant statement of the main theme end one of Shaiman's greatest and most entertaining scores.

 

RATING:

Score as heard in the film: 85%

Score as heard on CD: 83%

TOTAL: 84%

 

The presentation:

Chaos Record's CD release of the score is actually OOP by now but you can still easily acquire a copy for a good price. The running time is splendid with almost 50 minutes of score covering the best moments of Shaiman's work for the film. I personally only miss a cue from the beginning of the film when Mitch's brother Glen is doing his Godfather-number and the score quotes Nino Rota's famous theme. Otherwise, this album represents the fairly best treatment of Shaiman's music on CD and hardly leaves any wishes. The sound quality is excellent. A special evident for Shaiman's great sense of humour can be found in the "special thanks" section of the booklet:      '(...) Thank You To Billy Crystal (...) Billy, I am looking forward to City Slickers 3 - Beating A Dead Horse!' - Me too, Marc. Especially if your score will be as good as this one!

Presentation by the Label: 65%

 

Summary:

Marc Shaiman's score for the City Slickers sequel easily surpasses his score for the first film because it takes everything that was good in that one, including an exciting big sky main theme, and elevates it to an entirely new level of excitement by making it more consistent. The ensemble is notably bigger this time which adds to the fun even more and it is a joy to hear a composer like Shaiman going out of his romantic comedy mood by doing something as thrilling as "The Stampede" which clearly indicates that the man has a lot of undiscovered potential when it comes to orchestral action music. Hints to classic western scores such as Max Steiner's Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948) or Elmer Bernstein's The Magnificent Seven (1960) give this work the necessary spice but the score is full of other highlights such as "Let's Get That Gold", "Main Title", "The Map Is Real... And On Fire"... but who am I talking to? Get that score already!

Review by Andreas Creutzburg

 

                   Tracklisting:

01. Mitch's Dream (02:34)
02. Main Title (02:49)
03. Found: One Smile (01:14)
04. Discovering The Map (01:52)
05. Oh! Brother (01:25)
06. Gold Diggers Of 1994 (00:46)
07. The Map Is Real... And On Fire (01:31)
08. On The Trail (00:48)
09. Real Men (00:47)
10. Let's Get That Gold! (01:51)
11. Duke Saves The Day (02:45)
12. Come And Get Me! (02:21)
13. The Stampede (07:22)
14. Look Who's Bonding Too (01:58)
15. Over The Buffalo's Back, Under The Frozen People (02:27)
16. To The Bat Cave! (02:47)
17. There's Gold In Them Thar Hills (04:58)
18. A Box Full Of Lead (05:38)
19. Jackpot! (03:39)

 

 

 

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