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DIAMONDS – Joel Goldsmith

December 10, 1999 Leave a comment Go to comments

diamondsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

I would imagine that being constantly overshadowed by a more famous relative cannot be an easy thing with which to cope. When you are an aspiring film composer named Joel Goldsmith, and when your father is none other than the near-legendary film music composer Jerry Goldsmith, I would imagine the difficulties increase tenfold. Joel, of course, has been around for twenty years or more, initially doing sound design work for the film industry, before graduating to scoring motion pictures such as Moon 44, Shiloh and Kull the Conqueror. His latest score is, ironically, for a film starring another famous father of a famous son – Diamonds, with Kirk Douglas in his first major film role since suffering a stroke several years ago.

Diamonds is a film directed by John Asher (who previously made the low budget action movie Kounterfeit) and stars Douglas as an ageing former championship boxer who, along with his son (Dan Aykroyd) and grandson (Corbin Allred) take a road trip from Canada to Reno, Nevada in search of some lost diamonds. As well as the jewels, the uneasy trio see the trip as a chance to patch up some strained relationships so that all three can enjoy the riches, and give their father some renewed happiness in his twilight years. The film also stars, in an extended cameo, Jenny McCarthy as a kind-hearted prostitute, and Lauren Bacall as her tough-as-nails madam.

To accompany the film, Goldsmith mixes light, orchestral beauty with toe-tapping big band jazz to create a distinctive, hugely enjoyable sound. The thing most surprising about Goldsmith’s score is its delicacy and lightness of touch, especially when you consider that his most famous score to date – Kull the Conqueror – was a huge action epic with electric guitars. It’s obvious that he has inherited his father’s predilection for thematic excellence. In terms of temp track similarities, there are vague stylistic likenesses to Rudy and James Horner’s two The Spitfire Grill and Deep Impact, mainly as a result of the unique piano chord progressions in ‘House Is Gone’ and others. Surprisingly, the score it most resembles is actually Rachel Portman’s The Cider House Rules, but I would hazard a guess at saying that this is an unexpected coincidence, as the two were recorded at around the same time, and in different countries.

Many of the orchestral tracks can be legitimately judged as being “highlights”, several of which would stand out in their own right on any soundtrack album. Cues worth a special mention include the first presentation of the main theme in ‘Diamonds Main Title’; the Rodeoish ‘Harry Drives’; the sadly short ‘Aunt & Uncle’s House’, in which Goldsmith tosses his main theme back and forth between different string soloists; and the gently moving ‘Marriage’, which features some superb horn work. The heart-melting 4-minute finale ‘Compartment in Box’ is likely to go down as one of the most beautiful individual cues of Goldsmith’s career, while ‘Lance’s Girl’ is an interesting anomaly, coming across as a peculiar combination of Quentin Tarantino-style “surfer” music and traditional Indian bhangra.

There are a couple of more downbeat moments to add some emotional diversity, most notably in ‘Paper Tearing’ and ‘Not Again’, while ‘Mugger’ is as close as the score ever comes to having an action cue, engaging in some low-end cello grinding and a propulsive piano ostinato. On the flipside of all this orchestral loveliness, cues such as ‘Walk Through Casino’, ‘Harry Chooses’ and the fabulous ‘Reno Lights’ are authentic big band style jazz pieces, mostly filled with lively Mancini-style trumpet blasts, sultry sax solos and a superb jazz quartet featuring double basses and brushed snares.

It is worth noting that, for the orchestrations, Goldsmith turned to regular David Arnold collaborator Nicholas Dodd, and the symphonic know-how he brings to each score on which he works is apparent – there are several moments that, in terms of the orchestration, recall the more tender moments of Independence Day, fanning further the flames of the debate about just how much of Mr. Arnold’s success is because of Dodd’s input. It is also perhaps important to mention that, for the first time, Dodd has received a composing credit, for the end credits song ‘Keeps This World Alive’, which is performed with a corny Cockney accent by former Herman’s Hermit Peter Noone. On the whole, though, Diamonds is a sweet, wholly enjoyable score which promises much for the future of a composer who for too long has been regarded as nothing more than his father’s son.

Rating: ***½

Track Listing:

  • Diamonds Main Title (1:53)
  • Sneaking Out (1:26)
  • He’s A Writer (1:10)
  • Harry Drives (0:52)
  • Photo Album (1:30)
  • House Is Gone (1:48)
  • Walking Through Casino (1:52)
  • Paper Tearing (1:15)
  • Mirror Reflection (0:53)
  • My Son The Boxer (0:36)
  • Lance’s Girl (0:59)
  • Reno Lights (2:34)
  • Hi Pop (0:22)
  • Aunt & Uncle’s House (0:30)
  • Border (0:20)
  • Mugger (1:13)
  • Reno Rooftop (0:52)
  • Harry Chooses (1:49)
  • Married (3:43)
  • Not Again (2:07)
  • Box In The Wall (1:34)
  • Diamond Hunting (1:50)
  • Split The Diamonds (1:21)
  • Compartment In Box (4:14)
  • Keeps This World Alive (written by Nicholas Dodd and Rick Chadock, performed by Peter Noone) (2:28)

Running Time: 39 minutes 11 seconds

Varèse Sarabande VSD-6107 (1999)

Music composed by Joel Goldsmith. Conducted by Jerry Goldsmith. Orchestrations by Nicholas Dodd and Harvey Cohen. Recorded and mixed by Bruce Botnick. Edited by Rick Chaddck. Mastered by Pat Sullivan. Album produced by Joel Goldsmith and Rick Chadock.

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