Home > Reviews > GONE IN 60 SECONDS – Trevor Rabin

GONE IN 60 SECONDS – Trevor Rabin

gonein60secondsOriginal Review by Jonathan Broxton

I don’t want to turn this review into a diatribe, but this release of Trevor Rabin’s Gone in 60 Seconds epitomises, for me, everything that is wrong with certain aspects of film scoring today, and is exactly the kind of score which could sound the death knell for the old-school ways of the classically trained composer. The problem is not really a musical one: it’s more to do with what a director (or, more importantly in this instance, a producer) sees as being a score that will create the most amount of excitement, regardless of whether there is any musical talent at work. Gone in 60 Seconds is much more about rhythm and volume than it is about mood or emotion. It’s the soundtrack equivalent of a battering ram.

The other problem – and, in my opinion, one that is much more serious one than the purely artistic one above – is the fact that this kind of sound has now become so associated with the “summer blockbuster” that it could soon become the norm for studios wanting to re-create a certain film’s financial success to believe that mimicking this style of score will help the box office returns. Jerry Bruckheimer, right from when he was producing films like Top Gun, Days of Thunder and Black Rain with his late partner Don Simpson, has continually advocated this kind of scoring. As years have gone by, he has produced financial successes such as Crimson Tide, Bad Boys, The Rock, Con Air and Armageddon: no-holds-barred, testosterone-fuelled action epics that have become the staples of the summer movie market.

Similarly, each of these films have contained equally testosterone-fuelled music – the “Bruckheimer Sound” – and as a result a series of poor mimics have spread across the film score world, each of them eager to cash in on their predecessor’s successes. I can see a situation in a few years time where, much like situation in the early 1980s, this kind of film music will have become so popular, and so associated with financially successful movies, that there will be very little room in a crowded market for traditional orchestral scores, thereby forcing all its most experiences practitioners to waste their talents on lower-profile movies.

I have no doubt that Trevor Rabin is a talented man. You don’t travel the world as a member if the successful rock band Yes without knowing your stuff. But good guitarists don’t necessarily make good composers. There are exceptions, of course: Danny Elfman, David Arnold and James Newton Howard have all made the successful transition from the pop to the film score world. Even some of Rabin’s work – parts of Armageddon and Deep Blue Sea – is good, but when it comes down to it, he will always be a rocker who relies far too much on conductors, orchestrators and “additional composers” to be able to turn his ideas into a living, breathing score.

Gone in 60 Seconds is very much a rock musician’s score, consisting primarily of banks of synthesisers letting rip with an incessant series of massive beats, riffs and loops, techno samples and electronic pulses, all of which are regularly overlaid with occasional strings, wordless vocals and the thunderous sound of an electric guitar. As car chase music it’s good, and undoubtedly lends the film a sense of power. Like I say above, the scary thing about music like this is that is does work in context. But, for an old purist like me, it’s just too damn noisy. It has no heart, no soul, and no emotion. To paraphrase an esteemed colleague of mine, listening to Gone in 60 Seconds is the musical equivalent of someone grabbing you by the shoulders, shaking you violently, and screaming, “are you excited yet?” in your face.

Some of the cues on Varése’s album, such as ‘The Last Car’, ’50 Cars’, ‘Roundabend’ and ‘Meet the Team’ are generally very listenable, and often generate a definite adrenaline rush, while some of the quieter cues such as ‘Keys to Eleanor’, ‘Memphis Jumps Elle’ and actually quite nice ‘Halls of Dalmorgan’ make for a welcome respite from the carnage, containing a slightly more restrained variation of the “über-anthem” that Rabin and his Media Ventures colleagues regularly write for this kind of film. Interestingly, the aforementioned ’50 Cars’ contains a sampled sound that is strikingly similar to the noise made by the murderous robot’s gears at the end of The Terminator.

I can see how some would find this score to be a refreshing change from the orchestral sound. Some folks like this kind of thing. So do I – but only if I’m listening to a rock or techno album, not as a film score. Call me old-fashioned, call me out of touch, but personally I find Gone in 60 Seconds to be a work which inspires very little in me, other than an almost overwhelming desire to hit the stop button. I’m just thankful that it didn’t last any longer than 29 minutes.

Rating: **

Track Listing:

  • Porsche Boost (1:12)
  • The Last Car (4:49)
  • Keys to Eleanor (1:22)
  • 50 Cars (2:57)
  • Sphinx (0:38)
  • Bad Man (1:36)
  • For the Cars (1:31)
  • Roundabend (5:21)
  • Meet the Team (1:15)
  • Memphis Jumps Elle (1:40)
  • The Throb (1:10)
  • Bad English (1:35)
  • Halls of Dalmorgan (0:53)
  • Big Drag (0:49)
  • Bad Carma (1:51)

Running Time: 29 minutes 06 seconds

Varése Sarabande VSD-6182 (2000)

Music composed by Trevor Rabin. Conducted by Gordon Goodwin. Orchestrations by Gordon Goodwin and Trevor Rabin. Recorded and mixed by Steve Kempster. Edited by Will Kaplan. Album produced by Trevor Rabin and Paul Linford.

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