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THE EXPRESS – Mark Isham

October 10, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Express is an inspirational sports drama about the life of Ernie Davis who, while playing for Syracuse University in 1961, became the first African-American college football player to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy, and the trials and hardships he endured to break this sporting color barrier. The film is directed by Gary Fleder, stars Rob Brown and Dennis Quaid, and features a lovely score from Mark Isham.

This isn’t a traditional flag-waving sporting glory score in the vein of The Natural or Rudy or Hoosiers; instead, Isham spends a lot of time scoring the social and political upheaval that surrounded Davis and his exploits, leading to a score which is at times surprisingly dark, and also surprisingly heavy on synthetic embellishments. There is thumping percussion and gritty electronic music in the opening “Prologue”, and dark and oppressive action music in “Training” and “A Good Man”, but that’s not to say there isn’t any emotional warmth in the score.

“Jackie Robinson” features a lovely noble-sounding theme for the previous generation’s color-boundary breaker, some intimate and attractive stuff in “Elmira” and the warm and inviting piano-led “I’m An Optimist” and “What Kind of Bottle?”, and some militaristic—sounding, quite rousing material to be found in “Cotton Bowl”, “Don’t Lose Yourself” and the conclusive “The Express”.

While The Express is clearly not among the pantheon of Isham’s best works, there is still a fair amount of enjoyable music to be found here, even if it is somewhat anonymous, and even though it fails to stay with you once Lakeshore’s 50 minute album had stopped spinning.

Rating: ***

Track Listing:

  • Prologue (1:31)
  • Jackie Robinson (2:06)
  • Elmira (1:57)
  • Lacrosse (2:07)
  • Training (4:17)
  • A Meeting (1:17)
  • A Good Man (5:45)
  • I’m Staying In (1:18)
  • Cotton Bowl (7:36)
  • Don’t Lose Yourselves (4:43)
  • Ernie Davis (1:37)
  • Heisman (1:12)
  • Draft (2:35)
  • Rain (1:51)
  • I’m An Optimist (2:46)
  • What Kind of Bottle? (1:49)
  • The Express (5:02)

Running Time: 49 minutes 29 seconds

Lakeshore Records LKS-34030 (2008)

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