Search - David Shire :: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
David Shire
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Genres: R&B, Soundtracks
  •  Track Listings (11) - Disc #1

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a superb urban thriller: four men, dressed alike in trenchcoats and calling each other Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, etc., take a subway car hostage and demand $1 million in ransom. Walter Matt...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: David Shire
Title: The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Film Score Monthly
Original Release Date: 6/1/1996
Re-Release Date: 11/1/2002
Album Type: Soundtrack, Import
Genres: R&B, Soundtracks
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 638558012321


Album Description
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a superb urban thriller: four men, dressed alike in trenchcoats and calling each other Mr. Blue, Mr. Green, etc., take a subway car hostage and demand $1 million in ransom. Walter Matthau stars as the transit cop assigned to the case; Robert Shaw is the leader of the terrorists. It's a brilliant '70s hostage movie with biting New York humor. For the score, David Shire came up with a stroke of genius. He wanted to do some kind of funk/jazz/big band, but wanted a way of making it dissonant and powerful -- not too light, but not too random. So for his melodic materials he utilized the 12-tone method of composition, a technique devised by Arnold Schoenberg in the early 20th century in which you make a theme by using all 12 pitches in a specific order, and then create other themes by playing that "row" backwards, upside-down, backwards and upside-down, or transposed. Shire ended up with a monster two-note bass line with these 12-tone themes running on top. For our CD, the first-ever release of this music, we have utilized the complete score, including around 15 minutes of music not included in the film. The 12-page booklet includes movie stills, composer photos, and track-by-track notes by Doug Adams.

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CD Reviews

A living, breathing character....
Daly Mavorneen | Los Angeles, CA | 02/19/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)

"After the collected horror-film scores of Italian composers, Goblin, the best SINGLE film score of all time has got to be David Shire's "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three." The urgency of the drums, scratchers and trumpets will make you sweat with nervousness (like the hostages on the subway train)! If you like thumping 70's funk, acid jazz, or even classical twelve-tone composition (!) you will be in heaven listening to this soundtack, which is, unbelievably, an utterly unique amalgam of all three! Shire's score is a living, breathing, menacing character in the film, and one that you will not soon forget. I first saw the film when I was 12 or 13 and have never been able to get the sinister melody-line out of my head. And now it's FINALLY available on CD! Want the recipe for one awesome aural cocktail? Put "The Goblin Collection 1975-1989," "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" and the Beastie Boys' "Ill Communication" (for their bass-heavy, funk-jazz samples) into the CD player and press "shuffle" or "random"---then Lose Yourself!"
Random spider brass funk
Mr. A. Pomeroy | Wiltshire, England | 04/08/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is great fun. It's also very odd, and not quite the kind of 1970s police film soundtrack you might be expecting; although a couple of tracks sound like Dirty Harry ("Blue and Green Talk", for example), it's mostly a weird but funky musical experiment. It's best listened to as one long single song, in which case it becomes a bit like Kraftwerk's "Autobahn", in that it's a series of variations on a single theme.

And what an odd theme it is. The main melody sounds completely random, and apparently it was created with some kind of mathematical process. Most tracks involve variations on a swinging brass beat in the background with this random-sounding melody over the top. It's a bit like Jerry Goldsmith's music for "Capricorn One" in its mixture of atonality and brute force.

Sometimes it slows down (the end of "Moving Again Blues"), sometimes it goes real quiet ("Dolowitz Gets Killed"), and sometimes it gets very loud (the beginning of "Money Montage"), but it's recognisably the same piece of music put through a blender. "Smoking More, Enjoying it Less" and the opening titles are the swinging-est, the end title is basically the opening title but not as good, and "Blue and Green Talk" is the most conventional-sounding 70s cop show track, with that wooden scraper thing that was all over the place at the time. "Dolowitz Takes a Look" is a bizarre mixture of aggressive brass funk and cocktail jazz music, and sounds like something from a weird spy thriller.

I can barely remember the film, which was a minor classic of its genre. It was a police procedural with a dash of caper film. All I know of David Shire is that he went on to do some of the music for "Saturday Night Fever". This soundtrack is nothing like that, and it's worth owning for the opening title alone, which swaggers like a magickist."