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The Cowboys: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
John Williams
The Cowboys: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks
  •  Track Listings (17) - Disc #1

In a career that's spanned five decades, composer John Williams has scored fewer than five Westerns, which--judging from his exemplary work on this 1972 score for director Mark Rydell's story of a tough veteran cowpoke (Jo...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: John Williams
Title: The Cowboys: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Varese Sarabande
Original Release Date: 5/9/1995
Release Date: 5/9/1995
Album Type: Soundtrack
Genres: Pop, Soundtracks
Style: Easy Listening
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPCs: 030206554021, 4005939554026

Synopsis essential recording
In a career that's spanned five decades, composer John Williams has scored fewer than five Westerns, which--judging from his exemplary work on this 1972 score for director Mark Rydell's story of a tough veteran cowpoke (John Wayne) helping to bring a group of inexperienced young hands to manhood on a cattle drive--seems something of a shame. Williams offers up a robust, brassy score that leans heavily on the same prime Aaron Copland influences that informed Elmer Bernstein's Magnificent Seven and Jerome Moross's The Big Country. This fine Varese Sarabande release, notable for the presence and clarity of its recording, also features an unused alternate main title and other previously unreleased music from the film. --Jerry McCulley

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CD Reviews

A rousing western score
Joshua Kaufman | Cincinnati, OH | 02/17/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"This is one of those scores that put Williams "on the map" before he became a hot commodity with Jaws. It's not hard to see why. This is a funfilled, rousing score filled with delightful Copland-esque Americana.
Of course, the highlight is the brilliant title track, a fast-paced western fanfare, sure to put a smile on anyone's face. This theme is broken down and distributed through the rest of the score, and it never fails to lift the action from the depths of boredom (which happens in a few spots). There's a very lovely slow theme as well, and a couple of other themes mixed in, all very nice. Plenty of 'cowboy music' abound
There are also a couple of bonus items here. "Overture" is sort of the 'pre-thoughts' on what later became The Cowboys Overture, which was a common piece on Williams's pops concerts. And the "Alternate Main Title" is a totally seperate piece, which he obviously abandoned -- it's still very good, sounding very much like an Elmer Bernstein western theme.
A downside is the sound -- it's not that good. It's much better than many others though. But the good far outweighs the bad here, and I recommend this score to all who like westerns, Williams, and/or good melodies."
Great western score showcases youthful John Williams
Chris K. Wilson | Dallas, TX United States | 02/08/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"While I have always had mixed emotions about film director Mark Rydell's uneven 1972 western "The Cowboys," starring John Wayne in the twilight of his career, I have never for a moment doubted the extraordinary musical score by John Williams.Before this now-legendary composer skyrocketed to fame with Academy Award-winning scores to such films as "Jaws," "The Towering Inferno," "Star Wars" and "ET The Extra-Terrestrial," Mr. Williams was cutting his teeth on lesser films and displaying an experimental, if not youthful jazzy motif for scores in "None But the Brave," "Jane Eyre" and "The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing." Today, we are all familar with his trademark thundering Wagnerian scores, instantly recognizable, lending immediate credibilty to any film he works on.His work on "The Cowboys" is unique, not only because it is one of his rare scores for a western film, but it details a moment in his career when he was beginning to achieve a trademark style while still utilizing the experimental phases which define his early work. Today, the Main Title to "The Cowboys" is a popular standard for school bands, instantly recognizable as a testament to the western genre, if not to John Wayne's legendary career. But what I like about this motion picture score are the gentle hues from Deserted, Summer's Over and Overture.The eerie use of the harmonica during Rustlers is extremely creative, serving as the proper note for the film's unforgettable villain played by Bruce Dern. To this day, I have great difficulty seeing Dern in a film without remembering the ominous harmonica wail from John William's score.Of course the pulse-pounding notes during Learning The Ropes, The Drive and Wild Horses easily rank with the memorable Elmer Bernstein scores from "The Magnificient Seven" and "The Sons of Katie Elder." And the addition of an Alternate Main Title is a pleasant surprise.My only complaint about this CD is the brief running length of the cuts. With the exception of the Main Title and Overture, which run over two minutes, all of these scores are frustratingly brief, clocking in at barely one minute apiece. I realize this is the music that plays exactly as it does in the film, but I would have appreciated extended versions of these musical pieces. Perhaps the meshing of multiple cuts, or even new orchestrated interpretations. Then we would truly have an American musical classic."
Williams Composed A Western Film?
C.L.Scott | Texas | 12/28/1998
(4 out of 5 stars)

"John Williams did a western in 1972. "The Cowboys" is a score in which Williams has a fast moving theme and is perfect score for this movie. From a Fast moving opening title with a brillant horn solo then with a meldody heard through out the entire score. One that you will defently like. Thee getting into settle music for the boys then sad but moving theme for when John Wayne dies. Then to fast moving music for when the boys grow into men, nad then a very good finale called "summers over" to enrich the full score. If any score lover of John Williams lover this is a good one to get. One the best western scores that I have ever heard also (silverado). John Williams is a great writer in all kinds of films--yes evan a western. This a score I would get evan if you dont like westerns. This is I think the only western JW has ever done."