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Various Artists - 1985 American Flyers [Soundtrack]




ARTIST: Various Artists
ALBUM: American Flyers [Soundtrack]
LABEL: GRP
SERIAL: GRP-A-2001
YEAR: 1985

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Lee Ritenour - guitar * Greg Mathieson - synthesizers, keyboards * assorted musicians

TRACK LISTING: 01 American Flyers * 02 Travelling Music * 03 Brand New Day * 04 Gone Ridin' * 05 Bad Moon Rising * 06 Brothers Theme (Part 1) * 07 The 'J' Factor * 08 Theme From American Flyers (Hell Of The West) * 09 The Breakaway * 10 Brothers Theme (Part II) * 11 Treadmill * 12 Epilogue (Third Race)


Background
Seemingly eradicated from the history of time is this soundtrack from an equally forgotten cycling film starring a then fledgling Kevin Costner. With two significant names like Lee Ritenour and Greg Mathieson at the helm and the year being 1985, this lives up to the billing as a melodic rock gem. Split between instrumentals and actual songs, there are names like Glenn Shorrock and a surely then unknown Chris Issak in the mix also, adding another layer of virtuosity to this glorious assembly of AOR delights. Well maybe not Issak in hindsight, but it does little to affect this period piece that could only come from the mid 80's. The uplifting nature of the music is in keeping with the gruelling bike race depicted in the film, with the end result being magnificently captured by the two legendary composers.


The Songs
The music here is thoroughly drenched in a comprehensive sense of victory, evident immediately with the title track, sung by Shorrock, hot on the heels of his AOR exploits with the Little River Band and his fine 1983 album 'Villain Of The Peace.' The sheen to this track is so impossibly smooth and melodic it's almost enough to make you pause for a moment. As far as anthems go it's on another level, the type of material certain to leave you with your fist in the air and a nostalgic lone tear in your eye. It has the air of America at its most patriotic, in a way that doesn't seem to exist now. 'Traveling Music' is a brief jolt of high-tech AOR, with the guitars and synths dueling fiercely, but both catapulted to the forefront. 'Brand New Day' is another faultless anthem, this one sung by Danny Hutton, with the line 'one more night becomes a brand new day, one more fight to find a way, living in the USA.' If that sounds glorious then it has to be heard to be truly appreciated. We all know the 80's specialized in these kinds of tracks, but this surely takes the cake. Everything about it is 1985 in four minutes and it should've be the soundtrack for the United States that year. Things take a somewhat offbeat direction with the rockabilly 'Gone Ridin' courtesy of Issak and while it's not terrible, it certainly doesn't fit in musically. Also casually dismissed is the inclusion of Creedence Clearwater Revival's 'Bad Moon Rising' which was probably already stale in 1985. Things recover with the synthesized bass domination of 'Theme of American Flyers (Hell of the West)' which is high-tech AOR taken to the extreme. It fits the sporting element of the film and could have been used in any manner of clips for montages of 80's sporting events. The instrumental highlight is easily 'The Breakaway' however, which at seven minutes will have you reaching for unknown superlatives. If you've seen the film then its place during the race makes sense, but the assortment of vintage 80's keyboard moves gives it a flair for the dramatic and is stunning as a result. The last three pieces all run at three minutes and under, the parping synths of 'Treadmill' another highlight as is the guitar work of Ritenour on 'Epilogue (Third Race)'.


In Summary
While soundtracks aren't commonly featured here, this is an accomplishment that would grace anyone's collection and is preferable to what passes itself off as AOR these days in my opinion. It makes you realize what an era of riches the 80's was, both musically and in a cultural sense, when it was common place watching against the odds type films with a suitable soundtrack accompanying it. Anytime music puts you in a specific frame of mind and transports you to what's being presented even without seeing it, then clearly it's succeeded, which is the greatest honor I can bestow on this soundtrack.


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Comments

#1 | jefflynnefan on May 30 2015 17:19:20
I don't have this in my soundtrack collection but I'll have to check it out now after reading your review. Is the Danny Hutton the same as Danny Hutton Hitters who did the song "Wouldn't it be Good" for the Pretty In Pink soundtrack?

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