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Take a Hard Ride (1975)
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Take a Hard Ride Take a Hard Ride
Click to enlarge images.
Price: $49.95
Limited #: 3000
View CD Page at SAE Store
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: February 2000
Catalog #: Vol. 3, No. 1
# of Discs: 1

What is Take a Hard Ride? Sure it's yet another Jerry Goldsmith-scored western, but this 1975 20th Century-Fox production is so much more. It's a buddy movie. It's a blaxploitation epic. It's got kung fu. And it's a spaghetti western to boot. It's got Jim Brown, Fred Williamson...and Lee Van Cleef. It's got 1971 International Middle Weight Karate Champion Jim Kelly playing a character who dresses, acts and best of all, kicks like Tom Laughlin's Billy Jack.

Take a Hard Ride has it all, including one of Jerry Goldsmith's most enjoyable western scores. A few selections from this western barn-burner were made available to collectors by Doug Fake on a CD compilation made for the Society for the Preservation of Film Music in 1993. Now Doug has compiled the entire 45-minute score with a much-improved sound mix. Goldsmith's score was heavily modified in the editing process of the movie; cues were repeated, sections of music were dropped out and replaced with music from other parts of the film, and some music was never used. This is your first chance to hear the entire score as it was written to accompany the film.

While he had scored numerous westerns by the mid-'70s, Goldsmith had found a new lyricism and depth of character for the genre while working on Blake Edwards's Wild Rovers in 1971. And Take a Hard Ride, while still emphasizing action, benefits from this more sophisticated sensibility. Goldsmith's main title melody starts from a quirky, picaresque piccolo motif and builds to a rousing, full-blooded western adventure theme. It also provides a surprisingly warmhearted theme for the grudging friendship between Jim Brown's loyal Pike and Fred Williamson's gambler Tyree, suffusing the entire score with a sentimentality that is only given lip service by the film itself.

Of course, Take a Hard Ride was at its core a spaghetti western, and Goldsmith was well aware of the musical legacy created by Ennio Morricone in his stunning scores to the Sergio Leone westerns, as well as in countless Italian knock-offs of the same. Goldsmith consciously references various Morricone-isms in his score, from the buzzing electronic stinger that always accompanies shots of Van Cleef's bounty hunter to the moody semi-source harmonica motif also associated with the character. Goldsmith also references Morricone in some bursts of aleatoric brass and shrill string writing that recall some of the explosive, hallucinatory effects Morricone produced for The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. But unlike Morricone, Goldsmith worked these effects into a traditional, linear structure. The quirky, unobtrusive piccolo motif becomes a charging action motif when necessary, and Goldsmith provided an appropriately elastic, percussive motif to accompany the antics of Jim Kelly's character during several incongruous karate sequences. Full of lengthy action set pieces, suspenseful interludes and surprisingly lyrical passages, Take a Hard Ride was the climax of Goldsmith's western work until he revisited the genre in the '90s.

Jerry Goldsmith Scores on FSM
About the Composer

What to say about Jerry Goldsmith (1929-2004), the reason so many of us are soundtrack collectors in the first place? The Los Angeles native knew early on he wanted to write music for the movies, had an extensive training in television in the 1950s (starting at CBS), and went on to an unparalleled career in the movies—capable of brilliance in every genre, and beloved by his peers and fans. FSM has released as many of his scores as we could get our hands on, from classic TV work like The Man From U.N.C.L.E. to famous features (Patton) and obscure gems like The Illustrated Man and 100 Rifles...heck, make that all of them. Jerry, we love you and miss you! IMDB

Comments (7):Log in or register to post your own comments
I almost forgot how much this score means to me.

TAKE A HARD RIDE was my first-ever FSM CD purchase.

I remember watching the movie on cable not too long after my wife and I moved into our home in early 2001, So the score has a fond association already. As for the film itself, I was shocked at how shrill the soundtrack sounded on it. No such defects exist on the FSM CD, the sound is wonderful and it remains one of my most-treasured Goldsmith scores. I was blown away by the FSM presentation: liner notes, booklet, pictures, graphic design were unbelievably impressive. I still think that nobody does liner notes better than FSM. I did get a chuckle when reading the part when the Catherine Spaak character's backstory went completely unscored, as Goldsmith chose to focus on Pike and Tyree's friendship. And if I needed any more examples of Goldsmith's brilliance, the cue "Work Camp" remains one of my all-time favorite Jerry cues--he says everything about what Pike went through without the on screen imagery even being necessary--just keep the camera on Pike's (Jim Brown) haunted face with "Work Camp" cue playing and everything else is unneccessary--they didn't even need the flashback they used.

The good news about this is that SAE has sealed copies available--for $59.95...this one should've sold out years ago!

As with all Goldsmith westerns, this is a great score; as usual the movie is pretty awful. But that Main Title...

Didn't care for the movie, but this has always been one of my favorite
western scores. Just superb!!

This is the one FSM disc that I missed and really shouldn't have. I've no excuse: it was there for long enough. Now I can't afford it..... :( Oh well. At least there are a few tracks on the Varese Fox Box.

As with all Goldsmith westerns, this is a great score; as usual the movie is pretty awful. But that Main Title...[/endquote]

I guess any movie that has me saying to myself, "Jim Brown is a better actor than Fred Williamson" can't be all that good...

I wasn't aware this one had sold out. Maybe there's hope for Logan's Run after all. ;)

Great score, but then again, when did Jerry fail to write a great Western score? Even his rip-snortin' Yosemite Sam theme from Looney Tunes: Back In Action proved he hadn't lost the touch even right up until the end.

This is the one FSM disc that I missed and really shouldn't have. I've no excuse: it was there for long enough. Now I can't afford it..... :( Oh well. At least there are a few tracks on the Varese Fox Box.[/endquote]

Seven tracks are also available on the Tribute Dinner Goldsmith cd.

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