Tuesday 2 November 2010

Finally, Poledouris' Conan the Barbarian Gets It's Due

Thank you again, Google Alerts, for this piece of happy news!

I think canvassing Conan fans from every spectrum - the Howard diehards, the comics buffs, the pastiche experts, the movie aficionados, and everyone in between and encompassing multiples - would reveal that one of the few things almost every Conan fan would agree on is that the score for Conan the Barbarian is freaking fantastic.  I love it too.  I still can't fathom why it wasn't at least nominated for that year's Oscars - and much as I love E.T., that score had one jewel in the main theme: Conan the Barbarian's score was an entire crown studded with jewels.

However, the release of the soundtrack has been woefully incomplete thus far.  The original Milan soundtrack excluded a lot of great movements, and even the extended Varese Sarabande didn't have everything.  However, the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra are recording the entire score of Conan the Barbarian and releasing it on a two-disc set!


One of the most-requested score expansions is finally happening – but with a twist.
Basil Poledouris’ score to the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian has been considered by many fans and critics to be one of the best film scores of the 1980s. It’s a massive, classically-minded affair – easily as massive as the film’s star, Arnold Schwarzenegger – with heavy use of leitmotif to represent various locations, moods and characters. The music has been lauded by fantasy fans for years, and opened the door for a lot of scoring opportunities for Poledouris, including the Robocop series, The Hunt for Red October, Starship Troopers and a composition for the 1996 Olympic Games.
The original soundtrack, first issued on MCA Records at the time of release, featured a sizable portion of the original score, and Varese Sarabande further expanded the set in 1992. But it was still largely incomplete – there was nearly two hours of score to include, after all – and things got worse when the film score community began to discuss the very real possibility that the master tapes had been damaged.
Now, to honor the life and career of Poledouris (who died in 2006), the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Nic Raine, have re-recorded the original score to Conan, using the best recording technology and the original film orchestrations. Every note heard in the film is included in this two-disc set, along with alternate cues and a piece from the 1984 sequel Conan the Destroyer. The liner notes feature a new, in-depth essay by composer/scholar Frank K. DeWald as well as an introduction by Poledouris’ children, Zoe and Alexis.
Pre-orders are now being taken for what is sure to be a great set. 

Here's the track list:

Disc 1
  1. Prologue (Film Version)/Anvil of Crom
  2. Riddle of Steel/Riders of Doom
  3. The Gift of Fury
  4. Column of Sadness/Wheel of Pain
  5. Pit Fights *
  6. Prologue (Original Version)
  7. Atlantean Sword
  8. Wolf Witch *
  9. Theology / Civilization
  10. The Street of Deviants/Hopefuls at the Tower of Set *
  11. The Tower of Set/Snake Attack (Las Cantigas de Santa Maria) *
  12. Infidels*
  13. The Tavern*
  14. The Wifeing
  15. In the Court of King Osric *
  16. Conan Leaves Valeria/The Search
  17. The Mountain of Power/Capture *
  18. The Tree of Woe/Recovery
Disc 2
  1. The Kitchen/The Orgy
  2. Orgy Fight *
  3. Funeral Pyre
  4. Battle Preparations/Battle of the Mounds (Part 1)
  5. Battle of the Mounds (Part 2) *
  6. Battle of the Mounds (Part 3)/Night of Doom
  7. Head Chop *
  8. Orphans of Doom/The Awakening
  9. Epilogue/End Titles *
  10. Theology / Civilization (Alternate)
  11. The Tower of Set (Alternate) *
  12. Battle of the Mounds (Part 2) (Original Version) *
  13. Chamber of Mirrors (from Conan the Destroyer)
  14. Riders of Doom (Orchestral Version)
* denotes previously unrecorded track

Yes.  Finally, we're getting the soundtrack release Poledouris' work deserves!


  1. That soundtrack is one of the few I carry in my itunes. An outstanding score it's always been one of my favourites and it was easily the best thing about the original movie. (That and the CONAN typeface)

  2. Nice. Best movie soundtrack ever, and no. 2 ain't even close.

  3. I watch this movie for the score.....this is awesome news!!!!!

  4. It's probably my favorite score ever, although there are certainly others I love, too. There's a recording session for it on YouTube, and it was spot on (minus the choir, which will be mixed in later anyhow.) Sounds like a great set.

  5. I used to live in Prague. It's a beautiful city where Baroque cathedrals rub shoulders with ancient standing stones. There are Keltic fortifications and gun emplacements left by the Nazis. I think it's a good setting for Poledouris' music.

  6. They should do the same thing with Conan the Destroyer. Funky film but an extraordinary score nonetheless.

  7. What can I say but "Excellent news!" :)

    Does anyone know anything about what the projected release date might be?