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In the beginning, I couldn't recall much of this soundtrack, having seen the movie on DVD. I sampled from the Intrada CD (limited to 2000) the brief musical excerpts available on SAE's website and was intrigued - though for me it was not enough sample time to remove all doubt. But, I took a chance on it, largely on the strength of the composer, of whom I'm well aware and admire a great deal (Spartacus, Cleopatra, Bite The Bullet, Cheyenne Autumn, Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, The Agony And The Ecstacy, Viva Zapata!, Hard Contract and The Shoes Of The Fisherman I already own and wouldn't trade for anything). However, I must point out here that it helps tremendously that this edition contains the COMPLETE multi-track recordings, as I was surprised to discover for myself just how much of a 'slice-'n'-dice' job was done by the production company for the final film - NO WONDER the soundtrack seemed so forgettable to me on the DVD! Needless to say, all my initial suspicions as to its possible lack of musical integrity, as I listened, consistently down the line gave way to whole-hearted enthusiasm. In the end I found myself totally converted. Rare and unusual instrumentations, virtuoso playing, full-of-life compositions as well as his signature, skillfully effective and simple melodic ideas. But, contrary to North's more familiar, large-scale projects with his own, well-celebrated emphasis on the intellectual (grounded by powerful emotions), here he works to seamlessly craft an atmoshphere of spontaneity. This approach may not be what you're used to from him, but I feel you're bound to enjoy the way he draws from his nearly 100-player 'ensemble' to take his main melodic idea for such a ride as he does here - endlessy reinventing the variations. While doing so, he keeps the spirited, comraderie-based humor of the soldiers skillfully interwoven and neatly in play while continuously, and very effectively underscoring their combat-oriented concerns, stopping to give a final nod to war's cost - all of which does makes for some ingenious illumination of the collective hearts, minds and spirit of the men on screen. All in all, it's brilliant stuff. The original recordings themselves here are in astonishingly good condition - as if indeed they'd lain happily undisturbed for the more than 40 years prior to the release of this CD (the sound quality being another night-and-day difference from what I remember of the DVD). Furthermore, included in the extra materials are 4 jazz standards, recorded for the film and supervised by North, that offer faultless Benny Golson arrangements of what were, according to the liner notes, some of the finest session players then in LA - and it indeed sounds like it. This CD not only satisfied my curiosity about this score, but, totally renewed my appreciation of a favorite composer, something I almost didn't think was possible at my current stage of collecting his scores, and, something I previously felt I didn't have a right to expect, based on the movie. Having been finally and properly restored, I suspect it's already well on its way to being rightfully recognized as something of a major effort from what was indeed the inestimable talent of Alex North. An unusual North entry, but highly recommended.