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Vangelis - Chariots Of Fire (OST) CD (album) cover




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3.02 | 129 ratings

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3 stars Is there anyone alive unfamiliar with the title theme to this popular 1981 movie? The soundtrack won Vangelis an Academy Award for Best Original Score, and secured a global reputation for the Greek synth- rock keyboard wizard. Arguably, it also went a long way toward earning the film its unexpected Oscar for Best Picture (much to the chagrin of Warren Beatty).

Not bad for a collection of music that hardly ranks among the composer's best efforts. Even more surprising: the now ubiquitous theme was a last minute replacement for the pre-existing Vangelis song director Hugh Hudson wanted to use over the opening credits (the stately "Hymne", from his underrated 1979 album "Opera Sauvage").

Never mind that the electronic score is entirely ill-suited to such a modest (but visually elegant) inspiration piece, set against a backdrop of the 1924 Olympic Games and celebrating God and England with pomp, circumstance, and no shortage of Old Empire virtue. The music may lack a certain period flavor (to say the least). But it's quintessential Vangelis, symphonic in its grandeur, unashamedly romantic (if sometimes overwrought), and catchy as hell.

But would it be nit-picking to point out that the CD soundtrack only contains 18 minutes of original music from the film? The balance is filled by a suitably heroic arrangement of the old Anglican hymn "Jerusalem", performed by the Ambrosia Singers, and a long (nearly 21 minutes) "Chariots of Fire" suite, arranged by Vangelis around many of the score's established themes. All of it is very pleasant, very polite, and very unlikely to offend your parents or neighbors.

Perhaps it's an unwritten axiom that an artist will be rewarded for his least deserving effort. That's not entirely true in this case: the music here marked a significant turning point in Vangelis' career, after all. But in retrospect this one soundtrack was hardly the career zenith its world-wide popularity would suggest.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |


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