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David Bowie - David Bowie & Trevor Jones: Labyrinth  (OST) CD (album) cover


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3 stars [Review 3] David Bowie – Labyrinth soundtrack

Hahaha, oh man. I'll just get my bias out of the way: I grew up watching the movie Labyrinth on an almost daily basis. I absolutely loved this movie with its muppets, characters, landscapes and of course: David Bowie as Jareth, the Goblin King. Even after all these years, the movie is still an enjoyable one to watch occasionally (especially when you show it to people who have never seen it before).

To be honest, I actually do like most of the album. The David Bowie tracks (1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12) are good pop tunes, particularly “Magic Dance”, an 80s pop extravaganza. The only problem I have with “Magic Dance” is that it sounds like it's going to end about 3 times in its 5-minute duration but keeps on trucking. Fortunately the song benefits from one of those sweet 80s drum beats, bass synths, cheesy guitar solos, and of course, David Bowie singing along with some goblins. “Chilly Down” is okay, but is much better in the movie since so much of it relies on the visuals (and doesn't contain Bowie vocals). Both songs are different from the movie versions though, being slightly extended and containing more parts which makes them more interesting. “As the World Falls Down” is probably the weakest Bowie track, again suffering because the visuals are what make the song in the movie. “Underground” is the most normal of the songs and is my favorite behind “Magic Dance.” These two songs should have been hits on the radio, much better than most of the tripe they played on the radio those days. :) “Within You” is rather dark, but like the other tracks, has a good beat and good synth work. The Bowie tracks are honestly good 80s songs, believe it or not.

Now on to the Trevor Jones tracks. I never really listened to them but I am now for the purposes of this review and wow, I was (kind of) missing out. “Into the Labyrinth” is a good intro with an apocalyptic sound. “The Goblin Rattle” is pure 80s awesome. I don't remember noticing this song in the movie (perhaps because I'm paying attention to the action), but I will now. “Thirteen O'Clock” is pretty good, ending with the Labyrinth theme which I love (maybe because I grew up with it, haha). The other Jones tracks are good, but not on the level of the rest.

Solid 80s album. Show your kids this movie; they'll love it and love the songs (and maybe you will too!)

Highlights: Magic Dance, The Goblin Rattle, Within You

Report this review (#176097)
Posted Friday, July 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars This soundtrack holds some good tracks as the opener ("Opening Titles Including Underground") even if the disco beat is not the one that I praise exaggerately; but most of them belong to the worse of Bowie like "Magic Dance". It is an awful dance song which is hard to believe and impossible for me to bear. A great example of a press next song.

This work has to be taken for what it is: a second zone record which won't appeal traditional fans, and won't gather many new ones. David was quite inactive in terms of new albums in those days. Labyrinth was composed by David for the majority of the tracks and by Trevor Jones (who is a professional film music composer). I have to admit that the songs from the latter are the ones that I usually don't like (the sole exception being the opener, but it was co-written by David).

"Chilly Down" is not the best from Bowie either. It starts as an industrial tune and ends up in some sort of a "10CC" pastiche. I haven't seen the movie (which was a complete commercial failure by the way) but even if I can't relate the music with the picture , I can tell whether a track is good or not.

I far much prefer the ambient "Hallucination" and the more traditional "As The World Falls Down". At least it allows David to perform a fine vocal part and the melody is quite catchy. One of the few good songs featured on this album.

The favourable mood is of short length, unfortunately. We are brought back into the nightmare with "The Goblin Battle". At this time, the bombastic and melodic "Within You" is more than welcome and pushes the listener to go further on in his discovery.

Let's be honest: this isn't a great nor even good album. Jones's parts are too many here, and "Thirteen O' Clock" is another weak part. But there aren't many good ones. The closing Underground and its electro beat combined with some negro-spiritual parts is pretty much dispensable. But don't press next at this time since it is the last song from this very average album.

Thanks to some good songs, this album escapes the minimum rating. But two stars are more than sufficient.

Report this review (#183221)
Posted Monday, September 22, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Dance Magic Dance!

Honestly i am reviewing this album because i know the movie too well, i remember when i watched it for the first time several years ago, i didn't know Bowie was also an actor and that was funny, the movie Labyrinth has besides Bowie a young Jennifer Connelly as the main charachter, the other ones are puppets and the movie is directed by Jim Henson.

So this is not the typical David Bowie album, this is a soundtrack for a maybe kids and young audience, so the music has to be kind of easy listening and enjoyable. This time i am not reviewing song by song, first of all because i see no point of doing that since this is a progressive rock site, and this album has no prog songs, basically the music here is merely pop with some electronic things and danceable tunes, the lyrics has obviously to do with the movie scenes so if you want to understand this soundtrack is better to watch the movie.

Here, besides the music and lyrics by Bowie, the other person who paticipates is Trevor Jones who is the composer of the instrumental tracks, all those tracks have to be in the mood of the scene and the arrangements are very well done actually, the music for me is not bad at all, but of course not the best either, the vocal performance of Bowie is pretty average, my personal fav songs here are the silly Magic Dance, the beautiful As The World Falls Down and ther first and last song which are kind of the same, but it has it's terrible moments, like that song called Chilly Down, which is honestly awful, but it suits in the movie actually so that was the point i believe.

I personally love the movie, so i sympathize a lot with it's music and content, i like this soundtrack but that doesn't mean i have to give it a higher rating, not at all, in my opinion this deserves 2 stars, it is not prog rock first of all, secondly, it is not the best Bowie could offer to the listener, so thta means this album is not essential, i would probably suggest it only for those who like the movie and those die-hard Bowie fans.

2 stars!

However, enjoy it, and enjoy the film!

Report this review (#194920)
Posted Wednesday, December 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Writing a review on this marvellous soundtrack is a special occasion to me for two reasons. First of all, because from David Bowie's ouevre it is undeservedly underrated however, containing some of his best music ever written. Secondly, because of the film, naturally, which is still one of my favourites. I saw it when I was ten and its world, fantasia and fabulous imaginery immediately enchanted me. Its story, dialogues (I know almost all by heart), actors, special effects (Jim Henson's Muppet Show pupation is still much more lively and full of imagination than today's animation crazyness, by the way), and of course, its music, which is as astonishing as the film itself, and unusual as divided by making a collaboration between David Bowie and Trevor Jones. We know Trevor Jones's music from several movies such as Last of the Mohicans, Excalibur, In the Name of the Father, Angel Heart and so on, whose music bears a fingerprint by him, giving essential evidence of his unique musical world. David Bowie still having his admirable, fancifully fantastic musical style gave the birth to his songs contributing to the film, which itself had been initiated by Jim Henson and him. As we know, the soundtrack album is divided into two sections, one by David Bowie the other by Trevor Jones, with songs following each other by turns and following the plot of the film. Many think that this album could be better without the Jones-compositions, which I personally don't agree on. These soundscapes are needed to give us the full comprehension of the depth of the story, which I think is far from what we call childish or tale-like. The whole film is about the abyss of imagination, although it is told in a fantasy-sworded and fun-oriented way. In my opinion the Jones-works here hold the balance perfectly with the Bowie songs bewteen seriousness and capriciousness in the eternal dance of an ingenious and imaginative mind. To my mind the music (at least the Bowie songs) on the album and the music in the film are not the same, sounding different mixes, but it's okay. The first song dissolves Jones's Opening titles with Bowie's Underground, which song can be heard at the end of the disc as closing titles in a different tone interpretation in view of the story's ending. The most weak-in-the-head song so to say on the album is undoubtedly Chilly Down, which I think is adorable, no matter what they say about it. Of course, Magic dance is another silly one of the factory, but that is its charm. The two other Bowie songs the album is mainly so priceless about , As The World Falls Down and Within You, have always been my favourite David Bowie songs alongside with Putting out fire from Cat People soundtrack (and more recently Inglorious Bastards soundtrack) and from the album Let's Dance as well. The ball scene with the As The World is so imaginary-sounding and looking as the music itself accompanying it, it is a total take off, to see and bear in mind what the human imagination can create and what it has to be afraid of. Within You is its second part, almost unseparable to it to understand the whole view to be created. Imagination in personalization and its recognition is admittedly inevitable when reality comes and wakes up the dreamer making the sacrifice meant to be made, to save the soul and create a higher imaginative level up and up to the sky to lose itself and find itself at the same time, where imagination and reality still is intact and always changing because they are the same. And this is where the Underground Reprise is about to land. Although I much like the album itself, the music mixed for the film or we can say together With(in!) the film is a bit better, this is why the soundtrack album deserves only 3.5 stars. I can recommend it to everyone liking to dream and to come back from there sane.
Report this review (#296234)
Posted Thursday, August 26, 2010 | Review Permalink
1 stars I actually kinda like the movie from which this soundtrack comes. I never watched it until I was 23, so I don't have any childhood nostalgia towards it, but it strikes me as a halfway decent collection of weirdly interesting and atmospheric scenes that may not necessarily gell together perfectly but nonetheless makes for an amusing couple of hours. I even don't necessarily mind the soundtrack in the context of the film: the non-Bowie parts sound like standard 80's soundtrack fare (heavily based in big dramatic synthesizers), and the Bowie tracks are presented in such bizarre contexts that I'm able to have a good semi-ironic laugh at them. I can totally see why it would have bombed so badly upon release, but I'm glad it mustered a cult following in ensuing decades.

While the music of the film works decently enough within context, though, I find it unbearable as music I would consider just sitting down and listening to. And please don't tell me that it's unfair to judge a movie soundtrack involving a rock artist using the same standards I would use to judge a "regular album." The following albums from my collection are either movie soundtracks (in part or full) or were initially conceived as soundtracks, and all of them are albums I freely enjoy (there may be others in my collection, but these come to mind):

The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night

The Beatles: Help!

The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour

Can: Soundtracks

Bob Dylan: Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

Brian Eno: Music for Films (granted, it's for movies that were never made)

Brian Eno: Apollo: Atmospheres And Soundtracks

Peter Gabriel: Birdy

Peter Gabriel: Passion

Peter Gabriel: Long Walk Home

The Kinks: Arthur

Pink Floyd: More

Pink Floyd: Obscured by Clouds

Pink Floyd: The Wall (maybe not technically, but yeah, it is)

Prince: Purple Rain

Frank Zappa: Uncle Meat

Heck, even Bowie had had a soundtrack made of recent material just a few years earlier: 1982 saw the release of a soundtrack to a movie called Christiane F., where the soundtrack entirely consisted of tracks from Station to Station and the Berlin Trilogy. And don't forget that parts of Station to Station and Low were originally intended for the soundtrack to The Man Who Fell to Earth. The point is, there was absolutely no reason that Bowie couldn't have had his cake and eaten it too, by taking part in a soundtrack that would hold up fine as an album. This did not happen, and my feelings towards it follow accordingly.

The Trevor Jones half of the album may have been par for the course for movie soundtracks in the mid-80's (or maybe it wasn't!), but it's unlistenable today. It almost kinda reminds me of Frank Zappa's synclavier experiments in the 80's and early 90's, which don't really thrill me, but at least Frank was trying to write genuniely challenging late 20th-century classical and just didn't want to bother with real orchestras and their unions anymore. When these sounds try to create big dramatic tension, or big dramatic beauty, it sounds laughable. And oh me, oh my, there are some baaaaad synth horn sounds in here.

In the Bowie half, only the opening collaboration between Bowie and Jones, mixing the main title sequence with a brief snippet of "Underground," fills me with any halfway warm feelings, and that's largely because it's only 3:21 and neither Bowie nor Jones overstays his welcome. The full version of "Underground," which closes the soundtrack, makes for an excruciating six minutes: hearing pompous faux-gospel in such a ridiculous context doesn't make me happy. The most famous track, "Magic Dance," is mildly amusing for about as long as it takes to finish the initial exchange ("You remind me of the babe" "What babe?" etc): making this into a full-fledged five minutes when it just recycles a small set of mediocre ideas over and over was a terrible idea. "As the World Falls Down" and "Within You" probably could have been remade into something better in another era, at least if he'd taken the best ideas from each of them and combined them into a single track lasting three minutes: here they're just gloppy and boring. Plus, returning to their context in the film, the idea of David Bowie in a codpiece trying to seduce a young girl 20 years his junior makes this more than a little disturbing.

There's one more track (the irritating "Chilly Down"), but it doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Ultimately, there's no reason for anybody to own this album. There are some fragments of goodness here and there, but nothing comes together well enough to make me want to listen to this ever again.

Report this review (#306110)
Posted Friday, October 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars Most people coming to this soundtrack album will only be interested in the Bowie tracks, and of these your response will likely hinge on whether Labyrinth was an eye-opening part of your childhood or just an odd fantasy movie that kind of came and went at some point back in the 1980s. For the former, reviewing this is almost pointless - Magic Dance will bring a smile to your face even if you're fully aware of the pop artifice involved. For the latter... well, if you want a complete picture of what Bowie was doing in the 1980s, this will be a likely stop on your journey, but the bits you want are extracted on the Re:Call 4 compilation from the Loving the Alien box, which you may find a better deal given how stuffed to the gills it is.
Report this review (#2957718)
Posted Thursday, October 5, 2023 | Review Permalink

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