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  • Stefan Riedlinger

The Coolangatta Gold - Bill Conti - Soundtrack Review

This week one of Bill Conti’s best scores, one of my most favorite ones, and one of the best scores to a sports movie ever.

The movie

“The Coolangatta Gold” is a 1984 Australian film which led to the establishment of the iron man race “The Coolangatta Gold.” Writer Peter Schreck and director Igor Auzins had previously worked together on “We of the Never Never” in 1982. They wanted to do a contemporary love story in the sports genre, and originally thought of doing a $1.5 million film shot in Bondi.

The plot is very simple: Joe Lucas is determined that his son Adam becomes a champion iron man. He neglects his younger son, Steve, who is an aspiring band manager and enjoys karate, as well as being his brother's training partner. The leading iron man event is “The Coolangatta Road”, an arduous competition for $20,000 prize money. The favorite for this event is champion iron man Grant Kenny. Kenny's father beats Joe Lucas for the iron man title in 1960. Steve falls in love with a ballet dancer, Kerri, who inspires him to compete with his brother in the race.

The film performed disappointingly at the box office. Jonathan Chissick, managing director of Hoyts, said "I thought it was the best script to come out of Australia. So, we failed there somewhere. I don't want to point my finger, but there was obviously a failure.“

The music

I cannot remember how I discovered Bill Conti’s score, it was back in the Vinyl times, and I bought a record with just a few tracks, but they were highly enjoyable. In the liner notes of the CD, you can read: “Conti’s aggressive, dashing, and triumphant orchestral style was exactly what the filmmakers wanted for this prestigious film, featuring many race and action sequences.”

Then finally, a whole CD was released with the score, and it is a great score in a way, just Conti can write, full of lovely melodies, sporty rhythm, a great brass section with fanfares, swirling woodwinds, an expanded timpani section and snare rums, a lot of electric guitar, and a lovely love theme “Kerry and Steve – Love Theme”, played here mostly on the piano.

I found on YouTube just one music clip, so you get an impression on the score, but this track “Don’t give up” is not the best one.

Interesting was another clip, a documentation about the movie, but you can

hear some tracks of the scores in it:

Let me give you some suggestions for the best tracks of this score:

Track 2 – “Trial by Water” – great brass section and e-guitar

Track 4 - “Flirting” – a more lyrical one between all the action cues

Track 6 - “Family Competition” – a great usage of the main theme, more played on strings, like a ballet, a wonderful piece of music!

Track 13 – “Athletes Gather / The Big Race” – a seven minute track, a highlight of the score, and Conti at his best, wonderful melodies, brass and percussion are marvelous!

Track 15 – “The last Leg” – another highlight, one of the best action track, not only on this score, I think this is one of the best action tracks ever for a sports movie, the combination of strings and e-guitar is pure Conti and highly enjoyable to listen, reminds you of the “Rocky”-action-scores, for me even more enjoyable.

Track 16 & 17 “Personal Victory” & “Finale” – this brings this album to a triumphant end.

“The Coolangatta Gold” is not a film score that is characterized by highly sophisticated musical composing such as Jerry Goldsmith in his more atonal scores, or Christopher Young’s modern scores for some bad horror movies, this Bill Conti score is just easy listening music that is highly enjoyable because of is rich melodies and Conti’s sense what a good sport movie really needs.

For me, this is also amazing movie music because this score shows that film music can stand alone – I never watched the movie -, and can survive the years. The score was composed 1984, so it is over 30 years old now, but it sounds fresh, is a great music for doing your own workouts, and it is just a great idea to put this CD in your player after a rough day at work, open a bottle of wine and enjoy your evening with one of the best sport movie scores.

Copyright © Stefan Riedlinger, 2015, all rights reserved. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Stefan Riedlinger.

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