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Soundtrack review: Tango & Cash (limited edition) – Harold Faltermeyer (1989, 2006)

Film scores

Soundtrack review: Tango & Cash (limited edition) – Harold Faltermeyer (1989, 2006)


Since the weekend is a time to relax and have fun, I’ll be writing each weekend a review of a favorite score from the 80s. Today it’s all about the limited edition score release of “Tango & Cash”, one of the most famous, infamous and over the top buddy cop movies of that period. It starred Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell as two completely opposite top cops who are forced to work together to clear their names.
I remember one Friday evening about 10 years ago. I was home alone with my dad. My dad is a serious guy, who doesn’t waste time on silly and pointless stuff. He was getting ready to read something; I had somewhere to be in 15 minutes, when Tango & Cash started on TV. I had seen it quite a few times by then and I immediately recognized the opening sequence, with geeky Sly stopping a huge truck with a tiny gun. My dad got intrigued…We forgot all about what we each had to do and didn’t move from in front of the TV for two hours. We didn’t even change the channel during the commercial breaks. A good buddy cop movie can do that to you, preposterous as this one is. It just got both of us hooked that evening, and I love it.
The score was composed by the father of synth pop action music, Harold Faltermeyer. Many of us should be grateful to this German composer because he helped pave the way for what Hans Zimmer and his Remote Control apprentices redefined and developed in the 90s. Who can forget the immensely popular Axel F theme from Beverly Hills cop (yes, I hate to mention this here, but if you can’t identify it right now, think of that extremely annoying Crazy Frog ringtone that was so popular a few years ago), or the Top Gun anthem?
Sadly though, very few of his scores saw the light of day .One of them is “Tango & Cash”, released in a limited edition almost 20 years after the movie premiered.  The score is as much fun as the movie was. It’s not stop pounding synth and keyboard action, sprinkled with some quiet atmospheric moments, like the “Love theme” or “Brother and sister” which to me are like anthems of the 80s…You’ll recognize the notes, you’ve heard them in countless scores since. Faltermeyer’s sound influenced a lot of composers and musicians. The mood of this score is pure 80s. If I close my eyes when I’m listening to it, I can see a summer sunset shining behind my favorite 80s heroes…It’s not just Ray Tango and Gabriel Cash…Maverick is there, Rambo is there, a few Michael Douglas characters are there, Arnold the running man is there, and down a long straight road come Tom Cruise and Dustin Hoffman as brothers in Rainman. Hans Zimmer is there to get the torch from Harold Faltermeyer. The dawn of the 1980s was as spectacular as the decade it closed, and this score could very well be considered a greatest hits album of 80s heroes and themes.
 The almost 10 minutes long “Cash in the tunnel/Guards come/Conan fries” is my favorite from the score. It includes all the themes from the rest of the album, and it’s a great rush.
Listen to this score if you are in a mood for a shot of nostalgia or if you liked any of the German electronic pop groups that defined this genre. Listen to it if you want to hear the roots of Hans Zimmer’s early sound. Listen to it if only to have a little fun with an awesome, easy, groovy hour of synth extravaganza.And if you don’t have an hour, start from “Love theme” and don’t stop until the score is over.
And for the Zimmer haters reading this…you can blame a little of what’s happening now on Harold F as well. Enjoy!
My ratings:
Cue score: 90/100
Total minutes of excellence: 41/61
Album excellence: 68%
Mihnea Manduteanu

I have been listening to film music for 25 years and writing about it since 2014. I've written over 1000 reviews and I can't imagine myself doing anything else. I am also a member of IFMCA (International Film Music Critics Association).

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