Composer of the month The expendables month

Soundtrack review: First blood (Jerry Goldsmith – 1982)

 

“The expendables month” couldn’t be complete without a review of the score that introduced the theme for the other famous Sylvester Stallone character: the legendary Rambo. Rambo was my most important hero growing up. There wasn’t anyone like him for me; he was the most inspiring action hero. I loved his wish for revenge, his force and I watched the movies and read the books countless times.

I am not a big Jerry Goldsmith fan. I would add “yet” to this sentence because I am sure it will come to me at some point. This way it’s easy for me to name “First blood” as my favorite Goldsmith score. It is in my blood. Having seen the movie so many times and knowing all the scenes by heart, the music of this movie is as familiar to me as Stallone’s lines or moves.

But before we get to the musical motifs that followed those moves, let’s stop at the main theme for a bit. “It’s a long road” (which first appears as “Home coming”) is right up there with the best themes of all time. This sensitive and melodic theme, full of horns and flutes and strings and the moment it starts, I see Rambo coming down that dirty road and descending to the river to the house of his best friend. That scene, the opening scene of “First blood” made me instantly care for this character. He seemed gentle and misunderstood and Stallone’s unique and special way of playing him could make anyone care for this character.

When I listen to the “First blood” score I instantly enter a familiar place where I’ve been many times. There’s that urgency in the music accompanying Rambo’s jumps and fast actions. The themes stab like short and efficient knives, there’s no time for elaborated action material. Everything moves fast and serious here. There’s a sort of electricity which drives through the entire score. This is one of the most exciting actions cores you’ll hear and Jerry Goldsmith was way ahead of his time when he wrote this one.

This is a must listen score for any film music fan, whether you have an emotional connection with Rambo or not. The fast paced action music bursting with adrenaline plus one of the best and most recognizable themes ever makes this a piece of history.

Cue rating: 96 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 31 / 45

Album excellence: 69%

Highlights:

Theme From First Blood (Pop Orchestra Version)

Home Coming

My Town

Under Arrest

The Razor

A Head Start

Hanging On

Over The Cliff

No Truce

First Blood

Escape Route

The Truck

No Power / Night Attack

It’s A Long Road (Instrumental)

It’s A Long Road (Theme From First Blood)

About the author

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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