TV

Soundtrack review: Wild America (Neil Argo – 1982)

wild america

I don’t remember how or where but I remember I caught quite enough episodes of the PBS show “Wild America” over the years. It was one of the most popular wildlife series on PBS and in production from 1982 thru 1994 on PBS Television. 120 episodes. Many of the 260 PBS stations chose to broadcast the programs multiple times each day throughout the weeks. In some weeks, according to Nielsen ratings, it was viewed by more than 450 million viewers. Neil Argo wrote most of the score and this Kronos Records release also includes music from John Murtaugh and Peter Kater.

Such a large body of TV work only yielded 50 minutes of music but I’m glad we get these ones. What a fairytale of a score this one is! I don’t even have time to write how nostalgic the main theme makes me feel that the composer hits me with the stunning cell piece “Adirondacks sunset”. The mood continues with the 80s classic “Pronghorn Carcass T/L” which sends me back to every 80s disco or romantic movie I saw.

This score is catchy, light and delightful. Don’t expect anything heavy or epic and don’t expect to be moved or heartbroken. Expect to be entertained, expect to smile and, if you are like me, expect a shot of nostalgia; it comes both from the music which is simple and warm as well as from the archival sound which makes me think of an old record.

The instrumentation is rich and you won’t find electronic inserts or synthetic motifs. It’s a show about wildlife and nature, right? The music is as natural as if gets and also very lively. The 50 minutes pass very fast and enjoyable. It’s hard for me to highlight any cues since there are 45 of them which means most of them are about 1 minute long. The score works better as a whole. I can however mention the main theme because it recurs in “Pronghord sled Slo / Mo” and I recognize it. It’s a western / prairie theme which inspires me.

“Wild America” is a rare composition these days. It’s honest and fits right next to your tent out in a forgotten corner of this wonderful country. Neil Argo’s score wouldn’t fit for anything else; it has a well-established sound and identity which link it to this unforgettable series. Take this score and keep at close to take a look at it from time to time as you would an old picture of your favorite place.

More info here… http://kronosrecords.com/K62.html

Cue rating: 88 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 22 / 51

Album excellence: 43%

Highlights:

Wild America Theme

Alaskan Sleigh Ride

Adirondacks Sunset

Pronghorn Carcass T/L

Happy Den Living

Pronghorn Herd Slo/Mo

Pronghorn Intro

Winter To Summer

Forest Sunset

Theme Tease The Predators

Sacred Skull

Tease Predators

Alaska To Africa

Cub Drinks At Stream

Eagle Chase Marmot Dies

Moonrise To Campfire

Otter Trout Chase

Adirondacks Swan

Born To Run

Southwest Reptiles

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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