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Soundtrack review: The stand (deluxe edition) (W.G. Snuffy Walden – 1994)


Soundtrack review: The stand (deluxe edition) (W.G. Snuffy Walden – 1994)



“The Stand” is a 1994 American television miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. King also wrote the teleplay and has a minor role in the series. It was directed by Mick Garris and stars Gary Sinise, Miguel Ferrer, Rob Lowe, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee, Jamey Sheridan, Laura San Giacomo, Molly Ringwald, Corin Nemec, Adam Storke, Ray Walston, and Matt Frewer. After a deadly plague kills most of the world’s population, the remaining survivors split into two groups – one led by a benevolent elder and the other by a maleficent being – to face each other in a final battle between good and evil. W.G. Snuffy Walden wrote the score.

I remember this miniseries as it was one of the first I Stephen King adaptations I saw and it came during my most prolific SK binging period. As “Project blue” opens this deluxe release of the score, the blues like guitar instantly reminds me of the start of the miniseries, that strange, Western like setting. I actually remember the blues motifs from when I watched the mini series as they gave a sense of normality to the story and to the world. Somehow I associate this midwestern sound with Stephen King stories. The score is quite unusual as it mixes blues with rock while often ignoring the mystery or horror elements of the story.

Naturally I connect with the score best through the atmospheric pieces. “The dreams begin” also includes an almost gospel like vocal section; it’s a reflective piece that puts me in a calm and dreamy mood. “Headin’ west” is minimalistic ambient punctuated by sparse piano sounds and this is my kind of journey. I also enjoy the 90s electric guitar vibe of “Larry & Nadine (The Rejection)”; there are enough moments when this album feels like the instrumental sides of commercial blues and rock albums than a film score. I like the music but I am often having a hard time associating it to a story, to a movie.

Other times the Americana sound is so pure that it takes me right on a porch overlooking a dusty road. The composer focused on the journey, on the characters and their feelings and wrote a surprisingly intimate and emotional score, with minimalistic and melancholic tones, with piano or horn motifs that are warm, quiet and comfortable. I did not expect to find a heartfelt cue like ““Sorry Mister, I Don’t Understand” (Tom & Nick Meet)” in this score. If I didn’t know the story and heard the music first I could swear that “The stand” was a quiet Western family story; and when the sweet harmonica of “Mother Greets The Multitudes” graces my ears I am just enchanted and envious of that beautiful country side life.

I actually feel nostalgia listening to this score even if I’ve never been there or lived that life. It’s the hypnotic ambient sound, the melancholy, the soothing motifs. This score is like a beautiful and calming dream and I did not expect tho feel this way. I did not expect to find such stunning piano motifs worthy of bigger stages. It’s also the way the cues blend one into the next one like an eternally peaceful river flowing; if a cue ends on a piano tone the next one begins with the same and it’s as if I am listening to two long, almost elegiac cues instead of two CDs. W.G. Snuffy Walden’s music got me in its comfortable and warm embrace and it’s as welcoming and addictive as a thick warm blanket in the middle of the coldest day of the year.

Just as this story represents the ultimate battle between right and wrong, light and dark so the music sometimes alternates rougher pieces with truly melodic and ambient ones. If the first CD of this release is more on the melodic peaceful side the second one concentrates the darker pieces, darker by comparison because I can’t call blues guitar tunes dark. Of course I prefer the first CD and the ambient cues are my favourites and I could never walk away from a cue like “Sewing the canvas”; this right here is my sweet musical spot, my comfort zone, my 80s nostalgia.

“The stand” is an excellent score that showcases once more the talent of W. G. Snuffy Walden, a composer with a huge body of work but too few releases to show for; I am hoping for more because here be treasures. This score is a captivating minimalistic soundscape, a mix of 80s dark ambient and 90s blues that works very well and I am happy we got 2 CDs of this.

Cue rating: 89 / 100

Total minutes of excellence: 44 / 89

Album excellence: 50%

The Dreams Begin
Headin’ West
Larry & Nadine (The Rejection)
“Sorry Mister, I Don’t Understand” (Tom & Nick Meet)
Mid Country: By The Stream
Mother Greets The Multitudes
M-O-O-N…That Spells Suicide
“One Will Fall By The Way”
Beginning Of The End
Tom & Stu Go Home
“Ain’t She Beautiful”
Corn Fields
Las Vegas
Nadine Seduction
Table Talk

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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