Although composer James Horner may be better known for his Academy Award-winning score to James Cameron's Titanic, he has written music for other very successful films in a variety of genres, including Star Trek II, Star Trek III, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, Battle Beyond the Stars, and the Ron Howard-directed, fact-based Apollo 13.
MCA's Apollo 13: Music From the Motion Picture showcases a mix of original compositions by Horner and songs from the Apollo Program era (1960s-1972), with selected bits of dialogue from the movie (performed by Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and other cast members) added in for good measure.
The album starts with the stirring yet somber "Main Title," featuring a trumpet solo by Tim Morrison (who also performed the trumpet solo for John Williams' "Born on the Fourth of July") that recalls both the heroism and sacrifice of the Apollo astronauts. This 2:25 cue is heard during the flashback to the Jan. 1967 Apollo One disaster which took the lives of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chafee during a launch rehearsal.
After a small snippet of Walter Cronkite's July 1969 announcement that Neil Armstrong had stepped on the moon, there is a long section of album devoted to music from the period, including songs by James Brown ("Night Train"), The Young Rascals ("Groovin' "), Jefferson Airplane ("Somebody to Love") and Jimi Hendrix ("Purple Haze").
Horner returns after another dramatic bit of dialogue with his 10:04 cue "The Launch." This is perhaps one of the best selections in the album, as it captures the tension, excitement and awe of a Saturn V launch. With its stirring themes evoking the sense of wonder and adventure, "The Launch" is a marvelous piece of music that mixes orchestral and vocal performances that capture the emotions of the Apollo 13 countdown, launch and flight into space.
Other artists featured in this enjoyable soundtrack album include country legend Hank Williams ("Honky Tonkin' "), Norman Greenbaum (with his rollicking "Spirit in the Sky," which to me recalls the optimism and can-do spirit of the Apollo Program) and The Mavericks ("Blue Moon"). Annie Lennox also provides the beautiful wordless vocals in the "End Titles."