OK, OK, I too would not be the first to admit that I own the soundtrack to "Rocky", but stick with me.... It's a generally poorly produced package. The liner notes consist of just a track listing and a short appreciation of Bill Conti by Sly himself. The design is uninspired, and it all looks so bland. And then you get to the music itself. Quite frankly, if this don't blow you away, then nothing will. This is the original soundtrack music, not re-recorded stuff as on the Rocky II Soundtrack, and every track's a thumper. Whether it's the 70's funk rhythm section or Conti's trademark Brass emphasis, it's all present and correct. Stand-out tracks are legion, but pay particular attention to Going The Distance, Final Bell and, of course, the rousing "Gonna Fly Now" - the movies main theme. It is surprising that this soundtrack is not more popular - it has one of the best-known film themes of all time on there, and some great incidental music. Only minor quibble is the inclusion of the out-of-place "Marine's Hymn" which is OK, but does not belong on this album - it spoils the flow a little and should only really be present if it were a "Special Edition"-type soundtrack. But not enough to warrant dropping a star here.... Go on, treat yourself....your pulse will quicken, and you will wear out the Repeat button on your CD player - trust me... Greg :-)
When "Rocky" pulled off the big upset to win the Oscar for best picture, it had several things that helped this low budget film close the gap with the big Hollywood productions (remember, it was up against "Network," "Taxi Driver," "All the President's Men," and "Bound for Glory"). One of those was the idea that you could "win" without winning, which was a fairly radical idea at the time, but quickly abandoned in the sequels that followed. But one of the key ingredients was the memorable score by Bill Conti. The strength of the score is much more than the "Fanfare for Rocky," although certainly the opening trumpet burst suggested to viewers that they were about to see something special, even when first confronted with the sight of Rocky Balboa taking a pounding as a club fighter. Ultimately, what makes this a great musical score is that it is Conti's music that drives what are arguably the two most memorable sequences in the film: the final training montage and the montage that covers the fight with Apollo Creed between the first and final rounds. In both instances it is the music that carries the moments (although I also want to acknowledge the Oscar winning work of film editors Richard Halsey and Scott Conrad). Even during the final titles, it is the latter stripped down to the eloquent strings that creates the final mood of the audience leaving the theater. "Gonna Fly Now" reached #1 on the pop charts and was nominated for the Oscar for Best Song (it lost to Barbra Streisand and Paul Williams' "Evergreen" from the remake of "A Star is Born") but the score was not even nominated. Jerry Goldsmith won for "The Omen," with Bernard Hermann nominated for both "Taxi Driver" and "Obsession," Jerry Fielding for "The Outlaw Josey Wales," and Lalo Schifrin for "Voyage of the Damned." Conti won eventually win an Oscar for his score for "The Right Stuff," which was another very good score, but "Rocky" is going to be his most memorable one (and not just because the music kept working its way into all the sequels).