The moment that 'Die' and 'Hard' slam together onscreen to an ominous low-chord on strings mixed in with jingling sleigh bells it announces the arrival of John McClane, his dark Xmas, the ground-breaking franchise, and Michael Kamen's score with immediate seriousness. It's as if the music just went "gulp!"
When I was 8-years-old I was off school sick (one of several million of such instances) and Die Hard was rented on VHS to pacify me while I lay on the couch under a quilt. It changed my life. Yes, the film did leave THAT much of an impression, and not the least of its attributes was Michael Kamen's unusual score, which is still very unique and hard to describe 24 years on.
Despite strong recurring themes and numerous scene-specific individual ostinatos and melodies, the strongest impression of this score is the atmosphere, which frequently conveys the lonely, unfinished Nakatomi Plaza and the cold air echoing around in the hollow air ducts and passageways. Kamen constantly quotes 'Winter Wonderland' and Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' throughout (a technique he repeats in Die Hard 2 with 'Finlandia' and Die Hard 3 with 'When Johnny Came Marching Home'), creating a chilly, Xmas feel despite there not being a single snowflake seen in the California-based movie.
Like John Williams' Home Alone scores, much of Die Hard feels out of place if you play it outside of the season, but tracks like 'The Battle/Freeing the Hostages' and 'Assault on the Tower' are so full of action and excitement that they transcend the Xmas atmosphere.
Varese released the score back in 2003, but it had terrible sound quality and was not complete. The 2011 La-La Land Records re-release expands on Varese's effort and massively improves the sound and presentation. It is a limited edition and out of print, but well worth the money if you can find it.
on 27 January 2012
I own this CD and the official 'La-la Land' version from 2011. As someone mentioned in the comment for the previous review this is not an official CD but a bootleg. Considering this it's not bad quality and has more tracks than the original 'Verese Sarabande' release from 2001 (limited to 3000 copies, sold out within weeks but can be found on eBay from time to time).
If you are interested in the best mastering, audio quality and amount of music/score for this movie then the 2 disc 'La-La land' version is the one to go for. Although it officially sold out in a matter of days ($30) it is freely available on ebay from people trying to make a quick profit (£35-45) so my advise is to go look there.
This is one of my favourite Michael Kamen scores! It is so sad that he passed away in 2003 aged only 55 :(
on 10 August 2013
Die Hard is a great movie soundtrack but I thought this expanded edition would be longer than the previous edition by about 15 to 20 minutes. It's only longer by three Logo tracks in total to under one minute. This expanded edition was a waste of time. I can't believe they re-released it for the sake of three logo tracks. The piece of music when Hans Gruber falls out of the window, I thought that track would be longer because in the movie when we see Hans Gruber fall until he hits the ground with a long-shot view from the side, that part of the music is still missing in the soundtrack. When I thought that part was going to appear this time, it went back to the piece of music in the previous edition where the following piece of music is in the scene earlier in the movie where John McClaine is moving uunder a table when a terrorist was walking on the table shooting at it just before John McClaine blasts through the table and hits the terrorist in the legs.
I was disappointed in this soundtrack again.
on 7 July 2010
What can i say? After waiting for more than 20 years for Michael Kamen's Score to the original (and best) Die Hard film,i have finally got what i have been holding on for. This is a must have for every film fan and serious film score collector. From the opening bars of the main title to the Music for Hans Grubers death fall,this is a quality release. This also includes (though how they have allowed it to be listed as Michael Kamen when it is James Horner from his Aliens soundtrack),we even get Al Powells shooting of Karl on the disc. All in all, if you can track it down, you must add this to your collection. With both this and the recently released Lethal weapon expanded score, Film fans are in for a treat. GET IT AT ALL COSTS!!!!