"Lethal Weapon Collection"
Eric Clapton & David Sanborn
La-La Land Records
Disc 1: 26 Tracks/Disc Time: 70:26
Disc 2: 14 Tracks/Disc Time: 47:43
Total Time: 118:37 Grade: A+
(BEST OF 2013/14)
The cop buddy genre as felt like it has been around forever, and it's had its' ups and downs both on the big screen and on the little screen. "Lethal Weapon" is clearly a film that has trancended both the big and little screen and beyond since its' release in March 1987 as one of Warner Bros. greatest franchises and best selling home videos, rentals, DVD and Blu-Ray sellers of all-time. The film written by then fledging actor Shane Black, who would go on to come one of Hollywood's most celebrated action writers with films such as "Iron Man 3", "The Last Boy Scout", "The Long Kiss Goodnight", "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and "Last Action Hero" stars Oscar Winner Mel Gibson as Detective Martin Riggs, a suicidal cop still feeling the loss of his beloved wife, Victoria and is on a death wish to join her when he's ultimately paired with the straight laced family man Detective Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover, "The Color Purple") who really doesn't want to be his partner. Soon they're embroiled in the case of a young woman named Amanda Hunsacker who committed suicide or so it appeared who turns out that her father, Michael (Tom Atkins, "Halloween 3", "Night Of The Creeps") served with Murtaugh in Vietnam and he himself is involved with a shadowy group of former soldiers led by the slimy General McAllister (Mitchell Ryan, "Liar Liar") and his tough as nails henchman, Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey in a grand performance, "The Buddy Holly Story") dealing in high quality drugs that goes back to the war in which Michael is in too deep. The deeper they go on the case, Riggs and Murtaugh start to get in way over their heads as soon as Murtaugh's daughter Rihanne (Traci Wolfe) is kidnapped and Riggs is almost killed by Mr. Joshua leading to a harrowing escape and torture sequence involving Riggs, a spectacular chase on Hollywood Blvd. and an unforgettable memorable one on one fight between Riggs and Joshua in front of Murtuagh's yard (which took a grueling six long nights to shoot). By film's end Murtaugh and Riggs have accepted and now completely trust each other which would eventually lead to three blockbuster sequels.
Along with the consistant and able direction by Richard Donner ("Superman The Movie", "The Omen", "Maverick") and the great chemistry of Gibson and Glover, there was another important element that the film established was it's terrific use of music which really backs the exploits of Riggs and Murtaugh composed by the late Michael Kamen who collaborated with his friends in Grammy winners guitarist/singer Eric Clapton and jazz saxophonist David Sanborn which brought a different take and spin on the modern day action score which give it alot of edge and excitement. While working with Kamen, Clapton and Sanborn were the primary factors in bringing both a hip cool edge and embodiment of trust and honorable eventual friendship and humanity to both Riggs and Murtaugh through Clapton's soulful guitar and Sanborn's bluesy saxophone solos featured at the start in "Meeting Martin Riggs/Roger's Daughter" which establishes their themes from the get go and the rest of the series to follow. Clapton's soulful guitar also captures the angush in Riggs' ("Suicide") as well his newfound trust in Murtaugh ("Took A Lot Of Guts/Riggs' Soliliquy", "The Jumper", "Riggs And Rog Confront").
The score is full of action and suspense dominated which really put Kamen on the map as the composer of choice for action films soon after and it's with good reason and quite simply the music is just that good and really has and edge that at the time was missing from them. "Coke Deal" gets off to a rocking start with pounding brass and percussion as Riggs' is in the middle of a drug deal that goes sour then the major highlights and what makes this score so great appear during the last half of the film which involves the rescue of Murtaugh's daughter starting the intense "They Got My Daughter/Is Riggs Dead? Or What?" with pulsing electronics, Clapton's guitar and darkly hued orchestrial work leading up the grand build up of the exceptional "The Desert", a lengthy track that just builds and builds from its' opening tensions to a full blown frenetic action piece that is one Kamen's career highlights. Kamen underscores the torture scenes of Riggs and Murtaugh which are intercut exceptionally well by editor Stuart Baird with ("Hummingbird Treatment/Riggs Escapes") with errie electronic vocals and sound design that lead to a rousing turning of the corner musically as Gibson escapes his captors and rescues Glover and his daughter leading to yet another memorable centerpiece of the score, "We're Leaving", an brilliant piece of action scoring that really would become a trademark of Kamen's for the rest of the 80's and into the 90's as Gibson and Busey have a memorable first confrontation and chase along with Hollywood Blvd. and eventually L.A. Freeway traffic with the Busey getting away but not the General as Glover attends to him ("General's Car") another great piece of action scoring that really pads the excitement of the previous track to full tilt with its' aggressive frenetic percussion and brass hits. The music becomes urgent with Sanborn's sultry sax and Clapton's rythmic guitar driving Riggs and Murtaugh to drive back home ("S.O.B. Knows Where I Live") and for the exciting and climatic track, "Yard Fight/Gravesite"), which underscores the grueling rock em sock em' martial arts fight between Gibson and Busey as percussion, brass and aggressive stringwork take centerstage with Kamen perfectly capturing each blow with each rumble of percussion and brass. The latter half of the track ends with Clapton's bluesy guitar solo as Gibson is the grave site of his wife sharing a reflective moment.
La-La Land's exceptional box set gets off to a bang up start with one Michael Kamen's more revered and exciting scores that would the mold of his greatest action scores to follow in "Die Hard" and "Die Hard 2", his lone contribution the James Bond films "License To Kill", the cult action classic "Road House", "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" and a return engagement for "Lethal Weapon 2" in between. Originally released on LP and cassette when the film was released by Warner Bros. Records, which is recreated on disc two of the set and later with additional tracks by Michael Kamen's label Bacchus Records and his last release before his untimely passing in 2003 as a Limited Edition which became a sought after collector's item, makes its' grand return and definitely doesn't disappoint and especially those thinking of purchasing this excellent box set as these scores are only available as part of this set and not individually. "Lethal Weapon" is the quintessential action film with characters you love and root for and a story that really drives from start to finish and a great musical score by three of the best and sadly one that is sorely missed in the late Michael Kamen. Thumbs way way way up! (Also for the box!)