PrintE-mail Written by Nick Spacek

Silva Screen's release of the complete Blazing Saddles soundtrack, released just in time for the film's fortieth anniversary, is a bit of a mixed bag. It contains each and every piece of music from the Mel Brooks western comedy, but when it's all put together, one realises there's not an awful lot of it. For the most part, what you have is a collection of cues accompanying the songs for which the movie's so well known.

Those songs – Frankie Laine's title theme, ‘Ballad of Rock Ridge’ and Madeline Kahn's ‘I'm Tired’ – provide the bulk of the music for Blazing Saddles. Aside from those three pieces, there's not a bit of music on this anniversary release that could properly be called a song, given that they all barely run into the minute-and-half mark. Anyone expecting epic western soundscapes will quickly hear that all three of the lyrical songs were re-purposed as instrumentals and used liberally throughout the film.

While as complete a release as one could hope for, there's still a bit of a sad note to it. One fathoms that the reason it never really saw a solo release is due to the fact that most of these pieces are simply cues. Even padded out as it with dialogue clips, it still barely clears the 40 minute mark. The last ten tracks are alternate versions of what we've already heard before, and that includes two further versions of Frankie Laine's theme song.

The dialogue clips are all that really separate this release from the La-La Land release from 2008, although Silva Screen's isn't going to be the limited release that the earlier one was. But what really gripes is that the dialogue clips aren't even the best ones. When one looks to the Young Frankenstein vinyl release from years back, what one has is a story on record, meaning that you get all the music, interwoven with the best bits of the film.

Given that there's so little actual music here, there could have easily been a collection of all the film's classic lines. Aside from Cleavon Little's immortal “Excuse me while I whip this out,” there's nothing that really takes advantage. No “I didn't get a 'harumph' outta that guy” or “Mongo only pawn in game of life”? It seems an opportunity squandered.

But, really: if one must have everything from Blazing Saddles, here it is. The recordings sound fantastic, and the instrumental version of the closing theme is absolutely rousing, as is ‘Ballad of Rock Ridge’. For all the repetitiveness of the selections, one really does get an excellent chance to see what fantastic work John Morris did in the western milieu. While the film might be a parody, the same cannot be said for his music.



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