I’m firmly convinced that you had to be a pre-pubescent boy in 1985 to appreciate THE GOONIES. When the movie premiered, I was far beyond the single- and early double-digits that this film is geared toward, so I found it to be silly. But I am a fan of Dave Grusin and I greeted the premiere release of the complete GOONIES score with at least some level of excitement.
Grusin’s end credit suite was the only score cue on the original LP, the rest of the album taken up by pop songs by Cyndi Lauper, The Bangles, and a host of other MTV-friendly artists. You certainly can’t complain about the new CD’s running time. At 79:10, including four bonus tracks, the CD is a treasure trove for fans of Grusin’s score.
I have often derided the synth-heavy sound of a lot of scores from the ’80’s, and yet it is precisely those dated elements that I appreciate the most in Grusin’s film music from the period. The most obvious example here is the five-note descending motif for Mikey Walsh (Sean Astin) and the treasure map (played on a Yamaha DX-7 synthesizer) that occurs throughout the score.
The only music I knew prior to the CD release was the delightful “Fratelli Chase,” which was combined with the “Plumbing” cue and featured on Grusin’s album, Cinemagic. The cue is fleet of foot and classically-tinged in its orchestration, with a charming touch of harpsichord. This same lightness can be found in later cues like “Water Slide and Galleon.”
But with any story that incorporates a treasure map, pirates, and the like, the score calls for a lot of action music. The John Williams/Jerry Goldsmith action mold that producer Steven Spielberg was so rightfully fond of seems an uncomfortable fit for Grusin. The score works much better when it plays to his melodic strengths and focuses on the heart of the story.
The score features a couple of themes that show off Grusin’s trademark gift for melody, tender tunes that tug at your heartstrings without sounding saccharine. The English horn line in “Wishing Well and the Fratellis Find Coin” is particularly lovely, while the heartwarming “Goonies Theme” (also featured in the end credits) captures the Goonies’ friendship and anchors the score. A combination of flute and ’80’s synths give “Mama & Sloth” a trademark Grusin sound and a melody I wish had been featured more in the score. (The fact that the cue ends with a clip from Max Steiner’s ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN also makes the heart of this Golden Ager go pitter patter.)
Robert Townson has given Grusin’s score the kind of treatment that this undervalued composer deserves. Mike Mattesino’s copious liner notes give us a broad overview of Grusin, Spielberg, the film, and the score, as well as the era in which the film was made.
Though I may not appreciate THE GOONIES as much as some film score fans, other “goon kids” will find this to be buried treasure.