Tag Archives: Bill Conti





Directed by Norman Jewison and starring Sylvester Stallone and Rod Steiger, F.I.S.T. was released in 1978, and was Stallone’s first movie after the success of ROCKY. F.I.S.T. is at times an overlooked jewel of a movie and one that can be lost in the many big box office success’s that Stallone enjoyed over the years. My attraction to the movie was more because of the musical score by composer Bill Conti, who we all associate with ROCKY. Conti composed a fully symphonic and wonderfully dramatic score for the film and to this day I would say that it ranks amongst his best cinematic works. The movie F.I.S.T. is loosely based upon the Teamsters Union and its President Jimmy Hoffa. Stallone takes the lead as a Cleveland warehouse worker Johnny Kovak who joins the Labour Union and becomes the leader of the fictional Federation of Inter-state Truckers or F.I.S.T. The film is an entertaining one and I cannot understand why it pales somewhat in comparison to other movies which star Stallone.

The direction is exemplary, and the film has a solid storyline with believable performances by all involved. The score by Conti does much to support and elevate the storyline, Conti’s driving brass and swirling strings add atmosphere and excitement to the proceedings, with the composer also fashioning a handful of softer moments within the score that are filled with emotion and fragility. Conti worked on another movie in the same year entitled SLOW DANCING IN THE BIG CITY which has a similar style and musical stature, but in F.I.S.T. we get a sneak preview of the musical identity that would be synonymous with Conti in later movie scores such as THE RIGHT STUFF, MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE and the TV miniseries NORTH AND SOUTH. The richness and melodic content of the composer’s music underlines and punctuates the action throughout and heightens the drama within the movie with its powerful and beautifully written thematic material. The soundtrack was originally released on a United Artists LP record ‎– UA-LA897-H it also received a CD release on Varese Sarabande and was paired with the SLOW DANCING IN THE BIG CITY score, the CD is now something of a rarity and should in my opinion be re-issued. The style employed by Conti on F.I.S.T. is a breath of fresh air or at least it was back in 1978, but I still find it an exhilarating listening experience today.


SLOW DANCING IN THE BIG CITY is such a mesmerising score, the composer created delicate tone poems that beguile and haunt the listener. The two are perfectly match and compliment each other when listened to back to back. I cannot say that either one is superior to the other as both are just great soundtracks. F.I.S.T. with its, anthem like style (listen to the end titles) and SLOW DANCING with its rich and highly themeatic music that is evocative of the Golden Age scores that came out of Hollywood, by composers such as Steiner, Newman and Toimkin and for which the composer created a ballet.  This is a combination of soundtracks that should be in every film music collection. Highly recommended.




Up for re issue very soon on vinyl is Bill Conti’s Oscar winning score for THE RIGHT STUFF (it beat Jerry Goldsmith’s UNDER FIRE). Considering that this was to be a project for composer John Barry who decided not to go through with the assignment due to “artistic differences” with the director. I think Conti did well to write such an epic sounding score in a relatively short period of time. It’s a score that not only underlines the drama, the tension and the patriotism displayed on screen but also one that is wonderful to listen to just as a collection of themes away from any storyline or images. I remember it was a while before the score or at least excerpts from the score were issued on LP record, and it was Varese Sarabande who delivered the goods to collectors once again, THE RIGHT STUFF being the A side and on the B side of the album were a handful of cues from Conti’s score for the American civil war tale NORTH AND SOUTH which was a sprawling epic TV series. Later the same recording was re-issued onto compact disc with the exact same track listing and art work. With the latest up and coming release its 100 percent THE RIGHT STUFF and it looks like an impressive package too with extra cues. Conti’s effervescent and highly stirring musical compositions will I know enthral and command the attention of any listener, so look out for this re-issue or indeed track down a copy of the CD, because NORTH AND SOUTH too is a great listen, with its Copelandish/Steiner thematic material. This is  one to add to your collection if you have not yet done so.


vintage_soundtrack_cd_cover1 To say that this is an exciting and popular score, is something of an understatement. I remember getting the original Varese LP and being impressed with the grand sound that Conti had achieved on this work. Then I saw the movie, which although was a nice piece of fun was not exactly a contender for best picture Oscar. Conti,s score is filled with tough sounding action cues and numerous fanfares and brass filled flourishes that do not fail to make an impact upon the listener, booming percussion and striking use of patriotic and flyaway strings combine to make this one of Conti,s most enjoyable soundtracks. The playing of the Graunke Orchestra of Munich is also an added bonus as they seem to just literally throw themselves into the spirit of things and belt out Conti,s magnificent musical ideas. This release not only contains the original LP version of the score, but also boasts the full soundtrack with some cues that were not utilized within the movie. The first track sets the stage for everything that is to follow perfectly, it prepares us for a powerhouse of a score that although is at times very STAR WARS and HOLST with a scattering of Bernstein in its construction, orchestration and overall sound is I think just different and interesting enough to be appealing to collectors of fine movie music. Conti is at times relentless with his driving compositions as in track 13 ITS THEM/CENTURION ATTACK on CD 1. Swirling strings and rasping brass to the fore this cue is full of energy and forceful motifs that move at a fast and unyielding pace creating the atmosphere of urgency and a sense of danger. I enjoyed re-visiting this score, and by having this work re-released it has rekindled my interest in Conti,s work, when I say re-kindled I don’t think my interest died maybe it was just resting. Within MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE one can hear snippets from other Conti, scores THE RIGHT STUFF for example and even little sections of THE ADVENTURES OF HUCK FINN and NORTH AND SOUTH, Conti in majestic mood is an unstoppable force and an entertaining one too. CD 1 contains 19 cues from the original score, plus another 5 of these spill over onto CD 2, the second disc continuing with another 10 tracks taken from the original LP release, a stunning and highly enjoyable package of music FROM la la land records, with some great notes by Randall D Larson. Recommended.