Timed with the London 2012 Olympics, Chariots of Fire (The Play) has a new soundtrack album to accompany the stage production, opening soon in London’s West End. The song Chariots of Fire is now the official 2012 Olympics theme music to be played during every medal awards ceremony; the song was played during the opening ceremony (cue Rowan Atkinson comedy routine) and during relay of the Olympic Flame.
The 1981 Academy Award-winning Chariots of Fire movie, based on the story of two British athletes competing at the 1924 Summer Olympic Games in Paris, made Vangelis’ immortal as a soundtrack composer. Blade Runner, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, Mythodea, and Alexander followed over the next thirty years and early synthesiser master Vangelis has evolved a more classical sound. He has adapted and updated his Olympic-themed movie score to a theatrical soundtrack of eleven songs.
Opening with that theme, other tracks from the original score are updated, and some of the themes are used in the new material. Normally instantly recognisable in composition, arrangement and production, all three are largely missing from this contrivance of over-produced, sentimental and largely forgettable tracks. At times it sounds like a Vangelis tribute act.
Physical Energy is ok, but Home in the Glen is a Greek making biscuit-tin Scottish bag-pipe music. Belief, Ballard and Eric’s Pleasure pass by without making any strong impression. Aspiration is over-long and melodramatic. Lord Lindsay is jolly enough, At the Starting Blocks is bland; Epilogue and After the Race re-hash the Chariots theme. Vangelis rearranges Jerusalem in his own style, which smacks a little of cheating. Can I recall any of the new tracks after a couple of plays? I can’t.
I applaud the timing of the stage show and wish them well – previews at Hampstead have received excellent reviews. But as a stand-alone soundtrack album, this is one for Vangelis fans only. SC