“Chariots Of Fire” by Vangelis - album review

features in: Album Chart of 1981Album Chart of the Decade: 1980s

TJR says

The soundtrack to the historical drama film was released in April, 1981, just weeks ahead of the film's public release. As Wikipedia tells, it was a fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics; Eric Liddell, a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams, an English Jew who runs to overcome prejudice. Vangelis dedicated the score to his father Ulysses Papathanassiou who had been a sprinter, what were the odds? At the 54th Academy Awards in March, 1982, it was nominated in seven categories, winning in four; “Best Picture”, “Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen”, “Best Original Score” and “Best Costume Design”. The amazing Vangelis plays everything on the LP (synthesizers, acoustic piano, drums and percussion), his only musical guests being the Ambrosian Singers who provide choral accompaniment on “Jersusalem”. Vangelis: “I didn't want to do period music. I tried to compose a score which was contemporary and still compatible with the time of the film. But I also didn't want to go for a completely electronic sound.

The album was completely re-recorded from the pieces which appear in the actual film, with richer arrangements, free from impact compromise: Vangelis: “A record is something other than a film. There have to be changes - not least of all for artistic reasons.” He had made the Top 10 of the UK singles chart in 1980 as part of the Jon & Vangelis duo, but the world famous “Titles” gave him his first solo hit single in Britain, ascending to #12. The single went all the way to #1 in the States. Side two is fully unique to the record, the twenty minute improvised suite serving as a summary reflection of the whole experience. The album itself was hugely succesful, reaching #1 in various countries, including the USA, where it spent four weeks at the summit, staying in the chart for almost two whole years. In Britain it stayed in the chart for just over two whole years, peaking at #5. It was a career-changing moment for the composer, who was modestly critiqued his own work: “It occurs very rarely that a composer thinks of his most successful work as his best. I am no exception to that rule. I think of my soundtrack for 'Mutiny on the Bounty' as endlessly more interesting than Chariots of Fire.

The Jukebox Rebel

A1 [03:33] 9.0.png Vangelis - Titles (Evangelos Papathanassiou) Film Score / Incidental
A2 [05:20] 5.4.png Vangelis - Five Circles (Evangelos Papathanassiou) Film Score / Incidental
A3 [03:20] 5.3.png Vangelis - Abraham’s Theme (Evangelos Papathanassiou) Film Score / Incidental
A4 [04:18] 5.9.png Vangelis - Eric’s Theme (Evangelos Papathanassiou) Film Score / Incidental
A5 [02:04] 5.0.png Vangelis - 100 Metres (Evangelos Papathanassiou) Film Score / Incidental
A6 [02:47] 4.8.png Vangelis - Jerusalem (Evangelos Papathanassiou) Operatic / Choral
B1 [20:41] 6.1.png Vangelis - Chariots Of Fire (Evangelos Papathanassiou) Film Score / Incidental

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