Another take on the soundtrack for Midnight Express:
Flush with cash after landing a record deal with RCA, Vangelis purchased an old girl’s school in 1975 and converted it into his private sound laboratory. And museum. Not only was he an obsessive collector of keyboards, he kept on hand a menagerie of percussive and string instruments. This was long before the advent of the sampler in which sounds could be recorded digitally and then triggered from a keyboard.
Chariots of Fire
It has been said that Vangelis owes his Oscar to Giorgio Moroder who composed the soundtrack to Midnight Express, a winner at the Oscars the year before because. How ironic that Midnight Express was conceived and edited using existing music by Vangelis, pulled at the last minute due to contractual problems. The same music, I might add, that Carl Sagan used to great effect in his television series Cosmos. Moroder was best known as the producer/svengali of Donna Summer. But such a label does him a disservice. On Summer tracks such as “I Feel Love” and his own Eurodisco epic “From Here to Eternity”, Moroder injected real sensuality into rhythmic electronic music that had previously been the domain of German stiffs like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk. His score for Midnight Express is rife with that sensuality – very 70’s, very hedonistic, very reckless yet vibrant and feral. The pulse of the age is in the music.
The score for Chariots of Fire was revolutionary precisely because it was able to speak to the moment yet shuttle us back to 1924. How is this possible? After all, the title theme, with its throbbing bass, clattering percussion, rousing synthetic horns and romantic piano lead has been reduced to a Hallmark Card that haunts lite FM radio, dentist’s offices, wedding chapels and cancer wards.