ATOMIC TRAIN - Music From The Mini-Series by Lee Holdridge
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Dragon’s Domain Records presents ATOMIC TRAIN, featuring music composed and conducted by Lee Holdridge (JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL, SPLASH, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST) for the 1999 television mini-series directed by David Jackson and Dick Lowry, starring Rob Lowe, Kristin Davis, Esai Morales, John Finn, Mena Suvari, Don S. Davis and Edward Herrmann as The President.
Airing on the NBC network in 1999, ATOMIC TRAIN begins when a disposal services worker sneaks a nuclear bomb onto a freight train in order to avoid the few thousand dollars it would cost for a legitimate, secure transportation delivery. Unfortunately, the freight train he chooses is having a bad day, becoming a runaway when its brakes fail which leads to its derailing outside downtown Denver. When the bomb is discovered and eventually explodes during the rescue process, most of Denver is left in ruins. In the middle of this disaster, NTSB investigator John Seger (Lowe) helicopters to the rushing train to try and fix its brakes while his family happens to be at home in the threatened blast area and are waiting for his return.
In 1999 composer Lee Holdridge (THE BEASTMASTER, SPLASH, THE MISTS OF AVALON, OLD GRINGO) was in the midst of a prolific run of scoring made-for-TV movies after beginning his scoring career in 1970 with a variety of feature films. ATOMIC TRAIN was the first of two disaster miniseries Holdridge would score for NBC (followed in 2004 by the Seattle earthquake movie 10.5). The score is built around two distinctive themes – the first is a very effective percussively-driven suspense/danger motif with low brass filtering. The second is a warm theme for the family which heightens their bond and their struggle to reconnect when John is in danger on the train and later, when his family are threatened by the bomb.
Lee Holdridge was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1944. He spent his early years in Costa Rica, beginning music studies on the violin at the age of ten with Hugo Mariani, then the conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of Costa Rica. Later, Holdridge moved to New York to continue his music studies and begin his professional career as a composer. Holdridge’s successes in New York came to the attention of Neil Diamond who brought Holdridge to Los Angeles to write arrangements for his forthcoming albums. A string of Gold and Platinum hits followed, which led to Diamond and Holdridge collaborating on the film score for JONATHAN LIVINGSTON SEAGULL. Since that time, Holdridge has scored numerous film such as SPLASH, BIG BUSINESS, MR. MOM, MICKI & MAUDE, 16 DAYS OF GLORY, SYLVESTER, A TIGER’S TALE, EL PUEBLO DEL SOL, OLD GRINGO, PASTIME and BROTHERS AT WAR. His television work include MOONLIGHTING, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, the complete eight hour remake of EAST OF EDEN, DREAMER OF OZ, Hallmark Hall Of Fame’s ONE AGAINST THE WIND and THE STORY LADY. Lee also began a very successful collaboration with Moriah Films, the film division of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, with the Academy Award winning documentary feature film THE LONG WAY HOME. In addition to his film career, Mr. Holdridge has had an extensive repertoire of concert works performed and recorded. He has also worked with many major recording artists having written, arranged and conducted for Placido Domingo, Barbra Streisand, Brian May of Queen, Stevie Wonder, Neil Diamond, John Denver, Neil Sedaka, Daniel Rodriguez, Al Jarreau, Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Natalie Cole, Jane Oliver and many others.
Dragon’s Domain Records is excited to bring ATOMIC TRAIN to compact disc for the first time, mastered by James Nelson at Digital Outland under the composer’s supervision. The booklet includes exclusive liner notes written by author Randall Larson with the participation of the composer.
ATOMIC TRAIN is a limited edition release of 500 units. The first 50 copies will be autographed by composer Lee Holdridge.
1. Railroad Crossing (2:23)
2. Ultrasound (0:41)
3. Chemical Crate / The Leak 1 / Not Caviar (4:00)
4. The Leak 2 / Check Your Gauges / Wally Fights The Fire /
Brakes Fail / Out of Control (3:32)
5. The Feds Scramble / John’s Idea (1:51)
6. Boxcars Again / No Derailment (3:09)
7. Joining the Trains (aka Attempting to Join the Trains) (2:27)
8. The Crowbar (1:44)
9. Mayor’s Speech / Chase Train (1:13)
10. Courthouse (1:39)
11. Explosions / John Contacting Megan (2:05)
12. Attacking the Car / Rescuing Danny / Freight Car (3:38)
13. President’s Speech / Reuben Volunteers /
Reuben Approaches The Bomb (3:45)
14. Megan Crosses The Park / Reuben At The Bomb / Gas Station (4:23)
15. Bomb Explodes (6:23)
16. After The Explosion / Danny Unconscious (3:39)
17. Megan and Danny / Mineshaft (1:45)
18. Recapitulation (3:09)
19. End Credits (0:58)
Total Time: 53:13
LEE HOLDRIDGE: Atomic Train
Dragon’s Domain DDR751
19 tracks - 53:13
Having already released a couple of volumes of Lee Holdridge’s music in their composer-based “collection” series, Dragon’s Domain now presents his score for the 1999 NBC mini-series Atomic Train. The two-part thriller finds Rob Lowe called in to help stop a runaway train headed to Denver, that just happens to have a bomb among its cargo. Holdridge was one of the go-to composers for TV films in this era, and this is just one of several he scored for the 1998-99 season. Atomic Train is also the second mini-series disaster score by Holdridge to be issued by the label, with the other being 10.5 (2004).
Holdridge’s music is usually driven by fine thematic writing, and in Atomic Train two primary ideas quickly come to the forefront. A menacing series of dark harmonies and dissonance bursts forth in “Railroad Crossing,” which shows off a metallic, percussive edge to the motif, helping to depict the train itself. “Ultrasound” follows with a touching, lyrical thread that provides contrast to some the more visceral material. This more traditional sounding Holdridge fare also depicts Lowe’s character’s connection to his family as the danger increases.
While the score is orchestral, there are electronics present that lend a contemporary vibe from time to time. Similarly, the electronic percussive elements propel the action forward, further simulating the forward movement of the train. The film’s explosive climax is followed by some wonderful large-scale orchestral writing, particularly during the final emotional arrival as things wrap up with a huge statement of the theme. The touching “End Credits” is another solid example of Holdridge’s gorgeous orchestral stylings.
Atomic Train is a successful blend of orchestral writing with electronic textures and percussion. The frequent shifts between the tension-building fare and the lyrical passages make for a diverse listening experience. In all, this a solid work for a very forgettable telefilm, but fans of the composer will want to seek out its thematic rewards. For more information on the limited edition album of 500 units, and to check out samples of the score, visit Buysoundtrax.com. —Steven A. Kennedy
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