A group whose distinctly ethereal and gossamer sound virtually defined the enigmatic image of the record label 4AD, Cocteau Twins were founded in Grangemouth, Scotland, in 1979. Taking their name from an obscure song from fellow Scots Simple Minds, the Cocteaus were originally formed by guitarist Robin Guthrie and bassist Will Heggie and later rounded out by Guthrie's girlfriend Elizabeth Fraser, an utterly unique performer whose swooping, operatic vocals relied less on any recognizable language than on the subjective sounds and textures of verbalized emotions.
Originally issued in Japan in 1998, Sonic Origami was released in the U.S. a year later with the bonus track intact. The album has a grand, epic tone throughout that doesn't always match Uriah Heep's journeyman-sounding prog-tinged hard rock, and some songs' lyrics sink under the weight of their pretension or sentimentality. But for diehard Heep fans those are minor quibbles; while the group's sound may not be devastatingly original anymore, they are definitely quite committed to their performances, and the occasional overreaching is part and parcel with this sort of classic AOR pomp-rock (and, in fact, constitutes a not insignificant part of its appeal).
Although the film in question is largely forgotten, Jerry Goldsmith's music for the sci-fi opus Capricorn One looms as arguably the most influential and imitated action score of the late 20th century. An exhilarating work that evolves with masterful purpose and precision, its densely percussive arrangements remain synonymous with adventure and suspense decades after the fact. Where followers like Alan Silvestri and James Horner rely almost solely on sensory assault to convey danger and dread, Goldsmith sculpts the music of Capricorn One via complex orchestration and meticulous sound effects, building and expanding his central themes to create genuine drama. Tightrope-taut and brilliantly paced, the soundtrack is more vividly cinematic than its accompanying celluloid images themselves. It's a virtual master class in the art of film music.
Sensitively woven, tranquil textures of sound wash through the mind of the listener on this album from sound master Kitaro. The instrumentation includes synthesizers, slide guitar, mellotron, percussion, tabla and Irish harp.
The slightly unusual date Two Jims and a Zoot features tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims interacting with two guitarists (Jimmy Raney and Jim Hall) while given subtle support by bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Osie Johnson. Although the eight selections (none of which caught on as standards) had all been written recently and sometimes display the influence of bossa nova, the quiet performances could pass for 1954 rather than 1964. The cool-toned improvisations and boppish playing have a timeless quality about them although for the time period aspects of this music already sounded a bit old-fashioned.
There are a few movie and soundtrack pairings that represent the wild 1980s. None more so than Top Gun (Footloose and Pretty in Pink are also strong contenders.) A whirlwind romance set in the U.S. Air Force during the Cold War, Top Gun featured wild aerial acrobatics, steamy sexual tension, and macho competition. And the soundtrack had the songs to match. Featuring the huge hits "Danger Zone," "Take My Breath Away," as well as "Playing with the Boys," "Mighty Wings," and a handful of classic soul tracks, the Top Gun soundtrack may be the perfect example of the outrageous '80s. This version expands on the original, including a number of songs not featured on the initial release, such as "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" and "Great Balls of Fire" .