Monday, October 17, 2016

The Equalizer & Other Cliffhangers (1988), by Stewart Copeland

CD Retro Fan Review

While his motion picture composing career was taking off, Police founder and drummer Stewart Copeland got to prove his chops further in homes across America with his hard-hitting, pulse-pounding score to the hit 1980s television series, The Equalizer.

Performed entirely by Copeland on guitar, bass, keyboards, synthesizers, drums, and percussion, the soundtrack is dark, ominous, and propulsive, making it a perfect accompaniment to scenes of hired avenger Robert McCall (Edward Woodward) delivering brutal beat-downs to New York City’s criminal element.

The music is somewhat similar to Jan Hammer’s groundbreaking score to the Miami Vice TV series, and the title theme and several other tunes here could have worked easily on that show. Copeland’s unique composing style is also kind of a cross between Hammer and Danny Elfman (Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, Batman, The Simpsons). Perhaps this is due to the fact that Copeland, Hammer, and Elfman have backgrounds in pop, rock, and jazz fusion rather than classical music.

Of course, given Copeland’s primary instrumental vocation, the music is understandably much heavier on the drums and the percussion, and enjoyably so.

Highlights include “Screaming Lord Cole and the Commanches,” “The Equalizer Busy Equalizing,” and “Archie David in Overtime.”

This album is definitely a must-have for fans of The Equalizer and Stewart Copeland, as well as anyone who is interested in an alternative and highly stylized musical approach to 1980s prime-time television.

--Raj Manoharan

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