One of the most simple, yet effective ideas in a score was exemplified in the LETHAL WEAPON scores, primarily by Michael Kamen with Eric Clapton on guitar and David Sanborn on saxophone. What made the themes and melodies ingenious was not the brilliant musicians, but the concept of having the guitar and melody represent RIGGS (Mel Gibson’s character) and the saxophone represent ROGER (Danny Glover’s character). Each had a distinctive melody and instrumentation for their differing characters, and when they come together in the story, the melodies and instruments complement each other perfectly.
This continued on into the other 3 sequels to the movie with similar degrees of success. For LETHAL WEAPON 2, a more jazzy form of the melody worked because the character of RIGGS was taken in by the family. In LETHAL WEAPON 3 a more acoustic approach, both because of Eric Clapton’s affectation with the acoustic sound at that time, as well as a softer, more romantic RIGGS in the story worked in favor of the film. I don’t recall anything about LETHAL WEAPON 4 except Jet Li played a bad guy and not one note of music is in my head from that one. Sorry.
The composer, Michael Kamen, was never one of my favorites, even though he was the composer for such films as DIE HARD (1-3), ROBIN HOOD PRINCE OF THIEVES, X-MEN, THREE MUSKETEERS, and more. The only original score of his that stood out to me was to DON JUAN DEMARCO. It was his most unique and original score to me, with depths of emotion resonating. I initially hated the Bryan Adams song “Have you ever loved a woman”, but upon hearing it in context with the movie, I loved it and the score.
Michael Kamen was considered the “Rock-N-Roll” orchestrator. He started with the album PINK FLOYD’S THE WALL and went on to work with Aerosmith, Queensryche, Queen (for soundtracks to FLASH GORDON and HIGHLANDER), David Bowie, Rush, Def Leppard, Metallica and of course Sting. To me he was great at arranging, but his weakness was melodies, but when a rock star provided him with a great melody, he found endless ways to reinvent that and orchestrate it.
The Lethal Weapon soundtracks re-iterate this theory. Eric Clapton and David Sanborn provided Michael Kamen with amazing melodies that he created a wonderful series of film scores to; they supported the film, the characters, and made something good into something great. That’s what an original score should do.
Michael Kamen died in 2003.
I started off as a musician. All I wanted to do from the time I was 5 years old was write music for movies. Now, the idea of working on music does not appeal to me in the slightest. In my efforts though, I do get to work with composers and musicians on the soundtracks to my own movies.