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Rocky IV is one of my "guilty pleasure" films. I know it's rubbish Cold War propaganda, I just love it! The same is true of the soundtrack: it's 80s American Cheese, yet it also has some genuinely fantastic tunes.
Like most movie soundtracks, Rocky IV is a compilation of songs from different groups and artists. Unlike many such albums, though, there is a coherent feel to the tracks selected. It doesn't just feel like 11 random songs stuck on a CD; it feels like they belong together. There's the odd weaker track but, as film soundtracks go, this is about as good as it gets.
The CD kicks off with Burning Heart, a typical cheesy 80s ballad from Survivor. Like their earlier Eye of the Tiger, it's full of memorable (but tuneful) high-pitched voices, thumping drums and cracking guitar pieces. This song sets the tone for the whole CD (and indeed the film) bringing in the key ideas of East vs. West into some cleverly constructed lyrics that, without wishing to sound too pretentious, mimic the film's narrative arc and tell their own story.
Hearts on Fire
Another great track, this time from John Cafferty. Once again it captures that cheesy 80s vibe through its (effective) use of synthesisers. It's also got a strong rhythm which perfectly captures the sense of adrenaline and testosterone-fuelled antics of the film. It's a shame the song rather fizzles out towards the end, simply fading out rather than having a "proper" ending, but that's pretty typical of 80s songs!
Double or Nothing
One of the weaker tracks on the album is this duet by Gladys Knight and Kenny Loggins. Set against the other tracks on the album, it's pretty standard fare and doesn't offer much new. As such, I always feel that it never really goes anywhere.
Eye of the Tiger
Another great song from Survivor and the one that's synonymous with Rocky (even though it didn't actually appear until Rocky III). There can hardly be anyone alive who doesn't instantly recognise the iconic percussion/guitar combination that opens the song and this is once again combined with an excellent tune to create a song that perfectly captures the whole "Rocky experience"
War/Fanfare from Rocky
One of two instrumental pieces on the album and one of my favourite tracks. It's an effective piece that perfectly complements the scene it accompanies, but is well worth listening to in its own right. It's one of those pieces of music that's almost impossible not to sing/hum along to, and anyone who is not punching the air with delight when the triumphal Rocky fanfare kicks in at the end is probably dead.
Living in America
Performed by perhaps the most well-known name on the album (James Brown) this is one of the weakest songs. It's in this track that the propagandist undertones present underpinning the whole Rocky IV experience overstep the mark and become borderline offensive. The "America is Great" lyrics will grate on anyone who's not from the US, whilst the lack of any real tune doesn't help. It's not unusual for me to skip this track.
No Easy Way Out
An understated and under-rated song. It starts off fairly quietly with a strong but subdued bass line, and then gradually builds. The lyrics and tune both combine effectively to create a real sense of melancholy and it has a more serious feel than many of the others on this CD. Once again it is perfectly suited to the scene in which it appears.
One Way Street
Go West pop up with another middle of the road track which is fine but nothing special. Like Double or Nothing it feels a little lightweight when compared to the rest of the album and is rather bland and unforgettable.
Survivor return (again!) with this triumphalist song that accompanies Rocky's victory over the Evil Communist Boxer. Like so many of Survivor's songs, the words are seriously cheesy and the tune impossibly high-pitched yet somehow it all comes together to create yet another song that you can't help singing along to (if you can get that high!)
The album's second instrumental piece accompanied the (inevitable) training montage scene. Another great piece firmly rooted in the 80s that makes great use of synthesisers to create a moody, atmospheric tune.
Man Against the World
A final appearance from Rocky stalwarts Survivor. This is a track that didn't make the film's final cut which is a shame because it's actually rather good. If you only know Survivor from the upbeat Rocky tracks (and let's face it, most of us do) then this slower-paced ballad may surprise you. Despite being fairly downbeat it provides a fitting end to the album, summing up in one song all the cheese, pathos and OTT emotion that you get from a Rocky film.
This is a great album and one that any self-respecting Rocky fan should own. At the same time, there's enough genuinely good music on the CD for it to have a broader appeal. If you like 80s music, then this is likely to be very much your cup of tea. Prices range from £6-16, depending on the version you buy. Don't worry about cost - just get it!
© Copyright SWSt 2013
The rocky Soundtrack is pretty much exactly like it says on the tin. All the tracks from the first to fourth movie. If you like the films and find that they gave you that well needed motivation to get up and go for a run or hit the punchbag then this album is for you.
I always find that listening to music whilst you are running helps to keep you going and give you something else to think about apart from stopping for breath. I found this album did exactly that. If you have a small workout area at home and a CD player then go for this. Its fantastic to listen to whilst training. If you want it for other uses such as easy listening then I wouldn't bother.
I also found that I began to like some of the tracks I didn't really pay much attention to in the movies.
Various songs include - Burning heart, War, Living in America, Take you back (Various different versions), rocky montage (His main training tune), Hearts on fire (My favourite running tune), Gonna fly now, conquest, going the distance, the final bell, no easy way out, redemption and of course eye of the tiger
My only criticism would be that it costs just over sixteen pounds and the films themselves are valued only slightly higher however if you shop around you should be able to get a better deal.
If you're any type of a fan of the rocky films and enjoy training to upbeat music then this album is the way forward.
The Rocky IV Soundtrack is pretty much exactly what it says on the cover, the soundtrack of most of the music that appears in the Slyvester Stallone movie Rocky 4 that was released in 1985 to accompany the film. The album was remastered and rereleased in 2006. There are a few musical pieces that appear in the film that aren't on this album, most of those were composed by Vince DiCola.
Its not often I actually get to look forward to the album I am reviewing but I loved this when it was released and bought it on cassette tape not long after so I could play it to death on my Sony Walkman & its provided many inspiring moments for running training sessions.
Its rather odd that the tracks on the soundtrack aren't presented in the order they appear in the movie, I'll do my best to give a correct running order after the individual review of the tracks. Timings were taken from my copy of the album so may not be exact.
So whats on The Rocky IV Soundtrack then?
1. Burning Heart - Survivor (3:54)
A great guitar led rock anthem by a "hair" band of the time & Stallone personally commissioned it for the film. The track plays behind a scene of Rocky trying to decide if he should fight Ivan Drago or not. I really love the lyric "Is it East versus West or man against man" which is also a really good question too as Glasnost was still a way off into the future at this point.
2. Hearts On Fire - John Cafferty (4:05)
One of the 2 "training sequence" songs that proved to be so inspiring to me as a runner as it has excellent cadence to do fast training to. This track plays over a split screen of Rocky & Ivan Drago training in Russia.
Sadly this is a shortened version of the track that doesn't have the excellent playout but still has the kick-ass guitar break in the middle.
This track can actually make me cry without fail every time, its that emotive. The extended version of this does have the Rocky Theme "sting" over the playout. Fans were rather angry that version didn't appear on this album, myself included.
3. Double Or Nothing - Kenny Loggins & Gladys Knight (3:41)
From the opening guitar chords you can totally tell this is a Kenny Loggins written track, he was really in demand for movie themes in the 80's doing a lot of work for movies like Top Gun.
This track plays over a semi romantic scene between Rocky & his wife Adrian. It may well be the scene where she goes to Russia to offer her support in his training for the fight against Drago.
4. Eye Of The Tiger - Survivor (4:00)
This track had already been #1 in the UK due to its success from Rocky 3, it had already earned double Platinum record status as well as winning Survivor a Grammy Award in 1982 and was another of the tracks that Stallone asked for in the movie.
The success of this track was almost certainly the reason Stallone asked Survivor to write "Burning Heart" for this film. Its still a pretty a cool tune about a guy who has paid his dues & now is waiting for his time in the spotlight.
5. War/Fanfare From Rocky - Vince DiCola (10.02)
DiCola had replaced Bill Conti who had previously composed most of the other incidental music for the previous Rocky movies, this set of tracks played over the actual fight between Rocky & Drago with the title "War" summing up the bout rather aptly with East against West.
Its got some excellent electronic brass riffs and big kettle drums, the samples of ring bells is super cool too. The fact it was mostly written on synthesizers echoes the musical influences of the period it was written in.
6. Living In America - James Brown (4:46)
This track was also released as a single & its best recorded chart position was #4 on the Billboard Hot 100, it reached #5 in the UK as well. The track would go on to win Brown a Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1986. Its from the very start of the movie and was played behind the scene of Apollo Creed making a massive showboating entrance in his demonstration fight against Ivan Drago.
James Brown also performs the track in the movie and Creed even does the signature "cape" move made famous by the Godfather Of Soul. Its massively tongue in cheek and quite hard to not like.
7. No Easy Way Out - Robert Tepper (8:15)
Played after Rocky leaves the gym with his memories of Apollo Creed as he drives his rather lovely sports car through a dark night. Its another song thats very typical of the time from the States as "hair" rock tunes were very popular over there at the time & this is very much in that genre. To be honest it reminds me a lot of various tracks on the Top Gun soundtrack, its highly possible they were influenced by this tune.
8. One Way Street - Go West (4:38)
Another track that was written for the movie because Stallone asked them to, were Go West going to turn down Rocky Balboa? Heck no! Its another of the slow romantic style tracks and Go West were quite well known for songs in this style.
I did find it odd the track wasn't released as a single to capitalise on its inclusion in the movie but who am I to question how the mind of record company executives work. I think this played over a scene of Rocky with Adrian in their home before he leaves for Russia.
9. Sweetest Victory - Touch (4:25)
Yet another "hair" band anthem style track written to play over Rocky winning his match against Drago. 1 of my less favourite tracks on the soundtrack even though its from quite an upbeat moment in the movie. Its just not a very uplifting track. "Burning Heart" & "Hearts On Fire" far surpass this leaving it in the shade. Its just too much like "Summer of 69" by Bryan Adams for my liking too.
10. Training Montage - Vince DiCola (3:40)
The 2nd of the 2 "training" songs, this is just as inspiring as "Hearts On Fire" even if it is only an instrumental. Its very good to do intermediate training to as it has a few changes in tempo and if this can't inspire you to a better performance your probably dead.
It manages to use both synthesizers & "real" instruments in a very complementary way. The "Gonna Fly Now" Rocky Theme sting DiCola respectfully "borrowed" does NOT appear in this track, it features in the extended version of "Hearts On Fire" regardless of what Wikipedia says.
11. Man Against The World (bonus track) - Survivor (5:35)
This may well be the 1st time I've ever heard this track, I have zero recollection of it being in the movie at all. Possibly it plays across the closing titles? It sounds a lot like "Glory Of Love" by Peter Cetera (who claims he wrote that song for Rocky 4 only giving it to "The Karate Kid" soundtrack when it was passed over for this track.
Its quite a big (and overly loud) power ballad that sent me reaching for my volume control. It adds nothing to the soundtrack in my opinion, its possibly the weakest track I've ever heard Survivor offer.
Correct track in movie running order (to the best of my recollection):-
Living In America, No Easy Way Out, Burning Heart, Double Or Nothing, Eye Of The Tiger, War/Fanfare From Rocky, One Way Street, Training Montage, Hearts On Fire, Sweetest Victory, Man Against The World.
Summing up:- So is the Rocky IV Soundtrack any good? Hell yes! Even if the soundtrack only consisted of the 2 training songs it'd be good, throw in War & No Easy Way Out and that just improves it even more. Kenny Loggins into the bargain seals the deal as far as I am concerned.
Sweetest Victory & Man Against The World aren't much cop but the rest of the album more than makes up for their short comings. My only real complaints are the other short bits of music like Ivan Dragos theme & the music behind Apollo Creeds death really should be on here as well as the full movie versions of the Training Montage & Hearts On Fire (purely for its use of the "Gonna Fly Now" Rocky theme).
If you didn't already own this soundtrack its well worth the money, keeping an eye out for the extended version of "Hearts On Fire" would also be recommended as well. Give it a try, I think you'd like it and find some of the tracks very motivating and uplifting. Ideal for exercising to.
(this review also appears on Ciao!)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 Burning Heart - Survivor
2 Heart's on Fire - John Cafferty
3 Double or Nothing - Gladys Knight, Kenny Loggins
4 Eye of the Tiger - Survivor
5 War/Fanfare from Rocky [Instrumental] - Vince DiCola
6 Living in America - James Brown
7 No Easy Way Out - Robert Tepper
8 One Way Street - Go West
9 Sweetest Victory
10 Training Montage [Instrumental] - Vince DiCola
11 Man Against the World [*] - Survivo