maddogdenny's Full Review: Rocky Balboa: The Best Of Rocky
When looking at the Rocky Balboa soundtrack, it is important to note that this is not actually the soundtrack to Rocky Balboa, as it only has one song from the sixth installment, but rather an overview of all the best Rocky music from the previous five. In my mind, you'd be hard pressed to find a better collection of movie music on one disc.
For the longest time, I toyed with the idea of buying the soundtracks for the Rocky movies, but wasn't prepared to buy five discs. I mean, which one would you buy first? The soundtrack to the first with Bill conti's "Gonna Fly Now," which has become a part of pop culture, or do you go with Rocky III with "Eye of the Tiger?" This disc solves all those problems, as it has the best of Bill Conti's instrumentals, but also the tunes that made the other Rocky movies.
The soundtrack avoids the obvious trap of repeating itself. While the opening horn riff of "Gonna Fly Now" is heard in different forms in different songs, it's not only separated enough but the songs are different enough to warrant a listen to each and every one. The pacing is right too. Just when you think you've had enough of Bill Conti's music, the disc breaks up the monotony with a regular song, such as James Brown's "Living in America." The CD is also broken up by bits of dialogue from the movies in between songs. Some are great for adding a bit of adrenaline to each song, letting you relive the movie in your head, but some are a bit cheesy, but that's not really detrimental.
Why don't we just go through the songs one by one?
The disc starts off appropriately enough with Gonna Fly Now, which, as mentioned earlier, is a pop culture classic. I listen to this while I walk the dog, and usually end up running the dog.
The next on the list is Eye of the Tiger, which really needs no introduction, as it was one of the selling points of Rocky III. It's a great tune to get you pumped up.
Next up is Going the Distance, by Bill Conti, which is the music that plays over the training montages, and is another great adrenaline pumper.
After that is Living in America. It's not James Brown's best, but it's still a nice little upbeat, funky song.
Rounding out number five is Redemption, which was apparently the theme for Rocky II. This one is pretty good, but lacks the punch (pun intended) of some of Bill Conti's other compositions.
Fanfare for Rocky is a fun tune, as it essentially sounds like a mixture of "Gonna Fly Now" and "Going the Distance" if it were done by a marching band.
Burning Heart, another song from Survivor, who did Eye of the Tiger, is good, but lacks the classic feel of Eye. Actually, to be entirely honest, in keeping with the feel of Rocky IV, it's basically a cheesy eighties song, but I love it for that very reason.
Conquest, another Bill Conti number, is from the fight in Rocky III, and gives you as much of a jolt as the fight did.
Bill Conti goes romantic with Adrian, a nice little slow tune with soft piano that makes a fitting theme for Adrian in the movies.
No Easy Way Out, by Robert Tepper, is yet another cheesy eighties song from Rocky IV, and I love it for the same reason that I love Burning Heart. Your enjoyment of this really depends on your love of eighties music.
Rocky's Reward slows things down a bit, which is essentially a slowed down version of Gonna Fly now with a piano instead of horns.
Alone in the Ring pretty much covers the same ground that Rocky's Reward covers.
Heart's on Fire by John Cafferty...well, just read my description of Burning Heart and No Easy Way out.
Can't Stop the Fire, Bill Conti's foray into rap music, is just about the only intolerable song on the whole CD. While lame, it does at least reflect the music of the time.
Mickey is a good song that warms the heart.
Overture may very well be the gem of this set. It covers the fight from Rocky II, and has a little bit of everything, plus some uplifting victory music. It's long, but never moves slow.
It's A Fight by Three 6 Mafia is not my kind of music, but if you've seen Rocky Balboa, it'll still give you a bit of a rush as you relive the moment when Mason Dixon steps into the ring, and you know the fight is on.
And last but not least is Gonna Fly Now, the John X Remix. This is just what it sounds like. It's Gonna Fly Now updated with quotes from the various movies thrown in. This serves as the retrospective for not only the soundtrack, but the movies as well.
Here's the deal: If you like the Rocky movies, and more importantly the Rocky music, this is the disc for you. However, I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that even if you're not familiar with Rocky, you'll find something to enjoy here, as some really great orchestrations and some truly good songs are packed in here. So give this one a shot.