Special to WHOOSH!
By Bret Rudnick (brudnick@head-cfa.harvard.edu)
Content © 1996 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 1996 held by Whoosh!
759 words

[1] Just in time for the holidays, we have available on the Varese Sarabande label (VSD-5750) "Xena: Warrior Princess, the Original Television Soundtrack". The music is composed by Joseph LoDuca, except the track "Burial" which was composed by Lucy Lawless and "Glede Ma Glede" which is a traditional Balkan harvesting song.

[2] Firstly, some basics: It is available in CD only (no cassettes at the time, I checked). The cover on the jewel box is a photo-realistic or embellished photo/ painting of Xena, sword held firmly in right hand, left hand up and palm outward (she has an interesting life line, by the way, but I digress). On the back are the album credits, list of tracks (there are 30 of them and the CD runs some 65 minutes and 14 seconds) and five (very small) stills from different episodes, four of which feature Xena and one which features Callisto.

[3] Inside, the little pullout booklet has a nice black & white head shot of Lucy (Xena) on the inside back cover, and the outside back cover is a colour shot of Xena in "civilian" clothing (a dress from CHARIOTS OF WAR, #02). The inside front cover has a small shot of a veiled Xena (from CRADLE OF HOPE, #04) and a picture that is WAY too small (I object very strongly to this -- I would love to have this poster-sized) from HOOVES AND HARLOTS (#10) that features in the foreground Xena, Gabrielle, the Amazon Queen Melosa, and Ephiny, with a bunch of none-too-happy looking Amazons in the background. Also printed on the inside front page are the lyrics (and translation) to the "Main Title" and "The Gauntlet".

[4] A serious shortcoming of the CD is the lack of liner notes. We are not told, for example, what language the above tracks are in (it turns out that language is Bulgarian, by the way). We are also not told of the Bulgarian influence in the choir pieces or the names of the singers or choral group performing.

[5] The titles of many of the tracks give us clues as to which episodes the music is featured in, was originally written for, etc. It seems that this CD contains music exclusively from Season 1 (not to mention music originally composed for the Hercules movies and episodes but used again in XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS), and it is hoped we will get an update for more music from Season 2 at some future date.

[6] Writing music for television is not something mere mortals should often attempt. Incidental music and "themes" for television are meant to work with specific visual images and enhance a predetermined mood, rather than create one in and of itself as music alone so often does.

[7] But Joseph LoDuca has succeeded in doing both.

[8] There is a lot of "filler" and incidental music on the CD (many variations on the "Xena" theme) but several tracks stand out as immediately recognizable from specific episodes.

[9] We are immediately transported to the Amazon village, for example, via the track "Gabby Dance". Heartstrings are pulled listening to "Soulmates". "The Wrath of Callisto" is suitably suspenseful, and "Ladder Fight" plays in our mind the Xena/Callisto Duel as Gabrielle hangs by a thread. The joyous "Glede Ma Glede" is included, lasting a mere 43 seconds and without instrumental accompaniment (not that it needs it) but it is a powerful piece nonetheless (and coming from a Slavic background with relatives in Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Moldavia, and Romania who are never happy unless they're truly miserable, it is nice to hear something "upbeat").

[10] I got my CD from Tower Mail Order for 16.99 with 4.25 added for shipping for a grand total of 21.24 (US Dinars). I received the CD less than a week after I phoned in the order.

[11] The only disappointment for me was a lack of music from Season 2. There is a wealth of tracks from GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN (#28) alone. And, I have to say, the music from XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS that has moved me the most is that which we hear at the end of RETURN OF CALLISTO (#29) (and a slightly shorter version at the end of INTIMATE STRANGER, #31) -- brings a tear to my eye every time I hear it. I can only hope it, along with more of Joseph LoDuca's work, appears in a sequel.

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