Trevor Jones / David Bowie

EMI, 1986

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


Ah, good 'ol 1986, the year that is notorious for being considered the absolute nadir of popular music by a great number of music critics.

The soundtrack to the film Labyrinth, a collaboration between David Bowie and a B-list film score composer by the name of Trevor Jones, certainly does nothing to dispel that perception.

You see, between albums and tours, Bowie also dabbled in acting, and in 1986, he got the starring role in a Jim Henson fantasy film typical of the period called Labyrinth, a role that seemingly every woman roughly between age 28 and 45 still has sexual fantasies over. I hate to burst your bubble, girls, but that bulge proudly displayed in his spandex pants WAS A SOCK.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

It's quite a powerful indication of just how overwhelmingly dreadful the musical soundtrack must be when just hearing snippets of it between breaks gasping for air (as there was no physical way that I could have fully listened to it other than being forcibly strapped to a chair à la Alex in A Clockwork Orange) is nearly enough to send one into violent convulsions.

It's… horrendous. This is one of those times that the written language is completely insufficient in expressing the full extent of my outrage upon being subjected to this, this rancid, festering, gelatinous pile of gloop masquerading as music. Even John Tesh would dash for the nearest exit.

Bowie's five contributions to the album make Tonight sound like Ziggy Stardust in comparison, and the seven laughably dated, New-Age instrumentals supplied by Trevor Jones are even worse, being nothing more than minimalist, thoughtless, comatose exercises of the cheapest Casio keyboard tones imaginable, and the bare arrangements only serve to magnify the complete lack of ideas as they don't even have any flash to distract you or hide behind. I've heard two-year olds randomly hammering away at keyboards with their fists while simultaneously filling their diapers play with more creativity.

While Bowie was merely continuing in the wretched, ambivalent form that marked his mid-‘80s output, what mystifies me more is the uniformly terrible quality of Jones’ music. I’m not familiar with anything else he ever wrote, but he has provided the scores to a number of mainstream Hollywood films since the early ‘80s -- surely if they were all as piss-poor as Labyrinth, he wouldn’t have had such a long lasting career.

When watching the film itself (quite good, by the way), the music safely hides in the background most of the time (except for a few song and dance scenes where the resulting nausea sets in), but listening to the soundtrack on its own is truly gag-inducing. If you were anything but a five to ten-year-old girl in 1986 and aren’t offended by the Labyrinth soundtrack, then your home should be the nearest lunatic asylum.

Rating: F

User Rating: A


I guess I should be in a lunatic asylum then. I love the Bowie tracks on this soundtrack. The rest of the score works with the movie but I would never listen to them on the cd. I think Within You (the song in the upside down staircase scene) is Bowie at his best. The rest of the songs are great and they really fit with the movie. It sounds like Bowie was having fun recording these songs and that gives them a kind of charm.

© 2008 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of EMI, and is used for informational purposes only.