Anthony Marinelli would be known to soundtrack collectors for Young Guns, The Man From Elysian Fields and his long filmography as a composer; but he also has a highly influential background as a music producer and synthesist.
Recently he’s started a YouTube channel to delve into his studio and demonstrate the treasures therein. He and his partner in the 1980s, Brian Banks, were the synthesizer programmers for Arthur B. Rubinstein on one of my favorite action scores of the era, Blue Thunder:
This is absolutely awesome! Marinelli loads a floppy disk from the early 1980s and out comes the classic (to me, anyway!) Rubinstein helicopter action music from “Sunrise at ‘Pinkville.’”
I really love this time period because everything was so new and experimental. Classically trained composers like Rubinstein and Goldsmith (Runaway) were writing synth scores as if they were for orchestra, just played by completely new instruments. The architecture is totally different from the performance-based “synthwave” model (which I love too). It’s arguably abrasive, but has a unique sense of propulsion and angularity to it.
The pre-MIDI production process ended up being such a hassle that it was seldom attempted even by the composers who were really good at it; and the technology changed so rapidly, along with audience tastes, that it was all but abandoned within a year or two.
Blue Thunder is especially innovative because it combines the Synclavier tracks with orchestra, particularly in the climactic action sequence:
Marinelli and Banks also worked on WarGames:
Check out his channel for a whole host of videos, including several revealing the sounds behind classic Michael Jackson tracks on the Thriller album.
I really get a kick out of seeing an antique box turn on and, with the expert flip of a few switches, produce some of these unforgettable licks: