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Four years before Airplane!, there was The Big Bus (1976), Paramount’s wacky spoof of the immensely popular disaster movie genre (Airport, The Poseidon Adventure, Earthquake, etc). The Big Bus is the story of Cyclops, the first nuclear-powered bus, on its maiden voyage—non-stop from New York to Denver. The crew of Cyclops must battle not only various technical difficulties (including brake failure), and a bus load of crazy passengers, but a determined effort from an inept criminal mastermind bent on discrediting the massive 75-ton vehicle.
In a year filled with seven other scoring assignments, composer David Shire welcomed the opportunity to write a big, over-the-top orchestral score: “I could pull all the stops out and get as loud and silly as I want to.” Featuring an exciting main theme (occasionally propelled by a pounding pop beat) and a noir-ish love theme, the music supports the onscreen parody with an authentic and contemporary adventure score.
This premiere release of the complete score was prepared under the supervision of the composer—who combined certain cues for home listening pleasure—and remixed by Martin Erskine from the original 16-track 2” masters.
Informative notes by Scott Bettencourt, Jeff Bond and Alexander Kaplan include excerpts from interviews with Shire and Second City alumnus Murphy Dunne, whose outrageous portrayal of lounge singer Tommy Joyce is a comic highlight of the film. Bonus tracks include Dunne’s performance, source cues and alternates.
The Big Bus will take you on an adventurous musical journey with thrills and chills—and a few laughs—along the way. Get on board.