Like the film that spawned it, this soundtrack represents an ambitious undertaking. Filling a pair of LPs and clocking in at nearly two hours, it contains much of the movie’s narration, dialogue and sound effects, plus music by the Doors, the Vienna Philharmonic, Flora Purim, Airto, three members of the Grateful Dead and others.
You might think that such acts would add up to a heterogeneous crew, but their efforts coalesce beautifully here. Whereas many soundtracks contain only enough dialogue and effects to get in the way of their music, moreover, this one faithfully re-creates the movie in such detail that you almost feel as if you’re back in the theater. After hearing Martin Sheen’s gripping lines and the atmospheric sounds of gunfire, helicopters and jungle animals, you may even feel as if you’ve got one foot in the jungles of Vietnam. That’s not the sort of you-are-here ambiance you’re likely to want every day but it is as impressively rendered as it is blood-curdling.