Original score written by Bill Conti.
Composer: Bill Conti.
Personnel: Bill Conti (piano); DeEtta Little, Nelson Pirgord, Nelson Pigford (vocals); Dennis Budimer, Dennis Budimir (guitar); David Duke (horns); Michael Lang (piano, keyboards); Steven Schaeffer (drums); Robert Zimmitti (percussion).
Recording information: Group IV Recording, Hollywood, CA.
The rare sequel that improves upon its predecessor, Rocky II expands on the uplifting approach exemplified by Bill Conti's immortal "Gonna Fly Now" to create a score that's both more cohesive and more emotional. Writer/director/star Sylvester Stallone affords Conti a wider emotional berth this time around, allowing for poignant, melancholy themes like "Vigil" alongside fist-pumping anthems like the climactic "Overture" -- as before, Conti employs little more than solo piano, a small string ensemble, and a potent brass section, and it's to the composer's enormous credit that he can forge such larger-than-life music from relatively few instrumental elements. "Gonna Fly Now" even reappears, this time with a children's choir in tow, and sounds better than ever. Not even Frank Stallone's "Two Kinds of Love" can torpedo this one. ~ Jason Ankeny