Greetings! ScoreKeeper here prescribing the cure for a wintery blues that's sure to warm your soul. It's like pouring chicken soup into your ear. You'll feel better instantly and it won't scald your auditory canal.
I'm talking about the elixir that is awesome film music!
It was my intention to get another CD roundup out before the end of the year but it didn't quite happen. The good news is I've got a longer list of heavily coveted soundtrack CDs that you may want to add to your collection. I'm pretty sure all these are still available although they go so fast that at least a few of these are probably not far from selling out. Once they're gone, they're gone!
If you still haven't spent your Christmas money, here's a few suggestions...
(Click on each album cover for more information including sample audio tracks and ordering information.)
BATMAN RETURNS (1992) - Danny Elfman [2CD-Set Limited Edition of 3,500 copies] - For years I thought La-La Land Records was in reference to Los Angeles' nickname which is affectionately referred to as La-La Land. I was wrong. The record label name comes from the happy song you hear in your head each time they release another awesome album like BATMAN RETURNS. I find myself dancing around the room singing my happy song, "La, la, la-la-la...La, la, la-la-la"
It wasn't really much of a surprise when this title was announced since they announced the release of the complete score for Elfman's BATMAN (1989) back at Comic-con. In some ways I almost enjoy listening to BATMAN RETURNS a little more since it develops so many of the ideas Elfman presented in the first film. I love to hear musical ideas developed so a great sequel score like this is right up my alley.
If you don't own any La-La Land albums at all, do yourself a favor and at the very least pick up BATMAN and BATMAN RETURNS. The fact that you can now own the complete scores for both films is utterly remarkable. I tip my hat at La-La Land for this precious gift!
"La, la, la-la-la...La, la, la-la-la"
HOME ALONE (1990) - John Williams [Limited Edition of 3,500 copies] - I wish John Williams would compose more Christmas themed scores. He embodies the Christmas spirit so incredibly well which is evident here with this score for HOME ALONE. The original CD is still out and floating around resale markets but this newly remastered expanded release easily replaces it. It contains 20 minutes of previously unreleased music including a handful of rare bonus tracks. It's a must-own!
STAR TREK V: THE FINAL FRONTIER (1989) - Jerry Goldsmith [2CD-Set Limited Edition of 5,000 copies] - What a great year for Goldsmith fanatics (more to come)! A lot of Trek fans want to discount STAR TREK V as a film, which I won't completely argue with; however, don't discount this amazing score by Jerry Goldsmith. I've often heard many fans opine that this is the best TREK film score written! It's hard to accurately rank so much great STAR TREK film music, but I do have to agree this is an exceptional score in the series and one that should not be overlooked.
This 2-CD edition features the complete score and the original 1989 soundtrack album along with some additional bonus cues.
JADE (1995) - James Horner [Limited Edition of 3,000 copies] - Look, I won't mince words here. I hated this film. I thought it was terrible. I can't even say this is one of Horner's best scores but it was composed in 1995 which I consider to be one of Horner's best years as a film composer. Both APOLLO 13 and BRAVEHEART were written in 1995 and both remain two of my all-time favorite Horner scores. It's not that JADE isn't a very good score. I just remember the film being so horrifically bad. Horner's infusion of Stravinsky rubbed me the wrong way too, but that's just me. It's not my favorite, but I'm sure glad it's in my collection.
THE YOUNG RIDERS (1989-1991) - John Debney [Limited Edition of 1,200 copies] - I have a fascination with early works by established composers with long histories. Television has been a breeding ground for many famous film composers so if you want to explore their early works, you're sure to find some television amongst their earliest efforts. This was true with Jerry Goldsmith, John Williams, and in this case, John Debney as well.
I sometimes forget Debney was involved in television back in the day. He composed some incredibly high-quality television music during this period of his career peaked by his exceptional music for THE YOUNG RIDERS. This is another show that I missed when it originally aired but I've since discovered on DVD. It's great! The show is awesome and Debney's work here is especially creative. The complete episodic scores included on this CD are "Pilot" and "The Gunfighter" from season one and "Kansas" from season three which earned Debney his first Emmy award.
I hope this sets a precedence for La-La Land to release more music from this series. I could stand to add another handful of episodes to my collection. It's good stuff.
THE RAT PATROL (1966-1968) - Dominic Frontiere [Limited Edition of 1,200 copies] - I don't know this show at all but La-La Land is extremely faithful to Dominic Frontiere and has released quite a few of his scores which I've adored a great deal. THE RAT PATROL is right up there. It just amazes me how much great music was written for television throughout the 50s and 60s. This show was completely unknown to me before this album came out and now that I have it and have been listening to it, I'm drawn in just as much as other Frontiere scores like BRANNIGAN (1975), HANG 'EM HIGH (1968), THE AVIATOR (1985), and his extensive work on the television series THE OUTER LIMITS (1963-1965).
FIRST BLOOD (1982) - Jerry Goldsmith [2CD-Set Unlimited Edition] - Intrada has always been faithful to the maestro Jerry Goldsmith which is further evident by this stunning 2-CD soundtrack which includes the complete original score and the original 1982 soundtrack album. FIRST BLOOD may not come to mind right away when you think of Goldsmith greats. Perhaps after acquiring this awesome release that will change. I'm hoping this paves the way for the entire trilogy. I'd love Intrada to release RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II (1985) AND RAMBO III (1988) as well.
PATTON (1970) - Jerry Goldsmith [2CD-Set Unlimited Edition] - More Goldsmith! That's certainly fine by me. PATTON is probably my all-time favorite war picture. I saw it again on TCM last week (even though I own it on Blu-ray). I didn't intend to watch the whole thing. I just told myself, "Let me just watch this one scene," and then it was, "Oh wait, this is great, I've got to watch this." Then, "Ok, one scene more." Next thing I know, I've watched the entire film!
Goldsmith is a genius. You don't need me telling you that. If you didn't already know this and you gave me three scores to prove it, I think I would have to include PATTON. Even though PATTON is a war picture, it's also one of the best character studies ever put to film and Goldsmith's music paints a radically complex man with all his idiosyncrasies with extraordinary skill and creativity.
This 2-CD set features the complete original score along with the 1970 score album (which I still own my parents' copy of).
THE GREAT ESCAPE (1963) - Elmer Bernstein [3CD-Set Unlimited Edition] - Oh, thank you! THE GREAT ESCAPE has been released several times but I have never been able to snag a copy for myself. As an ardent lover of Elmer Bernstein, it always saddened me to know that this masterpiece (which has been sold out for a long while) wasn't in my collection...until now! If you're like me and you waited or never acquired any previous version of this score this is most certainly the one you want. Even if you have a previous version, it's still worthy of picking up. There are 3-CDs packed with music including the complete score and the original 1963 United Artists score album. When Intrada announced this title, I didn't even bother waiting to see if I could get a promo copy. I just bought it! I wasn't going to risk missing out on this title again.
As of this writing, the Intrada web site is reporting that they are currently sold out but more copies should be arriving in 2 weeks.
48 HRS. (1982) - James Horner [Limited Edition of 5,000 copies] - Long before BRAVEHEART (1995), APOLLO 13 (1995), TITANIC (1997) or even ALIENS (1986), little James Horner sat in his corner and composed some really eclectic film music. During this early period of his career, he was known for two types of scores: rousing orchestral adventure scores like STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982) or eclectic synth-based scores like 48 HRS.
48 HRS. helped put James Horner on the map with his signature blend of synths, bass, saxophone, and a host of peculiar instruments like steel drums and a quartet of trombones. These early Horner scores are just as iconic as his more well-known orchestral scores and 48 HRS. is the leader of the pack.
NAVY SEALS (1990) - Sylvester Levay [Limited Edition of 1,200 copies] - Damn this is fun! When I'm listening to a score, I generally consider the statement, "They just don't make them like this anymore" generally a great thing. This certainly applies to Levay's NAVY SEALS. Although it's officially a 90's film it still harbors the qualities which made the 80's so iconic: brash, bold, over-the-top, in-your-face, testosterone-driven synth music.
While most synth scores can be chalked up to nostalgic drivel, this is a genuinely excellent synth score and one of the last of its kind. They just don't make them like this anymore.
CLASH OF THE TITANS (1981) - Laurence Rosenthal [2CD-Set Limited Edition of 3,500 copies] - Upon the advent of the release of the 2010 remake for CLASH OF THE TITANS I first learned that the general public sort of views the original 1981 film as somewhat of a joke. Seriously? I always thought of this as an all-time classic! I've seen it so many times and it still holds up so well. The confrontation between Perseus and Medusa in the original is far superior to the remake. There's so much tension and suspense in the original version and much of that (including the success of the film overall) has to do with Laurence Rosenthal's amazing orchestral score!
I've wanted to own this for so long. This 2-CD set features the complete score and a crop of extra tracks including some alternate and unused versions of several cues and even some LP edits. This one should've sold out by now. If there are any copies left, you're lucky. Don't wait. This is a must have for any fan of film music.
POLTERGEIST (1982) - Jerry Goldsmith [2CD-Set Limited Edition of 10,000 copies] - This could be one of my all time favorite Jerry Goldsmith scores. That's quite a lofty statement from someone who adores just about everything Goldsmith ever wrote. When I first saw this film I was probably eight or nine years old and it sure did a number on me. It was the defining scary movie of my childhood and a big portion of that credit has to do with Goldsmith's creepy and outright terrifying score.
This is the ultimate presentation of Goldsmith's masterpiece as it contains the complete score, the original 1982 soundtrack album and a host of bonus tracks containing alternate versions of several cues. Totally awesome!
NORTH DALLAS FORTY (1979) - John Scott [Limited Edition of 2,000 copies] - John Scott is a composer who isn't talked about much anymore but the fact remains he was a force to be reckoned with in the 1970s and 80s. Scott frequently infuses jazz, blues, or pop idioms into his orchestral scores which are noticeable here in this classic dramatic comedy gem from 1979. I think scores in general have turned a little generic over the years so it's very refreshing to hear music that pushes the envelope like this one. It perfectly blends orchestral music, funk, jazz, and a host of other eclectic styles into a score all about life in the NFL.
A MAN CALLED HORSE (1970) - Leonard Rosenman [Limited Edition of 2,000 copies] - There are scores out there that are many decades old that sound far ahead of their time even by today's standards. This is one such score. Leonard Rosenman did some radical things with music in the films he scored. None more apparent than his work on A MAN CALLED HORSE. It's the perfect aural amalgam of modern civilization and primitive culture expressed in a single score and one of the most harrowing Native American inspired scores ever written. If you're tired of the same old claptrap, the cure is a hefty dose of Leonard Rosenman.
THE 5,000 FINGERS OF DR. T (1953) - Frederick Hollander [3CD-Set Limited Edition of 3,000 copies] - When this set hit the street I had almost forgotten about this little curiosity. It's the only live action film ever to feature an original story, script, and lyrics all written by Theodor Seuss Geisel, otherwise known as Dr. Seuss. This music has never before been available to the public and includes all of the songs and incidental music composed by Frederick Hollander. There's tons of alternate takes, discarded cues, and other rare oddities making this a huge labor of love for the good folks at Film Score Monthly. I true treasure indeed!
LASSIE COME HOME: THE CANINE CINEMA COLLECTION (1943-1955) - Various composers [5CD-Set Limited Edition of 1,000 copies] - Ya, you laugh but I dare you to watch a Lassie picture and not feel the tears welling up inside your eye sockets each time this iconic collie saves the day. That's due primarily to the syrupy sweet music that graced this beloved series. Many great composers are represented here in this five disc box set including Daniele Amfitheatrof, Elmer Bernstein, Scott Bradley, Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco, Robert Franklyn, Bronislau Kaper, Andre Previn, Nathaniel Shilkret, and Herbert Stothart.
The scores that are included in this box set include LASSIE COME HOME (1943), SON OF LASSIE (1945), COURAGE OF LASSIE (1946), HILLS OF HOME (1948), THE SUN COMES UP (1949), CHALLENGE TO LASSIE (1949), THE PAINTED HILLS (1951), and IT'S A DOG'S LIFE (1955).
Tons and tons of great music in this set!
PUPPET MASTER SOUNDTRACK COLLECTION (1989-2010) - Richard Band, et. al. [5CD-Set Limited Edition of 2,000 copies] - Full Moon fans rejoice! This is a very cool soundtrack collection which pulls all the right strings. It includes five CDs worth of music from the ten PUPPET MASTER films. Actually there are only eight films represented here as the fifth and eighth films used all tracked music from the previous movies.
Richard Band is a very talented and versatile composer who has penned some of the best B-movie scores of the last several decades. His infectious theme for PUPPETMASTER (1989) may be among his most memorable and is treated to a seemingly infinite number of variations throughout these many films.
RAIN MAN (1988) - Hans Zimmer [Limited Edition of 2,000 copies] - Hans Zimmer is without a doubt the single most popular composer on the planet. This is the score which pretty much put him on the map earning him his first Academy Award nomination. I love these early Zimmer scores especially the ones which relied so heavily on the electronic textures he nurtured through these early years of his career. Bravo to Perseverance Records for releasing this long-awaited gem!
THE BOUNTY (1988) - Vangelis [Limited Edition of 2,000 copies] - This one is a little bit different. We're all used to re-recorded scores in the soundtrack business. Orchestral scores are frequently re-recorded in order to bring better quality performances and recordings to beloved film music masterpieces. Well, this is a re-recording but it's not orchestral. It's the complete electronic synth score for Vangelis' THE BOUNTY (1988) produced and performed by Dominik Hauser.
There's a lot of ballyhoo surrounding this re-recording. Some fans are digging the interpretation while others seem to think it's just not right to try and recreate Vangelis. I think they definitely have a point but I'm not completely convinced that this doesn't work. It's a fine interpretation just like any arranger or conductor would interpret an orchestral score. Sure, it'll be different and the artist will add some of their own voice to it but it's refreshing to get out of the habit of treating film music recordings as "the only" true version of the music. They don't do that in the classical music. I must have fifteen different recordings of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony and I have my favorites. They're all different and I love them all for completely different reasons.
Bravo to Dominik Hauser and BSX Records for daring to recreate the iconic work of Vangelis. It may not be as satisfying as the original (which is not available by the way) but it's impressive and satisfying nonetheless.
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