Greetings! ScoreKeeper here rounding up the usual suspects frisking for newly released soundtracks.
With the searing summer sun scorching five-eighths of the country, I figured we all could use a dose of icy cold film music to quench this unbearable heat. Each time I pen one of these roundup articles it seems like soundtrack labels accelerate their battles over who releases the next great coveted soundtrack. In this war there are no casualties. There are only winners...and they're called soundtrack fans.
This article focuses primarily on the boutique labels who releases previously unreleased or long out-of-print scores running the entire gamut of film music history. It's difficult to keep up with them all which is why I'm overdue for another roundup. If you click on the titles or the pictures of the soundtrack it'll take to its respective web site where you can see the individual track listings and listen to audio samples.
Let's stop the talkin' and get with the gawkin'...
THE X-FILES (1993-2002) - Mark Snow [4CD-Set Limited Edition of 3,000 copies] - The truth was definitely out there and La-La Land Records found it. I was huge fan of this show and of Mark Snow's music. The only album that existed prior to this luscious 4CD box set was a single CD of tracks that just couldn't quite effectively capture the genius Snow brought each week to this series. This new set remedies an emptiness in the hearts and ears of X-FILES fans around the globe. It may be my single favorite release of the year so far and it's been a pleasure having it in my collection.
THE GOLDEN CHILD (1986) - Michel Colombier and John Barry [3CD-Set Limited Edition of 5,000 copies] - This was a total surprise! I never would have suspected a release of this score or even guessed there was an inkling of demand for it. It's a great example how labels can be one step ahead of the fans. First of all, it's 3 CDs packed with some really cool music. The first disc features John Barry's unused score which was previously unreleased. The second disc features the actual score used in the film composed by Michel Colombier and the third disc features additional tracks from John Barry and some songs that were featured on the original 1986 soundtrack album.
Rarely do you get the opportunity to compare and contrast two scores by two different composers for the same film. It's even rarer that you get this opportunity on the same album! Both scores are fascinatingly different yet equally interesting from a variety of perspectives. Jon Burlingame's remarkable liner notes sorts out the duel scores and exposes the story behind the composers' work.
BREAKDOWN (1988) - Basil Poledouris [3CD-Set Limited Edition of 3,000 copies] - Do you have enough Basil Poledouris in your collection. The answer is no. Nobody does. If you add BREAKDOWN (1988) to your collection, you'll be a half-step closer. Here again is another curiosity that La-La Land Records has brought into the spotlight. On this album we have one composer, one film, but two scores! Basil pretty much wrote two versions of this score. There's an alternate early score that's lush and tense while evoking rich Americana-esque strings and the final revised score full of tension and action both contained on the same 3-disc set.
Both scores are Poledouris-ly fantastic but so surprisingly different. I love this film and always marveled at Basil's score. I never knew there was an earlier version before this album was released. These are the types of albums that don't just offer up great music to listen to but engage our film-music minds to ponder the what "could-have-been" and offer us mini film scoring lessons along the way. There's a lot to be learned about writing music for film when you compare and contrast one composer's dual efforts for a single film. It's simply brilliant!
THE BLOB (1988) - Michael Hoenig [Limited Edition of 2,000 copies] - Throughout the 80's there were mountains of cheesy synthesized horror film scores. This isn't one of them. THE BLOB is an entertaining and respectable remake of the 1958 classic and musical sculptor Michael Hoenig did an amazing job creating shapeless blobs of delicately designed sound sculptures to enhance the cinematic experience. A former touring member of Tangerine Dream, Hoenig went above and beyond the scope of a typical synthesizer score even for the 1980's. While we may be apt to dismiss synth scores as inferior, it would be wrong to do so here. It's quite cool...and come on, with a cover like that, how can you go wrong!
BAD GIRLS (1994) - Jerry Goldsmith [Limited Edition of 3,000 copies] - Oh Jerry, how do I miss thee. I loved this score when it first came out in the early nineties. It was written with Goldsmith's signature rousing mixed-meter orchestra sporting an infectious theme that was skillfully woven throughout the bulk of the score. It's a quintessential example of how a great adventure score can elevate a movie.
This album contains the complete score of one Goldsmith's later masterpieces.
SOCOM 4 (2011) - Bear McCreary [Limited Edition of 2,000 copies] - You know I don't play video games but I hear this is one of those scores that will completely kick your ass while you're kicking-ass playing the game. I love the music but I can't vouch for its game effectiveness. I just have to take the word of thousands upon thousands of fans who adore this game and its music. Bear is really setting the bar high within the video game community. He's already done it in television. Is film next?
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION COLLECTION VOLUME ONE (1987-1994) - Dennis McCarthy, Jay Chattaway, et al. [3CD-Set Limited Edition of 3,000 copies] - Here they go again. La-La Land and their mega-awesome massively jammed-packed multiple-CD sets. This set is a great companion to the 14-CD box set Film Score Monthly released of Ron Jones' contribution to the series. Jones wasn't the only composer to take ST:TNG for a joyride. This new album by La-La Land focuses on some of the other composers whose indelible mark on the series should not be overlooked.
While we're still talking about La-La Land Records, you should be aware that they're currently having a huge clearance sale where dozens of titles are being sold off at $4.98. In my book every one of these is worth owning. Pick out any that appeal to you and you'll strike gold. My personal picks if you don't already have them would be TRICK 'R TREAT, EUREKA, CONFESSION, BATMAN GOTHAM KNIGHT, JUSTICE LEAGUE: THE NEW FRONTIER, TAKING WOODSTOCK, or WRONG TURN 2.
And guess what? I received word that on August 30th, La-La Land Records will be releasing James Horner's score for COMMANDO! Damn awesome!
UP (2009) - Michael Giacchino [Limited Edition of 10,000 copies] - This is huge. I know what you're thinking. This film just came out a couple of years ago. How can this be big news? Well, Intrada's release of Michael Giacchino's Academy Award winning score for UP marks a partnership between the small label and Disney. Prior to this album, UP was only released digitally on iTunes. Fans screamed afoul as they clanged and banged for attention to express their desire to have this masterpiece released on CD. The problem facing a CD release was that Disney was getting out of the CD soundtrack business. They didn't really want to bother with it anymore. This included their current releases as well as everything that was in their vaults.
Enter Intrada. This small but prestigious label convinced Disney to partner with them in order to release some of their classic scores. Now the vaults are open and soundtrack fandom is drooling over what may be released in the near future. UP is the first CD commemorating this new Intrada/Disney partnership. THE BLACK HOLE (which I mentioned above) is the second. Already in their first two releases together, Intrada managed to deliver fans two massively coveted soundtracks from Disney's catalog. What else awaits us?
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: VOLUME 2 (1978-1979) - Stu Phillips [2CD-Set Limited Edition of 1,500 copies] - Before there was Bear, there was Stu. One of the great television composers of the later few decades made his mark on this fantastic series. I haven't picked this one up yet but I will be shortly. Don't beat me to it!
STAY TUNED (1992) - Bruce Broughton [Limited Edition of 1,500 copies] - Bruce Broughton is hands-down the single most underrated composer working today. He's a genius and doesn't garner nearly enough attention as he deserves. He's a master dramatist, has a keen eye for comedy, and is quintessentially one of the great masters of the symphony working in Hollywood today.
This is one of those films that you may not remember how great the score truly was but when you take a closer listen to the music by itself all you can do is stare and listen blankly in awe. There is so much skill and precision in this score as Broughton manages to weave a grand adventure score with fragments of musical parody. There's even a large suite where the composer channels Carl Stalling who scored the majority of the Looney Tunes shorts. It's simply genius.
MASADA (1981) - Jerry Goldsmith and Morton Stevens [2CD-Set Limited Edition of 5,000 copies] - Oh Jerry, how do I miss thee. Wait...I think I said that already. This is one of those scores that I've been wanting for a long time. It's a not-too-well-known four-part mini-series that ran in 1981. It represents the epic orchestral scoring that Goldsmith was known for and even includes Morton Stevens' music for parts 3 and 4. This album has been long out-of-print so it's nice to see the complete score finally given the royal treatment.
CITY OF FEAR (1959) - Jerry Goldsmith [Limited Edition of 2,000 copies] - This is the world premiere release of Jerry Goldsmith's earliest film score to date. This is only his second feature film score! Maybe you think that being so early in his career it might suck. No. You would be wrong. There's a reason why Goldsmith is considered among the best who ever lived. Even his second film score ever is a work of genius.
CHERRY 2000 (1987) • HOUSE OF GOD (1984) - Basil Poledouris [Limited Edition of 1,500 copies] - I like all the attention Basil Poledouris has been receiving lately. There seems to be a mad rush to release as much of his catalog as possible. Great! This album actually features music from two Poledouris scores. The first is the long out-of-print CHERRY 2000 and the other is HOUSE OF GOD. The former score contains the same contents as the original Prometheus release. The later score is a world premiere release of a score for a medical dramedy which I know very little about.
DAYS OF HEAVEN (1978) - Ennio Morricone [2CD-Set Unlimited Edition] - Well isn't this a treat? While many fans are quick to point out the extremely beautiful visual characteristics of Terrence Malick's DAYS OF HEAVEN, few may not be as quick to put the spotlight on Ennio Morricone's effectively complementary score. This two disc set features the original 1978 original soundtrack album as well as the rest of the cues used in the picture. Because Morricone gave Malick permission to move his cues around throughout the picture at Malick's pleasure, little was known about what Morricone's original intentions truly were...until now.
Here's the blurb from FSM's web site explaining exactly how the album is laid out and the significance of the ordering of the cues.
Tracks 1–13 on disc 1 recreate the 1978 soundtrack album, which included most of Morricone’s major themes as well as music not heard in the picture. Tracks 14–30 present the Morricone cues as heard in the finished film—without replicating abridgements and repetitions of certain selections. Disc 2 presents an extended, freestanding program of most (but not all) of Morricone’s score as recorded, following the chronological sequence of the slate numbers, along with a handful of bonus tracks. Here the score proves to be considerably more diverse than in the finished film.
I SPY: VOLUME 2 - THE LPS (1965-1968) - Earle Hagen [Unlimited Edition] - Long before the names of Bear McCreary, Mike Post, Daniel Licht, Stu Phillips, Michael Giacchino, and many other established masters of television scoring, there was Earle Hagen...the undisputed heavyweight champion composer of the boob-tube. Earle Hagen wrote the book on scoring for television...literally, and his thousands upon thousands of hours of TV music remains some of the best ever written. One of his mantle achievements was I SPY. It was one of the single most popular action-adventure series of all time and it was only on air for a paltry three seasons.
The two albums featured on this CD culls the Warner Bros. album of 1966 and the Capitol Records LP of 1967. This marks the second album FSM has released of Earle Hagen's music from I SPY.
ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS (1964) - Nathan Van Cleave [Limited Edition of 3,000 copies] - I just picked up this movie on Criterion Blu-ray and watched it for the first time the other night. It was such a delight! This film was made before we really knew that much about outer space. It's imaginative, adventurous and it's all gelled together with an extremely cool score by Nathan Van Cleave. I already had the FSM CD when I acquired the Criterion Blu but I hadn't given it a listen prior to seeing the movie. I was so pleased to know that immediately after the film I could enjoy this fabulous score on its own. It's every bit as inventive as the film itself.
THE BIG BUS (1976) - David Shire [Limited Edition of 2,000 copies] - Disaster movies were all the rage in the 1970's and they were even spoofed. Shire is one of the great composers of the decade having penned such masterpieces as THE CONVERSATION (1974), THE TAKING OF PELHAM ONE TWO THREE(1974), ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN (1976), and THE HINDENBURG (1975).
For THE BIG BUS, Shire was free to compose an outlandish over-the-top orchestral score in order to spoof the big-budgeted disaster flicks of the decade. It's fun, exuberant, and chillingly disastrous with a charming 70s flare.
THE HOMECOMING: A CHRISTMAS STORY (1971) - Jerry Goldsmith • THE SECRET ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER AND HUCK FINN (1982) by James Horner [Limited Edition of 3,000 copies] - I really don't know much about either of these projects but when you have rare never-before-released Goldsmith and Horner scores on the same disc you absolutely can't go wrong. Both of these scores come from made-for-TV movies that feature some of the most richly Americana music composed by either of these two gentlemen. Horner wrapped up his score for THE SECRET ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER AND HUCK FINN a few days before starting work on STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982).
TESTAMENT (1983) - James Horner [Limited Edition of 2,000 copies] - While Film Score Monthly is mostly known for championing scores written in the Golden and Silver Ages of cinema, it's nice to see them creeping slowly up into the 80s. They've done it before with their releases of Goldsmith's scores to POLTERGEIST (1982) and OUTLAND (1981) and Ennio Morricone's beguiling score for WHITE DOG (1982). As far as I'm concerned they can pillage and plunder the 80s for all its treasures all they want.
This release of an early James Horner score is especially welcome. It's vastly different than the large-scale orchestral behemoths he was starting to compose early in the 1980s. This is an extremely small and intimate score composed using only ten musicians. While attention is sure to gravitate toward his larger scale works of the era, a score like this begins to prove a composer's deft skill and sensitivity toward a narrative.
THE GREAT SANTINI (1976) - Elmer Bernstein [Limited Edition of 1,500 copies] - Having a father who was a pilot in the U.S. Navy for twenty-seven years really allowed me to connect with this film on a personal level unique to my own experiences. I really loved this movie for a variety of reasons: my father was a pilot, I'm a military aviation buff, and it sports an exquisite score by Elmer Bernstein. This title was just announced this past Tuesday so I'll be racing to snag a copy of it for myself. If it sells out before I'm able to acquire it I'll never write one of these articles ever again. Ever.
TARAS BULBA (1962) - Franz Waxman [2CD-Set Unlimited Edition] - James Fitzpatrick has been producing some rather stellar re-recordings for quite some time now. These are the folks that brought us the spectacular re-recordings of Miklós Rózsa's EL CID (1961) and Basil Poledouris' CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982). TARAS BULBA might be the best so far. Not only are the performances immaculate but the recording quality is above reproach. The packaging and CD liner notes alone are so artfully designed you feel it best belongs in a museum rather than your dusty shelf. This could be one of my favorite Franz Waxman scores of all-time. Hearing how Nic Raine commands the 100-piece orchestra and 80-piece choir it's difficult to think of one better.
THE HAMMER LEGACY: THE VAMPIRE COLLECTION, THE SCIENCE FICTION COLLECTION, THE FRANKENSTEIN COLLECTION - Various Composers [Digital Editions] - I'm not the biggest fan of compilation albums and I don't often write about digital albums on my CD roundup column so you can understand these titles have to be pretty damn cool if I'm going to break two of my usual guidelines. The bottom line is that there is so much great music written for Hammer films and so much of it never gets to see the light of day. Sure, I'd rather have complete albums but I'd never be able to afford to acquire them all.
With Halloween approaching I felt these three new compilations from Silva Screen merit your attention. There are so many films represented on these three albums. Great Hammer titles like THE KISS OF THE VAMPIRE (1963), THE VAMPIRE LOVERS (1970), THE LEGEND OF THE 7 GOLDEN VAMPIRES (1974), QUATERMASS AND THE PIT (1967), THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957), FRANKENSTEIN MUST BE DESTROYED (1969), THE HORROR OF FRANKENSTEIN (1970), FRANKENSTEIN AND THE MOSTER FROM HELL (1974), and many more.
That's it for this edition. I'll continue to keep tabs on who is releasing what but keep in mind that there are quite a few titles released that sell-out rather quickly. If you want the jump be sure to follow me on Twitter. That's the quickest way for me to get the word out about some of these titles that sell out so quickly. Thanks and enjoy your film muisc!
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