Greetings! ScoreKeeper here keeping you abreast of all the latest and greatest soundtrack releases which have bombarded the streets during the past four months. You'll find a smattering of vintage, re-released, never-before-released, and holy grail rarities coveted by die-hard soundtrack enthusiasts. The major labels are busier than ever cranking out albums for us to bask in aural glory even though it may pinch a bit in the pocketbook. Many of these are limited editions capped at a relatively low number of copies. As of this writing, all of these titles are still in stock and have not yet sold out.
It's been a busy season so let's get down to business…
HOOK (1991) by John Williams [2CD-Set Limited Edition of 5,000 units] - This could be the score that readers have written to me most about. It seems I wasn't alone in my desire to see an expanded score released to the public. It is indeed a classic Williams score that is as good as any of his greatest achievements. People tend to dismiss Williams' music for HOOK due to an unsatisfying response to the film; however, it would be foolhardy not to remedy this particular brand of ignorance. This is as good as film music gets.
As usual, La-La Land Records pulled out all the stops to reissue and expand this amazing score featuring more than 140 min of previously released and unreleased music. It sports a gorgeous cover comprised of Drew Struzan's iconic poster art, immaculate graphic design, and informative liner notes expertly written by film music journalist Daniel Schweiger. After diving into this album you realize how woefully unjust the previous soundtrack album truly is.
GALAXY QUEST (1999) by David Newman [Limited Edition of 3,000 units] - This is the premiere official release of this score (an extremely rare promotional album was issued around the time of the film) and it's long overdue. David Newman is an underrated and often overlooked master of the orchestra and perhaps no score better displays his compositional dexterity better than GALAXY QUEST. It's a grandiose sci-fi smorgasbord filled to the brim with orchestral acrobatics not customarily demonstrated in modern film music. It's about time this score received a proper release.
SPEED (1994) by Mark Mancina [Limited Edition of 3,000 units] - Mega-congratulations to La-La Land Records on their 200th release! SPEED is a cinematic landmark for a number of reasons. It kickstarted the careers of Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock and elevated the recognition of composer Mark Mancina who further defined 90's action scoring with this pivotal and heavily influential score.
THE ROBE (1953) - Alfred Newman [2CD-Set Limited Edition of 2,000 units] - Bravo to La-La Land for continuing their expedition into the Golden Age of film music. Alfred Newman's classic score to Henry Koster's biblical epic has received several different releases in the past by a handful of labels; however, La-La Land has left no stone unturned delivering the longest and most complete version of the score to date. The sound is absolutely amazing, almost like it was recorded yesterday.
FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE (1964) by Dimitri Tiomkin [Limited Edition of 2,500 units] - If THE ROBE were not enough to satisfy your aural palette for gilded Roman-era film scores, you could always double-dose with this remastered and expanded release featuring music composed by Dimitri Tiomkin. It's darker hues and rich emotional textures make it a unique entry in the pantheon of bible-thumping blunderbusses. I was blown away by La-La Land's earlier release of 55 DAYS AT PEKING (1963) so I'm equally thrilled they double-dipped into the Tiomkin well and pulled out this particular nugget.
WINGS (1927) by J.S. Zamencnik (arranged and orchestrated by Dominik Hauser) [Limited Edition of 2,000 units] - This could very well be the oldest score ever released on CD. In honor of Paramount's 100th anniversary, La-La Land has released J.S. Zamencnik's original score for the very first film to win the Academy Award of Best Picture. Paramount recently released this magnificent film on Blu-ray and commissioned a newly arranged and orchestrated score (which originally was performed live to picture). Zamencnik was a profoundly prolific composer during the silent film era; however, this soundtrack marks the very first time an album's worth of his music hs ever been recorded and released to the public.
WINGS is truly one of the best films ever made. To this day it sports some of the greatest aerial footage ever captured and the drama is heart-wrenchingly effective. To receive the Blu-ray of the film and a CD of this newly recorded soundtrack within two months of each other is truly a gift to cinemaphiles.
This album goes on sale Tuesday, April 24, 2012, at 1PM PST.
THE BLACK CAULDRON (1985) by Elmer Bernstein - Every time I pen a new soundtrack roundup article, one of the major labels has released a personal "holy grail." This time Intrada gets the honor with this cherished score by one of the greatest composers to grace a Hollywood scoring stage. Elmer Bernstein is known for many scores like THE TEN COMMANDMENTS (1956), TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD (1962), AIRPLANE! (1980), and GHOSTBUSTERS (1984), but I doubt many would remember THE BLACK CAULDRON as one of the maestro's best.
Bernstein's music is an artisanal brew of medieval delight brimming with character, emotion, and narrative prowess. It's often overlooked primarily because it has never received an official soundtrack release on CD (a brief album was released on LP in several countries). Disney has practically abandoned the film pushing it further away from audiences' radar with each passing year. Thanks to Intrada's recent partnership with Disney, this well-crafted and delightful score will finally earn its spot on the shelves of countless soundtrack fans personal collections.
PREDATOR (1987) by Alan Silvestri - Yes, PREDATOR was just released by Intrada last year. Why another version? Think of this as a "variant." While the previous PREDATOR release sold out in record time (again), this one is readily available. If you've always wanted to own Alan Silvestri's music for PREDATOR, this is definitely your chance. So what is different? Intrada listened to soundtrack fans' grievances and restored tiny bits of edited material from the earlier issue. It removed some ill-structured crossfades and included the cue "The Aftermath" prior to the "End Credits." The CD also plays in chronological order as originally scored by the composer. While all of these changes are arguably picky requests, for some soundtrack fans it means a lot to have Intrada take the time to execute these revisions. For many, this will be considered the "ultimate" release of this beloved score. It also ensures that anybody who didn't get the previous version (or the release before that) can finally own it and add it to their collection.
STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME (1986) by Leonard Rosenman - Everywhere you look it's STAR TREK! The major labels have been raiding the vaults restoring and releasing expanded versions of all the major feature films in the STAR TREK compendium. The past four months alone, three more expanded STAR TREK scores have launched starting with STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME. I think if you polled a room full of STAR TREK fans, chances of THE VOYAGE HOME popping up as their favorite among all the film's scores might be a bit slim; however, that doesn't diminish Rosenman's contribution to the STAR TREK musical lexicon. There is a lot to love about this score including Rosenman's dated yet charming "Whale Fugue" and the masterful way he weaves fragments of previous STAR TREK themes into the tapestry of his score.
STAR TREK VI: THE UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY (1991) by Cliff Eidelman - Jerry Goldsmith, Alexander Courage, and James Horner are instantly recognizable names who have all penned music for the STAR TREK universe; however, a healthy collection of fans are quite partial to the lone contribution by Cliff Eidelman. Perhaps no single composer is more responsible for expanding the musical universe of STAR TREK than Eidelman. He blazed his own unique trail while maintaining a strong cohesive bond with the other films. The result is an epic feast of orchestral majesty that ignites the imagination almost as much as Goldsmith's original opus for STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979). This is a beloved score which deserves every bit of praise it receives.
TOY STORY 3 (2010) by Randy Newman - The newly formed Intrada/Disney partnership isn't just about releasing older scores. As we saw with Intrada's release of UP (2009) last year, it's also about releasing more recent scores that Disney didn't want to bother with. While the soundtrack for TOY STORY 3 was available at digital retailers like iTunes and Amazon.com, there was never an official CD release until Intrada stepped up to the plate.
This is a particularly welcome addition to my collection. It's arguably the best of the TOY STORY scores featuring some wild and crazy music from Randy Newman who packed the film with action and emotion rivaling that of its two predecessors.
WHISPERS IN THE DARK (1992) by Thomas Newman - Almost every single score Thomas Newman ever composed since 1994 has been released on CD; however, he had been composing film music since 1984. Where are all the CDs from early in his career? Intrada has stepped up to remedy a woefully underrepresented period in Thomas Newman's film composing life by diving into one of the great psychological scores of the early 90s. It's a fantastic score shedding light on Newman's rapidly blossoming genius. My hope is that this soundtrack spearheads a movement to release more early Newman gems like DECEIVED (1991) and THE MAN WITH ONE RED SHOE (1985).
ISLAND ON TOP OF THE WORLD (1974) by Maurice Jarre - When you think of larger-than-life adventure scores, Maurice Jarre may not be the first or even the third or fourth name that pops in your head. It's true that he did not dabble as much in this genre as others making this particular release so special. Jarre penned an impressive collection of cues recounting the tale of a dangerous expedition north which stumbled upon a lost Viking colony tucked away from civilization on an uncharted island. It's a rousingly fun score expressing adventure as well as the fragility of the lost Viking culture.
ROAD HOUSE (1989) by Michael Kamen - This is one of those completely unexpected releases that you semi-reluctantly give your attention only to have it thwack you in the face with awesomeness. I've seen (and enjoyed) ROAD HOUSE several times but I couldn't tell you that I ever remembered the music. It's composed by Michael Kamen so how bad can it be? Actually, it's pretty freakin' cool! I never would have asked for nor thought of wanting to own the music for ROAD HOUSE but that's why I'm not in the soundtrack business. Kamen was a great communicator of emotion and this score is far more emotional than my memory serves. Its practically a modern-day western paying homage to the likes of Morricone and Nicolai with a healthy flavoring of late-80s cheese. It's synthy goodness may not be among Kamen's most requested titles, but I'm certainly glad Intrada felt it was worthy enough for release.
IT'S ALIVE (1974) by Bernard Herrmann [Limited Edition of 3,000 units] - This is such a great score! Should you be surprised? It's Bernard Herrmann. This was one of the very last scores he ever composed and it's truly magnificent. It's dark, dank, haunting, and utilizes electric bass and synthesized textures (quite unusual for Herrmann) within an unconventional orchestra. For years I've had to settle for Silva Screen's release of IT'S ALIVE 2 (1978, three years after Herrmann's death) featuring a score cobbled together from Herrmann's music from the first film. Thanks to FSM, I can finally enjoy Herrmann's original score to the original film in all its remastered glory. The overall quality of the original monaural masters have degraded over the years (no stereo masters survive); however, FSM has done an excellent job restoring the sound to satisfactory levels. It may be a tad under-par for hard-nosed audiophiles' standards but for me it's pure bliss.
BEN-HUR (1959) by Miklós Rózsa [5CD-Set Limited Edition of 2,000 units] - There have been dozens of permutations of Rózsa's magnum opus released on various recorded mediums that it is difficult to catalog it all. Lukas Kendall over at Film Score Monthly set out to deliver a collection of music that will serve as the undisputed king of all BEN-HUR releases. Featured on this 5-CD set is the complete original score as composed and conducted by Miklós Rózsa including "every outtake, every alternate, and every additional take preserved by the studio mastered from the original six-track recordings, augmented by rare material from the Miklós Rózsa collection at Syracuse University. In addition, the set contains all three LP recordings released by MGM Records in conjunction with the film including the premiere CD release of the rare (and controversial) Lion label disc."
That's a whole hell-of-a-lot of BEN-HUR music!
FRANTIC (1988) by Ennio Morricone - I love it when a label surprises with you a gem you never considered or previously thought about. That was the case with FSM's release of Ennio Morricone's score for FRANTIC. I have seen the film several times and always regarded highly; however, I never noticed the score all that much. When I listened to the CD I was amazed (and slightly embarrassed) how awesome Morricone's score truly is. Of course it is, it's Morricone!
FRANTIC may not be among the top scores you think about when considering Morricone but thanks to this release it perhaps may creep into the discussion.
STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT (1996) by Jerry Goldsmith - The scramble to properly re-release every STAR TREK film score continues and we're left reaping the delicious fruit off this bountiful tree. GNP Crescendo has been dormant for sometime but they quickly came back on the scene with an expanded re-release of Jerry Goldsmith's score.
TITANIC: ANNIVERSARY EDITION (1997) by James Horner [4CD-Set Collector's Edition] - One of the biggest selling soundtracks of all time is back! While I would certainly welcome an expanded release of TITANIC to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ship, that's not quite what this is. This 4CD set features the original soundtrack album, the "Back to Titanic" soundtrack album which culled together a few odds and ends from the score and source materials, and two discs worth of music from the Titanic era. It's nice packaging for sure but there isn't anything here by James Horner that hasn't already been released. I would have much preferred a "complete score" release or something to that effect. If you never got around to picking up the original soundtrack, this is definitely worth owning.
There is also a 2CD version which omits the period music on discs 3 and 4.
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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