Greetings! ScoreKeeper here with one more soundtrack roundup to close out a particularly stellar year for re-released and never-before-released vintage soundtracks. I should have done one of these a couple months ago but was run afoul when my studio went without an internet connection for two months. I've still been keeping track of all the latest and greatest soundtrack releases during that time so consider this a double-issue full of some truly remarkable titles. Hopefully you've been good this year and you'll find several of these under the tree or in your stocking.
It's been a busy season so let's get down to business before Santa ho-ho-ho's his way to your house…
STAR TREK - THE ORIGINAL SERIES Soundtrack Collection (1965-1968) by Gerald Fried, et. al [15-CD Set Limited Edition of 6,000 units] - Earlier this year a post from La-La Land Records appeared on their Facebook page hinting that an upcoming project of theirs could be considered the most significant release in soundtrack history. Always eager to quell the hype-machine, I dismissed such a bold claim fairly quickly even though I have the utmost respect for the label. A few weeks later they finally announced the release of a fifteen CD box set featuring every note from every episode of STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES and I thought to myself, "Hmm…Look at that.They were right."
It's a bold claim but if you factor in the immense amount of legwork it took to assemble such a mammoth package, the gumption to release it, and the passion to fulfill decades-long dreams of fans, it's true you can argue this is the single most significant release in the history of recorded soundtracks. It may be the one true symbol of the current state of soundtrack glut we're currently experiencing. There's never been a better time to be a fan of film (and television) music and this ultimately proves that.
It is a limited edition capped at a relatively high 6,000 units which should make it available to any STAR TREK fan who desires one. Composers featured include Alexander Courage, George Dunning, Jerry Fielding, Gerald Fried, Sol Kaplan, Samuel Matlovsky, Joseph Mullendore and Fred Steiner.
THE UNTOUCHABLES (1987) by Ennio Morricone [2-CD Set Limited Edition of 3,500 units] - Ennio Morricone is certainly one of the most beloved composers in the world. This release finally puts an expanded version of his masterful score into the hands of collectors several decades after its initial release. For die-hard fans of Morricone, this one is among his most revered. I know a few folks who consider this one of the greatest scores of all time. Hopefully they, and other Morricone fans out there, are as ecstatic about this release as I am.
DIE HARD: WITH A VENGEANCE (1995) by Michael Kamen [2-CD Set Limited Edition of 3,000 units] - Last year LLL released an expanded DIE HARD (1988) which sold out pretty fast. A couple months ago, Varèse Sarabande released an expanded DIE HARD 2 (1990). LLL then released this expanded version of DIE HARD: WITH A VENGEANCE. If you've been keeping up then you're DIE HARD music collection is shaping up rather nicely. These are all great scores and definitely should be in the hands of any film music aficionado. While they may continue to release expanded editions of the subsequent sequel(s), having the three "original" films scored by Michael Kamen is really what this particular release is all about.
HOME ALONE 2 (1992) - John Williams [2CD-Set Limited Edition of 3,000 units] - Last year LLL also released an expanded edition of HOME ALONE and they're keeping it in the family this year with an expanded release of HOME ALONE 2. There was an expanded release of this years ago but it's long been out-of-print. It also makes a great companion to the first film which exhibits some of John Williams' best holiday film music.
SHANE (1953) by Victor Young [Limited Edition of 2,000 units] - My favorite thing about this album is the cover. It's absolutely gorgeous and represents what I love about old school Hollywood poster art. If I could frame this CD and put it on my wall, I would. That doesn't mean this is the only reason to buy this album. If it had no cover at all it would still be worth owning for the exquisite music by Victor Young. Young is not a name that might float to the top of your brain when thinking of Silver Age composers but the fact remains that he was an incredible composer with some amazing scores under his belt. More notably, his score for SHANE. I've listened to this CD a lot over the last several months and each time I can hear young Joey screaming out…"Shane! Come back Shane! Come back!" My heart clenches up every time.
BLACK RAIN (1989) by Hans Zimmer [Limited Edition of 3,000 units] - There was a period in Hans Zimmer's career where he was on the cutting-edge of film music creating some truly remarkable works. He was an engine, not a caboose. His score for BLACK RAIN was one of the last scores in this period and represents one of the best works of his filmography. This is one of the primary scores that began to redefine action scoring that led to the quintessential sound that permeated most of the 1990s. It's gritty, dark, emotional, and quite dynamic just before it all became cliché.
STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979) by Jerry Goldsmith [3-CD Set Limited Edition of 10,000 units] - I've tweeted about this fairly extensively and wrote up a blurb or two about it when it was announced but it deserves another mention. It's probably not fair that it is overshadowed by the more news-worthy release of the original series box set. This is one of the greatest scores ever written and now that it's received the royal LLL treatment it feels like it will be preserved in the hearts and minds of fans forever. There are plenty of copies available so there is no excuse to not have this in your collection. This is the type of release you even buy for folks who are only casually interested in film music or perhaps not at all. This is a catalyzing release, the type you start a passion with. I wonder how many folks out there can say this title was the first soundtrack in their collection. Well, you're off to a great start.
BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, Volume 2 (1992-1995) [4-CD Set Limited Edition of 3500 units] - Several years ago LLL released BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES, Volume 1 and it sold out really quick. Many fans expressed their regret for not buying it when they had the chance. LLL has heard those regrets and followed it up with a 4-CD Volume 2 (Volume 1 was 2-CDs). Not only did they release more music by the great Shirley Walker but they re-released a second edition of the first volume (minus a couple tracks) for all those folks that missed out on it the first time around. With 6 total CDs available of this miraculous and groundbreaking television music there's no excuse to not become familiar with it. Once you do, you're in love.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982) by Basil Poledouris [3-CD Set] - Another epic holy grail has been unleashed upon the public. This is a beloved score. If you're reading this, I'm sure you already know that. Varèse Sarabande initially released this on CD way back in the day but it's been fairly difficult to find and it didn't have nearly as much music as it should have. A couple of years ago Tadlow put out an excellent re-recording that I highly recommended. Now we finally have the original recordings! This is a no-brainer. Pick it up. You deserve it.
THE SHADOW (1994) by Jerry Goldsmith [2-CD Set] - I know this film is not highly regarded but the score certainly should be. Goldsmith was known for crafting spectacular scores for shitty films and although I wouldn't be quite so harsh with this movie (I liked it enough), it certainly doesn't deserve a score as awesome as this one. There was a previous release on Arista Records that didn't have nearly as much music as this new expanded edition. It's a must-acquire for any Goldsmith fan or general lover of rich thematic film music.
NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959) by Bernard Herrmann - I can't get enough of this score. I think this is my fifth album of this music. With each new release it supposedly gets better and better (higher quality music, more of it, etc.) and I'm a sucker for it each and every time. If another one comes out tomorrow with a rare unreleased outtake you can bet I'm picking that one up as well. As it stands I would call this particular release the current "definitive" version. It's never sounded better and contains every note of music written for the film remastered in dynamic stereo from new masters. The previous Rhino album utilized masters that were damaged (which was all that was available at the time). For this release, there are no damaged tracks and all the music sounds glorious! This is one of Herrmann's greatest scores and should be acquired especially if you currently don't own any version of this score.
WOLFEN (UNUSED SCORE) (1981) by Craig Safan - I love rejected scores. It's one of the great cinematic "what if" questions to ponder and discuss. While the aura and mystic of rejected scores have largely been left to rumor and conjecture, more and more of these "thrown-away" scores are surfacing. Here is another addition to the modest pile of rejected scores released to the public. I actually like this score a lot and wonder how it would have played in the film. I also really like Horner's score (which is the score the film was released with). I don't view one or the other as being better than the other. They're simply different. There's no question that this would have been a completely different film with Safan's score rather than Horner's. That's the curiosity and intrigue of rejected scores and I'm thankful for Intrada for releasing it.
LOVE AT FIRST BITE (1979) by Charles Bernstein - This is one of those scores that I probably never would have asked for in a hundred years. It's not that I don't enjoy the film or the music but it probably wouldn't have ever registered on my radar. Thankfully, somebody at Intrada felt it was worthy of release and I'm glad they did. It's a delightful score marrying gothic gypsy-esque solo violin with strains of 70s era disco music. It's a match made in heaven and really fun score to listen to.
KING KONG LIVES (1986) by John Scott - This is probably another title I wouldn't have thought to ask for but am glad somebody Intrada it. I love John Scott. His music helped define the "over-the-top" schmooze I love so much about the 1980s. While this film wasn't going to win any awards the music is certainly a fun footnote in the pantheon of the King Kong mythos. It's bold, grand, and epic in every way.
CONDORMAN (1981) by Henry Mancini - This is another welcomed release from a composer who seems woefully under-represented when it comes to soundtrack releases. Mancini has done such wonderful work throughout this career, yet it seems like there's not nearly as much out there from him as there should be. This new release goes a long to remedy that. CONDORMAN is a sensationalist comedy with a rousing adventure theme…"Con-dor-maaaaaaaan!" with an accompaniment slightly hinting toward a James Bond homage. It's fantastic!
BLACK SABBATH (1963) by Les Baxter - I love Les Baxter and there seems to be a real push to get his music out in the world. He is probably my new favorite "older" composer as I only discovered his music a couple years ago. La-La Land has released several of his titles as well as Intrada. This is all welcomed by me. His music was a defining sound of the 1960s whether he was scoring a horror film, biker flick, comedy, or thriller. BLACK SABBATH is a great horror flick that has an extremely colorful palette. There are a lot of quintessential 60s era horror elements such as vibraphone, bass clarinet, and chamber strings. It's super-cool!
THE COMEDY OF TERRORS (1964) by Les Baxter - Intrada released two Les Baxter scores on the same day and I thought I would only write about one of them but they're both too good to leave one of them behind. This particular score is very different than some of his previous efforts. While there are certainly a lot of horror gestures and textures involved, it is primarily a comedy so he's mixing genres. A lot of it actually reminds me a little bit of LOVE AT FIRST BITE without the 70s references. It's definitely apparent that this is a comedy so when you couple that with traditional horror scoring you get a really cool amalgam of well-crafted horror-comedy music. Les Baxter totally rocks and if all the labels continue to release his work one (or two titles) at a time, you can bet I'll be there to promote it.
Film Score Monthly
KING KONG (1976) by John Barry [2-CD Set] - In 2005 FSM released this score when no additional material was available. Upon the establishment of a newly acquired partnership with Paramount Pictures, all of that new material was made available for release. The score was newly mixed and mastered from 2" 24- and 16-track masters. This is without a doubt the single most comprehensive version of this amazing score to date. If you already have the 2005 version you don't necessarily need to rush out and get this one; however, if you don't have it and you're a fan of John Barry, this really deserves to be in your collection. It's one of his truly remarkable scores.
BODY HEAT (1981) by John Barry - Speaking of great John Barry scores, BODY HEAT is another of the maestro's classic scores which has eluded release for far too long. Varèse Sarabande released a commendable re-recording of this score back in the 1990s which was pretty much all you could get of this amazing music. It's one of the great (and last) film noir scores featuring a sultry saxophone solo, smokey chords, and an alluring melody that sticks in your head upon first listen. This particular release features the full score, alternates, and a generous program of source music. The second disc features the original never-before-released soundtrack LP mixed by Dan Wallin (unlike subsequent issues which featured new mixes). There are also a batch of early demos of Barry's main theme recorded with a small combo orchestra to demonstrate how the music would ultimately sound.
THE THREE AMIGOS (1986) by Elmer Bernstein [Limited Edition of 3,000 units] - I love this score so much! "My little buttercup...has the sweetest smile!" You can't listen to it and not smile. The score was composed by Elmer Bernstein while the songs (which are included) were composed by Randy Newman. This is a direct re-issue of Collector's Choice Music's release in 2006. It sold out quickly and many fans (that would be me!) didn't get a chance to acquire it. Thanks to Perseverance Records, they're making it available again for those that missed out the first time. If you already have the previous version, there's no reason to get this one. It's a direct budget minded re-issue.
LOS ANGELES, 1937 (CHINATOWN, rejected score) (1974) by Phillip Lambro [Limited Edition of 1,000 units] - In addition to Intrada's release of Craig Safan's rejected score for WOLFEN we also have another extremely curious rejected score by Philip Lambro for the film CHINATOWN (originally titled LOS ANGELES, 1937). This one was a real eye (and ear) opener as I had not ever heard any part of this score before this release. Somehow there are always clips and bad bootlegs floating around of some rejected scores but this one was completely new to me. It's also especially interesting because of the legendary story about how Goldsmith was hired to replace Lambro and had no time to write. Goldsmith literally composed his score in ten days and to this day it's considered one of the maestro's great masterpieces. Curiously, his music is not that much of a departure from Lambro's but as release-day neared the film needed a scapegoat to get it back on track and Lambro was the unfortunate one who took the wrap. Lambro's music is very complex and actually quite interesting. Again, the allure of the rejected score is the great "what if?" question it proposes. This is one particular title that really keeps you wondering.
CAPRICORN ONE (1978) by Jerry Goldsmith [Limited Edition of 3,000 units] - I really like the new approach Perseverance Records has taken in this year. While many other labels are racing to add new material, get new mixes, and expand upon previous albums (which is good, please keep doing this other labels!), Perseverance Records has decided to offer low-cost budget minded re-issues of scores that have sold out. These are all direct re-issues of past releases. Nothing fancy but if you don't have the previous version then you can re-acquire it (and at a very good price too!). One of these new titles is an LP re-issue of CAPRICORN ONE. I love this score! It's another Goldsmith masterpiece. It was expanded several years ago by Intrada and quickly sold out. I don't have that version so it was a welcome treat to be able to get this new re-issue by Perseverance. It's also much cheaper than the expanded version making this an easy quick-grab.
THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (1987) by John Williams [Limited Edition of 3,000 units] - Here is another title that has LONG been out of print and highly coveted by fans. Perseverance has reissued the original CD released by Collector's Choice Music back in 2006 (which was itself a re-issue of the original 1987 Warner Bros. album). This is one of Williams' greatest scores and was thrilled to learn of its re-issue this time around. While many labels continue to expand and push "complete" versions of their soundtracks, I like seeing Perseverance going through the old catalogs and taking it upon themselves to release scores long sold-out (but not forgotten). Keep it up!
GODZILLA: THE ULTIMATE EDITION (1998) by David Arnold [3-CD Set Limited Edition of 3,000 units] - An expanded edition of this title was released several years ago by La-La Land Records but quickly sold out. BSX Records sensed the lingering demand and decided to pick up the mantle and release it again. It features David Arnold's score on 3 CDs which includes the original complete score to the film, along with a selection of bonus tracks and the original planned album arrangement (previously only available as a promo release). This is a great score to own so if you missed out on it in 2007, this is a great opportunity to pick it up. If you already have the previous version, there's not a whole lot here to warrant buying it, unless your an obsessive completist like me.
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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