Amazing Stories: Anthology One

Amazing Stories: Anthology OneProduced and overseen by Steven Spielberg from 1985 through ’87, Amazing Stories was a lighthearted take on the anthology/playhouse series format that hadn’t been seen on television in two decades. There was no recurring cast of characters, and no connected stories – but unlike The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents or The Outer Limits, Amazing Stories was built on one prerequisite set by Spielberg – a sense of wonder and the fantastic, not the fatalistic. To this end, Spielberg – largely on the power of his own name – drew A-list Hollywood writing, acting and directing talent into his orbit for the show’s first season, and an absolutely stellar, unprecedented A-list of composers, a gathering of genius the likes of which – in all honesty, and not intended as hyperbole – we may never see again on one project.

We’re talking about composers who weren’t even “doing” TV anymore at this stage in their careers. We’re talking Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams and James Horner. We’re also talking composers who were on the brink of making it big – Danny Elfman, Bruce Broughton, and others. How the show looked and felt was up to the individual directors and cast members of each story, but Spielberg put the money up front from the word go to make sure that Amazing Stores would sound amazing.

Although a single-disc compilation of two Amazing Stories scores was released by Varese Sarabande a while back, it was obvious that there was room for more music from this series. Intrada stepped up to the plate with a trio of 2-CD collections, covering several episodes per set and presenting the widest variety of composers’ works possible. Though several episodes were still left out by the time the third and final volume was rolled out, the result is a much more comprehensive collection, sure to please fans of many of the major film composers of the 1980s and ’90s.

John Williams’ music from the first episode, Ghost Train, sits nicely alongside his movie scores from the same era (E.T., etc.), and for a relatively short suite of music (though it’s also every note he recorded for the episode), it all develops beautifully. Two scores with period flavorings follow, James Horner’s Alamo Jobe – which, whenever it breaks out of its western feel into something more traditionally contemporary, sounds like a lot of Horner’s other output from the ’80s – and Bruce Broughton’s more whimsical, century-spanning (and Mark Hamill-starring) Gather Ye Acorns. Georges Delerue’s wistful, low-key The Doll follows, but the next suite – a jarring selection from early Spielberg collaborator Billy Goldenberg’s score from The Amazing Falsworth – is an unsettling wake-up call after Delerue’s calm music.

The second disc opens with a 4-second “station ID bumper” version of John Williams’ main theme, and dives into the music from Moving Day, scored by David Shire, who, fresh from scoring 2010: The Year We Make Contact, brings synth collaborator Craig Huxley with him for some music that sounds remarkably similar to that movie at times. Delerue returns for Without Diana, a heartfelt score that oozes tragedy even without the accompanying visuals. Contrast is once more the name of the game as this is followed up by an early Danny Elfman score, Mummy, Daddy, dripping with the kind of wackiness and whimsy that would become his hallmarks. Hollywood pastiche is the name of the game for another Bruce Broughton score, Welcome To My Nightmare, which brings things to a close (well, technically the Amazing Stories end credit music does that).

4 out of 4Where sound quality is concerned, there are a few quirks that stem mainly from the material being recorded at the twilight of mono sound mixes for television: some of the recordings are in stereo, while others aren’t. But the quality of the recordings is rich and crisp, like the sessions were recorded just last week. The shortest episode suite on this volume is just under nine minutes in length, so the double CD set is more than justified, and the packaging and liner notes are top-notch and informative. Overall, the Amazing Stories collections may be the best thing indie soundtrack label Intrada has ever done, and they’re a treat for fans of the composers whose work appears here.

Order this CD

    Disc one

  1. Amazing Stories Main Title (1:02)

    Ghost Train – music by John Williams

  2. Ohpa’s Arrival (0:30)
  3. Grieving Ohpa (1:17)
  4. Ohpa’s Tales (3:44)
  5. Ohpa Remembers (2:25)
  6. The Ticket (3:05)
  7. The Train Arrives (4:17)

    Alamo Jobe – music by James Horner

  8. The Battle / Jobe Runs (3:01)
  9. Travis Dies (0:51)
  10. First Chase (3:43)
  11. Antique Shop (2:16)

    Gather Ye Acorns – music by Bruce Broughton

  12. The Boy / The Gnome (4:34)
  13. 1938 Radio Source (1:42)
  14. Jonathan’s Room / The Car (0:48)
  15. Nothin’ But A Bum / 1955 / Tumbleweed Connection (2:50)
  16. Regrets (1:27)
  17. 1985 (0:51)
  18. Gas Station Source (2:58)
  19. Holy Moly! / Sow Ye Wild Oats (3:06)

    The Doll – music by Georges Delerue

  20. Doll Shop Sign (1:08)
  21. The Carousel / Doll On Floor / Well, Miss… (3:12)
  22. A School Teacher (0:46)
  23. An Occasional Model (0:36)
  24. She’s Not Married / An O.S. Clunk / Door Opens (1:54)
  25. John Walks To Mantle (2:17)

    The Amazing Falsworth – music by Billy Goldenberg

  26. Falsworth / Strangling / Retrospect (3:30)
  27. Leering / Frigity-Feet (0:30)
  28. Top Floor / Lights (0:53)
  29. All In The Fingers / Lunge (3:07)
  30. Falsworth (E.T.) (0:36)
    Disc two

  1. Amazing Stories Bumper #1 (0:04)

    Moving Day – music by David Shire

  2. Alan’s Dream (1:20)
  3. It’s Not The Same / Discovering The Room (1:37)
  4. My God! (2:40)
  5. Tonight / That’s Alturis (2:30)
  6. Your Ring (2:14)
  7. Departure (2:01)
  8. Finale (0:57)

    Without Diana – music by Georges Delerue

  9. Park (1946) (1:44)
  10. Only Eight / Forest Walk (2:30)
  11. Sorry Policeman / Not By George Alone (2:33)
  12. George In Doorway / Diana’s Story (2:20)
  13. George Will Be (3:22)

    Mummy, Day – music by Danny Elfman & Steve Bartek

  14. Mummy Movie / Baby Chase / Gas Station (3:21)
  15. Country Source (0:26)
  16. Gun Shot / Stinger / Swamp / Old Man / Real Mummy (3:35)
  17. Kung-Fu Mummy (1:00)
  18. Motorcycle / Caught (1:23)
  19. Lynching / Horse Ride (1:25)
  20. Corridors / Caught Again (0:27)
  21. Baby / Finale (1:30)

    Vanessa In The Garden – music by Leonard Niehaus

  22. It’s Lovely / Whoa, Rock, Whoa / I Hurt Vanessa (1:47)
  23. Beautiful Portrait / Humming From The Garden (4:09)
  24. Vanessa’s Laughter / A Summer’s Day / Do It Together / Create A Life (4:07)
  25. Vanessa (piano with orchestra coda) (3:19)

    Welcome To My Nightmare – music by Bruce Broughton

  26. Harry Wakes Up (2:00)
  27. Harry Takes A Shower / Horro Movie / Kate (1:57)
  28. Fraternity Of The Undead / Bad Milk (1:41)
  29. Harry & Kate (0:39)
  30. Harry’s Prayer / The Comet Theatre / Harry At The Movies (7:24)
  31. Back Home (2:13)
  32. Amazing Stories End Credits (0:29)
  33. Amblin Logo (0:15)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2006
Disc one total running time: 64:31
Disc two total running time: 70:33

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