Beep – music by Leonard J. Paul

BeepThe soundtrack for a documentary about the evolution of sound in video games, Beep is very much an exercise in electronica, with a healthy dose of chiptune. That seems like an almost obvious way to go, right? Except there’s a bit more to it than that.

Many of the tracks on the Beep soundtrack album are ethereal and just a little bit hypnotic – repeating musical figures that sort of draw you into their sonic spiral. That’s no accident: these sequences were built on a foundation of procedurally-generated tunes. The repeating sequences were created at random by a program (given certain parameters), and then everything on top of that was the work of the film’s human composer. It’s an interesting way to have man and machine working together, and for the subject matter of Beep, it works. Even as a listening experience with none of the context of the movie, it’s very relaxing.

There are a few places where it gets a bit more active, though. There are two versions of “Half Steppin’/Freaky DNA”, a tune that sets up a funky groove, and there’s an ode to game music’s 4 out of 4less melodious early years in the form of “Dave’s Atari”, which gives you a really good idea of an Atari 2600’s actual range of notes and octaves. (And it’s still musical in its own way.) “Wood Bug” has a feel similar to “Dave’s Atari”, but with a more modern sound palette.

Beep may not be everyone’s cup of pleasantly arranged sine waves, but it’s mesmerizing and yet unmistakably pays tribute to the 8-bit sound of the early video gaming era. Those are two really strong selling points for a listener in the right frame of mind for something different.

Order this CD

  1. Beep Movie – Main Theme (1:17 )
  2. Banana Seat (5:28)
  3. Karin Originals (5:21)
  4. Orange Shag (3:31)
  5. Buckwheat Pancakes (4:03)
  6. Riverbank (4:10)
  7. Ankylosaurus Almonds (2:12)
  8. Rotary Dial (3:07)
  9. Dave’s Atari (1:58)
  10. Skipping Rocks (7:45)
  11. Half Steppin’ (Genesis Remix) – Freaky DNA (1:21)
  12. Help Steppin’ – Freaky DNA (3:07)
  13. Beep Logo (0:06)
  14. Magic Hour (4:20)
  15. Pluto (4:43)
  16. Galaxies (2:30)
  17. Googol (3:31)
  18. Crusin’ The Cosmos (4:50)
  19. Quadra Sunrise (3:54)
  20. Wood Bug (2:06)
  21. Backyard Flight (4:10)
  22. Beep Movie – Closing Theme (2:40)

Released by: Bandcamp
Release date: September 16, 2016
Total running time: 1:16:10

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders – music by Lolita Ritmanis, Michael McCuistion & Kristopher Carter

Batman: Return of the Caped CrusadersConsider, for a moment, how long it’s taken for the 1966 Batman to reach the torrent of merchandise that we’ve seen recently. We have the entire series on Blu-Ray, there are comics, there are action figures on the way, and Adam West and Burt Ward have reunited as the Dynamic Duo for some direct-to-video animated adventures. It’s glorious. Batman ’66, as we now call it, was my Batman – the Batman I watched over grilled cheese sandwiches at my grandmother’s house every day after school. I’m pleased to see it come out from under the post-Alan-Miller “received fandom wisdom” shadow of “But it isn’t, and never was, what Batman was supposed to be!” (If you’ve been reading either this site or my books long enough, you know that I live to debunk “received fan wisdom” – just about every corner of every franchise has its charms if you go in with an open mind.)

But a Batman ’66 soundtrack album? The thrice-reissued score from the movie that was released between the show’s first and second seasons is as close as we’re likely to get. Take the tangle of sometimes conflicting rightsholders that held up the show’s release on Blu-Ray, add the estates and publishers of two composers, stir, and you have a scenario where even the label that finally brought us a massive CD box set of every classic Star Trek TV score has admitted defeat.

But they can bring us this: the complete score from the first of those animated Batman ’66 adventures, Return Of The Caped Crusaders. I had very, very mixed feelings about the movie itself, but the soundtrack is just about magical. Frequent collaborators Ritmans, Carter and McCuistion have been composing music for Batman since the 1990s animated series, so they know what’s up in the Batcave – and they’re not afraid to luxuriate in the classic TV show’s jazzy-with-surf-guitar style, or quote Neal Hefti’s 4 out of 4immortal Batman theme, to make it fit in almost seamlessly alongside the three season of live action. It helps matters considerably that they were given enough of a music budget to hire real players to bring it to life: it’s a really lush score for a cartoon.

But it’s perfectly in keeping with the Batman ’66 ethos, and that alone makes the Return Of The Caped Crusaders soundtrack an absolute joy.

Order this CD

  1. Classic Batman Main Title (1:24)
  2. Batman’s New Look (0:25)
  3. Meet Our Baddies / It’s the Bat-Signal (2:22)
  4. To the Batcave (1:53)
  5. Not So Fast, Old Chum / Crosswalk Conundrum (0:30)
  6. Riddle Me This? / Atomic Lab Fight (3:13)
  7. Jokermobile Chase (1:49)
  8. Catwoman Has Batnip (1:49)
  9. TV Dinner Factory Arrival (1:24)
  10. TV Dinner Factory Kerfuffle / TV Tray Death Trap / Dessert Denouement (4:31)
  11. Establish Police HQ / The BatShadow Rises / A Moment With Aunt Harriet / You’re Dismissed (2:15)
  12. In Search of Criminal Activity (1:10)
  13. Batcave Batmobile Arrival / To the Bat-Rocket (1:20)
  14. The Right Bat Stuff / Space Joker Playon (1:29)
  15. Bat-Rocket Approaches the Station (1:21)
  16. Outer Space Rendezvous / Under the Influence (3:34)
  17. Zero-G Brawl (2:29)
  18. Like a Bat in the Night / Holy Hitchhiker, Robin (0:37)
  19. Bruce Snaps at Aunt / Back Alley Dirge (1:03)
  20. Why Won’t He Answer? (0:33)
  21. Gotham Crime Spree (0:39)
  22. Bat Dupe See / Batmen Take Over / Robin Figures It Out (3:39)
  23. Catwoman Is in Her Element / To the Catmobile (2:10)
  24. Batcave Showdown (2:24)
  25. Radioactive Silo Trap / Bat Anti-Isotope Spray / Surprise Prison Inspection (2:46)
  26. Mass Prison Break (1:32)
  27. The Show Must Go On / Bat TV Two See (2:38)
  28. Bad Batmen (2:00)
  29. One Step Ahead (2:22)
  30. Villains Plan (3:44)
  31. Airship Battle (2:18)
  32. Farewell Catwoman (1:39)
  33. Classic Batman End Title (3:22)
    Bonus Tracks
  34. Gotham Palace TV Theme (0:21)
  35. Hector and the Hoedaddies (0:21)
  36. Bedbugs TV Source (0:53)
  37. Kitkat Kave Dancing (0:35)
  38. Gotham Palace TV Source #2 (0:45)
  39. Joker Circus (0:43)
  40. Elegant Party Source (1:01)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: November 11, 2016
Total running time: 1:12:30

Buck Rogers In The 25th Century: Season One

Buck Rogers In The 25th Century: Season OneA while back, Intrada gave a remastered version of the original 1979 Buck Rogers soundtrack LP its first official compact disc release (following at least a decade of the same material – probably transferred from vinyl – being bootlegged relentlessly). Intrada also released several CDs’ worth of Buck Rogers composer Stu Phillips’ wealth of work on another Glen A. Larson-produced science fiction series from roughly the same period, Battlestar Galactica. The thought never occurred to me that anyone would go through the trouble of arranging a similar release from post-pilot Buck Rogers. And yet here it sits, three magical CDs of disco-era sci-fi soundtrack goodness, featuring music not just from Phillips, but from such composers as Les Baxter, Richard La Salle, and Johnny Harris.

The first thing that comes to mind in listening is that the “disco era” description is apt on multiple levels. Just as the series itself was an attempt to cash in on Star Wars mania, the music features both straightfoward symphonic power as well as disco-fied passages that seem to split the difference between John Williams and Meco. This is a common feature among all of the composers featured; in fact, for a show which featured the work of this many composers, the first season of Buck Rogers had a surprisingly cohesive musical sound, judging by the music presented here.

Not all of the first season is covered across the three CDs, with the emphasis on episodes early in the season and one late-season standout whose plot centered around a space rock group. Music is presented from the episodes Unchained Woman, Return Of The Fighting 69th, and the two-part The Plot To Kill A City, while a later first season episode, Space Rockers, features both score and source music. Various opening and closing title music, as well as the very brief rendition of the theme used as a commercial break bumper, is included, along with a few Stu Phillips source music cues used in Plot To Kill A City and the series premiere. Even the renditions of the closing titles with a vocal are included; needless to say, if you’re a fan of the theme music, this set has you covered.

The early runaway favorite – I’ll even fess up to jumping straight to disc three for this – is Space Rockers, an episode which revolved around Law & Order’s Jerry Orbach and Night Court’s Richard Moll hatching a scheme to play a subliminal mind control signal into live concerts by space rock group Andromeda. Andromeda’s concerts were represented by existing Johnny Harris disco tracks (namely the ridiculously catchy disco-with-synth-gasm that is “Odyssey”, here titled “Andromeda”), with slightly punched-up synth overdubs (because that sounds more spacey… am I right, ’70s?). Harris’ other scores have the same wobbly synth overlays in places, and it’s his tracks that I find myself gravitating toward when I go back to listen to the collection again.

Phillips’ score from the Plot To Kill A City two-parter and Les Baxter’s Vegas In Space are the middle ground between symphonic and rock/disco influences, while Richard La Salle’s Unchained Woman score comes down solidly on the “orchestral” side of the fence without even so much as a wink and a nudge toward the disco influences on the rest of the collection.

Ultimately, this is Johnny Harris’ gig. Not only did his sound pick up the ball from Phillips’ grandiose pilot score and run in a more fun direction with it, but Harris was also responsible for the various arrangements and bumper-length “cutdowns” of the Phillips/Larson main theme for the series. Much like Fred Steiner didn’t coin the Star Trek theme but ended up musically defining the series itself, Harris takes over here, and the show wound up being ridiculously fun for his efforts – even the music wasn’t taking the whole thing deadly seriously, and it was okay to have fun watching.

3 out of 4For those who demand more straightfoward orchestral grandeur, however, Intrada promises a similar collection of music from the truncated second season in 2014, which will be a true treat – much like Harris defined the first season, rising star Bruce Broughton owned the sound of the show’s troubled second year, with spectacular results. In the meantime, this set of season one scores is something I never thought would be available to us, and it puts a great big seven-year-old grin on my face to listen to it all again. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for us teevee space travelers of a certain age, old enough to remember that Gary Coleman was the president of a whole planet, it’s a nostalgia trip into the “guilty pleasure” archives.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Main Title [Version 2] (1:14)
  2. Planet Of The Slave Girls – music by Johnny Harris

  3. Mysterious Illness (5:42)
  4. Love And Energy (2:57)
  5. Uncivilized Nomads (6:35)
  6. Food Conspiracy (2:47)
  7. Power Leech (2:40)
  8. Desert Trek (6:01)
  9. Surprises (2:33)
  10. Hot Escape (3:55)
  11. Space Battle (4:34)
  12. The Plot To Kill A City – music by Stu Phillips

  13. Argus (1:21)
  14. A Big One (2:05)
  15. All Systems Engaged (1:24)
  16. Direct Hit (2:57)
  17. Mind Games (2:23)
  18. Joella (1:35)
  19. Wilma Chase (2:13)
  20. Uncontrolled Reactions (1:19)
  21. Reversal Of Fortune (1:02)
  22. Last Time (3:06)
  23. Interrogation (2:16)
  24. A Touch Of Death (2:46)
  25. Do Your Job (2:27)
  26. Chain Reaction (1:57)
  27. Attempted Escape (1:06)
  28. End Credits [Long] (0:51)
    Disc Two

  1. Main Title [Version 1] (1:14)
  2. Return Of The Fighting 69th – music by Johnny Harris

  3. Escape From The Asteroids (2:02)
  4. Alicia (2:32)
  5. Ungrounded (6:03)
  6. Memory Globe (1:58)
  7. Watch For Falling Rocks (3:01)
  8. Handy Work (1:27)
  9. Play Acting (1:21)
  10. I’m Sorry (2:30)
  11. Bombing Run (1:57)
  12. Ancient Signaling Device (0:50)
  13. Bombs Away (0:50)
  14. Silver Eagles (1:12)
  15. Vegas In Space – music by Les Baxter

  16. Falina’s Abduction (2:40)
  17. Tangie’s World (2:16)
  18. Welcome To Sinaloa (4:42)
  19. Not Your Type (0:48)
  20. Tangie And Buck (6:57)
  21. One Or Two Ways (0:47)
  22. Velosi’s Pad (2:10)
  23. Kill Her (2:31)
  24. Buck To The Rescue (1:43)
  25. Goodbye Sinaloa (1:52)
  26. Aradala Returns – music by Johnny Harris

  27. Draconian Plot (4:06)
  28. Reaction Times (4:38)
  29. The Switch (3:25)
  30. Ardala And The Boys (2:08)
  31. Objective: New Phoenix (2:51)
  32. Ping Pong (2:25)
  33. End Credits [Long Vocal Version] (0:51)
    Disc Three

  1. Bumper (0:08)
  2. Space Rockers – music by Johnny Harris

  3. Andromeda (5:45)
  4. It’s In The Music (4:08)
  5. Let’s Do It (1:53)
  6. Unchained Woman – music by Richard La Salle

  7. Prison Approach (2:07)
  8. Hit The Deck (4:31)
  9. Escape Into The Desert (2:42)
  10. Desert Pursuit (2:52)
  11. Hungry Sand Squid (0:39)
  12. Well-Fed Sand Squid (2:07)
  13. Sand Swirl (2:20)
  14. Snooping Around (3:31)
  15. Buck To The Rescue… Again (5:18)
  16. End Credits (0:31)
  17. Source music by Stu Phillips

  18. Jelly Belly (From “Awakening”) (1:28)
  19. Source One (From “Plot To Kill A City”) (1:31)
  20. Source Two (From “Plot To Kill A City”) (1:40)
  21. End Credits [Vocal Version] (0:31)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2013
Disc one total running time: 69:45
Disc two total running time: 74:00
Disc three total running time: 43:55

Battlestar Galactica: Volume 3 – music by Stu Phillips

Battlestar Galactica: Volume 3The third volume of music from the 1970s iteration of Battlestar Galactica proves that, even well into its run, despite budget overruns, the series’ music was still a big priority, even if it occasionally took on forms that were stripped-down compared to the full-blooded orchestral score of the pilot miniseries.

This volume deals exclusively with one-off, self-contained episodes (with one great big surprise as the final selection). The Long Patrol, one of the earliest single-part stories in the series, starts out with what modern ears would probably hear as novelty synthesizer effects, but the bulk of this episode’s score is still orchestral, though leaning on a smaller ensemble than the pilot (heard in full in the first volume of the series) and the early two-part extravaganzas (covered in the second volume). The most distinctive feature of The Long Patrol is a recurring, insistent cello riff, heightening the jeopardy of the storyline.

The Lost Warrior was an episode that riffed on just about every western/cowboy movie trope in the space of a single hour; the soundtrack takes that to heart too, giving us a Battlestar Galactica episode scored with prominent guitar work. Even though it reuses some of the action music established as far back as the pilot, those themes are now played on guitar, and aside from the occasional orchestral flourishes (and some interesting experiments in blending woodwinds with similarly-timbred synths), it would almost fit an episode of Gunsmoke.

The Magnificent Warriors, loaded with low brass and busy, clockwork-like percussion, almost anticipates Michael Giacchino’s Lost soundtracks, and features the longest track of the entire two-disc set, “The Boray Camp / Into The Cave,” weighing in at over four minutes. The Young Lords is the most reminiscent of the music on the previous Galactica releases, again reusing themes from the pilot, but in a similar (if scaled back) orchestral vein. The first disc is rounded out with source music selections from The Lost Warrior (an amusingly corny synth version of Scott Joplin’s “The Easy Winners” that jars completely against the episode’s more authentic western guitars) and The Magnificent Warriors.

The second disc opens with Murder On The Rising Star, essentially a single-episode homage to The Fugitive with Starbuck as the wrongly-accused subject of a Kafka-esque manhunt. This might just be the most interesting score of the entire set, with a more subdued musical style than most Galactica episodes. It also has, in terms of sheer running time, more music than most episodes, so its themes get a chance to develop nicely. A single track from the hostage-drama episode Take The Celestra!, a march-like take on the Galactica theme, offers an interesting contrast to a similar treatment of Phillips’ theme music that appeared in the pilot miniseries of the revived Galactica in 2003.

The Hand Of God, the classic series’ first series finale, had a real sense of “building up to something” (clearly, the makers of Galactica weren’t expecting to be told to scale the series back to something that could be shot inexpensively at unaltered modern-day locations), and the music comes very close to upping its game almost to the level of the pilot. Like Murder On The Rising Star, The Hand Of God has a lot of music, giving themes time to develop. Many themes are reused from the pilot, but turn up in interesting variations. Phillips clearly doesn’t have the same size orchestra that he had for the pilot, but his arrangements make the best use of the players on hand; the most memorable cue is the mysterious ending scene in which a stray television signal from Earth plays out to an empty observation room, completely unknown to our heroes: a replay of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Naturally, despite the build-up to that fascinating conclusion, the show’s second season was lumbered with major creative interference from ABC, threatening not to renew unless its wishes to curb Galactica’s enormous budget were met. The result, retitled Galactica 1980, tends to be ignored by most of fandom, with the possible exception of its final episode, the Glen A. Larson-written farewell The Return Of Starbuck, which throws the ABC-mandated recasting of the show out the door by bringing Dirk Benedict back as Starbuck (and yet explaining it within the context of the show’s largely new cast). The score from that episode is heard here for the first time, a real surprise that almost sounds more like Phillips’ work for Glen Larson’s other TV sci-fi epic of the time, Buck Rogers In The 25th Century. In retrospect, with its unusual use of female vocals, The Return Of Starbuck – by putting Starbuck in an Adam-and-Eve scenario with much hardship ahead of him – can also be seen as a precursor to the finale of the 21st century Galactica. Who knew?

Stu Phillips, whether he was conducting a full orchestra or having to make do with a smaller ensemble or just a synthesizer, provided much of Galactica’s epic heart and soul, even at points in the show’s brief life where it was struggling to not overspend anymore. Hopefully more of his music is forthcoming (two-parters The 4 out of 4Living Legend and War Of The Gods, both already published with lower audio fidelity on the impossibly rare late ’90s Battlestar Galactica Anthology 4-CD set by the defunct Supertracks label, are conspicuous by their absence thus far). Each of the soundtrack releases from the classic series have proven to be surprisingly good music.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Exploration / Main Title (1:45)
  2. Episode Titles (0:45)

    The Long Patrol

  3. Double Parked (2:03)
  4. Stolen Viper (1:22)
  5. Viper Stolen (1:51)
  6. Starbuck In Prison (0:44)
  7. Cassiopeia And Athena (1:05)
  8. Deserted Town (0:52)
  9. The Limping Man (1:21)
  10. Grandpa Adama (1:39)
  11. The Map (1:00)

    The Lost Warrior

  12. Apollo “A” OK (0:55)
  13. The Boxey Con (1:05)
  14. Same Old Story (1:28)
  15. The Hunt (1:23)
  16. Time Running Out (2:16)
  17. Bootes To Boot Hill (1:42)
  18. Doubt (0:45)
  19. Shoot Out (2:31)
  20. No More Killing (1:16)

    The Magnificent Warriors

  21. The Courting (1:35)
  22. Here Come The Borays (2:13)
  23. Trapped Again (0:59)
  24. Time To Eat / Belloby Kidnapped (2:32)
  25. The Boray Camp / Into The Cave (4:38)
  26. Starbuck’s Plan (1:11)

    The Young Lords

  27. Into The Swamp (2:43)
  28. Attack By The Children (0:56)
  29. Fanfare And Theme (0:49)
  30. Launch The Raft (1:59)
  31. The Attack Rhyme (2:01)
  32. Starbuck And Miri / Well Done (2:13)
  33. Warriors (0:45)
  34. End Titles (0:30)

    Source Music

  35. Source: Saloon (3:15)
  36. Source: A Smoking Band (0:42)
  37. Source: Three Sided Pyramid (1:25)
  38. Source: Starbuck’s Luck (2:01)
  39. Source: Hospitality Muzak (2:10)
    Disc Two

  1. Exploration / Main Title (1:49)
  2. Episode Titles (0:46)

    Murder On The Rising Star

  3. No Fighting (1:17)
  4. Sudden Draw / The Victim / Cassiopeia Waits / Grim Starbuck (1:19)
  5. Laser Test / A Match (1:55)
  6. Starbuck Gets Help / Not Guilty (2:58)
  7. Escape (0:45)
  8. Starbuck’s Mistake / Change of Heart (0:49)
  9. Questioning Baltar (0:59)
  10. Night Of The Cylons / Cella Reacts (1:46)
  11. Apollo’s Plan / Stowaway (1:56)
  12. Baltar – The Skeptic (0:51)
  13. Cassiopeia – The Witness / The Villain (1:18)
  14. Karibdis Overcome (1:36)
  15. Friends (0:34)

    Take the Celestra!

  16. Ceremonial Fanfares (1:42)

    The Hand of God

  17. The Dome (1:05)
  18. Strange Signal (1:37)
  19. Boomer Embarassed (0:28)
  20. From The Past (0:44)
  21. Cylon Base Ship Rising (1:29)
  22. Tired of Running (1:43)
  23. A Great Plan / An Agreement (1:29)
  24. Some Deal / A Share of Loneliness / More Casi And Starbuck (2:40)
  25. Good Luck (1:04)
  26. They’re Gone (1:02)
  27. Strays (0:39)
  28. Man Your Vipers (1:11)
  29. In The Lair Of The Cylons (2:45)
  30. Here They Come (1:28)
  31. There She Is (1:13)
  32. We Did It! (0:53)
  33. Waggle (1:21)
  34. The Dome II / The Eagle Has Landed (1:29)

    The Return of Starbuck

  35. Main Title – Galactica: 1980 (1:19)
  36. I Had a Dream (1:13)
  37. Starbuck And Boomer (1:19)
  38. Starbuck Lives (0:46)
  39. Trek / Perhaps To Sleep (2:53)
  40. Shelter / I’m Sorry (1:12)
  41. In Search Of Woman (1:37)
  42. Taking Care Of Angela / Starbuck’s Planet (1:40)
  43. Spiritual Son (1:02)
  44. Ship Building (2:06)
  45. Three Humans (1:46)
  46. Cy Leaves (1:11)
  47. Goodbye Angela (0:52)
  48. Friend Cy (0:50)
  49. Sermon on the Mount / Zee, Son of Angela (1:26)
  50. End Titles (0:36)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2012
Disc one total running time: 62:47
Disc two total running time: 68:02

Battlestar Galactica Volume 2 – music by Stu Phillips

Battlestar Galactica Volume 2When a studio and/or a network launch a new, heavily-hyped show, you almost expect the music for the pilot episode to kick butt – as with every other aspect of the new show, money is lavished on everything in the hopes that the audience will stick around for later episodes, which will inevitably go through some lean times with tighter budgets. One show that was notorious for never quite getting around to the “tighter budget” part was the notoriously expensive – and popular – original incarnation of Battlestar Galactica. With elaborate space FX sequences constructed in much the same way that similar scenes had been done for Star Wars only a year before Galactica premiered, this was a show that didn’t know the meaning of “coming in under budget.”

Money was also lavished on Galactica’s lush orchestral music, and Stu Phillips clearly had fun with the wide-open canvas at his disposal. This 2-CD set, following on from Intrada’s release of the complete score from the Galactica pilot earlier this year, includes the complete score for the series’ earliest two-part extravaganzas. Portions of the music here have been included on the very-limited-run Battlestar Galactica: Stu Phillips Anthology 4-CD collection released by the now-defunct Supertracks label, but Intrada wasted no time in pointing out that this is the first time the complete scores from both of these two-parters has been released. (Truthfully, even if the scores weren’t complete, the rarity and insane secondary market prices on the Anthology set would still make this set a more attractive deal.)

Another plus is the premiere of the Galactica main titles as heard in the early weekly series episodes: following the bold main title with which everyone’s familiar through countless releases and re-recordings (and, in certain places in the new Galactica series, re-interpretations), the early episodes immediately launched into a secondary fanfare accompanying brief glimpses of that week’s guest stars. The fanfare, which wasn’t shy about proclaiming (sometimes quite rightly) that these big-name guests were a Big Deal, then slid down a few keys for a refrain of the Galactica theme, over which we’d see the credits for the writers, producers and director – and then things would come to a full stop for the beginning of the story. This piece of unapologetically bold music hasn’t been released before, and I’d forgotten how much I liked it. It’s kind of like old-school studio-system Hollywood breathing its last, and doing so loud.

Both discs feature quite a bit of musical material in common with the pilot, but each episode has its own unique themes. Lost Planet Of The Gods gets some fine mysterioso music (“The List / Critical / Phony Battle”) as well as a grand choral theme for Kobol (befitting the impressive second-unit scenes filmed in long-shot with extras costumed as Adama, Apollo and Serina, shot on location in Egypt). The choral music may seem a bit cheesy when held up to today’s sensibilities, but again there’s an old-school Hollywood aesthetic to it: this used to be the sound of epic. And it’s really not bad.

The music for The Gun On Ice Planet Zero finds its niche by exploring variations of the show’s recurring themes. Though established in the pilot, some of the themes go through some interesting permutations, including a low string version of the Cylon Basestar motif (normally blared by low brass), accompanying the Cylons’ plotting to destroy Galactica. If you’re a fan of the show’s major themes, this one’s a treat.

3 out of 4Where many series scale down their expectations after the pilot, in one respect classic Galactica does follow suit: Intrada lowered this limited edition to a run of 1,500 copies (down from 3,000 copies of volume one), but this may have been a miscalculation on the label’s part. The score for the pilot, whether complete or not, has been issued in many permutations over the years (the original LP, the German CD of that LP, a from-the-ground-up re-recording on Varese for the show’s 25th anniversary, the Stu Phillips Anthology). The music from subsequent episodes is much harder to come by (the Anthology was the only game in town prior to these Intrada releases), so there’s an argument that they probably could’ve sold 3,000 copies of this. The speed with which this volume has already sold out may change the quantities of future volumes. It’s nice to finally see this show’s lush music getting as much attention as the music for its latter-day remake.

Out of print

    Disc 1: The Lost Planet Of The Gods

  1. Main Title – Parts 1 & 2 (1:48)
  2. Imperious Leader & Baltar (1:28)
  3. Athena Vamps/Patrol Two Launch (1:36)
  4. Baltar – The Leader (2:04)
  5. The Abyss Part 1 (1:31)
  6. The Abyss Part 2 / Escape From The Void (2:56)
  7. Cylon Outpost (2:12)
  8. Virus 1A / Virus 1B / Virus 2 / Virus 3 (2:14)
  9. Virus 4 / Adama’s Medal / Top Of The Class / Ancient Writings (2:54)
  10. The List / Critical / Phony Battle (2:30)
  11. Captain’s Opinion / Launch When Ready (0:56)
  12. More Cylon Lair (1:53)
  13. Good Guys 1, Bad Guys Zero (4:25)
  14. We’re Going In (1:53)
  15. The Medallion / Starbuck In Trouble (1:43)
  16. Marry Me (1:05)
  17. The Wedding / Starbuck Captured (3:36)
  18. Ancient Ruins (1:28)
  19. Discovery Of The Tomb (2:44)
  20. Baltar Appears (1:24)
  21. Love & The Sphinx (0:43)
  22. To Light The Way / Blue Squad Reporting (4:28)
  23. Not The Last Of Baltar / Serina Dies / Boxey & Apollo (5:25)
  24. End Credits (0:30)
    Disc 2: The Gun On Ice Planet Zero

  1. Main Title (1:48)
  2. Environment: Hostile (1:41)
  3. March Of The Centurions (2:32)
  4. Four Specialists (1:11)
  5. Cree Captured (1:05)
  6. Launch Bay Alpha (1:19)
  7. Blizzard (2:07)
  8. Death Point (3:15)
  9. Cold Journey (3:32)
  10. Bad Situation (1:37)
  11. Ravashol (3:35)
  12. Rough Ride (1:21)
  13. Icy Planet Lab (1:38)
  14. Cree To The Cold Cell (0:44)
  15. Cold Planet (1:58)
  16. Fire The Pulsar (2:58)
  17. Getting Closer (8:03)
  18. Pulsar Destroyed (1:53)
  19. Starbuck Loses (1:41)
  20. End Credits (0:30)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2011
Disc one total running time: 53:49
Disc two total running time: 43:41

The Black Hole – music by John Barry

The Black HoleMany, many years ago in theLogBook.com’s Music Reviews, I reviewed the original vinyl release of John Barry’s near-legendary soundtrack from Disney’s The Black Hole, mainly because it had never hit compact disc (unless one counted bootlegs). It took over 30 years, but The Black Hole is finally on CD, now expanded to include every note of Barry’s mesmerizingly fatalistic score, and it’s time to revisit an old favorite.

The long-dormant Disneyland Records label was resurrected in 2011 by soundtrack specialty label Intrada, with its first release being the first-ever CD of Michael Giacchino’s music from Up, complete with nifty retro artwork hearkening back to the Disneyland read-along records of the 1960s and ’70s. The moment Intrada announced a soundtrack partnership with Disney, issuing both new and classic soundtracks from the Disney vaults, fans everywhere caught their breath, for surely Intrada had a pretty good idea of what classic Disney soundtrack everyone had been demanding for decades. But statements made by the producer of an iTunes release of the original LP indicated that anything more than a re-release of the LP was unlikely: despite being the first-ever all-digital soundtrack recording, The Black Hole‘s music had been recorded in a digital format which could basically only be played back on the machine that recorded it – a machine long since taken out of service in the music business. Even if the original session tapes existed, they simply couldn’t be played back without that machine.

Of course Intrada knew of the demand for The Black Hole, and the producer of the somewhat disappointing iTunes version of the soundtrack was on a mission from God to find and release the whole score. What followed was a quest to track down the original recording equipment, simply so the original tapes could be played back from it to be transferred to more modern media. Needless to say, soundtrack fans have a new hero, and his name is Randy Thornton. Intrada deserves a huge amount of credit too: unlike most boutique soundtrack label releases, The Black Hole is not limited to a couple thousand copies. Like Film Score Monthly’s re-releases of the out of print soundtracks from Star Trek II and III, The Black Hole won’t be going out of print anytime soon – and this ensures that this previously impossible-to-find title won’t wind up making more money on the secondary market (i.e. eBay) than it made for the label who released in the first place. Smart move. If it had been limited to the usual run of 3,000 copies, this one would’ve sold out within fifteen minutes of online pre-orders.

And the music itself? It’s crystal clear – the fact that the source material could be tracked down and remastered is a testament to the sheer fannish dedication that went into the project. Even though there are ten tracks who share their titles with the individual pieces on the vinyl LP, they’re not necessarily the same: rather than edits compiled for the LP, these are the original cues as used in the movie.

Released within days of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Black Hole also makes generous use of the creepy Blaster Beam instrument that most listeners associate with the former, and while Barry doesn’t use it as prominently as Jerry Goldsmith did, the distinct sound lurks menacingly in the background of many of the cues.

If anyone needs justification for an expanded version of this soundtrack, go straight to the cue “Hot and Heavy”, which was an incredibly prominent theme from the movie that went completely missing on the original soundtrack LP. A dandy little number with piano and pizzicato strings creating an echoing effect, it’s the major suspense theme of the movie and possibly its most distinctive piece of music. The motif returns, appropriately enough, in “Hotter and Heavier” – go figure. Another previously unreleased track worthy of attention is the brief track “BOB and VINCENT,” depicting the farewell between the movie’s two robot protagonists. For a scene between two props, it packs quite an emotional punch in a short space of time – so much so that Barry later reused and revised it in his score for the Oscar-winning Out Of 4 out of 4Africa, where nobody would’ve guessed it originally involved cute floating robots.

The Black Hole‘s music is much like that of the aforementioned Star Trek movie – in the end, the perception will probably always be that the music was better than the movie all along. In that context, this soundtrack is long, long overdue and worth a listen.

Order this CD

  1. Overture (2:28)
  2. Main Title (1:49)
  3. That’s It (1:43)
  4. Closer Look (2:02)
  5. Zero Gravity (5:48)
  6. Cygnus Floating (2:06)
  7. The Door Opens (4:09)
  8. Pretty Busy (:48)
  9. Six Robots (1:57)
  10. Can You Speak? (1:19)
  11. Poor Creatures (1:41)
  12. Ready to Embark (:44)
  13. Start the Countdown (3:47)
  14. Durant Is Dead (2:31)
  15. Laser (1:01)
  16. Kate’s OK (2:49)
  17. Hot and Heavy (2:43)
  18. Meteorites (1:31)
  19. Raging Inferno (:54)
  20. Hotter and Heavier (1:59)
  21. BOB and VINCENT
  22. (:54)
  23. Into the Hole (4:56)
  24. End Title (2:34)
  25. In, Through… And Beyond! (2:46)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2011
Total running time: 55:05

Battlestar Galactica: Razor / The Plan – music by Bear McCreary

Battlestar Galactica: Razor / The PlanThe new Battlestar Galactica gets one final hurrah in this soundtrack release covering the two made-for-DVD (and later broadcast on TV as a bit of an afterthought) movies, Razor and The Plan. Unlike earlier “season” soundtracks from the series, which followed a more or less chronological progression, this album becomes a bit more of a concept piece just by the novelty of its sequencing.

I hadn’t thought about it before seeing the CD’s track listing, but Razor and The Plan share a common story element: both show us the flip-side of past events that we’d either witnessed only from the perspective of Galactica’s crew, or heard about second-hand. Both movies’ flashbacks chronicle the Cylon destruction of the Twelve Colonies: The Plan shows it from the ground, Razor shows the destruction of the main Colonial shipyard (and the escape of one solitary battlestar). Composer Bear McCreary therefore took the unconventional approach of sequencing tracks in strict chronological order from inside the story: the tracks from both movies’ scenes of the Colonies’ destruction are grouped together, for example. With Razor and The Plan having been made and released a year apart, you might not expect much cohesion, but thanks to McCreary’s thoughtful approach to scoring the Galactica saga, everything fits together better than you might think.

The chief exception to this chronological ordering scheme is the first track, which is actually the end credit music from The Plan. Starting with a solo vocal version of the show’s main theme, “Apocalypse” quickly gets around to showing off its main feature, a crunchy heavy metal guitar riff by Anthrax axeman (and Galactica fan) Scott Ian. Much has been made of Ian’s contribution, and it’s a fairly unique sound for Galactica; the guitar work in the rest of the series has largely been done by Oingo Boingo’s Steve Bartek, and has been fairly intricate even when in screaming/searing mode. Ian’s guitar work is, by comparison, less ornamented – but with the unstoppable approach of the Cylons, maybe that’s the point: it’s the musical equivalent of the brutal bootsteps of an invading army. If you like the studio version of “Apocalypse” – which also appears in the extended, two-part version used within The Plan itself – there’s a great live version, performed by McCreary and the BSG Orchestra, that closes the album out.

But “Apocalypse” is an oddball here; much of the music from Razor and The Plan is what we’ve come to expect from McCreary’s nearly-unerring dramatic and musical sensibilities. Highlights include the attack on the Colonial shipyards (from which Pegasus narrowly escapes) in Razor, the whole “[insert planet name here] is burning!” sequence from The Plan, and the reappearance of Stu Phillips’ original Galactica theme in Razor‘s young-Adama-vs.-Cylon-parachutist flashback. Though it probably flies under most people’s radar here, I was also delighted to hear McCreary’s beautiful theme for Caprica from Daybreak resurface toward the end of The Plan‘s “Main Title” track.

For Galactica fans, this release neatly caps off the show’s musical canon; both movies sound like the series of which they are a part, and yet they also sound unique in their own right. But the inventive 4 out of 4sequencing which mixes-and-matches moments from both movies (though it never puts cues from both movies in the same track) reminds us that the similarities are greater than the differences – if there was a message to the whole show by the time The Plan‘s end credits rolled, I think that was it. As always, highly recommended.

By the way, if the live track at the end is a taster for a potential BSG Orchestra live album, I think that’d be a dandy thing to hear. Just sayin’.

Order this CD

  1. Apocalypse featuring Raya Yarbrough (4:07)
  2. Razor Main Title (2:13)
  3. Arriving At Pegasus (2:26)
  4. The Plan Main Title (4:34)
  5. Attack On The Scorpion Shipyards (3:37)
  6. Apocalypse, Part I (6:37)
  7. Apocalypse, Part II (2:36)
  8. Pegasus Aftermath (4:10)
  9. Kendra’s Memories (2:43)
  10. Mayhem On The Colonies (3:28)
  11. Civilian Standoff On The Scylla (2:57)
  12. Husker In Combat (1:54)
  13. Major Kendra Shaw (5:02)
  14. Cavil Kills and Cavil Spares featuring Raya Yarbrough (2:13)
  15. The Hybrid Awaits (2:43)
  16. Kendra And The Hybrid (6:06)
  17. Princes Of The Universe (3:57)
  18. Starbuck’s Destiny (0:41)
  19. Apocalypse (Live) (6:23)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2010
Total running time: 68:27