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