51 Shades of Geek

JFK – music by John Williams

JFK soundtrackThis is an interesting mix of new sounds and musical ephemera of the early to middle 60s accompanying Oliver Stone’s hotly debated film on a conspiracy behind the Kennedy assassination. Perhaps most surprising are the dark, despairing and brooding pieces concocted by John Williams, whose usual musical style always seems to be stuck in a celebratory mode. The original score segments are heavy on synthesizers and electronic percussion, with harsh and sometimes even violent retorts from the traditional orchestral complement. If you thought you’d heard it all where Williams was concerned, you may like this distinctly different work. The oldies but goodies on this album are also nicely selected, from “El Watusi!” to some wonderfully selected classics – not rock ‘n’ roll, mind you, but very good easy-listening, especially “Maybe September”. Capping it all 4 out of 4off is Williams’ beautiful 8-minute “Arlington”, a funereal piece mourning the loss of America’s innocence, accompanying the film’s scenes of Kevin Costner honoring the eternal flame that marks the dead president’s burial plot.

Order this CD

  1. Prologue (4:00)
  2. The Motorcade (5:14)
  3. Drummers’ Salute (2:55)
  4. Theme from JFK (2:23)
  5. Eternal Father, Strong To Save For Those In Peril On The Sea (1:19)
  6. Garrison’s Obsession (2:33)
  7. On the Sunny Side of the Street (Sidney Bechet) (4:23)
  8. The Conspirators (4:04)
  9. The Death of David Ferrie (2:47)
  10. Maybe September (Tony Bennett) (4:03)
  11. Garrison Family Theme (2:14)
  12. Ode to Buckwheat (Brent Lewis) (3:54)
  13. El Watusi (Ray Barretto) (2:41)
  14. The Witnesses (2:46)
  15. Concerto #2 for Horn & Orchestra K 417:1 Allegro Maestoso (6:29)
  16. Arlington (6:29)
  17. Finale (3:14)
  18. Theme from JFK (reprise) (2:23)

Released by: Elektra
Release date: 1992
Total running time: 63:51

Out of Africa – music by John Barry

 soundtrackThis is an absolutely sublime score, one of the very few movie soundtracks which radiates enough simple beauty to rank up there with the classical repertoire. Whether you’ve seen the movie or not, you’ve probably heard the first few wistful minutes of the main theme before. The secondary theme, which resurfaces in other cues, is no slouch either. I can’t recommend this highly enough, nor can I even come up with a description that adequately describes the beauty of it all.

    4 out of 4

  1. Main Title – I Had a Farm in Africa (3:07)
  2. I’m Better At Hello – Karen’s theme (1:15)
  3. Have You Got a Story For Me? (1:12)
  4. Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra in A, K.622 (2:46)
  5. Safari (2:40)
  6. Karen’s Journey / Siyawe (4:46)
  7. Flying Over Africa (3:22)
  8. Order this CD I Had a Compass From Denys – Karen’s theme II (2:27)
  9. Alone on the Farm (1:55)
  10. Let the Rest of the World Go By (3:12)
  11. If I Know a Song of Africa – Karen’s theme III (2:11)
  12. End title – You Are Karen (4:03)

Released by: MCA
Release date: 1986
Total running time: 33:34

Star Trek: The Motion Picture – music by Jerry Goldsmith

Star Trek: The Motion Picture soundtrackThis Oscar-nominated score redefined the musical mindset of Star Trek and set a standard by which all future music for the Star Trek entity, whether in the theater or on TV, would be judged. (Need proof? What music did Star Trek: The Next Generation use for its theme?) This definitive Trek movie score has yet to be surpassed or even so much as equalled – not even by Goldsmith himself, who scored the fifth, eighth, ninth and tenth movies in the Trek saga as well as coining the theme music for the Voyager spinoff series. The unique combination of contemporary, ancient and futuristic sounds for the first Star Trek movie is indicative of the enormous scope of the story, and makes for some excellent listening away from the sound effects and dialogue. The traditional orchestral complement combines with the distinctive sound of something (!?) called the Blaster Beam (the signature sound of this movie, it sounds not unlike the combination of a distorted electric guitar and a chainsaw) and the gothic tones of the organ to produce a sweeping, awe-inspiring atmosphere. Countering that effect, this was the only Trek movie to date which required a genuine, sweeping, romantic love theme – which really says more about the nature of the later Star 4 out of 4Trek films than their successive composers. Due to the length of the movie and the length of the overbudgeted special effects sequences, Goldsmith’s score is prominent throughout the film, and there’s a lot of it. This is easily the best score ever to have graced any of the Star Trek movies.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title / Klingon Battle (6:50)
  2. Leaving Drydock (3:29)
  3. The Cloud (5:00)
  4. The Enterprise (5:58)
  5. Ilia’s Theme (3:01)
  6. V’ger Flyover (4:56)
  7. The Meld (3:15)
  8. Spock Walk (4:17)
  9. End Title (3:16)

Released by: CBS
Release date: 1979
Total running time: 40:02