Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (Newly Expanded Edition)

Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered CountryThe only big-screen classic Star Trek sequel still waiting for its soundtrack to be remastered has finally gotten the deluxe treatment from Intrada. The release was inadvertently revealed by composer Cliff Eidelman early in 2012, a practice that the soundtrack boutique labels tend to avoid simply because they barely have enough time in the day to do what they do, let alone answer endless questions about upcoming releases and whether or not they can be pre-ordered. But that would seem to reveal a certain degree of pride on Eidelman’s part for his first major film scoring assignment – and listening to this expanded release, which finally puts every note of the movie’s music in fans’ hands, it must be said that any such pride is certainly justified.

Star Trek VI was a movie that almost didn’t happen. The William Shatner-directed Trek V bombed at the box office once word got out about its utterly goofy treatment of philosophical subject matter that had big implications, and it proved to be Shatner’s only directorial turn in the franchise, and the last stop for producer Harve Bennett, who, had turned the Trek films into a Big Deal with Star Trek II. But 1991 was the 25th anniversary of the premiere of the original Star Trek, and Paramount wanted to make a Big Deal out of that too, and so it took stock of the other driving creative forces behind Trek II and Trek IV, the series’ most successful films. A sixth movie would happen after all, shepherded to the screen by director Nicholas Meyer and Leonard Nimoy, surrending his director’s seat to produce the final film to feature the full original cast.

Meyer’s original musical idea was to adapt either Holst’s The Planets or Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite – basically pulling a Kubrick and scoring the movie with existing classical music. Composer Cliff Eidelman, chosen for his strong classical background, got a break when Holst’s estate refused to allow The Planets to be licensed or altered without a gigantic price tag: he would get to compose an original score with hints of both Stravinsky and Holst’s stylistic trappings. The result was something far darker than anything the Star Trek films had been graced with before, including the first use of choir in the Trek movies. Only fleeting references to prior scores in the film series would be made; Trek VI happened further in the future than any of the previous films and would have a stand-alone sound. A scary and glorious stand-alone sound, too, with Eidelman not holding back on playing up the implications of impending war between the Federation and its enemies, and the willingness of almost all parties to sacrifice Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy as pawns in the rapidly escalating hostilities.

The second disc of this two-disc set features a remastered edition of the original 1991 soundtrack album, which we covered back when The Undiscovered Country was a relatively recent arrival in theaters. The first disc presents the music as heard in the film itself, which sometimes means entire pieces of music that haven’t been heard before, and sometimes means subtly different versions of the pieces you’re already familiar with. It may not hurt to listen to this version first, so it’s easier to spot the missing material added to the complete score on disc one. Some of the missing material flies past pretty quickly, but as always, it encompasses key moments that weren’t incorporated into the original soundtrack release. Scenes that were on the original soundtrack but weren’t heard in full include the Excelsior crew receiving a message about a Chernobyl-like “incident” at a Klingon power plant, Kirk receiving his orders to attempt peace with the Klingons, and Kirk’s trial on a brutal Klingon prison planet after he’s accused of assassinating the Klingons’ leader at that peace summit.

Fans of the original soundtrack and the movie know by now that the original CD’s “Battle For Peace” track – an eight-minute orchestral assault – left some stuff out, including, ironically, silence. The expanded version of this lengthy battle scene is now complete, including those conveniently-timed pauses for Kirk and Sulu to issue their respective orders to destroy the pesky Klingon Bird of Prey whose commander is fighting to keep both worlds at war.

The most interesting and showy material among the previously unissued tracks center around the Enterprise crew’s search for evidence to lead them to the real assassins. In the movie, this search took the form of several vignettes as planted evidence was repeatedly found, leading to the wrong suspects, but it’s surprisingly good music that shows no ambitions toward low-key subtlety. The other new and interesting material is music that isn’t from the movie at all. Star Trek VI was the first and only Star Trek film to this day to have custom-scored trailers. Earlier films tended to rely on mashups of music from earlier Star Trek movies for their trailers, and even the very first Trek movie had trailers choppily scored with pieces of Jerry Goldsmith’s immortal music, often clumsily hacked to pieces in the editing room. For Trek VI, Cliff Eidelman scored his own trailers, offering the audience a preview of the music as well as the movie. Not edited together from the score, the trailers are custom-made creations that use the same themes in a kind of rapid-fire greatest-hits style. This is the first time that music has been released, and it’s pretty neat to hear.

Star Trek music expert Jeff Bond, who still needs to update his excellent 1999 book “The Music Of Star Trek: Profiles In Style”, and Film Score Monthly Trek music savior Lukas Kendall provide some of the best liner notes in the business, detailing the creation of both the movie and its music, rounding out the package. As with its Star Trek IV soundtrack, Intrada has wisely forgone its usual route of limiting this soundtrack to an arbitrary print run of 3,000 copies – there are enough copies for everyone who wants one.

Star Trek music fans have been graced with a wealth of re-releases and never-before-released material from both the movie and TV franchises in the past three years (like his movie or not, you can probably thank J.J. Abrams for raising Star Trek’s public profile enough to make that possible). Now, of course, everyone’s licking their lips and hoping for another re-release of Goldsmith’s music from the first film, hopefully this time in complete form. (I wouldn’t object if the next project was Dennis McCarthy’s criminally-underrated Star Trek: Generations score, 4 out of 4but I suspect I’m in the minority there; McCarthy has a small but loyal base of fans, of which I count myself one, while Goldsmith now has a cult of worshippers who’ll buy anything with the man’s name on it.) The ongoing expand-and-reissue project, however, has been nothing short of a delight for the ears, and Star Trek VI will keep me more than happy until the next re-release.

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    Disc One: complete score

  1. Overture (3:02)
  2. The Incident (1:09)
  3. Spacedock / Clear All Moorings (1:59)
  4. Spock’s Wisdom (3:13)
  5. Guess Who’s Coming (0:49)
  6. Assassination (2:16)
  7. Surrender For Peace (2:48)
  8. The Death Of Gorkon (2:07)
  9. The Trial / Morally Unjust Evidence (1:13)
  10. Sentencing (1:02)
  11. Rura Penthe / First Sight Of Rura Penthe (4:09)
  12. Alien Fight (1:05)
  13. First Evidence / The Search (1:33)
  14. Escape From Rura Penthe (5:35)
  15. The Mirror (1:17)
  16. Revealed (2:48)
  17. Mind Meld (2:06)
  18. Dining On Ashes (1:01)
  19. The Battle For Peace / The Final Chance For Peace / The Final Count (8:15)
  20. The Undiscovered Country (1:07)
  21. Sign Off (3:16)
  22. Star Trek VI End Credits Suite (6:17)
  23. Trailer (take 10) (2:23)
  24. Guess Who’s Coming (alternate) (0:51)
  25. Sign Off (alternate) (3:31)
  26. Trailer (take 2) (2:20)
    Disc Two – original 1991 album

  1. Overture (2:57)
  2. An Incident (0:53)
  3. Clear All Moorings (1:39)
  4. Assassination (4:45)
  5. Surrender Dor Peace (2:46)
  6. Death Of Gorkon (1:10)
  7. Rura Penthe (4:22)
  8. Revealed (2:38)
  9. Escape From Rura Penthe (5:34)
  10. Dining On Ashes (1:00)
  11. The Battle For Peace (8:03)
  12. Sign Off (3:13)
  13. Star Trek VI Suite (6:18)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2012
Disc one total running time: 67:14
Disc two total running time: 45:!7

Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Ron Jones Project

Due to the much-longer-than-usual nature of this in-depth review, and in an attempt to save everyone’s sanity who isn’t interested, you’ll have to click on “more” below to read the full text.

Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Ron Jones ProjectIn the summer and fall of 1990, fans of Star Trek: The Next Generation were in frothing-from-the-mouth overdrive: they were busily speculating about the conclusion of the best cliffhanger that TNG would ever produce, and obsessing over their freshly-recorded VHS tapes (remember those?) of the season finale. Repeated viewing of The Best Of Both Worlds Part I yielded numerous insights, namely that the show really had gotten that good, and that this Ron Jones guy who did the music for the episode was on fire. A year later – an agonizing lag compared to how quickly TV music seems to be released these days – GNP Crescendo gave the world the soundtrack to both parts of Best Of Both Worlds, landing themselves a legion of grateful fans and an award for the best indie label soundtrack release of the year.

Some of us, however, had been paying attention to the music credits for a long time, and Ron Jones had been on the radar of musically-aware fans since season one. The cruel irony, of course, is that 1991 also marked the end of Jones’ involvement with the Star Trek series, and the rest of the TNG music released by Crescendo was from composers Dennis McCarthy and Jones’ replacement, Jay Chattaway, both of whom remained with the franchise until Star Trek: Enterprise went off the air in 2005. Barring a short two-part suite of music from the season one Klingon episode Heart Of Glory on 1996’s Best Of Star Trek CD, and despite the fact that Jones had gone through his archives and presented Crescendo with enough material for Klingon and Romulan themed TNG soundtrack collections, nothing else was forthcoming from TNG’s musical golden boy.

He still had fans, though, including yours truly, and including Film Score Monthly founder Lukas Kendall. As Film Score Monthly spawned a label and ultimately ceased to be a paper magazine, the idea of a Ron Jones TNG collection never went away. While even the most expectant fans might have bet on a CD here and there, nobody could’ve envisioned what Kendall had in mind: a 14 CD box set consisting of nearly every note Ron Jones composed and recorded for Star Trek: The Next Generation – in short, the full soundtrack for every episode Jones scored, not just the ones that everyone remembered well. With the possible exception of the (ultimately truncated) series of Babylon 5 episode scores on CD, nothing like this had been attempted for TV music. Read More

R.E.M. – Out of Time

Out of TimeI first heard “Losing My Religion” on a Top 40 radio station shortly after its release. I thought it was an OK song, but nothing special. I was clearly in the minority in that view, as the single and video became hugely popular. Eventually I borrowed a copy of Out of Time from a friend, and I’ve been an R.E.M. fan ever since. The album, the band’s best-selling in the United States, is full of beautiful songs that highlight R.E.M.’s eagerness to challenge conventions and shake up its own status quo.

After turning out pretty much an album a year throughout the 80s, Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe slowed down for the writing of Out of Time. They often switched instruments; Berry, for example, wrote most of the bass lines while Mills worked heavily with pianos and keyboards. They brought in unusual instrumentation, like the harpsichord on “Half a World Away,” and guest vocalists like the B-52s’ Kate Pearson (on “Shiny Happy People” and “Me In Honey”) and KRS-One (on “Radio Song”). Mike Mills sang lead vocals on not one but two songs, “Near Wild Heaven” and “Texarkana.” (I love Mills’ work, but I think he’s better suited for support and backup vocals. He does do a nice job on “Texarkana,” whose lyrics he wrote when Stipe found himself unable to come up with anything for the song.) Stipe decided to personalize his lyrics; he described Out of Time as an album full of love songs, after having heavily mined political territory on the band’s previous three albums. The ornate arrangements work very well; Buck described the band as “rock and roll band that plays sitting down” in this time period, and it’s a very apt description.

rating: 4 out of 4 While “Losing My Religion” has certainly grown on me over the years, it’s still not my favorite song on the album. I prefer “Radio Song,” “Me in Honey,” and “Half a World Away.” In none of those songs am I very confident about what Stipe is trying to say, although I think the emotion of his vocal performance more than makes up for the ambiguity of his lyrics. Musically, the first two are among the faster-paced, clearly-rock songs on the album, while the latter’s harpsichord makes it the most frequently cited example of the album’s “baroque” influence. Slower songs like “Low” and “Endgame” have to strike me in the right frame of mind; they have the potential to simply come off as depressing, but in the right context they’re both meditative and cathartic. The mournful “Country Feedback” has become quite popular amongst the band’s fan base; in fact, it was the most requested song of the band’s 2003 tour.

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  1. Radio Song (4:12)
  2. Losing My Relgion (4:26)
  3. Low (4:55)
  4. Near Wild Heaven (3:17)
  5. Endgame (3:48)
  6. Shiny Happy People (3:44)
  7. Belong (4:03)
  8. Half a World Away (3:26)
  9. Texarkana (3:36)
  10. Country Feedback (4:07)
  11. Me In Honey (4:06)

Released by: Warner Bros.
Release date: 1991
Total running time: 44:10

Mark Ayres – Myths and Other Legends

Myths and Other Legends soundtrackReleased around the same time as his first Doctor Who score, The Curse Of Fenric, this album unearths some of Mark Ayres’ pre-Who music from such fan video productions as the Myth Makers interview series, as well as post-Who endeavours. Other items include Ayres’ original demo submissions to Doctor Who producer John Nathan-Turner (which landed him the job, obviously!), as well as music for an unrealized attempt to launch an animated series about the Daleks. Despite the composer’s repeated “apologies” in his liner notes, most of the music is – at the very least – up to the standard of his better 3 out of 4Doctor Who scores. These early synth recordings may not be to everyone’s taste, but I find them all rather pleasant. For those intrigued or impressed by Ayres’ Doctor Who music, I heartily recommend this one. Some of the material, such as the “Daleks!” track, was later repurposed for such Who tribute projects as More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS and The Curse Of Fatal Death.

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  1. Myth Makers Theme (2:09)
  2. Mythterious (2:49)
  3. I Myth You (1:54)
  4. Daleks! (4:44)
  5. Terror In Totters Lane (1:53)
  6. The Headmaster (0:57)
  7. The Fox Goes Free (5:13)
  8. The Park (3:15)
    • Introduction (1:07)
    • On The Run (0:29)
    • Mother Nature (0:31)
    • The Master (0:16)
    • Alien Hand (0:18)
    • Return of the Hand (0:34)
  9. Star Field (1:40)
  10. Myth Runner (Original Soundtrack, part 1) (9:05)
    • Main Title (3:02)
    • Five Minutes Beyond (1:34)
    • The Boss (3:03)
    • Zendar’s Sentinel and First Contact (1:26)
  11. Running (Chase theme from Myth Runner (2:44)
  12. Myth Runner (Original Soundtrack, part 2) (9:05)
    • Death of the Celebrity (0:35)
    • Hotel (1:28)
    • The Injured Party (1:35)
    • Something To Help You Sleep (0:47)
    • Stop Him! (1:12)
    • The Grand Finale (2:06)
    • Closing Title (1:22)
  13. Myth Runner II (3:21)
  14. The Digitan (3:47)
  15. The Disappointment (3:45)
  16. Mythed Again (2:16)
  17. Running 1991 (4:45)
  18. Myth Runner II (extended CD mix) (7:38)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 1991
Total running time: 71:26

The Best of A Flock Of Seagulls

The Best of A Flock Of SeagullsOh, go ahead, laugh! You can’t go wrong with A Flock Of Seagulls. Oft incorrectly labeled as a one-hit wonder (excuse me, but they did both “I Ran” and “Wishing”, the latter of which is only slightly more obscure than the former), A Flock Of Seagulls has one of those distinctly 80s sounds that lands the band on many a new-wave compilation. With a combination of sounds – from the Gary Numan-esque wall o’ synths padding out the background, to the thick guitar work vaguely reminiscent of Big Country – it’s almost enough to wipe the memory of the mondo bizarro, aluminum-foil-drenched music videos and those haircuts out of one’s mind.

Sadly, as with many other bands of that era (for that matter, any era), A Flock Of Seagulls’ best-of compilation proves that, like quite a few one or two hit wonders, the reason they achieved that rarified status was because very few of their songs stood out. Among the better album tracks gracing this compilation are “(It’s Not Me) 3 out of 4Talking” and “Transfer Affection” – and they earned my unending love and devotion by including a longer remix of my favorite Seagulls song, “Wishing”.

If, like me, you like a little 80s flashback every so often, I can give this one a good recommendation.

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  1. I Ran (4:55)
  2. Space Age Love Song (3:45)
  3. Telecommunication (2:29)
  4. The More You Live, The More You Love (4:09)
  5. Nightmares (4:36)
  6. Wishing (If I Had A Photograph Of You) (5:30)
  7. (It’s Not Me) Talking (5:00)
  8. Transfer Affection (5:20)
  9. Who’s That Girl (She’s Got It) (4:17)
  10. D.N.A. (2:30)
  11. Wishing – extended version (9:08)
  12. The Story Of A Young Heart (6:07)

Released by: Jive / RCA
Release date: 1991
Total running time: 58:41

Art of Noise – The FON Mixes

The FON MixesHardly a substitute for any new noise from the Art of Noise, this album is a collection of DJ mixes of various Art of Noise tunes, often mixing and matching elements from numerous pieces. It would be much more interesting if even half of the album was actually Art of Noise originated – most of it, in fact, is not. I suppose that this could be an element of house mixing that I’m not aware of – entirely possible since I got this album more for the Art of Noise element than the house music aspect, but entire tracks pass where you may hear no more than ten notes or beats that are familiar! Too much of a curiosity for all but the most diehard Noise fans, I suspect, but certainly a treat for the dance crowd. Still, the house style – no pun Rating: 3 out of 4intended – as well as industrial owe a lot to the Art of Noise, so it’s only fitting that they repay that debt. Once you get past the relative absence of the Art of Noise, it’s actually quite enjoyable! My favorite bit has to be “I Of The Needled”, which contains few if any elements that I recognize as coming from any Art of Noise song, but is still fun to listen to.

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  1. Instruments of Darkness (All Of Us Are One People), the Prodigy mix (3:38)
  2. Yebo (Interlude 1), a Mark Gamble mix (1:18)
  3. Roller 10 – the Rhythmatic Mix (4:47)
  4. Back to Backbeat – the Robert Gordon Mix (4:28)
  5. Shades of Paranoimia – the Carl Cox Mix (3:43)
  6. Ode to a D.J. (Interlude 2), a Mark Gamble Mix (1:10)
  7. Catwalk – the Ground Mix (5:02)
  8. Dragnet and Peter Gunn Have a Day at the Races, remixed by Mark Gamble (1:27)
  9. Legs – the Graham Massey Mix (3:18)
  10. L.E.F. – the Mark Brydon Mix (5:00)
  11. I of the Needled – the Sweet Exorcist Mix (4:35)
  12. Crusoe – the LFO Mix (3:44)
  13. The Art of Slow Love, remixed by Youth (5:13)
  14. No Sun (Interlude 4), a Mark Gamble mix (1:48)

Released by: China Records
Release date: 1991
Total running time: 49:11

BBC Essential Science Fiction Sound FX Volume 1

BBC Essential Science Fiction Sound FX Volume 1Very much a specialty item – and almost absolutely unobtainable in the States – this CD contains the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s numerous distinctive sound effects mainly from science fiction programs other than Doctor Who, whose FX library is well represented by 30 Years in the Radiophonic Workshop, though there are some Who effects here – such as the Master’s TARDIS and others – which are not available elsewhere. Sounds from radio productions of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Earth Search are included, along with a wonderful 30-track selection of effects from Blake’s Seven, the late 70s/ early 80s science fiction series which occupies a place in my heart as my all time favorite of that genre. If you wax nostalgic at the sound of Orac computing, the Liberator’s teleports or weapons powering up, the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal eating a Vogon’s grandmother, or the Hitchhiker’s Guide itself coming online, this U.K. rarity is right up your alley. No, not something I’d recommend for everyone’s music collection – since it’s hardly music – but it’s a must for any truly rabid fans of vintage BBC sci-fi productions.

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    Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy (BBC Radio, 1979)

  1. The Book’s activating code (0:04)
  2. Slartibartfast’s aircar – takeoff (0:18)
  3. Slartibartfast’s aircar – constant run (0:38)
  4. Slartibartfast’s aircar – landing (0:27)
  5. Magrathea alarm (0:22)
  6. Magrathea police guns (0:36)
  7. Space car park outside Restaurant at the End of the Universe(0:49)
  8. The end of the Universe (0:32)
  9. Black spaceship oscillates (0:43)
  10. Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal – eating (0:07)
  11. Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal – walking (0:32)
  12. Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal – roaring (0:40)
  13. Penargilian Kangaroo Relocation drive engaged (0:05)
  14. Panargilian Kangaroo Relocation drive engaged (0:12)
  15. Golgafrincham Ark ship bridge background (1:07)

    Doctor Who

  16. Earth shuttle arriving on Argolis (1:09)
  17. Planet exterior atmosphere on Argolis – Leisure Hive (1:39)
  18. Flock of bats – State of Decay (1:04)
  19. Laboratory descends, Gaztak spaceship takes off – Meglos (0:25)
  20. Marshmen – Full Circle (0:24)
  21. Respirator room background in spaceship (0:46)
  22. Time winds – Warrior’s Gate (0:37)
  23. Alarm (0:20)
  24. Electric storm – Keeper of Traken (1:14)
  25. Cloister bell in the TARDIS (0:24)
  26. The Master’s TARDIS lands (0:21)
  27. The Master’s TARDIS takes off (0:15)
  28. TARDIS slips out of time – Logopolis (0:09)
  29. TARDIS slips into time (0:10)

    Blake’s Seven (series D, 1981)

  30. Dawn of emptiness (1:55)
  31. Space bells of ceremonial room (1:22)
  32. Scorpio spaceship lands (0:35)
  33. Scorpio teleport dematerialisation (0:09)
  34. Scorpio teleport rematerialisation (0:06)
  35. Scorpio handgun (0:07)

    Blake’s Seven (series A-C, 1978-80)

  36. Orac switch-on (0:02)
  37. Orac working (0:31)
  38. Orac switch-off (0:04)
  39. Liberator computer malfunction – Redemption (0:33)
  40. Liberator plasma bolt explosions (0:10)
  41. Liberator laser (0:25)
  42. Federation ship laser explosions (0:26)
  43. Liberator life capsule ready to be launched – Aftermath (0:39)
  44. Liberator ship background (1:35)
  45. Liberator handgun – three shots (0:13)
  46. Avon’s communicator bracelet, hail and transport sounds (0:09)
  47. Liberator teleport disappearance (0:11)
  48. Liberator teleport reappearance (0:11)
  49. Mysterious being disappears in a flame – Sarcophagus (0:05)
  50. Alien gun (0:06)
  51. Appearance of the Ovoid (0:35)
  52. Heavy voltage force (0:09)
  53. Glow from a mysterious ghost who haunts the Liberator (0:25)
  54. The core, a huge ever-growing pulsating brain – Ultraworld(0:32)
  55. Interior of Federation patrol ship (1:14)
  56. Going through a black hole in the Liberator – Dawn of the Gods(1:19)
  57. Space centre medical unit hum (0:43)
  58. Machine monster with a black sense of humour (0:37)
  59. Breakdown of machine monster (0:09)
  60. Extraterrestrial heavenly choir (1:24)

    Earth Search (BBC Radio 4, 1980)

  61. UFO landing (0:11)
  62. Computer touch panel bleeps (0:43)
  63. Warbles (0:25)
  64. Alarm (0:06)
  65. Meteorite alert station (0:32)
  66. Rumbling gurgle (0:35)
  67. Handheld ray gun (0:14)
  68. Space bombs (0:19)
  69. Space police (0:15)
  70. Outer airlock door open and close (0:11)
  71. Inner airlock door open and close (0:10)
  72. Plasma discharge weapons (0:09)
  73. Underworld animation chamber (0:39)
  74. Bleeps for suspended animation chamber (0:30)
  75. Electric warning gong (0:20)
  76. Three harmonic strings followed by explosion (0:07)
  77. Sharp hum with trail out (0:21)
  78. Rapid Fire

Released by: BBC Records
Release date: 1991
Total running time: 44:21