Twister – music by Mark Mancina

TwisterIt took a while for this music and the movie from which it sprang to grow on me, but I now enjoy both of them immensely. I’ve heard a few complaints about the hodgepodge of styles utilized by Mark Mancina (who also scored Twister director Jan de Bont’s previous hit, Speed) in the space of a single score, but I find the resulting contrasts to be satisfyingly appropriate. The juxtaposition and combination of rock and contemporary classical elements fit the tone and pace of the movie, and the result – which in places bears more than a passing resemblance to Aaron Copland’s “Rodeo” – suits the Oklahoma venue of the tornado-chasing mini-epic. If anything detracts from the experience of listening to the music alone, it’s the scarcity of thematic material (which is more the movie’s problem than that of the score). Three basic themes fill out the score from Twister: a joyous, all-American-sounding motif for the “good guy” storm chasers led by Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, a more urgent and stacatto sound for Cary Elwes’ competing crew of uniformed, professional chasers, and choral overtones ranging from heavenly to menacing for the various tornadoes encountered in the movie. That’s really it. There is no thematic development for individual characters, and perhaps I’m asking too much in hoping for such material. All in all, for the purpose it needed 4 out of 4to serve – underscoring a rather less than complex and not-entirely-accurate action-adventure flick – Mancina’s Twister treatment did the job and stands alone as well. It’s a good thing I didn’t hear this album until many months after my own twister experience, or the sound of the choral tornado motif might give me nightmares!

Order this CD

  1. Wheatfield (1:19)
  2. Where’s My Truck? (0:20)
  3. Futility (2:14)
  4. Downdraft (1:47)
  5. Drive In (2:37)
  6. The Big Suck (1:10)
  7. Going Green (2:48)
  8. Sculptures (3:03)
  9. Cow (5:38)
  10. Ditch (1:28)
  11. Wakita (5:02)
  12. Bob’s Road (2:10)
  13. We’re Almost There (2:58)
  14. Dorothy IV (1:48)
  15. Mobile Home (4:38)
  16. God’s Finger (1:46)
  17. William Tell Overture / Oklahoma Medley (1:06)
  18. End Title / Respect the Wind (performed by Van Halen) (9:17)

Released by: Atlantic Classics
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 51:09

Jason Falkner presents Author Unknown

Jason Falkner presents Author UnknownOne of the most unexpectedly brilliant gems of the 90’s was Jellyfish, the short-lived prophets of power-pop who broke up not long after releasing their 1992 album, the nothing-short-of-astounding Spilt Milk. Jellyfish seemed to draw inspiration from the Beatles, ELO, Queen, and almost every other landmark pop act of the past 30 years all at once. And now we can hear the person who is perhaps least credited for that sound – Jellyfish alumnus Jason Falkner. In his self-performed and self-produced debut album, Falkner proves that he is more than capable of matching Jellyfish’s best efforts on his own. The album kicks off strongly with “I Live”, a song which immediately calls up instinctive memories of Argent’s “Hold Your Head High”. My note of the similarity is a compliment, not an accusation of plagarism – the rock-anthem tone is what the two songs share. Other standouts are “Don’t Show Me Heaven”, which starts out deceptively with cheesy synthesizers and drum machines which smoothly segue into another rock anthem; the Clapton-esque “Afraid Himself To Be”, and the final track, “Untitled”, which is possibly the best 4 out of 4thing on the entire album. If you don’t get a chill from hearing Falkner pull off an acoustic-going-orchestral number, sounding like he’s channeling the Beatles and Jeff Lynne at the same time, you need to listen again, and maybe once more after that. It’s the perfect hook for the album’s end – offering the best hint that Jason Falkner has a great deal more to offer us in the future. Maybe Jellyfish isn’t dead after all.

Order this CD

  1. I Live (3:11)
  2. Miracle Medicine (3:27)
  3. Hectified (2:44)
  4. Don’t Show Me Heaven (4:15)
  5. She Goes To Bed (4:17)
  6. Nobody Knows (4:06)
  7. Follow Me (4:08)
  8. Before My Heart Attacks (3:43)
  9. Afraid Himself To Be (3:41)
  10. Miss Understanding (2:59)
  11. I Go Astray (3:50)
  12. Untitled (4:01)

Released by: Elektra
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 44:24

Romantics – What I Like About You & other Romantic hits

The Romantics - What I Like About You (and other Romantic hits)A Romantics “best of” album is sort of like a Simply Red “best of” album – once you get past the two or three songs that got a lot of radio airplay, what are you going to fill out the rest of the album with? Granted, I like “Talking In Your Sleep” and “What I Like About You” a lot – like the Police, they’re comfort music, reminding me of long summer days of being driven around by my 1 out of 4older brother through the insanely-arranged streets of Fort Smith – but unlike a “best of,” say, Kansas or Howard Jones, this is one of those albums that most people just lock down on one or two tracks. The Romantics were fine for their time, but they bring back memories of some contemporaries of theirs – the Stray Cats, another early-80s band who thrived briefly on the novelty of what amounted to a single style.

Order this CD

  1. What I Like About You (2:57)
  2. Rock You Up (3:37)
  3. When I Look In Your Eyes (2:59)
  4. Open Up Your Door (3:58)
  5. Shake A Tail Feather (3:31)
  6. Talking In Your Sleep (3:55)
  7. One In A Million (3:41)
  8. Test of Time (3:23)
  9. A Night Like This (5:06)
  10. Tell It To Carrie (3:24)

Released by: Epic
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 36:33

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Clowns In The Sky

Mystery Science Theater 3000 soundtrackWhy, you ask, would anyone want to listen to this oddball variety of the usually simplistic comedy numbers written and performed by a handful of outrageous characters who are usually associated with poking fun at really lousy movies? Well, I dunno. I suppose because it’s a proverbial hoot. I also suppose one listening to this album would have to be a big fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000 in order to even care about these songs, which form one of the biggest recorded musical in-jokes ever pressed on CD (aside from whatever album Michael Jackson released most recently). Join orignal MST host Joel Hodgson, current host Mike Nelson, the lovable robots Crow, Tom Servo and Gypsy, and mad scientists Dr. Forrester and TV’s Frank as they warble, croon and sometimes croak their way through a variety of humorous tunes from various installments of the show. My favorites on this album have to be “Master Ninja Theme Song”, “Toobular Boobular Joy”, “Tribute To Pants”, and “The Greatest Frank Of All”, Much as I liked Joel and still do, I have to confess that after hearing nearly an hour of both hosts, Mike comes out as the better singer of the two. And as much as I liked TV’s Frank, I think his singing is mentioned in the Geneva Convention in the “please don’t” section, somewhere between chemical weapons and torture! If I have but a couple of tiny complaints, I would have liked a little more dialogue (a complaint I have never made before, because I normally cannot stand dialogue on soundtrack or music albums such as Apollo 13), and 4 out of 4maybe the Torgo theme from the truly wretched movie Manos: The Hands of Fate, though I realize that’s not under their copyright. But these are minor nits to pick. If you too want to hear these particular voices in your head, you’ll need to order it through the MST 3000 Info Club (see the link below).

Order this CD

  1. MST 3000 theme: 1989-1993 Joel version (1:23)
  2. My Creepy Girl (2:22)
  3. Godzilla Genealogy Bop (1:56)
  4. If Chauffeurs Ruled the World (2:22)
  5. Music from Some Guys in Space (1:47)
  6. Tibby, Oh Tibby (2:44)
  7. The Plate Spinning Song (1:04)
  8. A Clown in the Sky (2:11)
  9. The Waffle Song (0:50)
  10. Let’s Have a Patrick Swayze Christmas (3:21)
  11. Master Ninja Theme Song (1:14)
  12. Tribute to Pants (1:33)
  13. Gypsy Rose Me! (0:37)
  14. Kim Cattrall (1:03)
  15. Ode On Estelle (3:32)
  16. Gypsy Moons (2:04)
  17. Hired! Original Broadway Cast (3:21)
  18. What A Pleasant Journey (1:46)
  19. MST 3000 theme song: 1993-1995 Mike version with Frank (1:24)
  20. The Janitor Song (2:17)
  21. NummyMuffinCoocolButter (1:37)
  22. Merry Christmas…If That’s OK (2:04)
  23. The Greatest Frank Of All (1:27)
  24. Livin’ In Deep 13 (0:48)
  25. Bouncy Upbeat Song (1:31)
  26. Whom Shall I Kill? (2:20)
  27. Tubular Boobular Joy (1:08)
  28. MST 3000 theme song: 1995-1996 Mike version with Pearl (1:36)
  29. Mighty Science Theater – closing theme (1:02)

Released by: Best Brains
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 52:04

Ladyhawke – music by Andrew Powell

Ladyhawke soundtrackAn atypically anachronistic score for a medieval-fantasy movie, this album was composed by Andrew Powell, longtime orchestra arranger/conductor for Alan Parsons. Which brings us to why I even sought this album out, not having seen the movie – Parsons produced the soundtrack album, and the band which comprised the core of Parsons’ Project circa 1984 or so is prominently featured on many tracks. So it’s no exaggeration to say that this album sounds like a missing page from the Alan Parsons catalog, and in many cases the music was inspired by earlier Project instrumentals. Ladyhawke director Richard Donner listened to Alan Parsons Project albums all during the production of the movie, and had several specific requests and suggestions regarding the film’s music, based on existing Project pieces such as Powell’s long “Fall Of The House Of Usher” orchestral suite from Parsons’ first album, among others, so the resemblance is no mere coincidence. The Project rhythm section is, as always, incredibly precise and intricate, and the music would sound perfectly natural played next to 4 out of 4anything from Parsons’ Vulture Culture or Stereotomy. I like this album a lot, because it combines some nice – if occasionally predictable – orchestral passages with the signature Parsons sound, but I’d really only recommend it to diehard Parsons fans, or diehard fans of this movie in particular.

    Order this CD in the Store

  1. Main Title (2:59)
  2. Philippe’s Escape (1:40)
  3. The Search for Philippe (3:25)
  4. Tavern Fight – Philippe (2:08)
  5. Tavern Fight – Navarre (2:38)
  6. Pitou’s Woods (4:04)
  7. Philippe Describes Isabeau (1:11)
  8. Bishop’s Procession (2:50)
  9. Wedding Music (1:41)
  10. Navarre’s Ambush (4:53)
  11. Imperius Removes Arrow (1:33)
  12. The Chase / The Fall / Transformation – album version (2:06)
  13. Cezar’s Wood (5:29)
  14. She Was Sad At First (2:06)
  15. Navarre Returns to Aquila (1:36)
  16. Turret Chase / The Fall – film version (2:46)
  17. Wolf Trapped in Ice (2:34)
  18. Navarre and Isabeau’s Dual Transformation (3:23)
  19. Navarre and Marquet Duel (4:22)
  20. Marquet’s Death (1:59)
  21. Bishop’s Death (2:26)
  22. Final Reunion / End Title (8:14)
  23. Ladyhawke Theme – single version (3:35)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 1985 (issued on CD in 1996)
Total running time: 70:06

The Best Of Star Trek, Volume One

The Best Of Star Trek Volume 1Released simultaneously with the Star Trek: First Contact soundtrack, this disc is a sort of stellar sampler, with music from at least one episode of each of the Star Trek series. Representing the original series, and again beautifully remastered as was the case with GNP Crescendo’s second and third albums of original Trek music, are the Alexander Courage signature theme and several minutes of whimsical music from 1967’s all-time-favorite The Trouble With Tribbles. The sound quality is so clear that it’s hard to believe these sessions were recorded three decades ago. Star Trek: The Next Generation gets a double dose of episodic scores after its own rendition of the combined themes of Courage and Jerry Goldsmith. First up is a synthesizer-heavy and action-packed selection of music from 1988’s Heart Of Glory, in which future Best Of Both Worlds composer Ron Jones flexes his melodic muscle in a way that future Trek music makers would not get to enjoy for a long time. Then, the very popular flute-solo theme from 1992’s Inner Light episode is given a lavish, never-before-heard treatment with an orchestral backing, a kind of solo concerto waltz with the flute in the audio foreground. Jay Chattaway’s other music from that episode is not reflected in this piece, but the sheer beauty of it is more than satisfying. Dennis McCarthy then strikes up a more percussive revival of the Deep Space Nine theme, even more rhythmic than the current version on which it is based, and then continues with cues from the sentimental and well-loved episode The Visitor. Then, the terrible edit version of Goldsmith’s Voyager theme – the same version which appeared on the Voyager CD single – introduces the Voyager portion of the album. McCarthy more than makes up for the horribly edited theme with his boisterous, heraldic music from the Viking-influenced story Heroes And Demons. This is an album from which Trek fans should find at least one piece of music to love, either in the more recent material’s 3 out of 4subtle textures or the action cues from the original Trek and early Next Generation. There is not a refrigerator magnet with this disc, sorry. I’d buy most any album of Star Trek scores, but the chance to hear yet again the remastered music of the original series and some belligerent Ron Jones action cues is enough for me to recommend this one.

Order this CD

  1. Star Trek original series main title by Alexander Courage (1:03)
    Suite from Star Trek – The Trouble With Tribbles by Jerry Fielding:
  2. Bartender Bit / They Quibble Over Quibble / Kirk Out / Barrel of Trouble /
    Tribble Hooks Kirk / Poor Jonesey / A Matter of Pride
  3. The Muzak Maker / The Scherzo Maker (1:37)
  4. A Matter of Pride / No Tribble At All / Big Fight (4:05)
  5. Star Trek: The Next Generation main title (1:49)
    Suite from Star Trek: The Next Generation – Heart of Glory by Ron Jones:
  6. Moment of Decision / Battle Signs / Geordi Vision / Lookin for Life Signs /
    Imminent Destruction
  7. A Klingon’s Feelings / Let’s Make a Phaser / Heart of Glory (6:30)
  8. Orchestral suite from Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Inner Light by Jay Chattaway (6:36)
  9. Star Trek: Deep Space Nine main title – 4th season version (1:55)
    Suite from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine – The Visitor by Dennis McCarthy:
  10. Rainy Night (1:08)
  11. Steve O’s Cue / Freaked Out (3:07)
  12. Dad Admonishes (3:12)
  13. One Last Visit (2:58)
  14. Second Chance (1:14)
  15. Star Trek: Voyager main title (extended edit)
  16. by Jerry Goldsmith (2:22)
    Suite from Star Trek: Voyager – Heroes & Demons by Dennis McCarthy:

  17. Last Hope (2:32)
  18. Dr. Schweitzer (1:20)
  19. Armagonnen (1:48)
  20. Where’s Freya / To The Rescue (6:45)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 63:51

Star Trek: First Contact

Star Trek: First Contact soundtrackHonestly, my first impressions of the music from First Contact were less than favorable, but I realize now that this came from how poorly the score was mixed into the rest of the movie’s sound. I have to remind myself that the producer of the current Trek movies and TV series is Rick Berman, who seems as likely to have the bleeping, roaring, atmospheric sound effects on top of the mix as he is to put the music there. Berman, preparing to produce his second Trek feature, chose Goldsmith to score it, and may have been displeased with how prominent a sound the acclaimed composer can deliver. Even if you’ve seen First Contact ten times, you haven’t heard the music, because it’s hardly even present in the film’s sound mix. Tagging along with dad is son Joel Goldsmith, who demostrates that he can actually do better than the infamous Star Trek: Voyager theme CD single by providing some percussive Borg cues firmly based in the musical tradition of horror movies. Even though the elder Goldsmith slavishly quotes his own Star Trek: The Motion Picture theme, some small motifs, and most ridiculous and annoying of all, the Klingon theme (now heard whenever Worf walks into the frame), he introduces several fascinating new thematic elements, including metallic percussion and the famous “Blaster Beam” sound not heard since Star Trek II for the Borg, as well as an alternately reverent and wistful theme 4 out of 4for the movie’s first contact between mankind and aliens. Even if you, like me, were unimpressed with the music in the movie, fear not – because you weren’t given a fair chance to hear it. This album offers a chance to hear the music without dialogue and sound effects, and a chance to add to your collection of refrigerator magnets as well. (You probably think I’m joking, don’t you?)

Order this CD

  1. Main Title / Locutus (4:17)
  2. Red Alert (2:13)
  3. Temporal Wake (2:07)
  4. Welcome Aboard (2:40)
  5. Fully Functional (3:18)
  6. Retreat (3:59)
  7. Evacuate (2:19)
  8. 39.1 Degrees Celcius (4:44)
  9. The Dish (7:05)
  10. First Contact (5:52)
  11. End Credits (5:24)

    Featured songs:

  12. Magic Carpet Ride – performed by Steppenwolf (4:25)
  13. Ooby Dooby – performed by Roy Orbison (2:08)

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 1996
Total running time: 40:31