Saturn 3 – music by Elmer Bernstein

Saturn 3Ah, the ’80s. Hollywood – and indeed all points beyond – tried relentlessly to cash in on the post-Star Wars hunger for all things science fiction, and often failed. Case in point: Saturn 3, whose star power was invested primarily in the wildly unlikely combination of co-stars Kirk Douglas and Farrah Fawcett, both of whom stripped down for love scenes that were about as plausible as any of the movie’s sci-fi conceits. Left with the unenviable task of scoring Saturn 3 – which had already suffered a change of director mere weeks into production – was Elmer Bernstein, whose later forays in the genre (Heavy Metal, Ghostbusters, etc.) were usually accompanied by more palatable movies. With British financiers – recently stung by the sinking ticket sales of Raise The Titanic! – bankrolling the movie, by the time Saturn 3 came out, Bernstein’s score was just about guaranteed to be the best thing about it.

And yet, if you actually watched Saturn 3, you didn’t hear much of that music, since it was sliced, diced and edited to match the whims of the director. This 2006 CD release of the full, unedited score from Intrada contains much that didn’t make it into the movie itself. One of the first casualties was a surprising detour into disco (it was 1980…) in the whopping nine-minute opening theme; this concession to the popular musical flavors of tha time was left on the cutting room floor, echoed in only one other track (“Blue Dreamers”). Much of the score has a slow-boiling foreboding feel to it, punctuated by some boisterous action scenes; as the liner notes by Jeff Bond point out, a lot of the music wound up being used in parts of the movie other than the scenes for which it was composed.

Bond’s notes also seem to paint Saturn 3 as little more than a warm-up for Heavy Metal and Ghostbusters, but the only time I found myself instantly reminded of Bernstein’s later work was “The Run”, which does sound like a lost scene from Ghostbusters. This soundtrack employs some fairly unusual music by Bernstein standards – nothing really revolutionary, but not a sound we’re accustomed to from him.

3 out of 4In the end, Saturn 3 is up there with a contemporary, the Roger Corman wanna-be epic Battle Beyond The Stars: the score was far better than the movie, and you’re probably doing yourself a mercy (and getting a lot more enjoyment out of the deal) listening to the music alone. That Bernstein’s carefully constructed (if occasionally too prone to 1980 novelty) soundtrack was chopped up and treated like glorified library music was the final indignity that Saturn 3 had to suffer before bombing in theaters.

Order this CD

  1. Space Murder (9:18)
  2. The Lab (2:05)
  3. Meet Hector (4:44)
  4. The Brain (2:08)
  5. Blue Dreamers (2:42)
  6. Hector Mimics Benson (1:25)
  7. Peeping Toms (7:15)
  8. Adam’s Target (2:00)
  9. Benson Is Off (2:16)
  10. Training Hector (3:13)
  11. Adam Rescues Alex (2:39)
  12. Hector Loses It (6:52)
  13. The Run (1:48)
  14. A Head For Hector (3:31)
  15. Alex Alone (2:06)
  16. The Big Dive (4:37)
  17. End Credits (3:22)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2006
Total running time: 62:48

Art Of Noise – And What Have You Done With My Body, God?

Art Of Noise - And What Have You Done With My Body, God?A fascinating peek into the early archives of Art Of Noise, this four-disc box set chronicles not only the process by which the group’s seminal debut album was shaped, but it also shows the group struggling to define precisely what their sound would be, with numerous dead-end turns, cul-de-sacs and non-sequiturs along the way before they arrived at an answer which would almost single-handedly define an entire genre of music.

The only problem with this fascinating study of that first album is this: And What Have You Done With My Body, God? presents slight variations, retakes, outtakes and rejects of the same handful of songs…over and over again. If there was ever a collection for which the phrase “for the die-hard fans only” was coined, this would be it. In particular, you’d better like “Close (To The Edge)” and “Beatbox (Diversion One)”. A lot. Because you’ll be hearing them…a lot. And I’m not exaggerating there, really – the entirety of this four-disc set is devoted to the making of the first album. I could see, perhaps, four discs devoted to outtakes, rejects and rarities from the band’s entire career, but no – this is all about the first album.

That’s not to say that it isn’t fascinating stuff, provided that you’re well acquainted with that album. I was quite intrigued with all of the alleyways that “Close (To The Edit)” nearly got lost in on its way to becoming a defining musical moment of the 1980s. Bland synth pads, different samples and even bits and pieces that became attached to other Art Of Noise songs later on were tried on and discarded. A few neat ideas were too, but for the most part, one quickly gains an understanding of why these versions didn’t make the final cut. “Beatbox (Diversion One)” goes through a similar evolution, though for most of its development it bears a slightly stronger resemblance to its final version.

There are other songs here that simply didn’t make it to the first album; some of them – like “Bright Noise”, “Flesh In Armour” and the brilliant but short piece “Comes And Goes” – would surface early in the band’s career on EPs and as B-sides, but others were left by the side of the road, sometimes with good reason. There are several attempts at a song built around a sample of a man singing “ain’t no goodbye” over and over again; not only is the song itself maddening, but one increasingly gets a whiff of the frustration that must have been felt by the group: this just isn’t working.

2 out of 4For the uninitiated listener who doesn’t have Who’s Afraid Of? (The Art Of Noise) memorized front to back, however, this box set may seem unfocused, repetitive and confusing at best. Those looking to get into Art Of Noise would do better to pick up the actual album whose making this set covers, and then come back to this box set at a later date. The sticker on the front promises that this set is “The ZTT Years” – the label on which AON started out – and my only advice is that, should a second set follow, it should spread its wings a bit and perhaps cover the remainder of the group’s output for the 1980s in one go, because even for a fan, this set’s narrow focus on one album can get a bit wearing.

Order this CD

    Disc One: The Very Start Of Noise

  1. Beat Box (One Made Earlier) (2:19)
  2. Once Upon A Lime (3:21)
  3. War (Demo 2) (1:27)
  4. Close To The Edge (2:19)
  5. Confession (1:02)
  6. Moments In Love (7:52)
  7. Sign On Relief (1:28)
  8. Who’s Afraid Of Scale? (4:36)
  9. So What Happens Now (Take 2) (4:23)
  10. The Subject Has Moved Left (1:44)
  11. It’s Not Fair (4:28)
  12. Close To The Edge (Ruff Mix) (5:54)
  13. A Time For Fear (Who’s Afraid) (4:33)
  14. Moments In Bed (6:12)
  15. Hidden Track (0:55)
    Disc Two: Found Sounds and Field Trips

  1. Moments In Love (12″ B-Side Idea) (3:10)
  2. Tears Out Of A Stone (2:56)
  3. Samba #2 (0:39)
  4. The Chain Of Chance (4:36)
  5. Fairlight-In-The-Being (4:37)
  6. Diversions 3 (3:53)
  7. Close (To Being Compiled) (3:47)
  8. Diversions 5 (3:46)
  9. Damn It All (1:42)
  10. Structure (1:13)
  11. The Angel Reel: Hymn 1 (Take 2) (0:36)
  12. The Angel Reel: Hymn 3 (1:20)
  13. The Angel Reel: Fairground (0:43)
  14. And What Have You Done With My Body, God? (4:40)
  15. Klimax (1:48)
  16. Who Knew? (2:36)
    Disc Three: Who’s Afraid Of Goodbye?

  1. War (Demo) (4:39)
  2. The Focus Of Satisfaction (11:02)
  3. Moments In Love (rejected 7″) (3:44)
  4. It Stopped (4:27)
  5. The Uncertainty Of Syrup (1:21)
  6. The Long Hello (4:34)
  7. The Vacuum Divine (0:47)
  8. The Ambassadors Reel: Beat Box (3:54)
  9. The Ambassadors Reel: Medley (10:56)
  10. The Ambassadors Reel: Oobly (1:21)
  11. Goodbye Art Of Noise (0:37)
  12. Hidden Track (1:06)
    Disc Four: Extended Play

  1. Battle (0:27)
  2. Beat Box (4:49)
  3. The Army Now (2:03)
  4. Donna (1:45)
  5. Moments In Love (5:11)
  6. Bright Noise (0:05)
  7. Flesh In Armour (1:24)
  8. Comes And Goes (1:19)
  9. Moment In Love (1:27)
  10. That Was Close (20:44)
  11. Moments In Love (from Battle to Beaten) (14:28)
  12. In Case We Sneezed (0:31)
  13. A Time To Hear (Who’s Listening) (3:32)
  14. Do Donna Do (3:12)
  15. Hidden Track (0:25)

Released by: ZTT
Release date: 2006
Disc one total running time: 52:33
Disc two total running time: 42:02
Disc three total running time: 48:27
Disc four total running time: 61:22

TV Eyes

TV EyesAnother project from the trio that brought us the bizarre soundtrack-to-a-nonexistent-movie Logan’s Sanctuary, TV Eyes is nothing less than an ’80s revival band that’s playing brand new songs instead of new wave covers. If anything, it’s more of a stylistic tribute to the early ’80s than anything – in some of the songs, you catch a hint of Duran Duran here, a snippet of Kajagoogoo there, and so on. TV Eyes doesn’t use those bands’ songs, but it does appropriate some of their stylistic maneuvers.

The result is a delirious trip right back to the ’80s – I’d almost swear that this is just some 25-year-old album that I’ve never heard before. Standouts include the unabashed ’80s flashback that is the Falkner-penned “She’s A Study”, whose synth arpeggios bring vintage synth-heavy acts such as Level 42 and Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark immediately to mind. Falkner’s also responsible for “Mission: Submission”, a throwback to some of the style of Gary Numan, with lyrics that are pure ’80s material, predicting a world run by computers, and the least synth-oriented song on the entire album, “The Party’s Over”, a Clash-esque rocker with political overtones that are vague enough to be from any era and yet directly address the 2000s.

“Over The City” and “Need To Love” shamelessly sound more like the Duran Duran that everyone remembers than Duran Duran itself does these days. My first impression was that it was a little too “drum ‘n’ bass” modern to fit the stylistic parameters of the album, but the rapid-fire keyboard work and funky bassline seals the deal even before the startlingly LeBon-esque vocals kick in. “She Gets Around” is a dance number with a hypnotic synth loop, while “What She Said” is an ode to that oddity of the ’80s, a non-rap song with spoken lyrics.

All of it adds up to one of the most repeat-listen-worthy CDs I’ve come across in years. This stuff is just impossible to get out of your head – it’s that catchy. It’s got a knack for sounding so familiar that you’d think that you’ve been hearing these songs on countless ’80s compilations down through the years, and yet the album – and the songs – are only a couple of years old as of this writing.

4 out of 4TV Eyes’ debut album is a dandy, and it’s a testament to the sad state of musical tastemaking on this side of the world that this group could only find a label in Japan. (Two of its members, Jellyfish alumni Roger Manning and Jason Falkner, have also released music in Japan that’s unavailable here except as wallet-stranglingly expensive imports.) Someone in America, anyone: pick these guys up, pronto. They really “get” what was so good about some of the music of the 1980s.

Order this CD

  1. Fade Away (4:33)
  2. She’s A Study (4:55)
  3. Fascinating (5:20)
  4. Love To Need (4:05)
  5. The Party’s Over (4:42)
  6. What She Said (4:14)
  7. Over The City (5:00)
  8. Mission: Submission (4:30)
  9. She Gets Around (5:22)
  10. Time’s Up (4:45)

Released by: Phantom
Release date: 2006
Total running time: 48:26

Ben Folds – Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LP

Ben Folds - Supersunnyspeedgraphic: The LPCollecting remixes and re-recordings of material from Ben Folds’ trio of 2003-2005 EP releases, as well as a couple of soundtrack songs, side projects and a new song or two, Supersunnyspeedgraphic is both a lot of fun and somewhat baffling. Baffling in that, as often happens with complation/best-of albums, I would’ve picked some completely different songs in places, and a lot of fun in that these aren’t necessarily the same recordings as heard before on those short releases.

In songs like Folds’ cover of The Darkness’ “Get Your Hands Off My Woman”, and the originals “Learn To Live With What You Are” and “There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You”, the new recordings (or the old recordings with new elements) raise the game to a whole new level. Synthetic instrumentation is replaced with the real deal (such as “Learn To Live”‘s lush new string section), and the performances are ramped up considerably (there are vast oceans of difference between Folds’ first cover of “Get Your Hands Off My Woman” and this new one).

Speaking of cover songs, the centerpiece of the whole endeavour has to be Folds’ cover of Dr. Dre’s gansta rap number “Bitches Ain’t Shit”. Taking the whole things right out of its rap context, Folds transforms it into an almost pretty exercise in piano pop whose lyrics (of which not one syllable has been changed from the original) suddenly sound completely absurd. Folds has apparently spent some quality time with cohort and video director Weird Al Yankovic, because this is one of those things that it seems like Weird Al would’ve done. It’s got every profanity in the book in it, but it’s funny enough to merit at least one listen.

“Still” (from Folds’ contributions to the Over The Hedge soundtrack) and “Bruised” (from the all-star collaboration The Bens) appear here as well, rounding things out nicely, but I can’t help but wonder where songs like “Kalamazoo” (from the Super D EP) and “Wandering” are. Without knowing for sure, it could be that the songs Folds reprises here in their new form are songs that he didn’t feel quite “finished” with, whereas near-masterpieces like the above mentioned songs were completed to his satisfaction. I would’ve put these on the tracklist for Supersunnyspeedgraphic long before In Between Days (an energetic cover of the Cure song) or Rent-A-Cop would’ve 3 out of 4wound up there, if it had been my choice.

Still, for those who weren’t hardcore enough to invest in the three EP releases from which much of this material comes, Supersunnyspeedgraphic is a nice enough summation of that work, and clears the decks of unfinished business so we can look forward to a completely new album.

Order this CD

  1. In Between Days (2:54)
  2. All U Can Eat (3:04)
  3. Songs Of Love (3:37)
  4. There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You (4:11)
  5. Learn To Live With What You Are (4:27)
  6. Bitches Ain’t Shit (4:10)
  7. Adelaide (3:12)
  8. Rent A Cop (5:08)
  9. Get Your Hands Off My Woman featuring Corn Mo (3:35)
  10. Bruised (4:34)
  11. Dog (4:27)
  12. Still (7:46)

Released by: Sony
Release date: 2006
Total running time: 51:05

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CHiPS: Season Two – music by Alan Silvestri

CHiPS: Season Two - music by Alan SilvestriYes. You read that right. We’re talking CHiPS. Ponch and Jon. Erik Estrada and…that other guy. On motorcycles. Set to the sounds of unashamedly disco-fied music. And this is that music.

For those needing a justification, remember that Michael “Worf” Dorn guest starred in numerous episodes as a recurring fellow cop back at the precinct, and that this is a CD of music from the second season, mostly composed by Alan Silvestri, later of The Abyss, Contact and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? fame. Needless to say, CHiPS represents a very early entry in Silvestri’s career, but as far as disco goes, this CD – an unlikely entry from the guys at Film Score Monthly – certainly makes it sound like he swaggered into that career with confidence.

Things open up with the main theme, which Silvestri didn’t compose, but did rearrange for his first year in residence on the series. I’d actually forgotten how brassy and fun the CHiPS theme is, and Silvestri poured on extra layers of synthesizers, drenched with a flanging effect, for his arrangement. If that’s the packaging on the outside of the box, then Silvestri’s library of score cues is exactly what’s advertised on the box: definitely ’70s, with in-your-face brass and strings backed up by a cheerful rhythm section of flanged guitar, drums, bass and synths.

Silvestri has always been on the bleeding edge of bringing synthesizers into film scoring, earning a lot of attention for being one of the first relatively big-name mainstream composers to make heavy use of the Synclavier in the late 1980s. He’s not shy about putting synthesizers front-and-center here, either. There’s also a track of music composed by Bruce Broughton, another big name these days, created for a Halloween-specific episode, which uses synths to good effect, as well as some familiar string section horror effects – all with that ’70s beat underneath it. You almost expect it to break into “Other Galactic Funk” at any second.

3 out of 4Is it cheesy? Yes, it is – but when you’ve got a big CHiPS publicity photo on the front cover of the CD’s booklet, you really shouldn’t be prepared for anything but. If you grew up with CHiPS on television, this’ll probably bring back memories of sitting in front of your grandmother’s tiny color TV, wolfing down Cheetos and Dr. Pepper. (Actually, no, that’s my childhood – get your own.)

Order this CD

  1. CHiPS Main Title composed by John Parker / arranged by Alan Silvestri (1:19)
  2. Peaks And Valleys (3:55)
  3. Family Crisis (5:44)
  4. Disaster Squad (6:22)
  5. Neighborhood Watch (3:36)
  6. High Flyer (6:18)
  7. Trick Or Treat composed by Bruce Broughton (5:59)
  8. The Grudge (5:15)
  9. The Sheik (5:48)
  10. Return Of The Turks (5:40)
  11. Supercycle (2:48)
  12. High Explosive (4:49)
  13. Down Time (2:51)
  14. Repo Man (2:15)
  15. Mait Team (4:07)
  16. Pressure Point (2:46)
  17. Rally ‘Round The Bank (2:28)
  18. Matchmakers (2:42)
  19. Ponch’s Disco (4:00)
  20. CHiPS End Credits composed by John Parker / arranged by Alan Silvestri (0:29)

Released by: Film Score Monthly
Release date: 2006
Total running time: 79:11

Amazing Stories: Anthology Two

Amazing Stories: Anthology TwoThe second volume of music from Steven Spielberg’s short-lived TV anthology series Amazing Stories presents the complete scores from another dozen episodes, boasting the most diverse musical talent gathered on any of Intrada’s three volumes of music from the show.

After one of John Williams’ alternate takes on the show’s main theme, the late Jerry Goldsmith’s single contribution to the show – at the behest of director (and Gremlins collaborator) Joe Dante – kicks things off. Boo! starred Robert Picardo in one of his most obnoxious roles (and that’s saying something), and it seems like whenever I happen to catch a rerun of Amazing Stories, this is the episode I’m most likely to see for some reason. Goldsmith’s music here isn’t quite up to Gremlins standards, though – it’s very much a novelty piece, and – at least in this listener (and Goldsmith fan)’s opinion – not one of his better ones.

Billy Goldenberg’s score for What If…? is a bit more serious, but lovely, pleasant stuff – though it’s associated with an episode that I always felt was more heartbreaking than anything else. Dorothy And Ben, an episode I don’t recall ever having seen, certainly sounds heartbreaking; Georges Delerue was one of Amazing Stories’ most prolific composers and certainly seemed to be the go-to guy for those installments that wore their hearts on their sleeves. The Main Attraction embraces its setting by combining marching band music with occasional moments of tension and synthesizer musical effects-as-sound effects. David Newman (Galaxy Quest, Serenity) contributes the music for Such Interesting Neighbors (which stands next only to Boo! as the episode of which I’m most likely to see a rerun), and as one his earlier works it succumbs to a film scoring cliche or two, but he uses his orchestra well and comes up with what I’d describe as a fond homage to the John Williams style.

Thanksgiving, scored by Bruce Broughton (another musical frequent flyer on this series), goes down as my favorite episode of Amazing Stories, simply because it’s the one installment that reminded me, more than any other episode, of the great anthologies that started it all – The Twilight Zone and Outer Limits – complete with a macabre but poetically just sting in its tail. It’s probably my favorite suite on this anthology as well, with Broughton pouring on bravado (for David Carradine’s belligerently macho character) and wonder in just the right places.

David Shire is back for Hell Toupee on the second CD, a big, brassy homage to the way movies used to be scored, while Johnny Mandel (M*A*S*H, Being There) gives us almost cartoon-esque music for One For The Road. Arthur B. Rubenstein (Blue Thunder, WarGames) tackles the all-star Remote Control Man, an episode – predating the John Ritter movie Stay Tuned – about a guy whose new remote has some magical properties, and in this case it seems to bring characters to life who hail almost exclusively from the Universal Studios/NBC stable circa 1985/86. Rubenstein thus gets to hint at a number of theme tunes from that era, after an opening act of decent mysterioso music.

John Addison is up next with The Greibble, which darts madly between mystery and comedy every time the titular critter makes an appearance. Leonard Rosenman (Star Trek IV) cranks up the tension with the WWII-themed No Day At The Beach, which combines typical war movie action sequences with more somber passages. Another member of the Newman family gets in on the Amazing Stories action, with Thomas Newman lending a humorous, Christmas-carol-inspired score to Santa ’85.

4 out of 4Again, the packaging and liner notes detailing each episode and its music are almost worth the price of admission alone. Though there are plenty of familiar faces here, this second 2-CD set is also packed with composers who only did a single score for Amazing Stories, making it a completely different experience from the first volume, but still very worthwhile.

Order this CD

    Disc one

  1. Amazing Stories Main Title, Alternate #1 (1:03)

    Boo! – music by Jerry Goldsmith

  2. The House / Sheena (0:36)
  3. Those People / Practice / Strange Feelings (2:57)
  4. Sharp Teeth / Let’s Scare ‘Em (1:50)
  5. What Fun / It’s OK / Jungle Zombie (1:57)
  6. Zombie Attack / Each Other (1:21)
  7. The Bike (0:26)
  8. The Jewelry (1:12)
  9. Catch Us / No Fall (1:35)

    What If…? – music by Billy Goldenberg

  10. Bubbles / Nails / Kitchen Odyssey (4:34)
  11. Obnoxious (1:47)
  12. Pregnant Lady (0:57)
  13. Crossing Guard / Steve / Born (5:04)

    Dorothy And Ben – music by Georges Delerue

  14. Twenty Three Thousand Dollars (0:47)
  15. Wrinkles (0:38)
  16. Be Quiet / Ben Leaves (2:45)
  17. Face Changes (0:59)
  18. Dorothy (4:49)

    The Main Attraction – music by Craig Safan

  19. Brad’s March / Brad’s Parking Space (1:58)
  20. Shirley (1:42)
  21. Meteor / Brad’s Fear / Attracting / Attractions (4:10)
  22. Brad Runs / Locker Room / Brad’s Honor (2:07)
  23. Magnetic Love (2:01)

    Such Interesting Neighbors – music by David Newman

  24. Al Driving Home (1:30)
  25. Water Vibrates (0:51)
  26. Through The Window / Off To Meet The Neighbors / Glad To Know You / Rose Eater (5:20)
  27. May Have Something (0:41)
  28. Microwave And Meatloaf / Off Kilter (2:54)
  29. Heat Seeker On Al (0:43)
  30. Emotional (2:31)
  31. Wide-Eyed Reaction (2:23)

    Thanksgiving – music by Bruce Broughton

  32. Momma’s Breath / The Package (2:39)
  33. Dora’s Message (2:12)
  34. Dora’s Gifts / Calvin Returns (2:33)
  35. Chicken Preferred / Turkey (4:42)
    Disc Two

  1. Amazing Stories Bumper #2 (0:04)

    Hell Toupee – music by David Shire

  2. I’m Harry Valentine (0:30)
  3. Can’t Remember / …As A Woman (2:47)
  4. Hell Toupee (0:17)
  5. Scratched Head / The Escape (2:00)
  6. Toupee Shop / Change Your Life (1:49)
  7. What Is It? / The Chase (5:10)
  8. Finale (0:53)

    One For The Road – music by Johnny Mandel

  9. Brainstorm (0:42)
  10. Free Drinks All Around (0:30)
  11. The Cupboard Was Bare / Pass The Oil (1:58)
  12. To Your Health (2:06)
  13. The Banquet (1:36)
  14. The Bridge (1:02)
  15. Reincarnation (0:30)

    Remote Control Man – music by Arthur B. Rubenstein

  16. Walter (1:47)
  17. From The Forties (0:34)
  18. Right Away (0:51)
  19. Super Over Source (0:50)
  20. Neon Signs And Fog (1:15)
  21. Something Just For You / Queen And Mrs. Cleaver (4:00)
  22. Simmons (0:45)
  23. Enjoying Yourself? (0:24)
  24. No Mice (0:35)
  25. To Bed (0:58)
  26. Pop Off (0:28)

    The Greibble – music by John Addison

  27. Off To Work / Tidying Up (1:40)
  28. Daily Soap (1:00)
  29. First Encounter / Is It Dangerous? (3:44)
  30. Lamp Eater (1:08)
  31. Nummy, Nummy (1:36)
  32. Hardware Dump (2:10)
  33. Gun Threat (0:58)
  34. Friends (1:10)
  35. Revelation (1:54)

    No Day At The Beach – music by Leonard Rosenman

  36. No Day At The Beach / Picking Up Cards / Turkey In The Face (2:06)
  37. Hey Casey / Get Some Sleep (1:32)
  38. Battle Stations (0:25)
  39. Gun Fire (0:22)
  40. Charging Pill Box (1:54)
  41. Dead Arnold (0:16)
  42. He Never Got Off The Boat (4:11)

    Santa ’85 – music by Thomas Newman

  43. From The Sky Above The House / From The House To The Within / From The Chimney And In Through The Window (5:42)
  44. Caught By The Law (1:42)
  45. The Reindeer / No Fingerprints / From The Jail To The Chase To Left Off (5:18)
  46. The Ray Gun (0:50)
  47. By Candlelight (0:28)
  48. Amazing Stories End Credits (0:29)
  49. Amblin Logo – Christmas Version (0:15)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2006
Disc one total running time: 78:03
Disc two total running time: 76:28

Amazing Stories: Anthology One

Amazing Stories: Anthology OneProduced and overseen by Steven Spielberg from 1985 through ’87, Amazing Stories was a lighthearted take on the anthology/playhouse series format that hadn’t been seen on television in two decades. There was no recurring cast of characters, and no connected stories – but unlike The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents or The Outer Limits, Amazing Stories was built on one prerequisite set by Spielberg – a sense of wonder and the fantastic, not the fatalistic. To this end, Spielberg – largely on the power of his own name – drew A-list Hollywood writing, acting and directing talent into his orbit for the show’s first season, and an absolutely stellar, unprecedented A-list of composers, a gathering of genius the likes of which – in all honesty, and not intended as hyperbole – we may never see again on one project.

We’re talking about composers who weren’t even “doing” TV anymore at this stage in their careers. We’re talking Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams and James Horner. We’re also talking composers who were on the brink of making it big – Danny Elfman, Bruce Broughton, and others. How the show looked and felt was up to the individual directors and cast members of each story, but Spielberg put the money up front from the word go to make sure that Amazing Stores would sound amazing.

Although a single-disc compilation of two Amazing Stories scores was released by Varese Sarabande a while back, it was obvious that there was room for more music from this series. Intrada stepped up to the plate with a trio of 2-CD collections, covering several episodes per set and presenting the widest variety of composers’ works possible. Though several episodes were still left out by the time the third and final volume was rolled out, the result is a much more comprehensive collection, sure to please fans of many of the major film composers of the 1980s and ’90s.

John Williams’ music from the first episode, Ghost Train, sits nicely alongside his movie scores from the same era (E.T., etc.), and for a relatively short suite of music (though it’s also every note he recorded for the episode), it all develops beautifully. Two scores with period flavorings follow, James Horner’s Alamo Jobe – which, whenever it breaks out of its western feel into something more traditionally contemporary, sounds like a lot of Horner’s other output from the ’80s – and Bruce Broughton’s more whimsical, century-spanning (and Mark Hamill-starring) Gather Ye Acorns. Georges Delerue’s wistful, low-key The Doll follows, but the next suite – a jarring selection from early Spielberg collaborator Billy Goldenberg’s score from The Amazing Falsworth – is an unsettling wake-up call after Delerue’s calm music.

The second disc opens with a 4-second “station ID bumper” version of John Williams’ main theme, and dives into the music from Moving Day, scored by David Shire, who, fresh from scoring 2010: The Year We Make Contact, brings synth collaborator Craig Huxley with him for some music that sounds remarkably similar to that movie at times. Delerue returns for Without Diana, a heartfelt score that oozes tragedy even without the accompanying visuals. Contrast is once more the name of the game as this is followed up by an early Danny Elfman score, Mummy, Daddy, dripping with the kind of wackiness and whimsy that would become his hallmarks. Hollywood pastiche is the name of the game for another Bruce Broughton score, Welcome To My Nightmare, which brings things to a close (well, technically the Amazing Stories end credit music does that).

4 out of 4Where sound quality is concerned, there are a few quirks that stem mainly from the material being recorded at the twilight of mono sound mixes for television: some of the recordings are in stereo, while others aren’t. But the quality of the recordings is rich and crisp, like the sessions were recorded just last week. The shortest episode suite on this volume is just under nine minutes in length, so the double CD set is more than justified, and the packaging and liner notes are top-notch and informative. Overall, the Amazing Stories collections may be the best thing indie soundtrack label Intrada has ever done, and they’re a treat for fans of the composers whose work appears here.

Order this CD

    Disc one

  1. Amazing Stories Main Title (1:02)

    Ghost Train – music by John Williams

  2. Ohpa’s Arrival (0:30)
  3. Grieving Ohpa (1:17)
  4. Ohpa’s Tales (3:44)
  5. Ohpa Remembers (2:25)
  6. The Ticket (3:05)
  7. The Train Arrives (4:17)

    Alamo Jobe – music by James Horner

  8. The Battle / Jobe Runs (3:01)
  9. Travis Dies (0:51)
  10. First Chase (3:43)
  11. Antique Shop (2:16)

    Gather Ye Acorns – music by Bruce Broughton

  12. The Boy / The Gnome (4:34)
  13. 1938 Radio Source (1:42)
  14. Jonathan’s Room / The Car (0:48)
  15. Nothin’ But A Bum / 1955 / Tumbleweed Connection (2:50)
  16. Regrets (1:27)
  17. 1985 (0:51)
  18. Gas Station Source (2:58)
  19. Holy Moly! / Sow Ye Wild Oats (3:06)

    The Doll – music by Georges Delerue

  20. Doll Shop Sign (1:08)
  21. The Carousel / Doll On Floor / Well, Miss… (3:12)
  22. A School Teacher (0:46)
  23. An Occasional Model (0:36)
  24. She’s Not Married / An O.S. Clunk / Door Opens (1:54)
  25. John Walks To Mantle (2:17)

    The Amazing Falsworth – music by Billy Goldenberg

  26. Falsworth / Strangling / Retrospect (3:30)
  27. Leering / Frigity-Feet (0:30)
  28. Top Floor / Lights (0:53)
  29. All In The Fingers / Lunge (3:07)
  30. Falsworth (E.T.) (0:36)
    Disc two

  1. Amazing Stories Bumper #1 (0:04)

    Moving Day – music by David Shire

  2. Alan’s Dream (1:20)
  3. It’s Not The Same / Discovering The Room (1:37)
  4. My God! (2:40)
  5. Tonight / That’s Alturis (2:30)
  6. Your Ring (2:14)
  7. Departure (2:01)
  8. Finale (0:57)

    Without Diana – music by Georges Delerue

  9. Park (1946) (1:44)
  10. Only Eight / Forest Walk (2:30)
  11. Sorry Policeman / Not By George Alone (2:33)
  12. George In Doorway / Diana’s Story (2:20)
  13. George Will Be (3:22)

    Mummy, Day – music by Danny Elfman & Steve Bartek

  14. Mummy Movie / Baby Chase / Gas Station (3:21)
  15. Country Source (0:26)
  16. Gun Shot / Stinger / Swamp / Old Man / Real Mummy (3:35)
  17. Kung-Fu Mummy (1:00)
  18. Motorcycle / Caught (1:23)
  19. Lynching / Horse Ride (1:25)
  20. Corridors / Caught Again (0:27)
  21. Baby / Finale (1:30)

    Vanessa In The Garden – music by Leonard Niehaus

  22. It’s Lovely / Whoa, Rock, Whoa / I Hurt Vanessa (1:47)
  23. Beautiful Portrait / Humming From The Garden (4:09)
  24. Vanessa’s Laughter / A Summer’s Day / Do It Together / Create A Life (4:07)
  25. Vanessa (piano with orchestra coda) (3:19)

    Welcome To My Nightmare – music by Bruce Broughton

  26. Harry Wakes Up (2:00)
  27. Harry Takes A Shower / Horro Movie / Kate (1:57)
  28. Fraternity Of The Undead / Bad Milk (1:41)
  29. Harry & Kate (0:39)
  30. Harry’s Prayer / The Comet Theatre / Harry At The Movies (7:24)
  31. Back Home (2:13)
  32. Amazing Stories End Credits (0:29)
  33. Amblin Logo (0:15)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2006
Disc one total running time: 64:31
Disc two total running time: 70:33