Peter Gabriel – New Blood

Peter Gabriel - New BloodPicking up conceptually where the too-tame orchrstral cover album Scratch My Back left off, Peter Gabriel’s follow-up is another orchestral cover album, this time drawing from Gabriel’s own back catalog. I was so unimpressed with Scratch My Back that I elected not to review it here (in a nutshell: Gabriel’s cover of Paul Simon’s “Boy In Then Bubble” was the only track I bother to revisit since the first listen), so the thought of Gabriel giving his own material the same treatment didn’t excite me: would he pick the right songs? Would he saddle them with uninspired, Scratch My Back-style arrangements?

And yet some of Gabriel’s music just oozes widescreen majesty. Surely translation into a symphonic idiom could only expand on that… right?

Well… yes and no. Gabriel is working with the same arranger with whom he collaborated on Scratch My Back here, so it’s hit or miss. “Rhythm Of The Heat” is pretty typical of the album as a whole”: for the most part it’s a competent enough translation of the original version of the song, but adds nothing new except a swap-out of rock instruments for orchestral instruments. It’s unadventurous. That description applies to many of the album’s covers. Very few songs break the mold and make me go “wow” – “Intruder” is a good example of this, taking the (already disturbing) original song and reshaping it into an unnerving piece of horror movie music – but most fall into the spineless category. Worse yet, Gabriel’s voice isn’t capable of the acrobatics he could pull off in his younger years, stripping even more of the “oomph” from the songs as he tones the vocals down along with the instruments.

If you’re detecting a recurring theme here, aside from “this could have been so much better,” you’re not imagining things. Peter Gabriel is a maker of mind-expanding, widescreen music. It’s not for nothing that he’s scored movies before (Birdy, The Last Temptation Of Christ), and it’s not for nothing that he was selected to assemble the world-music-rock-opera for London’s Millennium Dome (OVO). And yet New Blood seems to sap the blood from the same songs that made me a Peter Gabriel fan in the first place.

Maybe what this album needed was some TLC from someone who actually does soundtracks, rather than the same numbingly dull approach as Scratch My Back. Bear McCreary of Battlestar Galactica soundtrack fame, who is credited by a lot of that show’s fans for exposing them to new and different styles of music, would have knocked this out of the park and (excuse the pun) straight into orbit, fusing orchestral and ethnic music with ease.

2 out of 4I hope Peter Gabriel resumes his more traditional style of music for whatever he releases next. The songs selected for New Blood were enthralling in their original versions because they were so unconventional. New Blood squandered the opportunity to expand on those songs by make them not just convention, but watered-down shadows of their former selves.

Order this CD

    Disc One – Vocals

  1. The Rhythm Of The Heat (5:41)
  2. Downside Up (3:52)
  3. San Jacinto (6:58)
  4. Intruder (5:07)
  5. Wallflower (6:25)
  6. In Your Eyes (7:13)
  7. Mercy Street (5:59)
  8. Red Rain (5:15)
  9. Darkness (6:10)
  10. Don’t Give Up (6:40)
  11. Digging In The Dirt (4:57)
  12. The Nest That Sailed The Sky (3:54)
  13. A Quiet Moment (4:48)
  14. Solsbury Hill (4:35)
    Disc Two – Instrumentals

  1. The Rhythm Of The Heat (instrumental) (5:41)
  2. Downside Up (instrumental) (3:52)
  3. San Jacinto (instrumental) (7:12)
  4. Intruder (instrumental) (5:06)
  5. Wallflower (instrumental) (6:24)
  6. In Your Eyes (instrumental) (7:13)
  7. Mercy Street (instrumental) (6:00)
  8. Red Rain (instrumental) (5:15)
  9. Darkness (instrumental) (6:10)
  10. Don’t Give Up (instrumental) (6:40)
  11. Digging In The Dirt (instrumental) (4:58)
  12. The Nest That Sailed The Sky (instrumental) (3:54)
  13. The Blood Of Eden (instrumental) (6:05)

Released by: RealWorld
Release date: 2011
Disc one total running time: 77:34
Disc two total running time: 74:30

Die Hard (Limited Edition) – music by Michael Kamen

Die HardAction films rarely age like fine wine. Most are so rooted in the time period they were released, it’s hard to look past the menagerie of dated cinematic conventions and appreciate them for the fun fluff that they are designed to be. Personally, it’s hard to separate Dirty Harry’s vigilante ambitions from all the sideburns, deliberate camera zooms and funky background music that so characterized ’70s action flicks. Despite their greater leap toward modernization, ’80s films don’t fare much better in the rear-view. The desperate, tortured hero of the ’70s action film was replaced by larger-than-life supermen capable of escaping any trap they were up against. Explosions were bigger, special effects were grander, and if your first name was Arnold, Sylvester, or Harrison you were guaranteed a very secure future in Hollywood. It was a refreshing change from the dreary nihilism that characterized the ’70s, but by the end of the ’80s, the new action formula was itself beginning to grow tired and predictable and not even Steven Spielberg could enliven a genre of action films that he himself helped to inaugurate with Raiders Of The Lost Ark.

Then came a little movie called Die Hard in 1988.

Okay, it wasn’t exactly a little movie. Bruce Willis was already an established star and the movie had some of the best production minds in Hollywood working on it. But nothing about the movie conformed to the established ’80s action-movie style. Deliberately stylized with a wry, tongue-in-check tone, Die Hard banished the superman lead in favor of an anti-hero – an everyday guy caught up in extraordinary circumstances who prevails against the villains – in this case, a group of German “terrorists”. It’s worth buying a special edition DVD just for director John McTiernan’s commentary, who talks at length about the initial resistance he faced for his unconventional, European style of directing and editing. Die Hard ultimately won over just about everyone, becoming a monstrous success and spinning off a new genre of action movies. It also further catapulted McTiernan and cinematographer Jan De Bont into stardom (De Bont would turn in equally impressive DP work on The Hunt For Red October and Basic Instinct before getting his first crack at directing with Speed in 1994).

Critical to Die Hard‘s success was its score by Michael Kamen. Embracing the movie’s dark sense of humor, Kamen loaded the score with sleigh bells and melodic nods to famous classical musical compositions and holiday tunes to give his driving, rhythmic assault a subversive sense of whimsy. As good as the score sounds when viewing the movie, it is even more astonishing in its intricacy and creativity when listening to it by itself. La-La Land’s newly remastered, two-CD set of the Die Hard score spoils you with nearly every note Kamen threw at this movie, and then some. With over 107 minutes of total music included, it’s easy to see just how musically dense Die Hard was. Today, Kamen’s Die Hard score remains a celebrated achievement in action movie scoring.

It would be easy to say the best tracks in the set are the ones where Kamen truly cuts loose, and “Assault on the Tower” is unquestionably his most thrilling composition. The music is both playful and relentless as it unscores the SWAT team’s ill-fated attack on the terrorists in the Nakatomi building. But Kamen’s real genius is how he perverts the innocent spirit of songs such as “Ode To Joy” by Beethoven and “Winter Wonderland” and “Singing In The Rain” by using them as motifs for the German terrorists (Listen: “Terrorist Entrance”). Elsewhere, there’s certainly enough pounding hyperbole to justify the more bombastic action sequences in the movie, but its Kamen’s subtlety and ability to validate some deliberately cartoonish arrangements that make the score so shockingly good. One of McClane’s early motifs is a corny steel guitar arrangement that is nonetheless highly effective in identifying him as the “cowboy” Hans sees him as (“John’s Escape/You Want Money”). Later, Kamen crafts a more fatalistic four-note motif that grounds the character more and suggests his survival is much more tenuous then we at first believed (“And If He Alters It”). In the overall, however, Kamen stays loyal to the movie’s playful spirit, using tip-toeing pizzicato and other strange electronic effects to highlight the fun cat-and-mouse movie moments.

Film score critic Jeff Bond provides an exhaustive, yet illuminating, track-by-track analysis of the score in the CD set’s liner notes. The set naturally includes tracks that weren’t included in the movie or were heavily piped down in the final mix. An example of an omission that actually benefitted the movie was an arrangement Kamen crafted for the exploding office chair McClane’s throws down the elevator shaft to thwart the terrorists. Stopping the music just as the chair begins its descent, as it does in the movie, heightens the feeling of anticipation; this effect would have been lost had the producers decided to score this section (“Assault On The Tower”).

4 out of 4As a longtime fan of the movie, I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about Die Hard. Eric Lichenfeld, in his liner notes, proved me wrong. For example, I did know Alan Rickman was attached to a quick-release harness and released to capture his shocked expression when he plummets from the tower at movie’s end, but I didn’t know the producers tricked Rickman as to when he’d fall in the 3-2-1 countdown (he was dropped on 1, rather than the expected zero!). La-La Land Records sold out their entire supply of the CD set within 72 hours of release – no doubt a testament to the enduring popularity of this groundbreaking score.

Out Of Print

    Disc One

  1. Main Title (0:38)
  2. Terrorist Entrance (4:05)
  3. The Phone Goes Dead / Party Crashers (1:51)
  4. John’s Escape / You Want Money? (6:00)
  5. Wiring the Roof (1:51)
  6. Fire Alarm (2:04)
  7. Tony Approaches (1:41)
  8. Tony and John Fight (1:11)
  9. Santa (0:56)
  10. He Won’t Be Joining Us (3:01)
  11. And If He Alters It (2:39)
  12. Going After John (4:29)
  13. Have a Few Laughs / Al Powell Approaches (3:31)
  14. Under the Table (1:55)
  15. Welcome to the Party (1:09)
  16. TV Station (2:47)
  17. Holly Meets Hans (1:19)
  18. Assault on the Tower (8:35)
    Disc Two

  1. John is Found Out (5:03)
  2. Attention Police (3:54)
  3. Bill Clay (4:09)
  4. Shooting the Glass (1:07)
  5. I Had an Accident (2:37)
  6. The Vault (3:07)
  7. Message for Holly (1:07)
  8. The Battle / Freeing the Hostages (6:53)
  9. Helicopter Explosion and Showdown (4:00)
  10. Happy Trails (1:12)
  11. We’ve Got Each Other (1:57)
  12. Let it Snow (1:43)
  13. Beethoven’s 9th (End Credits Excerpt) (4:00)
  14. The Nakatomi Plaza (1:47)
  15. Message for Holly (Film Version) (2:46)
  16. Gun in Cheek (1:03)
  17. Fire Hose (1:00)
  18. Ode to Joy (Alternate) (2:11)
  19. Let it Snow (Source) (1:58)
  20. Winter Wonderland (Source) (1:26)
  21. Christmas in Hollis performed by Run-DMC (3:00)
  22. Roy Rogers Meets Beethoven’s 9th (Muzak) (1:36)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2011
Disc one total running time: 49:42
Disc two total running time: 57:36

Star Trek: The Next Generation Collection Volume 1

Star Trek: The Next Generation Collection - Volume 1In 2010, when Film Score Monthly took a huge financial gamble on the release of a lavish 14-disc box set chronicling all of composer Ron Jones’ contributions to Star Trek: The Next Generation, the label found itself having to fight not just protests about the price tag, but the commonly held misconception that TNG’s music, from its first season to its last, was a wall of droning synth music. (In fact, the show frequently boasted one of the biggest music budgets in TV, with at least a partial orchestra booked for most episodes.)

Weighing in at three discs, La-La Land’s Star Trek: The Next Generation Collection Volume 1 devotes one disc to a broad selection of music by Dennis McCarthy, another disc to Jay Chattway, and a third disc to composers whose stints on TNG proved to be one-offs. This is far from an indication that these musicians were never invited back, however – rather, they soon became far too busy on other projects. These one-off composers include John Debney (seaQuest DSV, Doctor Who, The Passion Of The Christ), Don Davis (the Matrix trilogy) and the late Fred Steiner (the only composer to score both original TV Star Trek and TNG).

This set puts the lie to the “wall of synths” accusation often unfairly leveled at the series’ music by fans who either have a short memory or simply don’t know any better, but one of the three discs proves the critics’ point about droning.

Dennis McCarthy remains the alpha and omega of post-original-series Star Trek music: he scored the pilot episode of TNG in 1987 and the series finale of Star Trek: Enterprise in 2005. In between, he scored computer games, theme park rides and one movie based on the series. McCarthy’s sound is expansive, with French horns frequently sounding almost heraldic chord changes and strings arranged to give the show a widescreen, cinematic sound. While Ron Jones’ music may have been more “involved,” it’s hard to argue that McCarthy’s often comes across as more sophisticated. This first disc is full of series highlights, among them my favorite early episode, Conspiracy, which seemed on the surface like it should have spun the entire rest of the show in a different direction. Other big, brassy, noteworthy McCarthy scores include Sarek, Time Squared and The Child. Some of the cues where McCarthy eschews his usual style are among the most effective in the entire three-disc set, with The Survivors and The Big Goodbye being particularly worth a listen.

With Jones vanishing halfway through the series – having irked executive producer Rick Berman one too many times – the fourth season saw the introduction of his replacement, Jay Chattaway, who had filled in for Jones on the episodes Tin Man (already released by GNP Crescendo) and Remember Me (included here). Though those two early entries were very strong, Chattaway settled into a groove – or, perhaps arguably, a rut – where he frequently reused chord progressions. Some of Chattaway’s work used interesting, almost eastern chords, while other pieces went heavy on dissonance.

The problem with Chattaway’s disc is also the problem with his scoring of the series: the reuse of material is very noticeable. Episodes like Starship Mine, Journey’s End and I, Borg, which feature scenes that should crank up the action or the menace, are lulled into a somnolent daze where the music says “nothing is happening here.” Chattaway is at his best with more contemplative, exotic episodes as Darmok and The Inner Light. Also featured on the Chattaway disc, mainly because the fans would form a lynching party if it wasn’t included, is the “Scotty on the holodeck bridge” music from Relics.

The third disc is the most eye-opening surprise. Original series composer Fred Steiner wakes up everyone who fell asleep during the second disc with Code Of Honor, a busy, boisterous score that would’ve been right at home on Kirk’s Enterprise, and sadly represents Steiner’s only voyage aboard Picard’s Enterprise. Had Steiner stayed on, creating a McCarthy-Jones-Steiner rotation, the show would’ve benefitted greatly – and Steiner likely would’ve been spaced long before Jones. Code Of Honor boasts some great music (pity about the script it accompanied, though).

Fred Steiner sadly died just before this set was released.

Don Davis’ Face Of The Enemy isn’t quite as stunning, but compared to the state of TNG’s music circa season 6 (the almost complete lack of music from that season from either McCarthy or Chattaway is both conspicuous and telling), it stands out almost as much as Code Of Honor did in season one, with bold flourishes and a big sound. Less surprising is John Debney’s The Pegasus, which almost sounds like a McCarthy score. Debney’s score is at its best when illustrating the episode’s dark moral dilemma for Commander Riker.

Rounding things off are various arrangements of the opening titles, end credits, and even the post-fade-out “bumpers” that were seen and heard at the end of each act before the commercial break (now forever consigned to the aging memories of those of us who saw the show before it was on DVD). Two oddball arrangements of the original series theme are on disc three – the liner notes reveal that these were recorded for use on the gag reels shown at the cast and crew’s private end-of-season wrap parties.

3 out of 4This would be a four-star collection, except that a bizarre choice of Chattaway material makes the composer sound sleepy, when a different selection of episodes would’ve yielded much better music (Chain Of Command is very conspicuous by its absence). And again, La-La Land Records has found itself battling the age-old perception of TNG’s music as synthesized dreck – after an impressive initial burst of sales (including the set’s debut at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con), much of the inventory remained in the warehouse, casting doubt on the label’s promise to mine the Deep Space Nine and Voyager music vaults. This nicely-prepared collection didn’t deserve that fate, as a lot of it (chiefly discs 1 and 3) is better than even I remembered.

Order this CD

    Music by Dennis McCarthy

  1. Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title Season 3 (1:49)

    Haven

  2. Haven / Harpies / Gifts (2:06)
  3. Starship / Lost Love / Wyatt & Troi / Mom Arrives (3:26)
  4. In Practice / Tradition / Cuestosity (Not Used) / Mental Flame / Leper Colony (4:44)
  5. Petty (0:54)
  6. Desert Panorama / Proposal / Tractor Beam (2:51)
  7. Ariana / Plan to Die / Preparation / Alien Vessel / Departure / Next Adventure (7:54)

    Hide and Q

  8. Miracle Worker / Lights Out / Time Lapse (5:24)

    The Big Goodbye

  9. (You Came Along From) Out of Nowhere (3:24)

    Conspiracy

  10. Worf Down / Invader / Dinner Treats / Retching Remmick / Recovery / Cliff Hanger (7:44)

    The Child

  11. Rendezvous / Liaison (2:15)
  12. Aucdet IX / Containment Out / The Birth Growth Spurt (5:11)

    Elementary, Dear Data

  13. Stardate / Holmes’s Pipe / Holmes’s Pipe 2 (0:54)
  14. Denouement / The Challenge (0:57)

    Time Squared

  15. P-2 Arises / Hall Twins / P-2 Dies / Escape / No Repeat (6:08)

    The Survivors

  16. Music Boxer (1:03)
  17. Telepathic / Kevin’s Waltz / Unbridged (4:36)
  18. Music Box (0:39)

    Sarek

  19. Logging / Solution / Mind Meld / Angstosity / Back to Reality / Goodbyes (6:26)

    Conundrum

  20. MacDuff Exposed / Meeting the Girls / Confused (4:40)

    All Good Things…

  21. Saved Again (2:27)
  22. I Have a Gun (0:52)
  23. Star Trek: The Next Generation End Title: Season 3 Long Version (1:55)
    Music By Jay Chattaway

  1. Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title Season 2 (1:39)

    Remember Me

  2. Old Friend / Return to Starbase (1:06)
  3. The Traveler / Through the Bubble (7:08)

    The Host

  4. Sorry / Jay (3:34)
  5. No Pain, No Gain (2:04)
  6. Can’t Be Apart (2:18)
  7. Surprised / Last Waist Kiss (1:12)

    Darmok

  8. Doo Doo Occurs (3:04)
  9. Telling a Story / Gone Forever (4:07)
  10. Tired of Sitting Around / What’s a Life Worth? (4:55)

    Silicon Avatar

  11. Running for Cover / Someone’s Comin’ (3:25)
  12. So, We Finally Meet (3:51)

    The Perfect Mate

  13. Hard to Resist (3:07)
  14. I’ve Bonded With You (1:19)

    I Borg

  15. The Borg Pick Up Hugh (2:40)

    The Inner Light

  16. Lullaby #1 (0:50)
  17. Naming Dance #1: alternate (1:15)
  18. The Answer to a Mystery / Lullaby #1A (4:20)

    Relics

  19. Scotty’s Bridge (0:40)
  20. Captain in Rank Only / Scotty to the Rescue / Mister Good Hands (4:43)

    Starship Mine

  21. Greedy Double Crosser / Fight to the Death (6:51)

    The Chase

  22. Message Received (2:50)

    Journey’s End

  23. War or Peace / Wes Goes on His Way (6:08)

    Bonus Tracks from The Inner Light:

  24. Naming Ceremony, Alternate (Not Used)
  25. (1:20)

  26. Naming Dance, Up-Tempo Version (Not Used) (1:08)
  27. Star Trek: The Next Generation End Title: Season 3 Short Version Alternate (0:48)
    Other Composers

  1. Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title Season 3 (1:49)

    Code of Honor – music by Fred Steiner

  2. Sky and Starship / Meet Lutan / Lutan Impressed (2:43)
  3. Bronze Horse / To the Holodeck / Snatch Tasha (1:50)
  4. Waiting / Code of Honor II (1:39)
  5. Chez Lutan / Lutan’s Honor / The Centerpiece / Yareena Upset / Combat Ready / Hatching a Plan / Code of Honor Again (4:16)
  6. Code of Honor (Not Used) / Yareena’s Threat / The Glavin (2:12)
  7. Officer’s Log / Competition / Deadly Blow / She Lives / Poor Lutan / Mission Accomplished (6:39)

    Face of the Enemy – music by Don Davis

  8. Troi Delirious (1:35)
  9. Ear Trauma / Romulans in Romuland / Troi Trouble (1:29)
  10. It’s Huge / Riker Ridiculous (Not Used) / Jean-Luc Benign / Romulan Dissident Mummies / N’Vek Trek (3:32)
  11. Clash of the British Titans / Placating Picard / Untitled / Face of the Enemy (Act Out) (3:27)
  12. Toreth’s Revenge / N’Vek Nervosa (5:48)
  13. Destructed Plan / Another Cruel Hoax / Noble N’Vek Dies for Our Sins (8:15)

    The Pegasus – music by John Debney

  14. New Orders / Pegasus (0:22)
  15. On Impulse /Romulans Appear: alternate / Stand Down / Pressman Plots (2:06)
  16. Act In / Scanning the Belt: alternate (3:31)
  17. Romulans Depart / Duty Calls / Riker’s Dilemma /Relieved of Command (2:43)
  18. The Discovery / Trapped (5:12)
  19. Secret Weapon / Federation Cloak / Second Chance (6:57)
  20. New Orders: alternate (0:22)
  21. Romulans Appear: alternate (1:03)
  22. Stand Down: alternate (0:38)
  23. Scanning the Belt: alternate (3:17)
  24. Secret Weapon: alternate (3:53)
  25. Star Trek: The Next Generation Bumper Season 1 (0:06)
  26. Star Trek: The Next Generation Bumper Season 3 (0:08)
  27. Theme From Star Trek – Polka Version (0:55)
  28. Theme From Star Trek – Torch Song Version (1:34)
  29. Star Trek: The Next Generation End Title: Season 3 Short Version (0:48)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2011
Disc one total running time: 79:06
Disc two total running time: 77:17
Disc three total running time: 79:32

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

Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes – music by Patrick Doyle

Rise Of The Planet Of The ApesThe Planet Of The Apes franchise has never been safe or predictable, and the same goes for its music. With a musical lexicon established by an unconventional score that has to count as one of Jerry Goldsmith‘s career highlights, the Apes franchise demands that later composers bring their A-game. Even the 21st century’s first attempt at reviving the franchise – though it was a non-starter that sits well outside of the accepted continuity – was scored by none other than Danny Elfman. The single season of live-action TV Apes drew heavily on a pilot score by Lalo Schifrin that acknowledged Goldsmith’s adventurous music, even if it couldn’t approach it on a TV soundtrack budget. The upshot of this is: you can’t go tame composing for Apes.

Patrick Doyle‘s score, however, does precisely that for a lot of its running time. Don’t get me wrong – fans of the Hans Zimmer-inspired school of “action music with lots of fast-moving cello ostinatos” will feel right at home here, but even Zimmer could be more adventurous than this (see also: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Inception). The music is pleasant enough, and Doyle proves that he’s got the chops for a “primitive” sound, but it’s well into the movie or the soundtrack before that’s apparent. Even when the primate action gets hot and heavy, rather than playing up the exotic, the score falls back on a wall of strings. The groundwork for the end of humanity is being laid in the story, but we still get a rather gentrified, string-heavy sound – more than once, I found myself wondering what Bear McCreary would’ve done with this movie.

When Doyle does do brutal/primitive, it’s a breath of fresh air, but it seems as though he falls back on the string section as quickly as possible. The music isn’t bad, just… awfully conventional.

2 out of 4I wasn’t expecting, or hoping, to hear full-scale quotation of the original Goldsmith score or any of its successors, but a little stylistic callback to the original might not have hurt. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes is a different kind of approach to the Apes franchise, and it definitely gets a musical treatment that’s different from most of what has come before. Is it more contemporary? Yes – but it’s also strangely more generic, the last sound I’d expect from a new movie in this series.

Order this CD

  1. The Beginning (2:48)
  2. Bright Eyes Escapes (3:37)
  3. Lofty Swing (1:36)
  4. Stealing The 112 (1:51)
  5. Muir Woods (1:20)
  6. Off You Go (2:17)
  7. Who Am I? (2:20)
  8. Caesar Protects Charles (3:57)
  9. The Primate Facility (2:44)
  10. Dodge Hoses Caesar (1:39)
  11. Rocket Attacks Caesar (1:24)
  12. Visiting Time (2:16)
  13. “Caesing” The Knife (2:04)
  14. Buck Is Released (1:51)
  15. Charles Slips Away (1:16)
  16. Cookies (1:15)
  17. Inhaling The Virus (2:45)
  18. Caesar’s Stand (4:23)
  19. Sys Freedom (4:56)
  20. Zoo Breakout (2:40)
  21. Golden Gate Bridge (5:21)
  22. The Apes Attack (2:09)
  23. Caesar And Buck (1:57)
  24. Caesar’s Home (2:40)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: 2011
Total running time: 61:06

Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol – music by Murray Gold

Doctor Who: A Christmas CarolIf the soundtrack from the fifth season of the revived Doctor Who was a marvelous change of pace for composer Murray Gold, the stand-alone soundtrack release for A Christmas Carol, the 2010 Christmas special, is a homecoming. A Christmas Carol returns to the big, unapologetically brassy sound that Gold used for much of the Russell T. Davies era of Doctor Who. About the only thing that’s missing is an orchestral action piece set to a rock drum beat.

That’s not to say that this special’s music wasn’t just as firmly entrenched in the more subdued musical sensibility of the Steven Moffat era, however. After “Come Along Pond,” the all-out action intro for the show’s Star-Trek-spoofing opening teaser, many of the early tracks take on the dark tone of the Doctor’s latest destination. Once the Doctor travels back in time to Kazran Sardick’s childhood, the story’s essentially dealing with a child who’s been neglected at best and abused at worst – not really the kind of material for jubilant tunes. Once we get into scenes such as the Doctor inadvertently feeding his sonic screwdriver to a flying shark, however, Gold is off to the races in his old style.

The sharks (flying or otherwise) would be circling if the album didn’t also include the mesmerizing “Abigail’s Song (Silence Is All You Know)”, whose title – as of the middle of the 2011 season – sticks out like a sore thumb trying to disguise itself as a subtle hint. Unlike some of the songs that have accompanied past Christmas specials, this one is indeed sung by Katherine Jenkins, who played Abigail on screen, and whose operatic pedigree means she certainly doesn’t need to be dubbed. The melody of the song, however, begins creeping into the score long before the song’s appearance late in the episode.

4 out of 4As always, Gold coaxes an awesome wall of sound out of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, whose presence has occasionally become a bit sparse as the BBC becomes more budget-conscious across the board. Fully orchestral passages have become a kind of special flavoring during the regular season, and an ear-popping stocking stuffer at Christmas. I wasn’t crazy about the plot of A Christmas Carol, but the music is one of the better things about the show, and is well worth a listen.

Order this CD

  1. Come Along Pond (1:51)
  2. Halfway Out Of The Dark (1:38)
  3. Pray For A Miracle (0:37)
  4. Geoff (3:48)
  5. You Didn’t Hit The Boy (1:44)
  6. Fish (0:50)
  7. Kazran Sardick 12 1/2 (1:29)
  8. Ghost Of Christmas Past (1:33)
  9. Babysitter (0:47)
  10. Talk About Girls (1:41)
  11. Sonic Fishing (1:43)
  12. Just A Little One (1:16)
  13. Big Colour (1:50)
  14. I Can’t Save Her (3:34)
  15. The Other Half’s Inside The Shark (1:08)
  16. Abigail (1:47)
  17. He Comes Every Christmas (1:09)
  18. Shark Ride (1:24)
  19. New Memories (1:00)
  20. Holding Hands (1:45)
  21. Christmas Dinner (0:38)
  22. Goodlucknight (1:51)
  23. Goodnight Abigail (2:10)
  24. This Planet Is Ours (2:00)
  25. Ghost Of Christmas Present (0:48)
  26. The Course Of My Life (1:35)
  27. Ghost Of Christmas Future (1:50)
  28. Abigail’s Song (Silence Is All You Know) (4:41)
    performed by Katherine Jenkins
  29. Everything Has To End Some Time (1:14)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 2011
Total running time: 49:21