Star Trek: Insurrection (Newly Expanded Edition)

Star Trek: Insurrection (Newly Expanded Edition)GNP Crescendo’s final remastered score from one of the TNG-era Star Trek movies, Star Trek: Insurrection is a boisterous score to a movie that was trying so hard not to be a traditional action movie. Despite that (or perhaps because of it), Jerry Goldsmith was now the default option when it came to Star Trek movie music, having scored the previous feature film (1996’s Star Trek: Final Conflict to much acclaim. Goldsmith, this time operating on his own (First Contact had included significant input from his son, Joel Goldsmith), turned out a score with pastoral elements not unlike the main theme of First Contact, as well as the brand of pulsating action music which had been one of his hallmarks throughout his career.

The expanded release covers all the ground of Crescendo’s roughly-45-minute release from 1998, and fills in the blanks by completing the score and offering a few alternates and early takes on cues that were revised at the studio’s request. The difference between early drafts and final versions isn’t huge, as it turns out, but they offer some insight into the process of creating the movie’s music. Among the unreleased material, there’s quite a bit of repetition of the movie’s main action motif as well as its more serene themes for the peaceful Ba’ku, but at this point in the saga, the previously unreleased material isn’t as revelatory as it was with, say, Star Trek: The Motion Picture or Star Trek II. Goldsmith completists and Trek completists will be happy to have the unreleased segments of the score, but other than the upgrade in sound quality, there’s not much here to compel owners of the original 1998 release to upgrade.

One thing I noticed in listening to the full score: from an audio engineering standpoint, the entire score seems to be drenched with what can be most charitably described as an obnoxious amount of reverb. The orchestra is simply too echo-ey – it’s almost as if the microphones placed over specific instrument groups 3 out of 4didn’t record a signal, leaving the recording engineers with nothing but the wide-area room mic. At about 20 minutes in, I was growing very tired of that element of this soundtrack. I don’t recall if Insurrection always sounded this way, or if the shorter length of the 1998 release didn’t give the effect time to sink in. Insurrection is music that any action film would be happy to have, but by the high standards set by his other work in the franchise, it’s probably the dimmest corner of Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek constellation.

Order this CD

  1. Ba’ku Village (6:56)
  2. Out of Orbit / Take Us In (1:45)
  3. Come Out (2:36)
  4. In Custody (1:16)
  5. Warp Capability / The Planet / Children’s Story (2:27)
  6. The Holodeck (4:36)
  7. How Old Are You / New Sight (6:11)
  8. Lost Ship / Prepare the Ship (2:40)
  9. As Long As We Can (1:35)
  10. Not Functioning / Send Your Ships (2:48)
  11. Growing Up / Wild Flowers / Photon Torpedo (2:43)
  12. The Drones Attack (4:12)
  13. The Riker Maneuver (3:10)
  14. Stay With Me (1:44)
  15. The Same Race (2:52)
  16. The Collector (1:10)
  17. No Threat (4:11)
  18. Tractor Beam (0:40)
  19. The Healing Process (revised) (5:04)
  20. The Healing Process (original version) (7:15)
  21. End Credits (5:29)
  22. Ba’ku Village (alternate ending) (3:52)
  23. The Holodeck (alternate ending) (1:33)
  24. Growing Up (alternate) (1:18)
  25. Tractor Beam (alternate) (0:41)

Released by: GNP Crescendo Records
Release date: August 6, 2013
Total running time: 1:18:44

Doctor Who: The Krotons

Doctor Who: The KrotonsA curiosity in Silva Screen’s sparse handful of classic series single-CD music releases early in 2013, this CD – weighing in at barely half an hour – is easily the most obscure entry, and the one that met with the most hoots of derision from fandom. Why The Krotons? Why not a full score for The Five Doctors or Logopolis or something more… pivotal? Why not release the best of the BBC’s Doctor Who Proms concerts on CD?

The answer is actually just this side of the obvious: the existing musical material from the 1970s could fill a teacup (and, between a couple of past releases from the BBC’s now-extinct in-house music label, almost all of it is out there already). So, instead of individual CDs showcasing Doctor Who’s sound in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, we get an example of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s musical style (the Caves Of Androzani CD), an example of the freelance composers who supplanted the Radiophonic Workshop in the show’s waning years (the re-release of Ghost Light), and an example of the Radiophonic Workshop at the height of its tape-manipulating powers in the ’60s (this one).

The Krotons is also a canny choice because it’s a rare example of a ’60s Doctor Who serial whose musical material survives intact, and is the product of a single composer’s “voice”. Radiophonic Workshop co-founder Brian Hodgson had a new experimental analog synthesizer to play wiith for The Krotons, and play with it he did, creating the story’s sparse but utterly alien music and its unearthly sound effects with the new synth and the time-tested methods of the Workshop.

Even if you’re a fan of early electronic music – say, Raymond Scott or John Baker or White Noise – you haven’t heard anything quite like this. It has rhythm and a strange sort of not-of-this-world tonality, but human ears trained in western musical traditions may not really register it as “music”. The rhythm and structure are there, but rather than traditional melody or harmony, there are strange, stacatto dronings that are right “out there” with Velvet Underground’s Metal Machine Music – the otherworldly sounds of something so unmusical by any traditional standard that it’s a challenge to stay with it long enough to discern the structure behind it.

While fans expecting more traditional musical underscore may find little to like here, especially if they’ve only been weaned on the grandiose sound of Murray Gold, what can be found here is a cross-section of the glue that held early Doctor Who together: the BBC Radiophonic Workshop’s utterly strange and yet appropriate sounds, married to the sometimes less-than-special effects concocted by the BBC’s in-house effects artists (and 3 out of 4occasional outside contractors who, nevertheless, had only a BBC budget within which to work). Back then, there was no surround sound or CGI to hold the show together – only offbeat scripts, usually better-than-decent performances, and unusual worlds which were just as often sold by sound as by sight. That tradition continued well into the 1970s, even after the BBC realized that its sci-fi output was now competing with the likes of Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica (the original, mind you), and it’s a big part of the appeal to many an older fan. Whether it registers as “musical” or not, The Krotons soundtrack is a nice example of the artistry and technical wizardry behind that appeal.

Order this CD

  1. Doctor Who (New Opening Theme, 1967) (0:55)
  2. The Learning Hall (2:43)
  3. Door Opens (0:39)
  4. Entry Into the Machine (1:36)
  5. TARDIS (New Landing) (0:21)
  6. Wasteland Atmosphere (1:26)
  7. Machine and City Theme (1:52)
  8. Machine Exterior (1:46)
  9. Panels Open (0:20)
  10. Dispersal Unit (0:43)
  11. Sting (0:22)
  12. Selris’ House (0:44)
  13. Machine Interior (1:19)
  14. Snake Bleeps Low (1:04)
  15. Silver Hose (The Snake) (0:48)
  16. Snake Bleeps High (0:33)
  17. Teaching Machine Hums (0:46)
  18. Forcefield (0:50)
  19. Burning Light (1:08)
  20. Birth of a Kroton (1:14)
  21. Kroton Theme (2:16)
  22. Kroton Dies (0:37)
  23. Link – Rising Hum (2:07)
  24. Kroton Dies (Alternative) (0:19)

Released by: Silva Screen
Release date: 2013
Total running time: 26:28

Buck Rogers In The 25th Century: Season One

Buck Rogers In The 25th Century: Season OneA while back, Intrada gave a remastered version of the original 1979 Buck Rogers soundtrack LP its first official compact disc release (following at least a decade of the same material – probably transferred from vinyl – being bootlegged relentlessly). Intrada also released several CDs’ worth of Buck Rogers composer Stu Phillips’ wealth of work on another Glen A. Larson-produced science fiction series from roughly the same period, Battlestar Galactica. The thought never occurred to me that anyone would go through the trouble of arranging a similar release from post-pilot Buck Rogers. And yet here it sits, three magical CDs of disco-era sci-fi soundtrack goodness, featuring music not just from Phillips, but from such composers as Les Baxter, Richard La Salle, and Johnny Harris.

The first thing that comes to mind in listening is that the “disco era” description is apt on multiple levels. Just as the series itself was an attempt to cash in on Star Wars mania, the music features both straightfoward symphonic power as well as disco-fied passages that seem to split the difference between John Williams and Meco. This is a common feature among all of the composers featured; in fact, for a show which featured the work of this many composers, the first season of Buck Rogers had a surprisingly cohesive musical sound, judging by the music presented here.

Not all of the first season is covered across the three CDs, with the emphasis on episodes early in the season and one late-season standout whose plot centered around a space rock group. Music is presented from the episodes Unchained Woman, Return Of The Fighting 69th, and the two-part The Plot To Kill A City, while a later first season episode, Space Rockers, features both score and source music. Various opening and closing title music, as well as the very brief rendition of the theme used as a commercial break bumper, is included, along with a few Stu Phillips source music cues used in Plot To Kill A City and the series premiere. Even the renditions of the closing titles with a vocal are included; needless to say, if you’re a fan of the theme music, this set has you covered.

The early runaway favorite – I’ll even fess up to jumping straight to disc three for this – is Space Rockers, an episode which revolved around Law & Order’s Jerry Orbach and Night Court’s Richard Moll hatching a scheme to play a subliminal mind control signal into live concerts by space rock group Andromeda. Andromeda’s concerts were represented by existing Johnny Harris disco tracks (namely the ridiculously catchy disco-with-synth-gasm that is “Odyssey”, here titled “Andromeda”), with slightly punched-up synth overdubs (because that sounds more spacey… am I right, ’70s?). Harris’ other scores have the same wobbly synth overlays in places, and it’s his tracks that I find myself gravitating toward when I go back to listen to the collection again.

Phillips’ score from the Plot To Kill A City two-parter and Les Baxter’s Vegas In Space are the middle ground between symphonic and rock/disco influences, while Richard La Salle’s Unchained Woman score comes down solidly on the “orchestral” side of the fence without even so much as a wink and a nudge toward the disco influences on the rest of the collection.

Ultimately, this is Johnny Harris’ gig. Not only did his sound pick up the ball from Phillips’ grandiose pilot score and run in a more fun direction with it, but Harris was also responsible for the various arrangements and bumper-length “cutdowns” of the Phillips/Larson main theme for the series. Much like Fred Steiner didn’t coin the Star Trek theme but ended up musically defining the series itself, Harris takes over here, and the show wound up being ridiculously fun for his efforts – even the music wasn’t taking the whole thing deadly seriously, and it was okay to have fun watching.

3 out of 4For those who demand more straightfoward orchestral grandeur, however, Intrada promises a similar collection of music from the truncated second season in 2014, which will be a true treat – much like Harris defined the first season, rising star Bruce Broughton owned the sound of the show’s troubled second year, with spectacular results. In the meantime, this set of season one scores is something I never thought would be available to us, and it puts a great big seven-year-old grin on my face to listen to it all again. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for us teevee space travelers of a certain age, old enough to remember that Gary Coleman was the president of a whole planet, it’s a nostalgia trip into the “guilty pleasure” archives.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. Main Title [Version 2] (1:14)
  2. Planet Of The Slave Girls – music by Johnny Harris

  3. Mysterious Illness (5:42)
  4. Love And Energy (2:57)
  5. Uncivilized Nomads (6:35)
  6. Food Conspiracy (2:47)
  7. Power Leech (2:40)
  8. Desert Trek (6:01)
  9. Surprises (2:33)
  10. Hot Escape (3:55)
  11. Space Battle (4:34)
  12. The Plot To Kill A City – music by Stu Phillips

  13. Argus (1:21)
  14. A Big One (2:05)
  15. All Systems Engaged (1:24)
  16. Direct Hit (2:57)
  17. Mind Games (2:23)
  18. Joella (1:35)
  19. Wilma Chase (2:13)
  20. Uncontrolled Reactions (1:19)
  21. Reversal Of Fortune (1:02)
  22. Last Time (3:06)
  23. Interrogation (2:16)
  24. A Touch Of Death (2:46)
  25. Do Your Job (2:27)
  26. Chain Reaction (1:57)
  27. Attempted Escape (1:06)
  28. End Credits [Long] (0:51)
    Disc Two

  1. Main Title [Version 1] (1:14)
  2. Return Of The Fighting 69th – music by Johnny Harris

  3. Escape From The Asteroids (2:02)
  4. Alicia (2:32)
  5. Ungrounded (6:03)
  6. Memory Globe (1:58)
  7. Watch For Falling Rocks (3:01)
  8. Handy Work (1:27)
  9. Play Acting (1:21)
  10. I’m Sorry (2:30)
  11. Bombing Run (1:57)
  12. Ancient Signaling Device (0:50)
  13. Bombs Away (0:50)
  14. Silver Eagles (1:12)
  15. Vegas In Space – music by Les Baxter

  16. Falina’s Abduction (2:40)
  17. Tangie’s World (2:16)
  18. Welcome To Sinaloa (4:42)
  19. Not Your Type (0:48)
  20. Tangie And Buck (6:57)
  21. One Or Two Ways (0:47)
  22. Velosi’s Pad (2:10)
  23. Kill Her (2:31)
  24. Buck To The Rescue (1:43)
  25. Goodbye Sinaloa (1:52)
  26. Aradala Returns – music by Johnny Harris

  27. Draconian Plot (4:06)
  28. Reaction Times (4:38)
  29. The Switch (3:25)
  30. Ardala And The Boys (2:08)
  31. Objective: New Phoenix (2:51)
  32. Ping Pong (2:25)
  33. End Credits [Long Vocal Version] (0:51)
    Disc Three

  1. Bumper (0:08)
  2. Space Rockers – music by Johnny Harris

  3. Andromeda (5:45)
  4. It’s In The Music (4:08)
  5. Let’s Do It (1:53)
  6. Unchained Woman – music by Richard La Salle

  7. Prison Approach (2:07)
  8. Hit The Deck (4:31)
  9. Escape Into The Desert (2:42)
  10. Desert Pursuit (2:52)
  11. Hungry Sand Squid (0:39)
  12. Well-Fed Sand Squid (2:07)
  13. Sand Swirl (2:20)
  14. Snooping Around (3:31)
  15. Buck To The Rescue… Again (5:18)
  16. End Credits (0:31)
  17. Source music by Stu Phillips

  18. Jelly Belly (From “Awakening”) (1:28)
  19. Source One (From “Plot To Kill A City”) (1:31)
  20. Source Two (From “Plot To Kill A City”) (1:40)
  21. End Credits [Vocal Version] (0:31)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2013
Disc one total running time: 69:45
Disc two total running time: 74:00
Disc three total running time: 43:55