Star Trek: First Contact (Newly Expanded Edition)Though it really shouldn’t have been surprising after the recent glut of remastered soundtracks from the Kirk-era Star Trek movie franchise, the sudden announcement of a complete and remastered Star Trek: First Contact soundtrack took many by surprise. It came from a label that had been dormant for years – GNP Crescendo had a seemingly absolute lock on all Star Trek soundtrack releases throughout the 1990s – and it was the first remastered soundtrack from the shorter big-screen run of the Star Trek: The Next Generation crew.

Of course, First Contact was the first (and arguably only) undisputed success among the TNG-era films, and marked the return of Jerry Goldsmith to the Star Trek film franchise, so it’s an obvious starting point for the TNG movie soundtrack remasters. (Three TNG-era movies’ soundtracks remain to be remastered and expanded, and two of them – Generations and Insurrection – were previously released by Crescendo, making it almost certain that Crescendo will be releasing the expanded editions.)

The original 1996 soundtrack release of First Contact was hampered by two factors: the punishing cost of licensing more than 40 minutes of music recorded by a union orchestra for a soundtrack release, and a somewhat arbitrary decision to slant the original soundtrack heavily in favor of music by Jerry Goldsmith. Almost a quarter of the movie was actually scored by Joel Goldsmith, who would later make his mark on the genre by scoring the vast majority of the Stargate TV franchise, due to Jerry Goldsmith’s busy schedule. The liner notes even point out that executive producer Rick Berman and director/co-star Jonathan “Riker” Frakes greeted this development by pointing out that they’d paid for Jerry Goldsmith to score their movie. As it so happens, the elder Goldsmith played a thundering action cue that impressed everyone in the room – and then revealed that his son had written it. But that didn’t mean that Joel’s music would find its way onto the original soundtrack release: the same silly argument cropped up. The CD cover said “music by Jerry Goldsmith,” and album producer Neil Norman was determined to deliver on that. The payoff there is that Joel Goldsmith was responsible for the music to the one scene in the movie that everyone bought a ticket to see, the first warp flight by Zefram Cochrane. That was, without a doubt, First Contact‘s money shot. I remember seeing the movie in the theater the first time with my friend Mark, who said “Holy shit!” out loud when the Phoenix deployed its warp engines from its Titan missile casing. It was built up as the movie’s “holy shit!” moment from the word go, and it got “holy shit!” music from the junior Goldsmith – which Crescendo then proceeded to omit from the album on the ground that the cue wasn’t composed by Jerry Goldsmith.

That cue, “Flight Of The Phoenix”, has been… obtainable, for the lack of a better way to put it, as part of a bootleg First Contact score that’s been circulating since the Napster days. However, this single-disc release has been remastered by the same team responsible for the previous Trek movie score remasters, and it’s never sounded this good. With all due respect to the now-departed “dean of movie music,” as Trek TV composer Dennis McCarthy once called him, “Flight Of The Phoenix” is the highlight of the restored full-length soundtrack, just as it was in the movie itself. It’s ironic that arguably the most iconic piece of music in a score attributed to Jerry Goldsmith was composed by his son. Stargate fans will also want to check out Joel’s cues here as a precursor to the up-and-coming composer’s body of work for that franchise (SG-1 was about a year away from premiering at the time of First Contact‘s release).

For those who, like the label circa 1996, are more interested in Goldsmith Sr.’s work, there are unreleased cues by him as well. One of the more intriguing ones is “Borg Montage”, a brief, menacing cue covering several shot Borg-related interludes aboard the Enterprise-E, culminating in a hapless security team wandering into a dimly-lit space which is then illuminated by the laser sights of several approaching Borg. There are two versions of this cue – one used in the movie, and a significantly different one with a more martial approach – and both are vintage Goldsmith with a big brassy flourish at the end.

If you want Steppenwolf or Roy Orbison this time around, there are other sources for those tracks, and in the intervening years they’ve almost certainly been remastered too.

The return of Crescendo Records to the soundtrack arena, especially with the full release of First Contact in hand, is a welcome one, especially when some of the soundtrack specialty labels are calling it a day in the current economy (Film Score Monthly) or beginning to split their release schedules between classic remasters and brand new releases (Intrada). The liner notes booklet – both the printed one with the disc and the downloadable PDF “booklet” (more like one giant, unending vertical strip, possibly representing the first-ever soundtrack liner notes wall 4 out of 4scroll) – looks like it just woke up from ’96, however. The cover layout also shows no attempt to mesh with the general cover design that’s been established for the other Star Trek movie score remasters to date, so maybe a visual rethink might be in order before Crescendo turns out another remastered Trek soundtrack. In the end, though, it’s the music that matters, and this release delivers an increase in both sound quality and quantity. Hopefully it delivers enough sales to Crescendo’s doorstep to merit upgraded releases of Generations and Insurrection.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title / Locutus (4:18)
  2. How Many Ships (0:31)
  3. Battle Watch (1:13)
  4. Red Alert (2:16)
  5. Temporal Wake (2:11)
  6. Shields Down (1:48)
  7. The Phoenix (1:04)
  8. They’re Here (0:28)
  9. 39.1 Degrees Celsius (4:48)
  10. Search For The Borg (1:53)
  11. Retreat (4:01)
  12. No Success (1:33)
  13. Borg Montage (1:03)
  14. Welcome Aboard (2:43)
  15. Stimulation (1:08)
  16. Smorgasborg (1:30)
  17. Getting Ready (1:36)
  18. Fully Functional (3:22)
  19. The Dish (7:09)
  20. Objection Noted (1:57)
  21. Not Again (2:44)
  22. Evacuate (2:24)
  23. New Orders / All The Time (3:52)
  24. Flight Of The Phoenix (6:23)
  25. First Contact (6:03)
  26. End Credits (5:32)
  27. The Phoenix [alternate] (1:10)
  28. Borg Montage [alternate] (1:20)
  29. Main Title [alternate] (2:54)

Released by: GNP Crescendo Records
Release date: 2012
Total running time: 78:54