Stargate SG-1: Music From Selected Episodes

Stargate SG-1: Music From Selected EpisodesIf there’s a property I didn’t expect to resurface in the soundtrack world in the summer of 2017, it’s the Stargate TV franchise. In hindsight, though, I wasn’t paying attention to the clues – Intrada has long championed the musical output of Richard Band, brother of Full Moon Pictures producer Charles Band, and composer-in-residence on Full Moon’s extensive slate of low-to-mid-budget horror movies. And, patterned somewhat after the arrangement that governed music during the entirety of spinoff-era Star Trek, Band alternated on episodes of Stargate SG-1 with Joel Goldsmith for the show’s first two years on the Showtime pay cable channel, with other composers occasionally filling in (including, ironically, Star Trek’s Dennis McCarthy). This 2-CD set from Intrada gather’s Band’s carefully selected highlights from his time with the Stargate franchise.

The episodes for which Band felt he’d done his best work were Cold Lazarus, In The Line Of Duty, In The Serpent’s Lair, and Singularity – oddly enough, all early favorites of mine. Listening to the scores Band composed for these episodes, which feature small orchestral ensembles attempting to fill out and deepen the sound of synthesizers and samples, it’s easy to tell the real musicians from the electronic sounds. With the show opening every week with an adapted version of David Arnold’s theme from the original Stargate movie (for which Arnold had to be paid for every usage), the rest of the music budget – especially before Stargate SG-1 found its legs and popularity with its audience – was tightly constrained. But even when roughly half of what you hear is synthesized, it’s still a fun listen. Military drums, low, urgent brass ostinatos, and actual recurring themes (including quotes of Arnold’s theme) – the music of SG-1 was everything that the music of the show’s Star Trek contemporaries usually wasn’t: propulsive and threatening and dangerous. Stuff was happening in the music rather than it being relegated to background wallpaper. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in the nearly-nine-minute solid cue covering the entire final act of In The Serpent’s Lair: literally wall-to-wall music for the show’s climax.

Cold Lazarus, which uncovers a painful incident from Jack O’Neill’s past, is the outlier here, with gentle piano accompanying the unfolding revelation that Jack had lost a child. In The Line Of Duty and Singularity are far more representative of the musical sound of Stargate SG-1 as a whole, with both quiet passages, mysterious music for the team’s discoveries of ancient (or is that Ancient?) mysteries, and gung-ho action music where needed.

3 out of 4I remember, when first seeing that Intrada was releasing a new round of Stargate TV scores, being a bit let down that Joel Goldsmith’s work wasn’t represented. Now I realize this wasn’t a downside: Richard Band was as much a part of SG-1’s sound in those heady formative years of the show – where anything was possible and the Stargate franchise had yet to fall into the trap that befalls many a long-running series, namely slipping its neck into the noose of ever-thickening continuity – as Joel Goldsmith’s sound was. Much like the Star Trek: The Next Generation box sets that finally gave Dennis McCarthy’s work exposure in the wake of a massive all-Ron-Jones soundtrack box set, this SG-1 soundtrack set redresses an imbalance and is worth a listen.

Order this CD

    Disc One
    Cold Lazarus

  1. Teaser (3:42)
  2. Is It Really Jack? (3:53)
  3. Jack At Ex-Wife’s House (3:25)
  4. Jack Visits Charlie’s Room (3:24)
  5. The Crystals (2:14)
  6. The Crystal Monitor (2:18)
  7. Jack And Wife On Park Bench (3:08)
  8. They Re-Activate The Crystal Monitor (2:03)
  9. Pushing Back Through Gate To Hospital (3:53)
  10. Jack Meets Alien Self And Finale (9:10)

    In The Line Of Duty

  11. Teaser (2:50)
  12. Medical Time (3:12)
  13. O’Neill Comforts Cassie (3:05)
  14. O’Neill To Burn Victim (0:38)
  15. Teal’c Gives O’Neill Advice (2:28)
  16. Daniel Talks To Girl Survivor (2:07)
  17. Bad Guy Bandages Doc (2:20)
  18. Daniel Talks To Alien Carter (2:26)
  19. Finale – Daniel And Then Others Visit (10:11)
    Disc Two
    In The Serpent’s Lair

  1. Finale (8:50)

    Singularity

  2. Teaser (3:34)
  3. From Stargate To New World (2:36)
  4. Sam With Girl And Back Through Gate (2:49)
  5. Sam And Little Girl Get Closer (2:58)
  6. Heart Attack And Operation (3:36)
  7. Jack And Teal’c Escaping Battle (4:22)
  8. To The Underground Site (2:35)
  9. Time Is Up And Finale (8:26)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: June 27, 2017
Disc one total running time: 67:01
Disc two total running time: 40:01

Independence Day: The Complete Score

Independence Day: The Complete ScoreThe soundtrack from Independence Day – or at least some of it – has already seen the light of day in a soundtrack release concurrent with the movie’s 1996 release, but by overwhelming demand, La-La Land Records has revisited this blockbuster’s music, with every note of the final score spread across two discs and the obligatory copious liner notes. The original big-screen version of Stargate may have given Roland Emmerich, Dean Devlin and frequent musical collaborator David Arnold their first taste of the big time, but ID4 all but made them household names. Arnold has gone on to find success and steady work, most recently in the James Bond films (where he’s proven to be one of the few major behind-the-scenes figures to survive the transition from the Pierce Brosnan era to the Daniel Craig era), so there’s gotta be something to all the hype.

If ID4 was the audition for a stellar career, Arnold passed with flying colors. The music from ID4 is epic, with a capital EPIC: nothing is downplayed, and to be honest, very little is played with subtlety. But even the interviews with the filmmakers in the booklet confirm what I’ve always felt about ID4: it’s a big and largely un-intellectual popcorn movie which delights in blowing stuff up real big and dishing out crowd-pleasing one-liners, both visual and verbal. (C’mon, there is something humorously satisfying about Will Smith beating the crap out of a crashed alien pilot in hand-to-tentacle combat.) ID4 isn’t a movie that demanded subtlety from its musical score. Arnold knew exactly what kind of movie he was working on, and delivered music worthy of a blockbuster, loaded down with instantly identifiable leitmotives and themes.

The new album spreads the complete original score, note for note as heard in the movie, across the first CD and about a quarter of the second CD. The rest of the second CD includes unused alternate versions of many scenes, as well as stripped-down versions of cues that originally featured choir. These tracks are fully orchestral, but let you focus only on what the orchestra’s doing. It’s a neat trick, and an economical one since musicians’ union rules charge even more for a recording featuring a choir than an orchestral recording alone can charge. The original single-CD release from 1996 was no slouch and featured a generous amount of music from major scenes, at a time when many soundtrack CDs were starting to clock in at about 40-45 minutes due to the costs of paying every orchestral musician and every singer for every minute of their music being published. La-La Land took a real risk on reissuing the complete soundtrack: it was a far more expensive proposition (for the label), and it’s not exactly a new movie. (It’s not an obscure movie either, though, which is probably the saving grace of the new ID4 soundtrack.)

It almost goes without saying that the highlights on either disc are the major action setpieces. Few of the quieter moments are nearly as memorable: in going back to listen to “The President’s Speech”, the music wasn’t quite as inspirational as I seemed to remember. The alternate takes are interesting stuff, though: if you own the DVD of ID4, you know that a very different ending was originally planned before the producers decided to go for a more credibility-stretching (but, again, crowd-pleasing) conclusion, and the music for that rejected sequence can be found here. The other alternate takes range from minor differences in musical emphasis 4 out of 4and arrangement, to more major changes that are likely the symptoms of constant changes to the movie in the editing room.

It’s good foreground listening material, and well worth the purchase price. ID4‘s soundtrack isn’t subtle, but neither was the movie. Sometimes you just need good accompaniment for big explosions. That would be this soundtrack.

Order this CD

    Disc One

  1. 1969: We Came In Peace (2:01)
  2. S.E.T.I. – Radio Signal (1:53)
  3. Mysto Bridge /Satellite Collision / Destroyers Disengage / Russell Casse, Pilot (2:17)
  4. First Sighting /AWAC Attack (2:18)
  5. The Darkest Day (4:14)
  6. Moving Day / Countdown (2:12)
  7. Cancelled Leave (1:46)
  8. Commence Lift-off / Parabolic Indenwhat? (1:17)
  9. Evacuation (5:48)
  10. Firestorm (1:24)
  11. Aftermath (3:36)
  12. Base Attack (6:11)
  13. Marilyn Found (1:29)
  14. Area 51 / The Big Tamale / Formaldehyde Freak Show (4:12)
  15. El Toro Destroyed (1:31)
  16. Slimey Wakes Up (5:24)
  17. Target Remains / Rescue (5:56)
  18. The Death of Marilyn / Dad’s A Genius (3:34)
  19. Alien Ship Powers Up (1:46)
  20. International Code (1:32)
  21. Wedding (1:50)
  22. The President’s Speech (3:11)
    Disc Two

  1. Just In Case /Attacker Fires Up (3:10)
  2. The Launch Tunnel /Mutha Ship / Virus Uploaded (8:27)
  3. Hide! / Russell’s Packin’ (The Day We Fight Back) (4:44)
  4. He Did It (1:33)
  5. Jolly Roger (3:17)
  6. Victory (3:40)
  7. End Credits (9:07)
  8. 1969: We Came In Peace (Alternate Take) (2:11)
  9. Destroyers Disengage (No Choir) (0:34)
  10. Cancelled Leave (Alternate Take) (1:43)
  11. Commence Lift-off (Alternate Take) (0:55)
  12. Base Attack (Segment – Film Version) (2:27)
  13. Marilyn Found (No Choir) (1:28)
  14. Target Remains/Rescue (Alternate Take) (2:40)
  15. Dad’s A Genius (Alternate Take) (0:45)
  16. Attacker Fires Up (Original Version – No Choir) (2:01)
  17. Virus Uploaded (Alternate Take) (2:35)
  18. The Day We Fight Back (Original Version) (5:48)
  19. Jolly Roger (Alternate Take) (3:22)
  20. End Credits (Segment, No Choir) (2:47)

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2010
Disc one total running time: 65:31
Disc two total running time: 63:34

Godzilla – music by David Arnold

Finally out after nine years (just one year shy of the movie’s tenth anniversary) David Arnold’s score for Roland Emmerich’s remake (a 2-CD set, limited to 3000 copies) of Tokyo’s resident bad boy displays all of the pluses and minuses of Arnold’s previous collaborations with Emmerich.

One of the most striking things that occurred to me when listening to this set was the fact that Arnold tends to compose similar music whenever the military is on screen at any given point. In fact, “Military Command Center” is a case in point. The drum beats alone tends to signify “Ten-shun!” whenever a military type enters the scene. Ironically, and much to Arnold’s regret according to the booklet’s liner notes (one of the most illuminating I have come across, by the way), the military in Emmerich’s opus doesn’t get as much screen time as one would expect in a film with the big G.

Another puzzling thing is that about halfway through the production process was the decision on Emmerich’s part to make his CGI big G as much a thing of wonder as of a thing of terror. Perhaps the most significant result of this sudden change of direction is “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner”. At first the piece emphasizes the terror, but around the halfway mark it switches to an almost Williams-style feeling of awe and wonder.

Still, what this score does right, it does very right indeed. “The Beginning” does an excellent job of setting things up and while it’s not going to dethrone Akira Ifukube’s now-iconic theme anytime soon, it manages to display a sense of dread all its own. In fact, in the alternate version of this (no choir in the latter) it almost sounds remarkably similar to Ifukube’s previous work. Also, “Nick and Audrey” has a feel to it that’s more than a little reminiscent of John Barry.

4 out of 4In all, this is an album that many people have been waiting for a long time and whether you like the movie or not, the score itself should be listened to at least once, since it seems unlikely, despite Arnold’s optimism, that he’ll do another job for Emmerich anytime soon.

Order this CD

  1. The Beginning (3:29)
  2. Tanker Gets It (1:11)
  3. Chernobyl (3:13)
  4. Footprint (0:33)
  5. Footprints / New York / Audrey (0:54)
  6. Chewing Gum Nose (0:30)
  7. Ship Reveal / Nick Discovers Fish / Flesh (1:39)
  8. The Boat Gets It* (2:09)
  9. Dawn Of The Species (1:49)
  10. Joe Gets a Bite / Godzilla Arrives (3:11)
  11. Mayor’s Speech (1:03)
  12. Caiman’s Office (0:45)
  13. Animal’s Camera (1:39)
  14. Military Command Center / New Jersey (1:55)
  15. Audrey’s Idea (0:22)
  16. Evacuation (2:41)
  17. French Coffee (0:56)
  18. Subway Damage / Command Enters City (2:50)
  19. Fish (1:48)
  20. Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner? (5:13)
  21. 1st Helicopter Chase / Godzilla Swats A Chopper (4:08)
  22. We Fed Him / Audrey Sees Nick (1:21)
  23. Nick And Audrey / He’s Pregnant / Audrey Takes The Tape / French Breakfast (4:46)
  24. He’s Preparing To Feed (0:34)
  25. Nick Gets Fired / Nick Gets Abducted / Frenchie’s Warehouse / Nick Joins The Foreign Legion (5:47)
    Disc two

  1. Chewing Gum (1:51)
  2. Rumble In The Tunnel (1:35)
  3. Godzilla O Park / Godzilla Takes A Dive / Godzilla Versus The Submarine / Egg Discovery (9:42)
  4. Baby ‘Zillas Hatch* (3:51)
  5. Nick Phones For Help (1:28)
  6. Eat The French (2:14)
  7. Phillip Shoots The Lock (1:39)
  8. Nick’s Big Speech / The Garden Gets It (7:07)
  9. He’s Back! / Taxi Chase & Clue (7:06)
  10. Big G Goes To Monster Heaven (4:30)
  11. The End (4:05)

    Bonus Tracks

  12. The Beginning (no choir) (3:32)
  13. Footprints / New York / Audrey (alternate) (0:50)
  14. The Boat Gets It (alternate) (1:09)
  15. Gojira (Album Version) (2:46)

* contains material not used in the film

Released by: La-La Land Records
Release date: 2007
Disc one total running time: 55:28
Disc two total running time: 53:47