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Galaxy Quest (Newly Expanded Edition)

Galaxy Quest (Newly Expanded Edition)Originally released shortly after the movie’s premiere, but only in a semi-official capacity on an obscure (and now extinct) label specializing in private-label releases for film and TVcomposers, Galaxy Quest has always been one of my favorite things on my soundtrack shelf. With David Newman tackling the movie as a serious SF film (and the cast and crew doing the same thing, keeping up kayfabe for nearly the entire show), the soundtrack was positively epic – the best science fiction film score of the ’90s. Yes, better than The Matrix.

La La Land Records has rescued Galaxy Quest from obscurity, finally giving the soundtrack a fresh remastering and a wide (if limited-edition) release. There are also a few extra minutes of music, but there was plenty of meat on the bones of the earlier release: this is full-bodied, full-orchestra film music at its finest.

The highlights are still the same as they were before: “Red Thingie, Green Thingie… RUN!” is still one of the best pieces of action movie music since the heyday of Star Wars. What this new La La Land edition has over the old Supertracks release is its copious liner notes booklet, telling me more in just a few pages than I ever knew about Galaxy Quest before, including how hard the studio came down on the writers and director to avoid “offending” the Star Trek franchise’s power players and fans. (As it turns out, Star Trek’s power players were among Galaxy Quest‘s biggest fans – Patrick Stewart, in particular, found the movie uproariously funny.) Also revealed is that David Newman was a mere session orchestra player on the first two Star Trek films, which explains how he nails the all of the little Goldsmith and Horner stylistic tricks so perfectly with Galaxy Quest. This score was Newman’s final exam in how closely he was paying attention in 1979 and 1982. 4 out of 4I think he passed.

Galaxy Quest has faded into relative obscurity as a theatrical event, so this soundtrack is getting only a limited release. That’s the only less-than-perfect thing about the whole package. It’s still the best sci-fi movie score of the 1990s.

Order this CD

  1. Galaxy Quest: The Classic TV Theme (0:57)
  2. TV Clip (1:32)
  3. Pathetic Nesmith (0:57)
  4. Galaxy Quest TV Clip #3 / Introducing Sarris / Revealing the Universe (1:50)
  5. Transporting the Crew / Meet the Thermians (1:33)
  6. The N.S.E.A. Protector (0:43)
  7. Crew Quarters & The Bridge / The Launch (3:24)
  8. Jason Takes Action / Sarris Tortures Captain (1:41)
  9. Red Thingie, Green Thingie… Run! (3:30)
  10. Shuttle to Planet / Trek Across Planet (4:26)
  11. Rolling the Sphere / Pig Lizard / Rock Monster (6:05)
  12. “Digitize Me Fred” (1:13)
  13. “I’m So Sorry” (1:42)
  14. Fight, Episode 17 (1:15)
  15. The Hallway Sneak / Alex Finds Quellek (2:16)
  16. Angry Sarris / Into the Ducts / Omega 13 / Heroic Guy / Reveal Chompers / Opening the Airlock (3:31)
  17. Big Kiss / Happy Rock Monster / Dying Thermians / Quellek’s Death / Into Reactor Room / Push the Button / A Hug Before Dying (4:08)
  18. Sarris Orders Attack / The Battle (3:34)
  19. Mathesar Takes Command / Sarris Kills Everybody (2:18)
  20. Mathesar, Hero / Goodbye My Friends / Crash Landing (1:45)
  21. Goodbye Sarris / Happy Ending (2:04)
  22. The New Galaxy Quest (0:59)

Released by: La La Land Records
Release date: 2012
Total running time: 53:07

Serenity – music by David Newman

If there’s one giant mystery about Serenity, it’s not the plot, nor even the decision to diminish the Firefly cast by two beloved characters on their first big-screen outing. There’s not even a big mystery as to how the movie came about – to put it simply, enough people loved Joss Whedon’s short-lived Fox TV show, especially its characters and its wild-west-of-the-future setting, that Universal was sold on the idea of doing Firefly for the big screen. If there’s one mystery I’m left with, it’s this: whatever happened to Greg Edmonson? The TV series’ music didn’t beat around the bush in establishing the western-in-space theme, and with its ethnic instrumentation, helped to remind viewers that there was more to it than that. Naturally, the last thing I expected from the movie Serenity was a score steeped in conventional, Star Wars-style orchestral leitmotif.

The Serenity score was composed by David Newman, who was responsible for the simply amazing music of Galaxy Quest. I’m hesitant to say that his assignment to this movie was a trade up or a trade down, but it was certainly a bizarre step sideways. Listening to the soundtrack alone, you’re three tracks in before you even get a hint of the western-inspired music of the series, and even then, it’s not even as authentically western as, say, Copland’s “Rodeo”. There’s almost hope for “Trading Station Robbery”, but then it seems like nobody can decide if the guitar should sound country-twangy or Duane-Eddy-spy-movie-music twangy.

Now, if you don’t care about whether or not it sounds like a musical continuation of Firefly, this is some fine classic David Newman SF action music – again, if you liked Newman’s score for Galaxy Quest, you’ll almost certainly like this. And I can sort of see an argument that Serenity is not just an episode of Firefly projected onto a big screen, but a larger adventure demanding the trappings of a larger canvas, including bigger, more theatrical music (call this the Star Trek: The Motion Picture defense). If that’s your bag, the music doesn’t get much bigger than “Crash Landing” or “Jayne & Zoe / Final Battle”.

3 out of 4This is a hard one to rate – it’s great music, but it just doesn’t mesh with the movie and the sonic universe that had already been established. And in the end credits of the movie, Newman even quotes the original Firefly theme, and that didn’t even make it to the CD. If you just pull the booklet out of the jewel case and pretend this is the soundtrack to a movie that has nothing to do with Firefly, you’re in good shape.

Order this CD

  1. Into The River (3:11)
  2. Escape (1:33)
  3. Serenity (0:51)
  4. Going For A Ride (2:24)
  5. Trading Station Robbery (3:21)
  6. River Goes Wild (1:28)
  7. River And Simon In Locker (1:00)
  8. Population: Dead (3:56)
  9. Haven Destroyed (0:56)
  10. Shepherd Book’s Last Words (1:00)
  11. You’re Not A Reaver (0:57)
  12. Mal Decides (3:09)
  13. Truth / Mal’s Speech (3:27)
  14. Space Battle (3:21)
  15. Crash Landing (2:00)
  16. Run To Black (2:58)
  17. Generator Room (3:06)
  18. Mal & Op Fight (2:10)
  19. Jayne & Zoe / Final Battle (2:49)
  20. Funeral / Rebuilding Serenity (2:01)
  21. Prep For A Flight (1:33)
  22. Love (1:06)
  23. End Credits (1:37)

Released by: Varese Sarabande
Release date: 2005
Total running time: 49:54

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