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

Amazing Stories: Anthology One

Amazing Stories: Anthology OneProduced and overseen by Steven Spielberg from 1985 through ’87, Amazing Stories was a lighthearted take on the anthology/playhouse series format that hadn’t been seen on television in two decades. There was no recurring cast of characters, and no connected stories – but unlike The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents or The Outer Limits, Amazing Stories was built on one prerequisite set by Spielberg – a sense of wonder and the fantastic, not the fatalistic. To this end, Spielberg – largely on the power of his own name – drew A-list Hollywood writing, acting and directing talent into his orbit for the show’s first season, and an absolutely stellar, unprecedented A-list of composers, a gathering of genius the likes of which – in all honesty, and not intended as hyperbole – we may never see again on one project.

We’re talking about composers who weren’t even “doing” TV anymore at this stage in their careers. We’re talking Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams and James Horner. We’re also talking composers who were on the brink of making it big – Danny Elfman, Bruce Broughton, and others. How the show looked and felt was up to the individual directors and cast members of each story, but Spielberg put the money up front from the word go to make sure that Amazing Stores would sound amazing.

Although a single-disc compilation of two Amazing Stories scores was released by Varese Sarabande a while back, it was obvious that there was room for more music from this series. Intrada stepped up to the plate with a trio of 2-CD collections, covering several episodes per set and presenting the widest variety of composers’ works possible. Though several episodes were still left out by the time the third and final volume was rolled out, the result is a much more comprehensive collection, sure to please fans of many of the major film composers of the 1980s and ’90s.

John Williams’ music from the first episode, Ghost Train, sits nicely alongside his movie scores from the same era (E.T., etc.), and for a relatively short suite of music (though it’s also every note he recorded for the episode), it all develops beautifully. Two scores with period flavorings follow, James Horner’s Alamo Jobe – which, whenever it breaks out of its western feel into something more traditionally contemporary, sounds like a lot of Horner’s other output from the ’80s – and Bruce Broughton’s more whimsical, century-spanning (and Mark Hamill-starring) Gather Ye Acorns. Georges Delerue’s wistful, low-key The Doll follows, but the next suite – a jarring selection from early Spielberg collaborator Billy Goldenberg’s score from The Amazing Falsworth – is an unsettling wake-up call after Delerue’s calm music.

The second disc opens with a 4-second “station ID bumper” version of John Williams’ main theme, and dives into the music from Moving Day, scored by David Shire, who, fresh from scoring 2010: The Year We Make Contact, brings synth collaborator Craig Huxley with him for some music that sounds remarkably similar to that movie at times. Delerue returns for Without Diana, a heartfelt score that oozes tragedy even without the accompanying visuals. Contrast is once more the name of the game as this is followed up by an early Danny Elfman score, Mummy, Daddy, dripping with the kind of wackiness and whimsy that would become his hallmarks. Hollywood pastiche is the name of the game for another Bruce Broughton score, Welcome To My Nightmare, which brings things to a close (well, technically the Amazing Stories end credit music does that).

4 out of 4Where sound quality is concerned, there are a few quirks that stem mainly from the material being recorded at the twilight of mono sound mixes for television: some of the recordings are in stereo, while others aren’t. But the quality of the recordings is rich and crisp, like the sessions were recorded just last week. The shortest episode suite on this volume is just under nine minutes in length, so the double CD set is more than justified, and the packaging and liner notes are top-notch and informative. Overall, the Amazing Stories collections may be the best thing indie soundtrack label Intrada has ever done, and they’re a treat for fans of the composers whose work appears here.

Order this CD

    Disc one

  1. Amazing Stories Main Title (1:02)

    Ghost Train – music by John Williams

  2. Ohpa’s Arrival (0:30)
  3. Grieving Ohpa (1:17)
  4. Ohpa’s Tales (3:44)
  5. Ohpa Remembers (2:25)
  6. The Ticket (3:05)
  7. The Train Arrives (4:17)

    Alamo Jobe – music by James Horner

  8. The Battle / Jobe Runs (3:01)
  9. Travis Dies (0:51)
  10. First Chase (3:43)
  11. Antique Shop (2:16)

    Gather Ye Acorns – music by Bruce Broughton

  12. The Boy / The Gnome (4:34)
  13. 1938 Radio Source (1:42)
  14. Jonathan’s Room / The Car (0:48)
  15. Nothin’ But A Bum / 1955 / Tumbleweed Connection (2:50)
  16. Regrets (1:27)
  17. 1985 (0:51)
  18. Gas Station Source (2:58)
  19. Holy Moly! / Sow Ye Wild Oats (3:06)

    The Doll – music by Georges Delerue

  20. Doll Shop Sign (1:08)
  21. The Carousel / Doll On Floor / Well, Miss… (3:12)
  22. A School Teacher (0:46)
  23. An Occasional Model (0:36)
  24. She’s Not Married / An O.S. Clunk / Door Opens (1:54)
  25. John Walks To Mantle (2:17)

    The Amazing Falsworth – music by Billy Goldenberg

  26. Falsworth / Strangling / Retrospect (3:30)
  27. Leering / Frigity-Feet (0:30)
  28. Top Floor / Lights (0:53)
  29. All In The Fingers / Lunge (3:07)
  30. Falsworth (E.T.) (0:36)
    Disc two

  1. Amazing Stories Bumper #1 (0:04)

    Moving Day – music by David Shire

  2. Alan’s Dream (1:20)
  3. It’s Not The Same / Discovering The Room (1:37)
  4. My God! (2:40)
  5. Tonight / That’s Alturis (2:30)
  6. Your Ring (2:14)
  7. Departure (2:01)
  8. Finale (0:57)

    Without Diana – music by Georges Delerue

  9. Park (1946) (1:44)
  10. Only Eight / Forest Walk (2:30)
  11. Sorry Policeman / Not By George Alone (2:33)
  12. George In Doorway / Diana’s Story (2:20)
  13. George Will Be (3:22)

    Mummy, Day – music by Danny Elfman & Steve Bartek

  14. Mummy Movie / Baby Chase / Gas Station (3:21)
  15. Country Source (0:26)
  16. Gun Shot / Stinger / Swamp / Old Man / Real Mummy (3:35)
  17. Kung-Fu Mummy (1:00)
  18. Motorcycle / Caught (1:23)
  19. Lynching / Horse Ride (1:25)
  20. Corridors / Caught Again (0:27)
  21. Baby / Finale (1:30)

    Vanessa In The Garden – music by Leonard Niehaus

  22. It’s Lovely / Whoa, Rock, Whoa / I Hurt Vanessa (1:47)
  23. Beautiful Portrait / Humming From The Garden (4:09)
  24. Vanessa’s Laughter / A Summer’s Day / Do It Together / Create A Life (4:07)
  25. Vanessa (piano with orchestra coda) (3:19)

    Welcome To My Nightmare – music by Bruce Broughton

  26. Harry Wakes Up (2:00)
  27. Harry Takes A Shower / Horro Movie / Kate (1:57)
  28. Fraternity Of The Undead / Bad Milk (1:41)
  29. Harry & Kate (0:39)
  30. Harry’s Prayer / The Comet Theatre / Harry At The Movies (7:24)
  31. Back Home (2:13)
  32. Amazing Stories End Credits (0:29)
  33. Amblin Logo (0:15)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2006
Disc one total running time: 64:31
Disc two total running time: 70:33