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Moon 44 – music by Joel Goldsmith

Moon 44Moon 44, a late ’80s movie starring Michael Pare and Malcolm McDowell (among others), flew under many science fiction fans’ radar (I have to be honest, I only remember it in terms of some “coming attractions” preview articles in Starlog Magazine), and quickly became one of those movies that people had only ever seen on videotape. The soundtrack was released in 1990 alongside the movie by Silva Screen Records, and after years out of print has recently been re-released by Buysoundtrax (BSX) Records.

Moon 44 was not the first movie scored by rising music star Joel Goldsmith (that was the execrable 1977 B-movie – and MST3K fodder – Laserblast), but it was the first time he got to entrust his compositions to a full orchestra rather than leaning on synthesizers. In essence, this was the first time that the junior Goldsmith presented us with the sound that his fans would come to know and love in such future projects as Star Trek: First Contact, Stargate SG-1, Witchblade, Stargate Atlantis, and so on.

And it does sound oddly familiar – in a few places, the soundtrack from Moon 44 resembles Jerry Goldsmith’s music from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. You can hear the style and even a few melodic licks that Joel Goldsmith would lean on frequently for his work in the Stargate TV franchise in abundance here. It’s all played proficiently by the Graunke Symphony Orchestra, with Christopher Stone conducting (Stone composed the score for nearly every Phantasm sequel, as well as, more obscurely, early laserdisc arcade games such as Dragon’s Lair and Space Ace). If there’s a weak track, it’s the source cue “Shut Out” – a vocal track that sounds a bit more 1985 than 1990.

Ironically, though Goldsmith didn’t wind up working for Moon 44 director Roland Emmerich again, both moved on to bigger and better things: Emmerich and Dean Devlin (who had a small part as an actor in Moon 44) went on to co-write Independence Day and Stargate, among others; Goldsmith scored most of the television spinoff universe spawned by Stargate.

It seems a little unlikely that we’ll be hearing more music from the Stargate universe – Joel Goldsmith’s untimely death in May 2012 cut short many long-touted projects, including a possible release of his music from Stargate Universe – but in lieu of those much-talked about collections which have now entered the realm of vaporware, 4 out of 4Moon 44 is comfortingly familiar. (Goldsmith signed off on this soundtrack’s re-release before his death, and the already-announced release date had the misfortune to follow closely on the heels of his passing.)

As a sampler of the style he would employ in many future projects, Moon 44 is a fitting memorial for Joel Goldsmith – and, on its own, it’s a good listen, too.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title / Felix The Cop (3:04)
  2. First Training Flight (5:14)
  3. So Long Felix (4:06)
  4. Navigator’s Hang Up (1:25)
  5. Armed And Dangerous No. 1 (3:29)
  6. Drones, Drones, Drones (But Not A Drop To Drink)
  7. (2:52)

  8. Sykes Gets Caught (2:10)
  9. Armed And Dangerous No. 2 (4:27)
  10. So You Like It Fast (Hard And Rough)
  11. (1:47)

  12. Jake To The Rescue / Joel’s Outlandish Adventure (2:24)
  13. Lee Bombs Out (3:00)
  14. Welcome To Moon 44 (0:49)
  15. Taxi Driver (“You Talkin’ To Me?”) (2:49)
  16. The Cookie Crumbles / Bumpy Taxi Ride / The End Of Moon 44 (6:04)
  17. Aftermath (1:13)
  18. Heading For Earth (0:59)
  19. Terry On The Moon / Finale (1:12)
  20. Shut Out (vocals: Heather Forsyth) (1:33)

Released by: Silva Screen (original edition) / BSX Records (2012 reissue)
Release date: 1990 (original Silva Screen edition) / 2012 (BSX Records)
Total running time: 49:21

Star Trek: First Contact (Newly Expanded Edition)

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

Stargate: Continuum – music by Joel Goldsmith

Stargate: ContinuumReleased hot on the heels of the direct-to-DVD movie, Joel Goldsmith’s epic score from Stargate: Continuum is, not unlike the movie it accompanies, even bigger and better than Ark Of Truth. Continuum is a story painted on a broader canvas, and the music follows suit – in places, it’s positively epic stuff, in the tradition of John Williams and, yes, a certain other film composer named Goldsmith.

The score opens with a spacious new rendition of David Arnold’s Stargate theme (hearkening back to the original movie) and then segues into a jaunty, lighthearted piece as the team assembles for their next mission. We’re then treated to the choral dirge heard as the list of Ba’al’s crimes is read prior to his execution; while the choir was heard in the Ark Of Truth soundtrack, it’s used more, and to better effect, here. “The Last Of The System Lords” is the first of several bold action cues that almost feel as much like Star Wars as they do Stargate – it’s big, widescreen music.

Even in its more contemplative moments – such as the very relaxing “Endless Horizons” and “Breaking The Ice” – the music is panoramic. The Arctic Circle footage is lovely, yes, but Goldsmith’s music really helps to sell the setting, especially as a pretty good chunk of that part of the movie is dialogue-free. “Endless Horizons” is a nice accompaniment to that rather bleak travelogue.

4 out of 4With the recent announcement that the faltering spinoff series Stargate Atlantis is moving out of weekly production and into movies like the SG-1 direct-to-DVD adventures, I’m actually somewhat pleased…because maybe Joel Goldsmith will get to make more music like this, and more CDs to go along with it. As a fan of his music for this particular franchise, that suits me just fine.

Order this CD

  1. A Day At SGC (3:41)
  2. The List (1:19)
  3. Murder Of Untold Millions (1:46)
  4. The Achilles Commandeered (1:21)
  5. The Last Of The System Lords (6:29)
  6. For The Good Of Others (0:47)
  7. The Sinking Of The Achilles (0:44)
  8. Endless Horizons (2:06)
  9. Breaking The Ice (2:11)
  10. New Identities (2:27)
  11. Ba’al Divided (0:54)
  12. Bring A God To Tears (1:20)
  13. Daniel’s Book (1:31)
  14. Al’Kesh Invasion (0:54)
  15. Photograph (0:50)
  16. Apophis (3:43)
  17. The Armada (1:24)
  18. Quetesh Takes Over (3:07)
  19. Battle Over The Ocean (2:19)
  20. The Machine (1:51)
  21. Fall Of The Heroes (2:35)
  22. End Of The Reign (2:25)
  23. The Extraction (2:06)
  24. O’Neill Buys Lunch / End Title (4:46)

Released by: Free Clyde Music
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 52:36