Star Trek: The Next Generation soundtrackDelayed for five years by disputes over royalties for the reuse of the union- recorded sessions, this long-overdue latest Trek soundtrack faces a unique problem in the area of sales – will anyone remember these soundtrack selections, which range anywhere from four to nine years old?

The answer to that question is – well, yeah, I remember them. Though I have been highly critical of Jay Chattaway’s work on past occasions, he has actually done some very, very good work on the Star Trek series. One of his finest outings, the 1989 episode Tin Man, is represented by a fifteen-minute suite that kicks off this CD. Tin Man was Chattaway’s first Trek score, and in many ways still his best. Just as regular composers Dennis McCarthy and Ron Jones were being forced into a routinely less-than-exciting approach to writing music for the episodes, Chattaway put in a single third-season guest appearance with a rousing score in the best tradition of classic Trek, with some additional touches such as sampled whalesong and a throaty dijeridoo sound which were combined for the “organic” motif of the Tin Man creature.

Other standouts include yet another recording – though honestly I like this one much better – of the flute theme from the Hugo-winning Inner Light episode. As was the case with the orchestral version that appeared on the 1996 Best Of Star Trek CD, this is not the original recording, but it is much closer to the sound of the original, being a duet with Jay Chattaway on piano and his daughter Amy playing the much-loved theme on pennywhistle. A soaring five-minute cue from Birthright Part I – which accompanied Data’s dream-flight through his own subconscious – shows Chattaway to be the Trek composer who is probably the most adept at weaving electronics and synths into the show’s predominantly orchestral musical sound.

Other excerpts aren’t so stunning, to be quite honest. By the time of such episodes as Dark Page and Sub Rosa, thematic material was ousted from the musical language of Star Trek, leaving these cues with a very thick but melodically meandering sound. And, despite the fact that Chattaway has come up with some wonderfully melodic material in Tin Man and Inner Light, I must agree with fellow LogBook writer and Trek music fan Robert Heyman’s assessment – as far back as 1995 – that Chattaway tends to lean lazily upon a tired progression common to most of his work, regardless of which series he’s scoring. The climactic cue from A Fistful Of Datas, for example, survives only as an exercise in style. The fondly-remembered Spanish guitar and harmonica elements were fun in that episode’s music, but they quickly give way to a typical passage of trademark Chattaway Trek for the remainder of the track’s almost five-minute duration.

Also, in an area that not many reviews or reviewers concern themselves with, I have to give special mention to the very visible evolution of Crescendo’s packaging for the Star Trek CDs. There was a time, around 1991, when the inlay cards and booklets for the latest Trek soundtracks looked like they were fresh off of a bootlegger’s laser printer (though I grant you that neither Krupper nor Microgramma are easy fonts to reproduce, and neither are good choices for body copy). Even some of the pictures were dark and fuzzy, quite obviously snapshots from a videotape. Even though some of the photos in the booklet and the tray card of this CD are still video stills, their quality has improved dramatically. The biggest improvement has been with the quality of the printing itself – it’s legible! – something I have noticed since the Star Trek: Generations soundtrack. With this release and the 1996 release of the Star Trek: First Contact soundtrack, the Crescendo Star Trek soundtrack releases have ceased to 3 out of 4look like indie-label products languishing under a low budget, and have started to look much more like major releases on a major label. Not to downplay the labor of love that all of Crescendo’s Star Trek discs have been for the dedicated group of people who have stuck by them, but this one looks like it was somebody’s top priority – which certainly can’t hurt sales.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title – narration by Patrick Stewart (1:46)

    Tin Man:

  2. Not Nice / Right / Scared (4:44)
  3. Closing / Tin Man Contact / Romulans (2:55)
  4. Meet (3:23)
  5. No Choice / Tam (3:56)

    The Inner Light:

  6. Theme from The Inner Light (2:53)

    Sub Rosa:

  7. Hooked On Ronin (3:59)

    A Fistful Of Datas:

  8. A Fistful of Datas (4:54)

    Dark Page:

  9. Painful Revelation (5:27)

    Descent Part I:

  10. They’re Back! (2:54)
  11. Hook, Line and Sinker (3:19)

    Descent Part II:

  12. Crusher To The Rescue (1:59)

    Birthright Part I:

  13. Data In Dreamland (5:23)
  14. End Title

Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 1998
Total running time: 48:26