Soylent Green / Demon Seed

Soylent Green / Demon Seed soundtrackThis disc brings together the sparse scores for two futuristic ’70s techno-dystopia flicks for their first official release, complete with the usual wealth of knowledge that’s packed into the CD booklet on any of Film Score Monthly’s releases.

In the past, Soylent Green has been mentioned on this site as “a great place to see a pristine Computer Space machine,” but it turns out that, away from the dialogue of this Charlton Heston hand-wringer, the music is another oustanding feature of Soylent Green that stands up over time. Fred Myrow’s music for the movie’s introductory montage is an absolute revelation, blending rhapsodic strings, experimental electric guitars, and an honest-to-God hip-hop shuffle, years before anyone was calling it that. It starts out quiet and rather relaxing, and then builds to a busy, bustling peak about 2/3 of the way in, a musical illustration of the movie’s overpopulation problem. It’s just a great little piece of underscore – I think I listened to that track five times in a row when I first listened to this CD, because it’s just so stunning.

The various themes the run throughout the rest of the score are established in those opening titles as well, though in slightly different forms. It all adds up to a very cohesive score, and quite an impressive musical feat overall. I like the movie itself as a guilty pleasure, but I have no qualms about saying that the music is better than the movie, and I’m glad it can be heard here.

In a completely different vein musically is the 1977 techno-horror thriller Demon Seed, whose score was composed by original Star Trek veteran Jerry Fielding. If you’re expecting it to sound even vaguely like a classic Trek score, think again – Fielding goes largely electronic here, befitting the movie’s theme of a rapacious supercomputer that decides it needs to reproduce (with Julie Christie, no less). Rather like Soylent Green, Demon Seed hasn’t really aged very gracefully, though its sometimes abstract music was ahead of its time. Fans of early ’70s analog synth music should give this one a shot. Heard without dialogue or effects, it’s some very interesting music.

Rating: 4 out of 4Though one might not normally think of these two films at the same time, this album is one of the best (and naturally, one of the more obscure) gems in Film Score Monthly’s library, and I highly recommend it.

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  1. Prologue / Opening City Music (4:20)
  2. Can I Do Something For You? (1:47)
  3. Out For A Walk / Nothing Like This / Assassin Approaches / Necessary To God / New Tenant (5:29)
  4. Stalking The Pad (1:41)
  5. Tab’s Pad / Furniture Party (3:43)
  6. Shirl And Thorn (2:08)
  7. Home Lobby Source (2:58)
  8. Sol’s Music (6:29)
  9. Symphony Music (Tchiakovsky / Beethoven / Grieg) (6:17)
  10. Infernal Machine / Thorn In Danger / Are You With Us? / Alternate City Opening / End Credits (5:13)

    Demon Seed

  11. Birth Scene / Speaking Room / Elk Herd (3:17)
  12. Proteus Requests / Light On / Your Phone Is Out (8:25)
  13. Visiting Hours / Probed And Put To Bed (3:24)
  14. The Gaz Chamber / Rape Of The Earth / How? / Hypnosis / Chimes (8:23)
  15. Pre-Trip / Big Wind / Sperm / Spirograph / Tetra Waltz (7:18)
  16. Last Voyage (2:35)
  17. Closing Crawl (2:03)
  18. End Credits (3:59)

Released by: Film Score Monthly
Release date: 2003
Total running time: 79:49

Electric Light Orchestra – On The Third Day (remaster)

ELO - On The Third Day (Remastered)With any slate of back catalogue reissues, you’re already running the risk of the consumer saying “been there, done that.” But it takes talent to achieve the same effect when it comes to the added-value bonus material. Maybe that’s a little unfair; as with the other ELO remasters to date, 1973’s On The Third Day has never sounded better. The apocalyptic-sounding fusion of strings and the closest ELO ever came to heavy metal positively sparkles, and the liner notes finally give a little bit of insight into the making of the album; with its bizarre, quasi-Biblical themes, Third Day has never ceased to fascinate me. It’s territory ELO hadn’t ventured into before, and never ventured into again.

Now here’s the problem: like a great many other things covered on this site, ELO has a strong cult following. Its fans snatch up any release that holds the promise of previously unheard material from any era of the group’s classic repertoire. This isn’t really a problem until you realize that almost all of the “bonus tracks” attached to this re-release have been heard before. The various early takes and mixes of “Ma-Ma-Ma Belle” and “Dreaming Of 4000” were included on the 2-disc UK reissue of Electric Light Orchestra II (and, before that, on an early 90s compilation called Early ELO), and so too was the previously unreleased (and still very Dylanesque) song “Everyone’s Born To Die”. The em>only really “new” track here is a wild track of various orchestral interludes which were eventually mixed in between songs on the original album – so it’s not that you haven’t heard them before, you just haven’t heard them on their own.

Rating: 3 out of 4It’s not a total disappointment, since not everyone will have gotten that UK import (and since those bonus tracks didn’t show up on the North American version of the ELO II remaster), but aside from some nice liner notes and a sharper sound, hardcore ELO fans won’t find much new here that they haven’t heard already.

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  1. Ocean Breakup / King Of The Universe (4:07)
  2. Bluebird Is Dead (4:42)
  3. Oh No, Not Susan (3:07)
  4. New World Rising / Ocean Breakup Reprise (4:05)
  5. Showdown (4:09)
  6. Daybreaker (3:51)
  7. Ma-Ma-Ma Belle (3:56)
  8. Dreaming Of 4000 (5:04)
  9. In The Hall Of The Mountain King (6:37)
  10. Auntie (Ma-Ma-Ma Belle Take 1) (1:19)
  11. Auntie (Ma-Ma-Ma Belle Take 2) (4:05)
  12. Mambo (Dreaming Of 4000 alternate mix) (5:05)
  13. Everyone’s Born To Die (3:43)
  14. Interludes (3:40)

Released by: Epic / Legacy
Release date: 2006 (originally released in 1973)
Total running time: 57:30

Roy Wood – Boulders

Roy Wood - BouldersOne of the best albums this listener’s ever heard. The idea behind Wood’s Boulders is much the same as the premise of Todd Rundgren’s A Capella – that one person is responsible for every sound on the album. Wood manages to turn out an incredible body of work with this limitation in mind, including the haunting “Dear Elaine”, with more tracks of overdubbed cellos than I can pick out providing an appropriately baroque backing to the heart-wrenching lyrics – Wood’s vocal range is unbelievable. The one irritation is the occasional silliness Wood had to stoop to in order to get lower or higher 4 out of 4voices for his backing vocals than even he is capable of reaching – the “choral” group heard in the background of “Songs of Praise” sounds like a few normal voices along with Jabba the Hutt and a treeful of chipmunks. On the other hand, the same trick works wonders on “Miss Clarke And The Computer”. All in all, very highly recommended…but sadly, very hard to find.

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  1. Songs Of Praise (4:40)
  2. Wake Up (3:19)
  3. Rock Down Low (3:52)
  4. Nancy Sing Me A Song (3:28)
  5. Dear Elaine (4:09)
  6. All The Way Over The Hill / The Irish Loafer and His Hen (4:49)
  7. Miss Clarke and the Computer (4:20)
  8. When Gran’ma Plays The Banjo (3:13)
  9. Rock Medley (7:31)
    (Rockin’ Shoes / She’s Too Good For Me / Locomotive)

Released by: EMI
Release date: 1973
Total running time: 39:21

Electric Light Orchestra – On The Third Day

Electric Light Orchestra - On The Third DayThis is probably ELO’s most schizophrenic album, leaping from the use of the F word in “Oh No, Not Susan” to the lyrics of “Dreaming Of 4000”, which don’t know if they’re trying to be an environmental protest or some kind of vaguely Christian rock. ELO singer/guitarist/songwriter Jeff Lynne has since commented that he doesn’t know what he could have been thinking, and I have to agree with him there. But there are several good things about this album. The instrumental overture, “Ocean Breakup”, is as driving and ominous as “King Of The Universe” is…well, just plain weird. (Lovely to listen to, but weird.) “New World Rising” sounds like an embryonic “Mr. Blue Sky” in the making – same subject, and a very similar sound – and “Bluebird Is Dead”, in spite of the lyrics, sounds like something the Beatles might have turned out had they 3 out of 4 starslasted past 1970. All in all, it’s a very strange and uneven album. I’ve grown to like most of it, though there are still songs that I rarely go back and listen to. And I still don’t know what Jeff Lynne could have been thinking…

  1. Ocean Breakup / King Of The Universe (4:06)
  2. Bluebird Is Dead (4:22)
  3. Order this CD in the StoreOh No, Not Susan (3:28)
  4. New World Rising / Ocean Breakup Reprise (4:04)
  5. Showdown (4:09)
  6. Daybreaker (3:50)
  7. Ma-Ma-Ma Belle (3:52)
  8. Dreaming Of 4000 (5:02)
  9. In The Hall Of The Mountain King (6:33)

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