Marking the first foray of soundtrack label Intrada into the neutral zone of Star Trek movie music, Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home is a risky thing to release, then or now. It’s also the only Star Trek adventure for Leonard Rosenman (Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, Ralph Bakshi’s animated Lord Of The Rings), and it’s been misunderstood since the original 35-minute soundtrack album was released by MCA in 1986. Rosenman’s approach to film scoring was always steeped in his classical background, and while that doesn’t mean that he wasn’t suited to making movie music, his old-school sensibilities on such things as formal structure haven’t won him as wide a fan base as, say, Jerry Goldsmith or John Williams.
Intrada’s single-disc release almost fills the running time of its CD, doubling the amount of music that was available before by finally revealing the alternate versions of many key pieces of music. There are so many alternates here that it almost constitutes a second soundtrack that we never got to hear. Rosenman has taken a lot of heat from critics for the almost Christmas-like main titles, and his original main titles are quite a departure from that – a stately, fully orchestral version of the theme from the original Star Trek series, for the first and only time in the movie series (that we never got to hear). Not just a quotation, not just the four-note fanfare, but the entire theme as heard on TV in the ’60s, upgraded to the splendor of a full orchestra rather than the bongos and the warbling female vocal. It’s pretty magnificent stuff, though of course using that would’ve gotten Rosenman bashed for lack of originality (a charge already leveled at the screen-used titles, which bore a slight resemblance to Rosenman’s Lord Of The Rings). The poor guy couldn’t win.
The other alternates reveal a slightly darker take on the themes for the inscrutible, cylindrical alien probe and the whaling ship at the end of the movie, both of which are looking for the same thing; the alternate whaling ship cue is a more violent, guttural sounding piece, almost like Goldsmith action music.
Heard in the movie, but previously unheard on a soundtrack album, are the series of vignettes at the beginning of the movie, reintroducing us to the Enterprise crew and their purloined Klingon ship, setting up the conflict with the Klingons in a diplomatic vanue on Earth, and setting up the probe crisis from the vantage point of Starfleet Command. This music is presented as a single suite, mainly because the scenes were presented that way too. Another series of vignettes, “In San Francisco”, follows Kirk’s fish-out-of-water crew through their haphazard attempts to function on 20th century Earth, and is perhaps a bit less successful as it falls back on stereotypical samplings of various “ethnic” music types to represent the nationalities of the crew. There’s somewhat predictable Eastern-scale music for the Sulu scenes that we barely got to see (much of the 20th century Sulu scenes, including a run-in with a potential ancestor, were cut from the movie), as well as Scottish and Russan refrains for Scotty and Chekov.
Several of the cues may leave Trek music fans cringing precisely because they don’t fit neatly into the template established by Goldsmith and James Horner in the first three movies. Rosenman was assigned to score a movie that was basically a comedy with a dramatic framing device, and that’s how the movie is scored. It worked well with the movie, but purely as a listening experience, even with the added material, it probably won’t satisfy listeners expecting a “hey, the music wasn’t that bad” revelation like the expanded Star Trek V soundtrack gave us.
It’s good to finally be able to hear more than 35 minutes of music, though, and even the movie’s comedy trappings have a musical payoff: the song written especially for the punk-on-the-bus scene, “I Hate You”, is heard in full, performed by an ad hoc band formed by some of the movie’s production team. In the film, the song gets shut down in the first chorus thanks to Spock’s timely nerve-pinching intervention, but here we get to hear it in all of its recorded-in-one-take lo-fi glory. It sounds like a local punk band’s recorded-on-cassette-in-the-living-room opus, which succeeds in ways that a licensed, “bought-in” and professionally produced song wouldn’t have. It also provides the Trek soundtrack library with its first explicit lyrics warning label (!) with an F-bomb right before the song ends.
It’s still too early to say whether or not this new release of the Star Trek IV soundtrack will lead to the movie’s music be any better understood, but it at least gives students of film music a more complete picture of what Rosenman was trying to accomplish (and in some cases, what he was told to accomplish differently). It’s a stronger listening experience for the added material, and may well be the Star Trek film score that most needed this expanded treatment.
- Logo / Main Title (2:52)
- Starfleet Command / On Vulcan / Spock / Ten Seconds of Tension (1:40)
- The Probe (1:16)
- The Probe—Transition / The Take-Off / Menace of the Probe / Clouds and Water / Crew Stunned (3:08)
- Time Travel (1:28)
- Market Street (4:38)
- In San Francisco (2:01)
- Chekov’s Run (1:21)
- Gillian Seeks Kirk (2:42)
- Hospital Chase (1:14)
- The Whaler (2:00)
- Crash / Whale Fugue (8:38)
- Kirk Freed (0:44)
- Home Again / End Credits (5:39)
- Ballad of the Whale (4:59)
- Main Title (alternate) (2:56)
- Time Travel (alternate) (1:29)
- Chekov’s Run (album ending) (1:19)
- The Whaler (alternate) (2:05)
- Crash / Whale Fugue (album track) (8:15)
- Home Again and End Credits (alternate) (5:16)
- Main Title (album track) (2:40)
- Whale Fugue (alternate) (1:05)
- I Hate You (1:59)
Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2012
Total running time: 72:44