Soon after the spring ’95 release of the soundtrack from Voyager’s pilot episode, GNP Crescendo Records promised a CD single of the Voyager theme song that would contain some previously unreleased versions of the tune by Joel Goldsmith, the son of Voyager theme composer Jerry (also of Star Trek: The Motion Picture fame). Then, as often hapens with Crescendo, the release was pushed back several months in the schedule. Now that I’ve heard Joel Goldsmith’s take on his father’s creation, I have to say there was no hurry in the first place (!).
I’ve heard a handful of die-hard Trekkies complain about Dennis McCarthy’s rock reworking of the DS9 theme (probably the same people who fully believe ST:TNG’s frequent implied prediction that only jazz and classical will survive into the 24th century). I thought the single version of the DS9 theme was kinda neat myself. But even those who have a problem with that rendition will come to respect it in a whole new light when they listen to the Voyager CD single. It’s hard to imagine, frankly, that anyone could’ve bungled such a fine tune as the Voyager main title. It’s such a well-constructed composition, and darn it, to cut this conversation down to basic aesthetics, it’s such a pretty song – to imagine that someone could’ve done it a disservice is hard to swallow. But someone has. The first cut, subtitled the “Pop Version”, is not so much rock as just short of techno-pop, this version of the Voyager theme sounds like Mike Post Gone Mad. Imagine the music of Voyager in the style of the theme from Dallas…and you’re listening to the “Pop Version”.
The “Synth Version” doesn’t really improve on things, it just takes them in a much different direction. Much of its introductory moments sound almost atonal, not making any concessions to featuring Jerry Goldsmith’s music until about one-fifth of the way in. Some of its variations on the Voyager theme are actually quite interesting, and the occasional sampled choral tones give it an almost ominous feel, almost like Voyager a la Best Of Both Worlds. The real travesty is the “Long Version” of the original recording of the theme song, the orchestral rendition we have come to expect every week. I was hoping for an interesting new passage or something, but instead a passage was simply repeated via a clumsy edit; it sounded as though someone hit the pause button on a cassette recorder, backed the CD up, and started the tape again. As inadequate as this single’s other two versions of the Voyager theme are, they are at least fresh recordings instead of a hastily edited copy of something we’ve already heard. So, hard as it is to conceive, the Voyager theme can become – with just the wrong arrangement – a very flawed piece of music indeed.
It’s hard to believe that someone could manage to mess it up, but even harder to believe that the person responsible is none other than the son of Jerry Goldsmith.
- Star Trek: Voyager main title – Pop version (3:07)
- Star Trek: Voyager main title – Synth version (4:56)
- Star Trek: Voyager main title – Extended version (2:21)
Released by: GNP Crescendo
Release date: 1995
Total running time: 14:57