Meteor – music by Laurence Rosenthal

MeteorI have a long personal history with this soundtrack – namely, up until Intrada re-re-re-issued it earlier in 2014, I had managed miss every opportunity to obtain it. When the soundtrack was originally issued on LP at the time this all-star TV disaster flick was shown in 1979, I was living in the wrong country (it only came out in Japan). When La-La Land Records gave the Meteor soundtrack its first domestic pressing in 2008, I didn’t have the funds free to partake of it until it was too late (it was a limited edition of 1200 copies). Thankfully, Intrada seems to have turned “reissuing stuff that La-La Land previously released in very limited quantities” into its own lucrative sideline, and so here I am, 35 years after Meteor premiered, holding the soundtrack.

The appeal here is that Meteor is, along with The Black Hole (also released on CD by Intrada), one of the most prominent appearances of the Blaster Beam prior to Star Trek: The Motion Picture all but appropriating the strange-sounding electric instrument for Star Trek purposes only. Laurence Rosenthal (of Clash Of The Titans and Young Indiana Jones Chronicles fame) uses the Beam sparingly as a sonic signature for the meteor as it approaches Earth (it’s really more of an asteroid, but there are probably valid reasons they didn’t call the movie Asteroid instead). The most interesting examples of the beam occur in “Meteor”, “Tatiana” and particularly “The Assault”, which has the Beam slurring notes around like crazy – it’s a fascinating and atypical sound for an instrument that, it must be said, has limited applications.

Rosenthal’s score for one of the last gasps of the Great American Disaster Movie is lush, far more of a big-screen sound than might be expected for television, except that this was “event television” featuring big-name stars like Natalie Wood, Henry Fonds, and a thankfully fully-dressed, post-Zardoz Sean Connery. This was a Big Deal for mere TV, and Rosenthal’s score reflects that. In fact, the liner notes point out that John Williams had originally been offered the job, but as he was so busy with his big screen music assignments, he personally steered the movie’s producers toward Rosenthal.

3 out of 4The only thing that even remotely has a whiff of cheese to it is the fleeting appearance of numerous “spacey” synth effects early on, which are easy to write off as novelty effects thanks to the flavor of the era. Other than that one element that dates the score, Meteor makes for a dandy soundtrack that sounds like it should’ve been on the big screen – and best of all, more than 1,200 copies are in existence now. (If you’re worried about missing out on a meatier Meteor, fear not – the track list is sequenced a bit differently from La-La Land’s release, but the material is the same between the two albums.)

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (4:26)
  2. Challenger Two (2:47)
  3. The Meteor (2:11)
  4. The Russians Arrive (0:57)
  5. Siberia (2:02)
  6. 30,000 M.P.H. (0:54)
  7. Dubov’s Rage (0:58)
  8. Prepare For Aligning Peter The Great (0:50)
  9. Realigning Peter The Great (3:51)
  10. Alpine Innocence (0:59)
  11. Tatiana (2:00)
  12. Countdown (2:34)
  13. Manhattan Splinter (2:27)
  14. Malfunction (2:57)
  15. The Assault (3:22)
  16. Meteor Band March and End Credits (7:03)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2014
Total running time: 40:59

Logan’s Run: The Series

Logan's Run: The Series soundtrackIt’s hard to follow Jerry Goldsmith. Take Star Trek: Voyager, for example – each week, Goldsmith’s sweeping theme would often be followed by something that, despite the valiant efforts of the composers who scored each episode (and due to the restraints imposed on them by the show’s producers), simply couldn’t be in the same league. When MGM decided to continue the story of Logan’s Run on the small screen in the late 1970s, the decision was made to “reboot” the story – to essentially retell the movie in a different context that would lead seamlessly into an ongoing series of adventures. The main roles were recast, and so too was the music; gone were the futuristic city setting and Jerry Goldsmith’s avant-garde electronics, replaced by something much more traditional and, perhaps, not a million miles away from Fantasy Island (a thought that I had before opening the liner notes booklet and seeing that composer Bruce Broughton, who scored other episodes represented on this CD, said the same thing). This CD from Film Score Monthly presents the highlights from the entire series, written by several different composers.

Laurence Rosenthal was tapped for the extended-length pilot, several early episodes, and the theme music that would open every subsequent episode. The difference between all of the music on this CD and the score to the movie that inspired the series is stark – where the movie score achieves a little bit of timelessness through unusual instrumentation and unconventional musical thinking, the TV scores are clearly rooted in the pre-Star Wars 1970s. To a greater or lesser extent, depending on who composed it, virtually every track references Rosenthal’s main theme, but instead of being used as an adaptable leitmotif, the theme is quoted almost in its entirety every time it appears.

The theme itself is a snapshot out of time, with a Yamaha organ providing an electronic “siren” effect that, to put it lightly, hasn’t exactly aged gracefully. (It almost sounds like someone had a hot game of Asteroids going during the recording session.) And that’s about as electronic as this iteration of Logan’s Run gets.

The episode score suites do occasionally bear a certain similarity to some of the movie’s action cues, however, particularly those by Rosenthal himself. Bruce Broughton contributes a couple of decent tracks from two of his episodes, two more tracks are from Jerrold Immel’s score, and another track features score music by Jeff Alexander. The rest of the music is by Rosenthal, including a brief selection of “commercial break bumpers” that heralded a commercial interruption.

Now, I’m not judging this music solely on its similarity or lack thereof to a movie score by Jerry Goldsmith; the TV series was aimed squarely at family viewing time, and as such it’s pitched as a whole different animal. But it’s hard not to have the comparison in the back of one’s mind – how much more different could two projects bearing the same name and underlying premise be? The music itself is pleasant enough, though occasionally the age of the source material shows where audio fidelity is concerned. But in the end, there’s a phrase in a paragraph in the booklet describing one of the tracks, explaining that the track is comprised of brief excerpts of a score that wouldn’t have stood up to extended CD listening. To a certain degree, that applies to this CD as a whole. It’s neat to have another vintage SF series musically unearthed and lavished with packaging that’s as informative as it is attractive (Film Score Monthly is the best in the business at that), but as a listening experience, it’s an exercise in how well some music dates…and how well some doesn’t.

rating: 4 out of 4I can really only recommend this one to fans of the show – a show which, I’ll admit, I barely remember myself. Though the liner notes booklet, whose extensive episode guide reveals that such luminaries as D.C. Fontana, David Gerrold, Shimon Wincelberg and even Harlan Ellison worked on the series, makes me hope that a DVD release is in the planning stages somewhere; maybe then I’ll have a better appreciation of this version of Logan’s Run, and its music.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (1:11)
  2. Pilot Suite, Part 1 (8:43)
  3. Pilot Suite, Part 2 (6:18)
  4. Pilot Suite, Part 3 (7:47)
  5. Bumpers (0:10)
  6. The Collectors (4:10)
  7. Capture (music by Jeff Alexander) (5:56)
  8. The Innocent (music by Jerrold Immel) (6:29)
  9. Man Out Of Time (9:06)
  10. Half Life (music by Jerrold Immel) (8:46)
  11. Fear Factor (music by Bruce Broughton) (11:39)
  12. Futurepast (6:40)
  13. Night Visitors (music by Bruce Broughton) (1:55)
  14. End Title (0:38)

Released by: Film Score Monthly
Release date: 2004
Total running time: 79:55