I’ve waxed rhapsodic about this outstanding, pioneering score which combines synthesizers, orchestra and chorus; long a favorite, Wendy Carlos’ soundtrack from Tron has never been officially available on CD. Bootlegs have been circulating for years, as have MP3s, both of them usually sourced from the vinyl LP. In the intervening years, Carlos restored and remastered the original tapes on her own time, patiently waiting to release it on her own label, or perhaps on Disney’s label. Fans eagerly awaited a release date for years, but considering that Tron, like The Black Hole, seemed to be a film that Disney was all but ashamed of, it didn’t seem like a good idea to hold one’s breath.
Fast forward with us now to late 2001. Disney has an eagerly awaited new collector’s edition 2-DVD set of Tron on store shelves, featuring some new material but also a lot of repurposed material from the highly sought-after laserdisc version. Even the toys have been re-released, and most improbable of all, director Steven Lisberger has been approached to write and perhaps direct a sequel to the original Tron. In short Tron is suddenly a hot property once again to Disney, which is looking to exploit that property in any way possible.
Someone at Disney must’ve asked, “What about the soundtrack?” And, as with the DVD extras, the studio was keen on taking the fastest and cheapest way out of that question – they called composer Wendy Carlos and asked if she just happened to have CD-ready masters of the music on hand that could be used to press a re-release.
As it just so happens, Carlos spent the late 1990s restoring the original analog tapes of the scoring sessions for Tron, and it was no easy task. As has been chronicled on her website, Carlos found that much of her late ’70s/early ’80s work was all but lost due to a serious quality problem with her chosen brand of reel-to-reel audiotape. The tape had all but melted, and had to be “baked” in carefully controlled conditions for there to be any chance of retrieving the material ever again. In the case of Tron, it worked, and as early as 1999 Carlos had a shiny new digital master of the tape ready to go – but Disney had a stranglehold on the rights, preventing her from rereleasing it on her own label. In other words, Disney’s last minute marketing decision finally brought Tron‘s soundtrack to CD.
And I, for one, thank them. This new CD is everything the fans had hoped – and there are even previously unreleased tracks, such as the wonderful “The Break-In” (for strings, cello and celeste), which added so much of the playful-cum-menacing atmosphere to the scenes where Flynn, Alan and Lora break into the ENCOM labs. Also included is an early version of “TronAction”, loaded with enough wild dissonance to scare off some listeners (this version was also used in some pre-release showreels sent to theater owners and distributors), and a harpsichord sketch of the movie’s main theme, played with “no gimmicks and no overdubs” by Carlos herself.
Surprisingly absent from the disc is the unused music from the light cycle chase; the music can be heard as an alternate scene on the DVD, but isn’t included here. It would’ve been nice to add that to the package as well.
Even the two Journey songs – “Only Solutions” and the instrumental “1990s Theme” (ha!) – are intact, and the original LP tracks are featured in the original running order.
It’s so nice to finally have a Tron soundtrack CD that didn’t come out of someone’s CD burner. The music has more than earned a real release, and now – at last – it’s got one.
- Creation Of Tron (0:49)
- Only Solutions performed by Journey (3:42)
- We’ve Got Company (2:19)
- Wormhole (2:30)
- Ring Game And Escape (2:57)
- Water Music and TronAction (2:25)
- Tron Scherzo (1:47)
- Miracle And Magician (2:41)
- Magic Landings (3:44)
- Theme From Tron (1:37)
- 1980’s Theme performed by Journey (2:08)
- Love Theme (2:08)
- Tower Music – Let Us Pray (3:48)
- The Light Sailer (2:37)
- Sea Of Simulation (3:24)
- A New Tron And The MCP (5:11)
- Anthem (1:40)
- Ending Titles (5:17)
- TronAction (Original Version) (1:29)
- Break In (for Strings, Flutes and Celesta) (5:35)
- Anthem For Keyboard Solo (1:09)
Released by: Disney
Release date: 2002
Total running time: 58:59