Tales From The Score Keeper: (Un)buried Alive

I have listened to you, and I shall go on… listening to you…

Friends, it’s been a very busy year for your old pal the Score Keeper. But the music just keeps on coming. And some all-time classics are getting dusted off, remastered, and expanded, so that merits me popping out of my hiding place to give you a heads-up or two.

La-La Land Records has just dropped a quartet of new releases, and I expect the one most of you will be most excited about is this one…

Image courtesy La-La Land Records

Even if you already own Film Score Monthly/Retrograde Records’ fine single-CD release of the late, great James Horner’s score from Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan (1982), La-La Land’s new double-disc re-release is worthy of your attention. Master tapes that weren’t available at the time the previous edition was assembled have come to light since then, meriting a new edition. Disc one presents the complete score as heard in the film (which often means not only is every cue presented in its original sequence and length, but the mixing might be a bit different than it would be for a soundtrack release), while the second disc replicates the original 1982 soundtrack LP – remastered from the original tapes – along with a selection of alternate takes we haven’t heard before, including different versions of key scenes – yes, including this one…

La-La Land’s other three releases this month are no slouches by comparison: there’s Martin Todsharow’s two-disc score from the brand new Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins movie, a three-disc box set of more music from Irwin Allen’s The Time Tunnel series (featuring music by John Williams, Leith Stevens, Joseph Mullendore, Paul Sawtell, Robert Drasnin, and George Duning), and Women Warriors: Voices For Change, a symphonic work including passages by an all-star selection of female composers, including Lolita Ritmanis of Batman: The Animated Series fame. Snake Eyes is limited to a pressing of 2000 copies, while only 1000 copies of The Time Tunnel Volume Two are being pressed. Perhaps anticipating that everyone in Starfleet will be demanding a copy, La-La Land has splashed out enough for 10,000 copies of Star Trek II.

Other recent La-La Land releases worthy of note include a 40th anniversary release of Alex North’s score from Dragonslayer, a 2-CD complete limited edition of Michael Kamen’s music from the 1999 X-Men movie, and a limited edition of John Williams’ music from Always.

More John Williams music is up for grabs over at Intrada Records with their recent release of a new 2-CD remastered edition of Williams’ score from the 1975 Clint Eastwood movie The Eiger Sanction. Intrada has also released a newly remastered, complete 2-CD edition of Jerry Goldsmith’s modern western score for 1987’s Extreme Prejudice. Intrada has other projects in the works too – we’ll get back to that momentarily.

Varese Sarabande has been busy as well, putting the complete score from 1999’s The Matrix back in print for the first time in quite a while through the Varese CD Club. (It’s also available from Varese as a digital download in your choice of format if your CD shelf is getting a little crowded.) Varese has also rolled out a nice new vinyl double-LP release of the score from The Crow, including 30 minutes of previously unreleased music.

Image courtesy Varese Sarabande

What else is Intrada working on, though? They’re holding a Kickstarter – with about half a month left to go – to fund new recordings of two Jerry Goldsmith scores whose original master tapes are lost to time: the 1957 western Black Patch, and the 1972 political drama The Man. If the label can raise the funds, they plan to have the Royal Scottish National Orchestra record each score from the ground up. If you want to pitch in on restoring these two lost Goldsmith treasures, Intrada’s Kickstarter page can be found here.

What’s next on the soundtrack horizon? Only time, and the soundtrack labels, will tell. And I’ll try to tell you too.

Saturday Frights Podcast Ep. 098 – Top 5 Horror Soundtracks

Friends, I am afraid that yet again we have managed to deliver a new episode of the Saturday Frights podcast a couple of days later than intended. In all honesty it has to do with the new job and the strain of attempting to find the necessary free time to devote to the show. Having said that though, we do have a very special episode of the podcast for you today, as the Projectionist and I are joined by three friends on this show. Fellow PCR authors who were kind enough to share their top 5 horror soundtrack picks with you, focusing on memorable music from all manner of film and television shows. I am willing to bet there are going to be a few on the lists provided today by our guests that you may not be familiar with!

Joining us to share her top 5 horror soundtracks is none other than Ashley Thomas aka The Nerdy Blogger, whose work is frequently featured on Fangirlish as well as the Sci-Fi 5 podcast. The daily five minute podcast that provides the best in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror history – produced by Roddenberry Entertainment.

We also are lucky enough to have the esteemed Earl Green join us on this special episode of the podcast. Earl is no stranger to the Sci-Fi 5 podcast himself, as well as running The Log Book.com – one of the longest running sites on the internet focusing on everything pop culture.

Last but certainly not least is Rockford Jay, my co-host on the Saturday Frights Facebook page – who does his level best to help me keep a lid on the madness of the Vault. He manages to share his love of retro horror on a nearly daily basis, and I am sad to add is frequently the target of the Projectionist’s schemes and explosive temper.

Without further ado, please join the Projectionist and myself at the Haunted Drive-In, as we discuss the top 5 horror soundtracks on the Saturday Frights podcast. As always we want to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to listen to the show, and hope that you are enjoying season three of the podcast so far.

If you have any suggestions for topics you would like for us to cover in a future episode – or possibly you have comments on the current show itself, email them to me at VicSagePopCulture@gmail.com You can also contact me on Twitter and on Facebook. In addition I certainly hope you will take the time to visit the Saturday Frights Facebook Page. There you can find posts from Rockford Jay, Preston Griffith and myself on a daily basis.

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Enjoy This Music Video For John Carpenter’s “Alive After Death”!

Friends, it might surprise you to learn that as much as I adore the work of John Carpenter, we have in fact only covered three of this films on the Saturday Frights podcast so far. To date, the Projectionist and I have managed to discuss The Fog, They Live, and In the Mouth of Madness – although Carpenter’s work has been brought up in the likes of the Halloween specials as well as the Intermission episodes. This is not an oversight on the part of my shadowy co-host or myself – as we always intended the podcast to focus more on the horror films and television shows that fans might not be so familiar with. And in truth, when discussing such films as Halloween, The Thing, and Escape from New York – I am not sure that the Projectionist or I could add to what is already known.

John Carpenter might be best known for creating such cinematic icons as Michael Myers, Snake Plissken, and John Nada – but he is also well known for his memorable film scores. As Carpenter himself has stated in the past, his use of synthesizers in a majority of his film soundtracks was because it allowed him to create a score that sounded much larger than he could afford. Of course it should be pointed out that Carpenter has collaborated with the likes of Alan Howarth on a number of the scores for his films, as well as Ennio Morricone and Shirley Walker to name a few.

And while it seems that Carpenter has for the time being stepped away from the director’s chair – he is killing it now as musician – teaming up with his Son, Cody Carpenter, and Daniel Davies. John Carpenter has even gone on multiple tours thanks to the overwhelming success of 2015’s Lost Themes album, which was followed by Lost Themes II the following year. It turns out that the trio’s third studio album entitled Lost Themes III: Alive After Death is set to debut on February 5th of this year – although you can get a taste of the album courtesy of this animated music video featuring the titular track.

VIDEO AND ARTICLE IMAGE PROVIDED BY Sacred Bones Records.

The music video for “Alive After Death” was animated by Liam Brazier and features artwork by Boneface. In closing out this article I want to give John Squires of Bloody Disgusting a tip of the hat for the heads up on the release of the video.

Tales From The Score Keeper: The Game Has Changed

‘Twas a week before Christmas, and soundtrack fans had reason aplenty to smile, because chances are their stockings contained something they’d wanted to hear for a while. Once more unto the breach, soundtrack fans – and fear not, because a lot of what we’re talking about today are digital releases, so you don’t have to wait for your haggard, beleaguered, overworked mail carrier to bring them to you (for which your haggard, beleaguered, overworked mail carrier is probably quite grateful – spare these poor folks a though this season and maybe throw them a gift card or something in your mailbox, because they really are stepping in for Santa’s reindeer this year).

There’s plenty to hear at year’s end, including Hans Zimmer’s eagerly awaited score for Wonder Woman 1984, but let’s stop burying the lede here: a release some of us have been lusting after for a whole decade has just dropped with practically no fanfare whatsoever.

Just in time to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the film’s release, Disney Records has digitally released, at long last, the complete Daft Punk score from 2010’s Tron: Legacy. The original release was maddening in its incomplete-ness, with several bonus tracks – containing music from rather major scenes of the film – scattered to the winds and attached to bizarre things like mobile phone subscriptions. This digital release finally gathers all of those bonus tracks, and the rest of the previously unreleased material, in one place for your listening pleasure. Get thee to the Grid and crank it…just a bit.

Also out on Disney Records is Volume 2 of the music from season 2 of The Mandalorian, the season finale of which I haven’t watched yet as of writing this, but considering how many of my friends have texted me this morning to warn me away from social media, I’m assuming some stuff happens, so…I haven’t even looked at the track list just in case there’s a flashback to 1999’s month-before-the-movie release of the Episode I soundtrack, of which track 17 was “Qui-Gon Dies An Absolutely Horrific Death, Bet You Didn’t Wanna Know That, Huh?” or somesuch. As always, the Force is with composer Ludwig Goransson.

As mentioned earlier, Wonder Woman 1984 is in the position of being the movie to beat in what is normally a fairly crowded movie season (but, because people aren’t staying home and listening to soundtrack music, this year it isn’t), but there’s plenty of comics-inspired action on the soundtrack front. In addition to that movie’s soundtrack, Blake Neely’s music from season 7 and season 8 of Arrow are now available from Watertower Records, while Hollywood Records brings us Legion: Finalmente, Jeff Russo’s musical highlights from the third season of the FX X-Men spinoff Legion. Considering that this was a season that not only wrapped things up, but wrapped things up with episodes including musical numbers with singing corpses floating in space, the soundtrack will probably be…interesting, to say the least. Also from the small screen comes Node Records’ digital release of music from History Channel’s reboot of Project Blue Book.

Now, you might think that “the game has changed” was a reference to the Tron: Legacy release, and of course it is, but two of Intrada’s three year-end physical releases also earn that headline, because I sense a major sea change in the soundtrack market. Devo alumnus Mark Mothersbaugh’s score to The Croods: A New Age contains no disclaimers about limited pressings, but Intrada’s other selections do – and it’s very diffferent from their usual “we’ll keep it in stock as long as people are ordering it” disclaimer.

Miklos Rosza’s 1952 masterpiece Ivanhoe, and Jerry Goldsmith’s 1982 score from the war movie Inchon both get remastered re-releases, with Inchon clocking in at a whopping three discs. What’s so different about these releases? They both contain the following disclaimer: “This CD release will only be available for 45 days and goes off sale January 30th, 2021, or when supplies run out. The 24-bit, 96kHz hi-res digital format is coming soon to wherever digital music is sold!” Translation, for those of you sitting in the back: people aren’t buying enough compact discs anymore, and we don’t want to be stuck warehousing them, so these things are going to start getting a very limited physical release window before they become download-only.

That is a game-changer for those of us who do like to hold a jewel case in our hands, read detailed liner notes, and have a complete set of a given composer’s works sitting on the shelf. The day of the soundtrack CD release is reaching its twilight, folks.

Keep your masks on so you don’t join the soundtrack CD in its extinction. Stay home and listen to some music, okay? Because there’s plenty to listen to.

1980’s Flash Gordon Has Been Saving The Universe For 40 Years!

Friends, I think we can all agree that as we near the end of 2020 that it has been less than enjoyable – in particular with the loss of many of our favorite entertainers – just a few days ago Hugh Keays-Byrne (Mad Max, The Blood of Heroes, Mad Max: Fury Road) joining that unfortunately growing list. However this year has also seen the anniversaries of a slew of classic and cult classic films – such as the 40th anniversary for the likes of Motel Hell, Alligator, Airplane!, and The Blues Brothers to name a few. Today though marks 40 years of the 1980 film adaptation of Alex Raymond’s Flash Gordon – starring Sam J. Jones, Max von Sydow, Timothy Dalton, Topol, Melody Anderson, Mariangela Melato, Peter Wyngarde, Ornella Muti, and of course the legendary Brian Blessed. My Father and I caught this film at the local movie theater 40 years ago and it became one of our all-time favorite films – thanks in no small part to that iconic soundtrack courtesy of Queen!

Video and Article Image Provided by StudiocanalUK.

I have shared numerous times in the past that listening to music in my household just wasn’t a thing – the soundtrack for Flash Gordon was an exception – picking it up at the local Walmart the day after we caught the film. In particular I would listen to both “Vultan’s Theme (Attack of the Hawkmen)” and the “Battle Theme” over and over again when my Father was out working in the yard. Flash Gordon also made me a card-carrying member of the Brian Blessed fan club at the age of eight!

“Come Vic, we will find glory!!”

At the time that we caught Flash Gordon at that fabled Razorback theater of my youth – I actually wasn’t aware of the long history of the popular comic strip character. My Father was adamant about seeing the film thanks to his love of the reissue of the serials in the ’40s – starring the fantastic Buster Crabbe – who secured the Olympic gold medal in ’32 for the 400-meter freestyle swimming event. A feat that helped him to become an actor – eventually leading him to portray not just the character of Flash Gordon but Tarzan and Buck Rogers too!

While most of the cast were signed to a multi-picture deal – Flash Gordon didn’t perform well enough at the box office to warrant sequels. Just as with a few of my other favorite films like The Thing, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, Electric Dreams, and Krull – it took time for the movie to find it’s audience. Thanks to cable television, VHS, Laserdisc, DVD, and Blu-ray releases over the years – Flash Gordon has become a very popular cult film.

Go Flash Go!

So here is to 40 years of 1980’s Flash Gordon… we gratefully thank you for saving and entertaining every one of us!

Video Provided by Queen Official.

Tales From The Score Keeper: Brown Trousers Thursday

In a late ’80s episode of Red Dwarf, memory-addled ship’s computer Holly once indicated that a miscalculation at light speed meant “Brown Trousers time” – no further explanation needed. That’s why I’ve designated this Brown Trousers Thursday – because Black Friday is imminent, and yet there are already so many soundtrack releases demanding our attention (and our beskar).

There are a lot of great digital releases hitting us right now. Whereas the first season of The Mandalorian saw a full score release accompanying every episode, this season seems to be following the soundtrack release scheme of the final Clone Wars season, gathering highlights from four episode scores in one digital release at a time. So the new volume of Mando music now available contains Ludwig Goransson’s “best of” from chapters 9 through 12 of the series.

Still in a Star Wars mood? A deluxe expanded edition of John Powell’s score from Solo: A Star Wars Story is now available, and it’s a much more cohesive listening experience than the “edited highlights” release that accompanied that film’s release; it offers much more of a chance to hear Powell put some of John Williams’ classic original trilogy themes into play. (And yes, it includes the major-keys rendition of the Imperial March from the Imperial recruiting film Han sees on a screen on Corellia.)

Also from the Disney stable is Adam Taylor’s music from the first season of the reimagined series version of The Right Stuff, which aired on Disney Plus and National Geographic Channel (now owned by Disney since its acquisition of 20th Century Fox).

But let’s face it, for soundtrack fans of a Certain Age, nothing – nothing – is going to beat the sheer nostalgic power of Hasbro’s digital release of the music from G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, part of the “Hasbro Presents ’80s TV Classics” brand that I think we all assumed had gone completely dormant. If you didn’t already know about this release, well…now you know. And you know what they say knowing is.

Silva Screen has, also as a digital download, The Musical Anthology of His Dark Materials: Season Two by Lorne Balfe, collecting the musical highlights of that show’s second season.

Intrada draws from both past and present for its latest pair of releases – another streaming TV soundtrack, the Newton Brothers’ music from Netflix’s The Haunting Of Bly Manor, is on offer, as is a newly expanded edition of Edward Shearmur’s score from 1998’s big-screen sequel, Species II, finally presenting the full score (which the oddly-judged songs-and-bits-of-the-score album released in 1998 seemed to go out of its way to avoid doing).

Over at BSX Records and Dragon’s Domain Records, a bunch of new releases are on top: the score from 1978’s Patrick by Brian May (as in the late Australian composer behind the soundtracks of Mad Max, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, and Cloak & Dagger, not the astronomically talented Queen guitarist) and William Ross’ score from T-Rex: Back To The Cretaceous (1998) are the “solo” scores taking up their own releases; each of these will be released in a CD pressing of only 500 copies.

But as always, some of BSX’s most interesting releases are “compilation” releases: legendary composer Gerald Fried (he who scored Spock’s pon farr unease with echoing bass guitar in 1960s Star Trek) is the subject of The Gerald Fried Collection, Volume 1, featuring his original scores from the 1978 TV movie Cruise Into Terror and the 1976 movie Survive!, released primarily in the Mexican market, which inspired a later big-budget remake, Alive, directed by Frank Marshall. Only 500 CD copies will be pressed.

And for fans of golden-age silver-screen sci-fi, Dragon’s Domain has an early Christmas present for you: The Golden Age Of Science Fiction, Volume 1, featuring the original recordings of Martin Skiles’ score from 1958’s Queen Of Outer Space and Leith Stevens’ music from the 1956 classic World Without End, neither of which have been commercially available on CD or any other medium. If you’re wondering which of the releases covered in this column are most likely to include a theremin somewhere in the mix, I think you need look no further. Only 500 copies of this will be made available on CD. As always, the BSX and Dragon’s Domain releases let you download a digital copy the moment you make your purchase, so you can listen even before the CD shows up in the mail.

And just think, all this has dropped before Black Friday. Look at what’s left in your wallet. Is it brown trousers time yet?

Tales From The Score Keeper: Last-Minute Scares

It’s the last call before 2020’s spooky season is over, soundtrack fans, and it seems like all of the soundtrack labels have stepped up to the plate with a fresh round of offerings to stick in your ears.

La-La Land Records is celebrating its 18th anniversary with a pair of releases; each one represents the music from a season of Amazon Prime’s The Boys, with much by Christopher Lennertz. Lennertz’ music takes up both of the first season’s two discs, while he shares the single-disc season two release with four original songs featured prominently in the show’s second year. Each set is available in a pressing of only 2,000 copies, so jump on these releases like they’re as fleeting as the public’s perception of your superpowers and your motivation for using them. Both soundtracks from The Boys start shipping November 9th.

Oh, and by the way, that 18th anniversary? It’s being celebrated with an 18% discount on everything – including these new releases – ordered from La-La Land’s website through November 9th.

Over at Intrada, James Horner’s score and songs from 1988’s Don Bluth animated classic The Land Beyond Time are given a definitive remastered re-release on a single CD. Horner’s music took the form of lengthy cues already, so – with the inclusion of Diana Ross’ song “If We Hold On Together” (co-written by Horner) – the score adds up to only ten tracks.

Intrada’s other offering is a new release of Jerry Goldsmith’s score from 2001’s The Last Castle, heard here across 2 CDs with plentiful previously unavailable music, including one major scene whose music was ghost-written by Mark McKenzie.

Meanwhile, a bunch of new releases have escaped from the Buysoundtrax labs. ’50s movie maestro Albert Glasser, renowned for his bold, brassy sound, is the latest composer to merit a collection of releases at Buysoundtax, with Volume 1 of the Albert Glasser Collection featuring his scores from the films Huk! and Tokyo File 212, available on CD (in a pressing of 500 copies), with a digital download made available immediately upon purchase.

If you want spooky stuff, Buysoundtrax also you covered, with Richard Band’s score for Stuart Gordon’s adaptation of the H.P. Lovecraft story From Beyond, revived in a remixed form with three previously unreleased bonus tracks, available in a pressing of 500 copies. Likewise, another Full Moon film, 1996’s Demon In A Bottle, has its John Morgan score released for the first time in any medium, again in a pressing of 500 copies on CD.

Also available is Chuck Cirino’s score from the 1992 film Munchie, which was – arguably – inspired just a little bit by Gremlins. Again, only 500 copies are available on CD.

Available as a digital-only release from Buysoundtrax is a collection of themes from Bear McCreary’s scores to the Starz series Outlander, arranged for solo piano and performed by Joohyun Park.

What musical delights with the labels roll out between now and the end-of-year shopping season? Stay tuned, soundtrack fans, because…nobody knows. The end of the year is traditionally a time for the labels to roll out the big guns (but this being 2020, it may be wise to unexpect the expected). Will I get the soundtrack from the second season of The Orville that I’ve been waiting for all year? Or a soundtrack from Star Trek: Lower Decks?

To be continued. In the meantime, I’ll let you gaze upon my own latest soundtrack purchase, Buysoundtrax’s unexpected deep-dive release of Don Davis’ music from Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets, signed by the composer himself. Good, epic, big-damn-space-hero stuff. (We covered this release here.)

Tales From The Score Keeper: Thieves & Smugglers & Ghosts

The September smorgasbord of soundtracks just keeps spinning – and there’s a little something for everyone this time around.

If thieves are your thing, you can’t do much better than the Prince of Thieves, as in Robin Hood – as in Intrada’s four-disc remastered release of the late Michael Kamen’s complete score (and then some) from 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves. Now, this has been released before – as a single CD alongside the movie’s original release, and as a 2-CD collection by Intrada just a couple of years ago. But with help from Kamen’s estate, missing material that had to be omitted from the 2018 release now comprises a third CD – that’s three discs of the score as composed for the film, and, on a fourth disc, the score suite from the 1991 CD release in remastered form.

Before you ask: no, the Bryan Adams songs – you know the one – is not to be found on the 4-CD set, nor is the much more obscure (but much desired by ELO fans) Jeff Lynne song “Wild Times”. The entire 4-CD set is simply Kamen’s score – but what a score it is.

To help you contain your disappointment that it’s not on the otherwise amazing 4-CD set, here’s That Bryan Adams Song. Video courtesy Bryan Adams

From BSX Records comes a trio of releases, including one that has been very near the top of the Score Keeper’s soundtrack holy grail list for several years. Just in time for Halloween, two spooky scores by Howard (Flash Gordon) Blake arrive in remastered form on a single CD, The Canterville Ghost and Amityville 3-D. The latter of these was previously available on a now-out-of-print limited edition CD along with Blake’s Flash Gordon score (you know, the bits of music that weren’t done by Queen), but it finally gets, shall we say, a more “official” release this time around.

BSX is also releasing Conrad Pope’s score from the movie Lloyd, a comedy for kids filmed in the ’90s but not released theatrically until 2001. (It’s almost as if the movie and its score were competing to see whose release could be delayed longer. With a 19-year gap between movie premiere and the soundtrack, I think the soundtrack wins.)

The third BSX release is one that yours truly has been wanting on CD for ages, but gave up on ever actually seeing or hearing. It’s Don Davis’ score from the 2004 BBC docudrama Space Odyssey: Voyage To The Planets, the first volume in what will hopefully be a series of releases of Davis’ soundtrack work. The two-night BBC miniseries was a project Davis took on almost immediately after The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, and a little bit of the Matrix trilogy’s style can be heard rubbing off on the epic music for the fictional (but educational) documentary about a crewed space mission spanning the entire solar system, from Venus to Mars. I’m particularly fond of this oddball piece of television and its fantastic score, so if you’re looking for an endorsement, just know that I ordered this one immediately.

Video courtesy Mike Combs

In fact, thanks to BSX’s policy of making a digital download (with a PDF digital liner notes booklet) available immediately upon purchase, I’m listening to it right now before the CD even goes in the mail. Each of the three BSX titles have very limited print runs: only 500 copies each. (I have it on good authority that Space Odyssey’s down to 499 already.)

Varese Sarabande has another of its expanded deluxe releases on tap, and this one is both movie music and rock ‘n’ roll. The new single-disc release of music from The Buddy Holly Story offers previously unavailable film versions and alternate versions of songs featured in the film, with songs performed by Gary Busey (in character as Buddy Holly), Jerry Zaremba as Eddie Cochran, and Gailard Sartain as the Big Bopper (hellooooooo, baby!)

Finally, exciting news of an upcoming digital-only release on the horizon, one that will make Star Wars fans feel like they’ve just pulled off the galaxy’s biggest heist with their favorite smuggler. Composer John Powell posted a trailer on Instagram announcing the imminent release of over two hours of the complete, unedited (!) score from Solo: A Star Wars Story, featuring the complete end credits suite and a wealth of other material not available on the previous single-disc-length release. Find me a Wookiee sidekick and count me in.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CFcZDwYBa24/

See? Something for everyone.

Also missing from Intrada’s 4-CD set, here’s the Robin Hood song you don’t remember by ELO’s Jeff Lynne.
Video courtesy Music From Movies

Retro Records: The Return Of The King (1980)

Friends, the other evening just before I was about to turn in for bed, a friend of mine who heads up a vintage children’s record page shared a recent acquisition – a sealed 1980 storyteller album for the animated adaptation of The Return of the King. I immediately leapt to the internet in the hopes that someone might have uploaded the Disneyland Records release, but I am sad to say that was an absolute bust. However I was able to find this Disney Read-Along book and record – which was also released in 1980 – although it presents an abbreviated version of the animated film.

Now the big difference between the storyteller album and the book and record version – the former contains actual dialogue and the soundtrack from the animated film. Whereas the latter while including one of the Glenn Yarbrough songs from the made-for-TV movie and some of the soundtrack – featured a cast that did there best to sound like John Huston, Orson Bean, and Roddy McDowall from the film itself.

In all honesty I have a soft spot for Rankin and Bass’ adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Return of the King – having said that though I do feel their 1977 version of The Hobbit is the superior animated film. I know that in an interview in 2003 at the Museum of Television and Radio, Arthur Rankin admitted that while they were able to pull off The Hobbit – they didn’t stick the landing with the second animated film:

“We tried to do Return of the King… but it is an awful lot to put into it. I think [Peter] Jackson is having the same problem in his films. You can’t deviate from these books, or somebody’ll wait on the street for you! …The Return of the King, we had to summarize what had happened before, and then put it all together in 2 hours. It’s not a very good film.”

Video and Article Image Provided by Kids Records.

Tales from the Score Keeper: Who Were Those Masked Individuals?

Whoever they were, be they superheroes or bounty hunters…at least they’re wearing their masks. And they have theme music. Also: WarGames is back in print!

A warning up front, friends: this may be a more expensive visit from the Score Keeper than usual, but it’s all for a good reason.

Mondo Music is taking pre-orders for an 8-volume vinyl boxed set of every note of music from The Mandalorian, each episode/chapter getting its own LP with gorgeous original artwork by Paul Mann. All eight LPs (and their individual sleeves) fit into a slipcase embossed with the Mandalorian’s signet.

The music was made available digitally last year, with each episode’s score rolling out day-and-date with the episode itself, but Mondo’s box set is the first physical release of music from The Mandalorian. If your only vector of attraction to the show is Baby Yoda, there’s plenty of the everyone’s favorite little Force-user in the individual LPs’ cover art. If you’re looking for a physical release of all of the music from The Mandalorian, to coin a phrase, this is the way.

[tries very hard to levitate the whole Mando a la Mondo box set]
Courtesy Apple Music

But wait, there’s more!

Elsewhere, the music for the just-finished first season of the DC Universe live-action series Stargirl is now available as a digital release. Somehow it failed to hit me, of the course of watching the show, that the music was by Pinar Toprak, who also composed to music for Captain Marvel on the big screen. It’s interesting to hear the same composers getting to play in both the DC and Marvel universes.

Courtesy La-La Land Records
Courtesy La-La Land Records

But there’s plenty of musical action in the DC universe from La-La Land Records. They just started taking orders for the soundtracks from Young Justice: Outsiders (taking up two discs) and the animated superhero event of 2020, Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans. (In the interests of full disclosure, your friendly local Score Keeper may be the only person over the age of 40 who genuinely loves Teen Titans Go! on its own merits, so there.) La-La Land is also having a DC soundtrack sale, with some heroic markdowns on soundtracks based on DC Comics, including some big discounts on La-La Land’s series of magnificent Batman: The Animated Series soundtracks.

Courtesy La-La Land Records

La-La Land has also released the late James Horner’s complete score from 1995’s big-screen Casper movie, finally gathering all of the music recorded for the friendly ghost’s movie revival one disc one, and remastering the original album release (including Little Richard’s rendition of “Casper, The Friendly Ghost”) on disc two.

Courtesy Intrada

Intrada’s latest releases are the never-before-released Jerry Goldsmith score from the 1973 film The Don Is Dead, a mafia movie that sort of disappeared from the public consciousness between The Godfather and The Godfather Part II. We’re reaching a point where it’s genuinely difficult to find a Goldsmith score that hasn’t been released in any form, so this surprising release will probably be a must for Goldsmith completists.

Courtesy Intrada

Timed to coincide with the imminent release of Bill & Ted Face The Music, Intrada is also re-releasing a limited edition of David Newman’s score from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Previously available as part of a box set that also included Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey, this edition of 1,000 copies presents the first movie’s score by itself.

Courtesy Quartet Records

Quartet Records also has a much-requested reissue on tap – they’re offering a new pressing of the 35th anniversary WarGames soundtrack by popular demand, but it’s a very limited edition run – only 1,000 new copies worldwide. The first disc of the 2-CD set presents the complete score as mixed for the film, while the second disc presents the original soundtrack album in remastered form, complete with movie dialogue.

Courtesy Quartet Records

Quartet also has another vintage treat, John Addison’s music from the 1976 movie The Seven Per Cent Solution, an original Sherlock Holmes mystery (of sorts!) written by one Nicholas Meyer. Never before given a commercial pressing either on vinyl or CD, this album includes a Stephen Sondheim song composed especially for the film.

Courtesy Dragon’s Domain
Courtesy Dragon’s Domain

Dragon’s Domain Records has a trio of releases – a reissue of the extremely rare soundtrack from the 1990 PBS documentary Medal Of Honor, Craig Safan’s score from the late ’80s thriller Lady Beware, and volume one of The Peter Bernstein Collection. The son of legendary composer Elmer Bernstein (of Airplane! and Ghostbusters fame), Peter Bernstein’s scores from Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 and the 1994 syndicated TV pilot movie Island City are featured on this release.

As summer prepares to give way to fall, you can’t say that there’s nothing to listen to in the soundtrack aisle.