IT'S FINALLY COMING...
In fact, it's out now. After much teasing and daily praying from just about every soundtrack collector on Earth, La La Land records have done the decent thing and clubbed together with Sony Music and Paramount Pictures to create the ultimate edition of the ultimate film score: three discs of the sonic greatness that is Jerry Goldsmith's Star Trek - The Motion Picture.
This is the one, folks. What you have here is the complete film score for the first time, as remastered by longtime Goldsmith recording engineer Bruce Botnick and Mike Matessino, which means you'll get to hear a ton of music in crystal clear quality for the first time, as the original and expanded albums had many alternate versions in the mix. You also get the early unused score sessions, which were rejected by director Robert Wise in favour of what we know and love today. There's also the original album, a space-bucket worth of alternates, and even rarities such as the disco version of the main theme and the ultra-rare 'A Star Beyond Time', a version of the film's love theme with lyrics sung by teen heartthrob Shaun Cassidy, which was only ever available on 7" in Japan.
All LLL are asking for this is $34.98. It's been run at 10,000 units and is released today. The soundtrack adventure is just beginning!
ATOMIC AMPLIFIERS TO POWER, CD PLAYERS TO SPEED...
Starting now is a two-part guide to the best music to play in your Batmobile, in anticipation of the June 20th release of the final episode in Christopher Nolan's Bat-Trilogy The Dark Knight Rises. Thrill as we look back at the various soundtrack releases of the previous movies featuring the caped crusader, and groan at the music not available, probably because the Penguin stole it or something.
First up is 1966's Batman (also known as Batman: The Movie) which brought the dynamic duo of Batman and Robin from the small screen to the silver screen in order to sell the television series to overseas markets. Whilst the composer of the famous theme (i.e. the 'nanananananana' theme) was Neal Hefti, the actual writer and arranger of the score for the TV show and the movie was Nelson Riddle, who had previously worked with such luminaries as Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland for Capitol Records. This actually comes through in his fun score, which is full of ballsy big band music and distinctive rhythms and is usually more interesting than what it's scoring.
Riddle's music for the television series never made it out, which isn't surprising given the rights issues that have plagued it to this day regarding home video releases (as far as I'm aware the issue is between producers 20th Century Fox and rights owners Warner Bros., who also have DC Comics under their wing). Thankfully, the movie itself has had no such trouble and has had a couple of DVD releases and even a blu-ray. Its first moment of soundtrack glory came in 2000 when Film Score Monthly issued the score as part of its Silver Age Classics line. A brilliant disc, this was reissued in 2000 by La La Land, albeit with dreadful, if presumably contractual cover art. This version added some music and moved the tracks around a bit, and is still available now.
Of course, in 1989 everything changed. Warner Bros. put a lot of money behind maverick director Tim Burton and his "dark" vision of Gotham City. The film did a ton of business and made everyone forget the campy Batman of the 60s, although it's not aged particularly well in some eyes. However, one element of the film that has not only endured but transcended the film is Danny Elfman's score, particularly 'The Batman Theme'. The wild orchestration and thumping percussion helped mold Elfman's sound and made the theme represent not only the film but Batman as a character, and it's still recognised to this day as a trigger for the dark knight, in the same way John Williams' theme still helps define Superman.
Of course, there was also another soundtrack to the film, but if you're a wise person like me, you'll forget it ever happened. The score had a pretty generous album at the time of release, with fifty-five minutes being released on CD, LP and cassette by Warner Bros. Records. It's actually a fine album, with some different mixes to the film tracks and was remastered and reissued in 2010 by La La Land along with a presentation of the complete film score. Unfortunately some of the elements were not in perfect shape, but it was still a wonderful gift to Bat-fans across the globe. An expanded version was also released in the mammoth (and overpriced) Elfman-Burton box set, but was in no way as exhaustive as the LLL release.
Three years on from the success of Batman came the inevitable sequel as Burton and Keaton returned for, um, Batman Returns. Bringing along Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny De Vito along for the ride, it's a heavy-handed and sometimes tedious film whose interesting set design and music generally makes the film feel a lot better than it actually is. Elfman's music is by far the best thing about the film, a chaotic ride that really is Elfman in overdrive. Safe to say that if you like Elfman you'll love this, but if you don't like him, you should probably stay away. Like its predecessor, the film got a pretty good album release in 1992 with seventy minutes worth of score, although many of the tracks were irritatingly split. Again, like Batman, Returns received a reissue from La La Land in 2010, presenting the complete score and remastered album and also got a shorter expanded slot in the Elfman-Burton box.
Following in 1995 was a whole heap of controversy as Tim Burton made way for Joel Schumacher and a more garish Gotham. Featuring Val Kilmer in the cowl and Jim Carrey as the Riddler, Batman Forever was widely condemned as being a far inferior model to Burton's two Bat-flicks. I have to be honest, while I used to hate it I've come to quite enjoy it, but the best thing about it by far is Elliot Goldenthal's score. It's mad as a bag of hammers, it's crazy, it's sometimes really hard on the ears, but it's like listening to a comic book most of the time. It also has an absolutely great main theme that I think is at least the equal of Elfman's, if not better.
Batman Forever was actually pretty lucky to get a score album, considering how much focus was put on the songs in the film from artists like Seal and U2. But despite the song album being pushed the most, Goldenthal's score still managed to get a forty-four minute album on the Atlantic label. Arranged by Goldenthal himself, it's an interesting listening experience which gives some of the highlights of the score, but still misses some important material. Thankfully, LLL again came to the rescue earlier this year with a 2-CD edition including an expanded version of the score - again put together by the composer - and a remastered version of the album.
As we all know, the smash hit that was Forever propelled Schumacher to go all out with the next instalment, which is how we ended up with Arnie as a Mr. Freeze determined to break the Guinness world record for most bad jokes about cold weather in a two hour period and Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, part-time botanist and gorilla striptease artiste. The film is a lot worse than Forever, but like that film the best part of it is the score. I think Elliot Goldenthal actually outdid himself on this film as it has some really wonderfully rich material, especially considering the film it's scoring. It's a bit less mental than Forever, and consequently is a bit more traditionally coherent.
Sadly, despite that Batman & Robin never actually received a score album. Instead we got a song album full of terrible music from the likes of R. Kelly and the Goo Goo Dolls (and a quite good song from the Smashing Pumpkins) with Goldenthal's music reduced to one track which is supposedly just music from Forever. Unfortunately, there's no sign of any album coming any time soon from anyone. Although if the movie can get a blu-ray special edition, I can't see why we can't get a score CD.
Not content with releasing a supreme edition of the greatest score ever composed, La La Land are also bringing us another Jerry Goldsmith score, this time a premiere release. 1967's Warning Shot only ever had an LP where the music had been reinterpreted by Si Zentner, but now LLL are bringing us the score to the film along with the original LP. Costing a small $19.98, it's limited to 2000 units and is available along with Star Trek at La La Land's website.
That's not to say other labels are slipping, far from it. Proof of this is from Intrada, who have just unearthed two true holy grails from the master Henry Mancini: Charade and Hatari. Both previously only had rerecorded albums available, so this is the first time the actual scores have been made available. Hatari is part of the Special Collection, but Charade is being released under a new banner as part of Universal's 100th Anniversary, which potentially could bring us a ton of great scores in expanded form, Jurassic Park for example. Both are $19.99 and available at Intrada's website.
YET MORE BATMAN...
Just in case you were missing el Batmann-o, here is the nifty cover art for the soundtrack to The Dark Knight Rises. James Newton Howard has left the Batcave this time so Hans Zimmer has the film all to himself. The soundtrack is released on June 11th. Click for a big version.
Given that The Avengers has just come and gone and Batman is about to bow out, it's about time we pay homage to those boys and girls in tights and shorts (and shorts and tights) through the medium of the playlist. As usual, people with Spotify can play along at home by clicking this link.
1. 'Prelude and Main Title' from Superman (1978)
There was no way I was ever not going to kick off with the music from the best opening titles in the history of cinema. John Williams' music is so damn good that it even seems to speak the name through its orchestration, and is so deeply ingrained with the character that it's impossible to even think of Superman without humming a few bars of the theme or his fanfare. I pity whoever has to come up with the music for Man of Steel.
2. 'The Lonely Man Theme' from The Incredible Hulk (1978)
Speaking of themes ingrained within the character, Joe Harnell's delicate but tragic theme for the 1970s Hulk television show is immediately thought of to at least a certain audience, and was quoted in the recent Marvel Edward Norton reboot (which cheekily justifies its appearance here).
3. 'Bank Robbery (Prologue)' from The Dark Knight (2008)
Long before we saw the rest of The Dark Knight with mouths agape, we were treated to the bank robbery prologue as a special preview. The preview not only demonstrated the scope of Christopher Nolan's sequel, but also Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard's threatening music, especially the Joker's slow burn of a theme. Featuring the thick electronic orchestration Zimmer would use to acclaim in Inception, this gives an urgency and intensity to the prologue matched only by its ingenuity.
4. 'Road Trip' from The Incredibles (2004)
Rumour has it John Barry was originally asked to score Brad Bird's opus only to reject the film, leaving Pixar to turn to Michael Giacchino to provide the retro sound they were after. Giacchino was able to deftly homage the work of Barry and Elmer Bernstein while introducing his own jaunty style that has made him a hot ticket in Hollywood.
5. 'Main Title and Fanfare' from Batman Forever (1995)
One of Elliot Goldenthal's first thoughts must have been to get away from the sound of the previous Bat-flicks, and he does so pretty easily with a grand sweeping title piece that manages to be big and bold while still as broody as Bruce Wayne ever was.
6. 'Birth of Batman' from Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993)
Given the large focus the producers gave its music, Shirley Walker had one hell of a task for this scene from the first of the animated Batman movies: scoring the final creation of the legend known as Batman. With the scene as a flashback, Walker uses a sweet romantic theme with a subtle choir to score Bruce's happiness before it all descends into tragedy and the choir expands and the darkness takes over. When he finally puts the cowl on, the brass powerfully states her Batman theme and it doesn't take a genius to realise Wayne's life has changed, for better or for worse.
7. 'Goodbye' from X-Men 2 (2003)
Most good superhero movies have an emotional death at their centre and Bryan Singer's X-Men sequel is no exception, with the film's climax involving the death of Jean Grey as she sacrifices herself to save her comrades from a gigantic flood. John Ottman's cue for her death illustrates the excitement of the scene without ignoring the emotional and romantic implications of the character and her relationships with a simple sweet theme that runs throughout the cue amidst the action elements.
8. 'Thor Kills The Destroyer' from Thor (2011)
Scoring the exact moment when Asgardian deity Thor regains his power and his mighty Mjolnir before going on to defeat his foe, Patrick Doyle's music is dominated by the melody the score has across the board. Almost a power anthem of sorts, this track is actually different to the cue that scores the scene in the film.
9. 'Magneto' from X-Men: First Class (2011)
You know you have a good film theme when it's subsequently used to advertise other movies. That was the case with Magneto (aka 'Frankenstein's Monster), a thick and modernistic - and appropriately metallic - theme for Michael Fassbender's super-villain. This cue scores his final transformation into the character we know and love from previous films and comics and is suitably powerful and climactic, ominously suggesting a future reign of terror from the master of magnetism.
10. 'Finale' from Batman (1989)
Possibly the best musical moment of Danny Elfman's career, the ending of Batman not only signified the caped crusader's re-entry into mainstream pop culture but also the transition of a pop musician into one of cinema's most respected composers. The scene itself is iconic and how we imagine Batman in our minds, atop the city watching for trouble. Elfman's music conjures the right amount of pomp and grandeur so that we leave the cinema upbeat, but with a last-second reprise of the theme leaves us feeling satisfied that with the flick of a switch on the signal, Batman will be there to save the day.
And there we have it. This strange mixing of music may be the greatest single service ever performed for humanity. Let's go, but inconspicuously... through the window. We'll use our Batrope. Our job is finished.