Retroist Scoreboard: The Summer Soundtrack Smorgasbord

As a rule, the soundtrack boutique labels have a kind of gentlemen’s agreement to not step on one another’s release dates.  Most of the time, this is a great arrangement – I can have half of my paycheck deposited directly to Intrada one week and La-La Land the next.  But every once in a while, the release dates collide.  Remember how there was only one release to talk about at the end of June?  There’s a bunch of stuff to talk about this time around now that everyone’s back from their Fourth of July break.  And I kind of want one of everything on this week’s release slate.

Intrada is having a musical flashback to ‘Nam this week with a single CD release containing the complete scores from two Vietnam War-themed movies: Alex North‘s brief score from 1987’s Good Morning, Vietnam and David Newman‘s score from the 1995 comedy Operation Dumbo Drop.  Since Good Morning, Vietnam was tracked primarily with vintage rock and pop music being DJ’ed by Robin Williams as Adrian Cronauer, not much score is required – and all 17-and-a-half minutes of North’s score is presented here for the first time.  Operation Dumbo Drop is the more substantial score, weighing in at just under 48 minutes, but due to how it was recorded (two analog-synched 24-track digital recorders in unison, technology which has now been phased out and is hard to find), a great deal of manual effort was expended in recombining all the tracks in perfect synchronization for this CD release.

La-La Land Records is gracing us with a glut of releases this week, and some of them are very limited editions.

Henry Mancini‘s all-time classic score from 1965’s The Great Race is arriving on CD for the first time, and by “on CD”, I mean “in the form of a 3-CD box set”.  2500 copies of this set are being pressed.  Widely regarded as one of the best comedy film scores ever, this set gives you two ways to enjoy the music – the first two discs contain Mancini’s original session tapes as heard in the movie itself, while the third contains re-recorded highlights assembled for LP release alongside the movie itself.

If you’re yearning for a return not just to the west, but to The Wild Wild West, La-La Land has you covered with a limited edition 4-CD set of music from the original TV series, including highlights from such episodes as The Night of the Inferno, The Night the Wizard Shook the Earth, The Night of the Glowing Corpse, The Night That Terror Stalked the Town, The Night of the Infernal Machine, The Night of the Samurai, and The Night of the Kraken.  Veteran composers such as Richard Markowitz, Robert Drasnin, Dave Grusin, Harry Geller, Walter Scharf, Fred Steiner, and Dimitri Tiomkin are featured…but there’ll only be 1,000 copies pressed, and then this release is moseying out of town…and out of print.

In re-issues this week, La-La Land has expanded and remastered the late James Horner‘s score from 1992’s Unlawful Entry, now including the complete score and fresh liner notes.  Unlawful Entry will be treated to a print run of 2,000 copies.

In more recent releases, La-La Land is also unleashing the 2-CD complete score from Transformers: The Last Knight, composed by Steve Jablonsky, and scarily-overworked TV composer Blake Neely‘s music from the first season of the CW’s Riverdale.

   

Is that all?  That is not all.  Quartet Records has unearthed Stephen Oliver‘s score from the 1986 film Lady Jane, which starred the likes of Helena Bonham-Carter and Patrick Stewart.  Though a soundtrack album was assembled for release in 1986, the movie barely showed up on the box office radar at the time of its release, and the album masters languished in the vaults, outliving their composer, who passed away in 1992, better known for his original operas – this was his only film score.  Quartet presents Lady Jane as a 2-CD set, with the original session masters on one disc and the unreleased 1986 soundtrack master on the other.

Varese Sarabande has announced an August 11th release, on “prairie sand” colored vinyl, of the Lennie Niehaus/Clint Eastwood score for Eastwood’s 1993 western Unforgiven.  This release will be limited to 1,000 copies, available exclusively through Barnes & Noble.

There you go, fellow soundtrack fanatics – your summer smorgasbord is laid out before you.  Where will your feast begin?

Retroist Scoreboard: Back Through The Stargate

That week that I’ve dreaded – a week with really thin new releases – has finally happened, but it has brought with it a release that lets me talk about some of my favorite past releases and one of my all-time favorite composers (who, sadly, is no longer with us).

First off, meat and potatoes: Intrada has opened the iris and reactivated the Stargate for the first time, musically speaking, in many years.  The label’s latest release is a 2-CD compilation of the Stargate SG-1 scores composed by Richard Band.  Now, there’s a name that has come up a lot in the Scoreboard, because he’s done the music for a great many beloved B-movie favorites.  He’s also the brother of prolific producer Charles Band, so you see their names together a lot on Full Moon Productions’ library of horror movies.

Intrada has, thankfully, graced this release with a “flipper cover” – meaning that you can put the booklet into the CD case backwards and show completely different cover art much more in line with past SG-1 soundtrack releases.

Don’t blame Intrada for the “trying too hard to be ultra-modern” cover you see above, by the way – it was almost certainly mandated by MGM, which has rebranded the most recent DVD re-releases of the Stargate TV franchise with a very similar design.  Breathe easy and flip your booklet over when it arrives – after reading it, of course, because Intrada promises some seriously informative liner notes by soundtrack journalist Jeff Bond.  For those interested, the SG-1 episodes represented here are all from the show’s first two seasons, and they’re some good ones – Cold Lazarus, In The Line Of Duty, In The Serpent’s Lair, and Singularity.

The composer most often associated with SG-1, however, and who single-handedly took on its spin-offs, Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe, was partly responsible for getting Richard Band access to Cheyenne Mountain in the first place: the late, great, Joel Goldsmith.  As you almost certainly guessed from the name, Joel was the son of Jerry Goldsmith, and alas, neither of them are with us any longer – Joel died in 2012 after a brief but intense battle with cancer, robbing us of a musical talent that could easily have gone mainstream.

Joel Goldsmith was also responsible for one of my all-time favorite television soundtracks, the music from the troubled early 2000s TNT live action series based on Top Cow’s Witchblade comic.  Troubled because of it’s star’s addiction issues, the series suffered setback after setback until the network saw no other choice but to cancel it.  Goldsmith later released a fantastic CD of highlights from the series through his own label, Free Clyde (named after his dog).  Unlike a great many “private labels”, Free Clyde actually licensed its material through the studios in question, as it would also do for the scores to the two direct-to-DVD Stargate movies, Stargate Continuum and Stargate: Ark Of Truth.

The Witchblade soundtrack was formulated on a psychedelic bed of prog rock, and Goldsmith had no problem occasionally breaking into song, allowing the background music to comment on the characters and the action.

The highlight of this soundtrack was easily the Gauntlet Suite, which wore its prog rock inspiration on its sleeve with its sheer length and mind-blowing variety of styles and sounds within a single track.

The Witchblade soundtrack is still available from its original publisher, BSX Records, and can be streamed or downloaded via Amazon.  Not to brag too much, but I got my copy when it was first released…back when Mr. Goldsmith was still around to sign them for admiring fans like myself.


(Cyberman not included)
So how did Goldsmith and Band come to know each other?  They had gotten their start at the same time – and literally on the same project, though the movie in question has, perhaps, a less than stellar reputation?


I am also not ready for some football.
 

Yes…Band and Goldsmith got their first professional composing credit on the low-budget ’70s sci-fi horror flick Laserblast.  Saddled with a tiny budget that afforded them little more than the synths and equipment they already had, the two friends made the best of it…and yes, they shamelessly released Laserblast on CD as well, so we can finally hear the movie’s opening music without Tom Servo singing “There’s a place in France where the ladies have no pants…” over it!

 

Well, maybe you liked that part of Laserblast‘s return to the spotlight as an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000.  The Laserblast soundtrack is an interesting listen if you’re okay with its very ’70s tendency to go almost atonal.  Best of all…you can still buy the Laserblast soundtrack or download it via Amazon.

Fast-forwarding back to the age of Stargate, I’m hoping that this new Intrada release sells well enough that the label might consider revisiting the franchise musically, possibly featuring more of Goldsmith’s work.  There are so many incredible musical moments, like this one from a Stargate Atlantis episode that questioned the wisdom of “enhanced” interrogation techniques and anonymous intel, that need to be on CD.

And, of course, we never got an official Stargate Universe soundtrack at all, a gap in the Stargate musical library that needs to be filled.

So really, this new release of Richard Band music from Stargate SG-1…is the culmination of a partnership and friendship that lasted decades.  Surely the SG-1 team themselves would approve of those kind of squad goals.

Retroist Scoreboard: Trolling Transformers and Swimming with Sharks

School may be out for summer, but soundtrack school is never closed. This week’s releases are a crash course in the classics, both old and modern.

La-La Land Records is very much “in the now” with its latest and future releases. Though opinions seem to be, shall we say, widely varied as to whether the big-screen comedy rehash of ’90s syndicated super-hit Baywatch was worth committing to film, La-La Land is still giving the movie’s score a chance on CD. Composed by Christopher Lennertz, the Baywatch score may well be one of the better things about the movie, and there’ll be 3,000 copies pressed so fans of either the movie or the composer can give it a spin.

Baywatch

Coming next month from La-La Land is an even bigger release – a deluxe, 2-CD limited edition of Steve Jablonsky‘s score from Transformers: The Last Knight. That will be released on July 11th, and is also likely to be an edition of only 3,000 copies. The label will start taking orders closer to the release date.

Transformers: The Last Knight

Dragon’s Domain Records has a pair of new releases that’ll begin shipping on July 10th: Brian May‘s score from the 1986 movie Sky Pirates (bear in mind that this is the Australian film composer Brian May of Mad Max fame, not the Queen guitarist), and a CD containing a pair of lesser-known TV movie scores by the late, great Basil Poledouris, Prison For Children and Single Bars, Single Women. Sky Pirates is a limited edition of 1,000 copies, while there will be 2,000 copies of the Poledouris scores made available.

Sky Pirates

Buysoundtrax.com’s in-house label BSX Records has some digital-only releases that’ll delight fans of ’80s movies – they’ve made Jerrold Immel‘s score from Mega Force available for download, which includes music Immel composed for the movie that was later dropped, such as the original, never-before-heard end credit music that was left on the cutting room floor in favor of a song.

Mega Force

Also on tap is Richard Band‘s original score from 1986’s Troll – you know, back when movies about trolls were creepy, and didn’t drown their audience in covers of 1980s hits.

Troll

Quartet Records is targeting the end of June for a remastered release of Jerry Goldsmith‘s score for the 1973 prison break drama Papillon. The original multi-track studio tapes of the original record sessions were recently recovered in Italy and have been remastered by Mike Matessino; among the material that these tapes brought to light were “source music” (music which characters in the movie can hear from an on-screen source) composed by longtime Goldsmith collaborator Alexander Courage (also composer of the original Star Trek theme). Only 1,000 copies of this CD are being pressed.

Papillon

Kritzerland Records‘ blurb for their latest release makes it very clear that they know this movie’s place in cinematic history. Is it a golden age delight uncovered and remastered for the first time? No, friends…it’s the Chuck Cirino score from the Syfy original movie Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre. That awareness of the movie’s unique stature extends to its print run: Kritzerland is only pressing 500 copies of this new classic for the ages, and then, as it says at the end of many a shark movie (or as it should say), fin.

Sharkansas Women's Prison Massacre

Nothing new from Intrada this week, but the scuttlebutt on their release for next week involves gate addresses, chevrons, dial-home devices, and probably some zat guns. Watch this space.

Mega Force

Stranger Things Action Figures are coming!

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been looking at your forlorn, staffed-only-by-Stormtroopers vintage Kenner Death Star playset and you’ve been thinking to yourself, “Hey, you know who would look good in the gunner seat of that top-floor cannon? The Demogorgon would.” Fortunately, Funko, the makers of the Stranger Things vinyl pops, hears us. Coming this August, Funko is rolling out two boxed sets of action figures based on the addictive Netflix show…which means you can sit down with the gang to watch the new season this Halloween and look nervously over at Will Byers and wonder “is he okay?”

Stranger Things action figures

The accessories are to die for: Lucas has his slingshot. Eleven has some Eggos, as she should. The Demogorgon…well…that’s scary enough without accessories.

Stranger Things action figures

These figures are in the “Star Wars scale” (assuming 3 3/4″ as the height of an average adult male), so they are most definitely compatible with your existing collection. They can hang out with Twiki and catch a ride in Luke’s landspeeder…and they can hide out while Batman fights the Demogorgon.

These are the Stranger Things we’ve been waiting for…now we just have to wait…patiently…possibly in a cupboard with a string of Christmas lights. Or maybe that’s just me.

Keith Robinson - Intellivision

Farewell, Keith Robinson – Mr. Intellivision

Keith Robinson - Intellivision
One of the titans of retro video gaming evangelism and business sense within the industry has left us. I’m very sorry to report that Keith “Mr. Intellivision” Robinson, one of the organizing forces who kept the “Blue Sky Rangers” team behind the Intellivision working together both during and after the classic console’s heyday, has left us.

The photo you see at the top of this article is a prime example of Keith doing what he did best – not only was he involved in the Intellivision during its salad days, he evangelized the system and its software (and the many products that kept those games alive on more modern hardware) more capably than an army of Intellvision fanboys could. That was Keith at the 2003 Classic Gaming Expo, introducing a new generation to the menacing mazes of Night Stalker. Now, I can tell you that the time I’ve spent with Night Stalker on the Intellivision in my lifetime has probably reached into the dozens of hours, but watching Keith hand that unique Intellivision controller over to a new recruit was enough to make me want to play it some more.


Believe it or not, he was a better pitchman than George Plimpton. Courtesy Intellivision Productions

Keith Robinson was warm and genuine; he was comfortable being almost a caricuature of himself at gaming events, while simultaneously being totally himself – he was that outgoing. If you were lucky, he might temporarily bestow upon you the cherished Burgertime Chef Hat, as he did here, crowning CGE organizer John Hardie the new Intellivision king for one night.

Keith Robinson @ CGE - photo: Earl Green
I crown you Burger King!

He was one of the nice guys of gaming, and yet doggedly sought out new opportunities to continue bringing the Intellivision IP to new audiences – cell phone games, PC and Playstation compilations, plug-and-play Intellivision handhelds and new miniature replicas of the original units, you name it. This not only kept Intellivision alive, but kept cash coming in both for himself and his fellow Blue Sky Rangers, the people who’d originally programmed the games in the first place and had bought the rights to the Intellivision architecture, software and hardware from Mattel Electronics in the late 1980s. As the president of newly christened and independent Intellivision Productions, Robinson was the group’s spokesman, and a powerful organizing force. The difference between Intellivision Productions and nearly every modern IP holder who has acquired game platforms after the fact is that Keith engaged with the fans, and never lost sight of why some of us loved the Intellivision.

Here’s the windup…
Keith Robinson @ CGE - photo: Earl Green
…and the pitch!
Keith Robinson @ CGE - photo: Earl Green
And it’s off into the stands!
Keith Robinson @ CGE - photo: Earl Green
At the end of a gaming convention, any Intellivision swag left over would be chucked into the eagerly awaiting crowd by Mr. Intellivision himself.

You had to love a guy like that. Keith Robinson was the beating heart of the Intellivision community. And the best thing about it was that, hanging out with him, you’d hear some of the best stories – and because his storytelling was near-legendary, you still can.


Courtesy G4icons