Predicting Stranger Things 2…with my action figure shelf

The Netflix trailer for Stranger Things 2 leaves us with nothing more than vague hints, and a killer remix of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”.  Anything else that’s hit the ‘net is likely just pure speculation… and so is this.  Much like trying to see the future in a pile of tea leaves, this is an attempt to figure out what’s going on in the upcoming season with nothing more than things that happen to be on my action figure shelf.  Chances are awfully good that my guesses connect with reality at no two points.  (Actually, I can’t even guarantee one point, but it is fun to guess, right?)

First things first: this is also a bit of an under-the-radar review of Funko’s new box sets of Stranger Things action figures.  You may rest assured that my verdict is that they’re awesome…though they’re rather delicate in a few places.  Take time and care removing them from their packages, especially the surprisingly delicate Demogorgon.  But do the figures hold any clues for the second season?  Don’t ask me – ask them. Continue reading

Retroist Scoreboard: Tangerine Dreams and Space Spinach

Retroist Scoreboard fans, we’ve hit one of those lulls in releases that happens during the summer, but fear not, there’s some classic movie music on CD to get you through the end of summer vacation.

Intrada has reached into its back catalog to reissue a title that sold out quickly upon its original release in 2009 – Jerry Goldsmith‘s score from Ten Little Indians (1973).  The contents are the same as the 2009 release, so this is just an instance of a label giving collectors who missed out on the first limited release a second chance.

If you’re looking for something a bit further afield, there are also swingin’ sixties  superspy sounds aplenty on the live concert recording The Jazz From U.N.CL.E., performed by the Summit Six Sextet to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Man From U.N.CL.E.  Music from the classic series is rearranged for a six-piece jazz group.  This title is also available from Intrada.

Dragon’s Domain has put Tangerine Dream‘s score from 1989’s Miracle Mile back in print for the first time in nearly 30 years, now as a 2-CD set: the first CD presents the complete score for the first time ever, as well as some isolated “music effects”, while the second CD duplicates (and remasters) the original 1989 album.

BSX Records is releasing, on CD, an album that was previously a digital-only release, Music From The Star Trek Saga.  The album consists of new re-recordings of music spanning the entire history of the franchise, from classic TV Trek through the ’80s and ’90s spinoffs, and up to the first of the new movies.

Varese Sarabande is taking pre-orders for a late-September deluxe expanded release of the music from the cult classic 1980 live-action Popeye movie starring Robin Williams.  Though scored (and featuring songs) by Harry Nilsson, Popeye was originally set to be scored by composer Thomas Pierson, and his never-before-heard rejected score will be heard on this release for the first time, along with two Nilsson-composed songs written for, but not used in, the film.

Is that all?  No, that is not all – both Intrada and La-La Land Records are having end-of-summer blowout sales, with Intrada knocking 25% off the price of such titles as 48 Hrs., Cocoon, Edward Scissorhands, Red Dawn, Silent Running, SpaceCamp, and Jason And The Argonauts.  La-La Land is offering discounts on the soundtracks from the first three seasons of the 21st century Battlestar Galactica series (which are about to be out-of-print), as well as markdowns on such titles as The Shawshank Redemption, Krull, and Creepshow.  With many of these titles officially in low quantities, these sales are excellent chances for you to get those classic soundtracks you’ve been holding out on.

Happy listening, soundtrack fans – the Retroist Scoreboard will be back in a couple of weeks with a whole new batch of releases.

Retroist Scoreboard: The Dog and Jedi and Klown Days of Summer

Now I know why the major soundtrack labels unloaded an entire vat of music on us last week: it’s getting hot enough to melt compact discs.  (If you’re hot, they’re hot – bring them inside!)  Fortunately, we’ve got a little splash of interesting classic soundtrack news to cool you off.

Composer John Massari has kicked off an IndieGogo crowdfunding campaign for his orchestral re-recording of his own score from the Chiodo Brothers’ cult classic, Killer Klowns From Outer Space.  Re-recordings are wildly varying in quality, but this one is worth your attention: the original composer is behind it, and as he states in his crowdfunding pitch, he always had it in mind as an orchestral score, but the film’s budget limited him to synthesizers.  Also, one only has to pitch in at the $20 level to get an autographed CD of the new recording when it’s done.

Music Box Records has released a very small run (750 copies!) of Georges Delerue‘s score from the 1980 TV series Les Chevaux du Soleil (Horses Of The Sun).  Some music from this series has been presented on prior compilations of Delerue’s work, but this is the entire score from the original sessions, adding over 40 minutes of material not heard before.  Liner notes are included in both French and English.

Also: I missed one earlier this month.  (So many labels, so many soundtrack releases…it happens.)  Moviescoremedia, a label based in Sweden, has release George Shaw‘s score from the Star Wars fan film Way To The Rebellion.

Wait, what?  A soundtrack from a fan film?  It’s not completely unheard-of: there are CDs and/or downloads available of such fan-made projects as Starship Farragut and Star Trek: Renegades (both of them Trek spinoffs), and they’re worth a listen – some of the fan film composers have gone on to “real” projects (though I challenge you to watch Star Trek Continues and tell me that’s not a “real” project).

POW! To the moon!

Shaw, as it happens, already has several “real” projects behind him – Way To The Rebellion was just his chance to be John Williams for a day.  To fill out the CD, some of Shaw’s prior Star Wars-related scores are included, such as First Asian Jedi and Dealbreakers: She’s Never Seen Star Wars?!.  The samples you can listen to on the web site sound big-screen – this is a real orchestra, not a suitcase full of samples.  As someone once said…impressive.  Most impressive.  You can watch Way To The Rebellion in its entirety to get a taste for the music.

Will there be “new” classic film music to talk about next week?  Stay tuned.

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.