Raiders of the Lost Ark

Retroist Scoreboard: Beware the Ides of May – From Raiders To Reynolds

Mid-May has been crazy, so apologies for the Retroist Scoreboard taking an unscheduled break. But hey, there’s some seriously good stuff to talk about now that we’re back.

Intrada Records has released a new 3-CD edition of the late, great Jerry Goldsmith’s score from Poltergeist II. Now, you may well be asking yourself how one squeezes a 3-CD set out of a single movie that doesn’t even last three hours, but this set is a real treat for Goldsmith afficionados.

Poltergeist II

The three-disc set presents, across two discs, the distinctly different digital and analog mixes of the complete score, along with a bonus third disc presenting several key cues from the film as Goldsmith originally scored them, featuring hair-raisingly unearthly choral performances that were frequently left off the sound mix in the final movie. Best of all, Intrada isn’t charging an arm and a leg just because of the disc count, so even if you have a previous release of this soundtrack, your wallet will not be forever haunted by upgrading to this release.

Poltergeist II

Quartet Records has released a very limited edition (1,000 copies) of Frank de Vol’s scores from two ’70s Burt Reynolds movies, Hustle and The Longest Yard, on a single disc. The Hustle score, among its other selling points, has the best track title this author has ever seen on a compact disc of any genre, “Phychedelicatessen”.

Hustle

In a rare instance of what’s normally thought of as a soundtrack label dipping its toes into the mainstream, Varese Sarabande has released The Very Best Of Peter Cetera, decidedly not a soundtrack release…or is it? Crowded with tracks such as “The Glory Of Love”, “Daddy’s Girl”, “After All” and “Stay With Me”, all of which were prominently featured in hit movies, this isn’t such an “out of left field” release for Varese after all – late ’80s Hollywood saw Cetera as a soundtrack (and publicity) goldmine.

Peter Cetera

June 2nd will see the release of a new vinyl pressing of John Williams’ legendary Raiders of the Lost Ark score, this time with additional material that wasn’t featured on the 1981 LP. If you have the 2008 CD box set, there isn’t anything you haven’t already heard here, but this 2-record set from Concord is an eye-catching addition to your vinyl collection. Support for “Indy” music, indeed!

Raiders of the Lost Ark - CD Release

Track List from the CD release.

Looking even further ahead, word has hit the internet, by way of composer W.G. “Snuffy” Walden, that we might be getting a long, long overdue release of music from The West Wing this summer, while September will see the release of one, if not two, albums of music from Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks. And La-La Land Records, almost the de facto label for Star Trek music these days, is apparently in early negotiations with CBS to discuss a soundtrack release for Star Trek: Discovery…even though it’s not known who will be doing the music. This is shaping up to be an exciting year for fans of TV soundtrack music…

…and we’re not even halfway through the year yet. Buckle up, because there may be even more soundtrack news very soon.

Speaking of the legendary score by John Williams for Raiders of the Lost Ark – why not listen to the composer discuss his work?

[Via] Maestro Sanaboti

Wonder Woman

Retroist Scoreboard: Wonder Woman and Warrior Women

There’s only one brand new major release to talk about in this week’s Retroist Scoreboard, Wonder Woman, so we’re going to do something a little bit different this time.
Wonder Woman - La La Land Records

That major release is, of course, La-La Land’s eagerly-awaited 3-CD set of soundtrack selections from the 1970s Wonder Woman TV series. Scored primarily by Artie Kane, the show’s evolving format and changing demands did admit other composers toward the end of its three-year run, and several of them are represented on this set. The first disc is devoted primarily to the series’ pilot movie (scored by Charles Fox, later of 9 To 5 fame) and Kane’s music for the movie-length premiere of the second season, which effectively “re-piloted” Wonder Woman after a change of networks and settings. The second disc is a highlight reel of Artie Kane episode scores, including Anschluss ’77, Bermuda Triangle Crisis, Knockout, and I Do, I Do, along with music from the episode Deadly Toys, score by Robert Prince (The Fantastic Journey). The third disc is a smorgasbord of selections by other composers from late in the show’s run: Deadly Sting and Skateboard Wiz (Johnny Harris), Hot Wheels (Robert O. Ragland), Going, Going, Gone (Angela Morley), Spaced Out (Robert Prince again), and The Man Who Could Not Die (Richard LaSalle). It’s ‘70s TV music as it existed before a certain movie scored by John Williams rewired audience expectations for a music score, which is a very rarified genre among soundtrack releases. Every version of the show’s much-loved opening and closing title music – both with and without vocals! – is featured as well, along with a 28-page liner note booklet. If there’s a more fitting musical celebration of the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman’s first comic appearance, I can’t imagine what it might be.

In June, Wonder Woman’s story comes full circle with the release of the soundtrack from the modern movie reboot of the character, scored by Rupert Gregson-Williams (Hacksaw Ridge, Bee Movie, and Netflix’s recent series, The Crown). While it’s natural to expect the more modern soundtrack treatment to be less joyously disco-era than the TV series, hopefully it’ll be the best DC movie since Lego Batman.
Wonder Woman

Rewinding to the 1970s, Diana Prince was hardly the only woman saving the world in prime-time. Over on ABC, a popular guest character had spun off from The Six Million Dollar Man and amassed a loyal following in her own right. While Diana protected the secret of her ancient Amazonian powers, Jaime Sommers had technology to thank for her super powers – and The Bionic Woman frequently had veteran composer and arranger Joe Harnell (The Incredible Hulk, V) to thank for its distinctively breezy sound. Over the past decade, Harnell’s estate released several private label CDs of Harnell’s music from both The Bionic Woman and The Incredible Hulk, though my attempts to see if these titles are still available revealed that the domain name used for this label has lapsed and been picked up by someone else. Amazon.com still has copies, but one of them has already gone out of print and skyrocketed in price.

A much more recent descendant of Wonder Woman started life as another spinoff from a popular action show – syndicated siren Xena: Warrior Princess. Scored throughout its six-year run by Joseph LoDuca (who also composed the show’s gorgeous opening theme), Xena was set in ancient Greece…with tongue planted firmly in cheek. Throughout Xena’s run, soundtracks – including both of the show’s popular “musical” episodes – were released by Varese Sarabande, which pressed new copies of all six volumes (spanning 7 CDs) and released them as a boxed set in late 2015, marking the series’ 20th anniversary.

And I think we’d be remiss if we didn’t get a mention in of Blake Neely’s music from Wonder Woman’s fellow DC superhero, Supergirl. (There’s a soundtrack from that show’s first season available; hopefully a second season CD will be forthcoming .)

Is that all? That is not all.

I think I’d also be remiss if I failed to point out that female composers are very much a minority in Hollywood, and not for any particularly good reason. One of my favorite soundtrack-but-not-a-soundtrack albums of recent years, Penka Kouvena’s soundtrack-flavored concept album The Woman Astronaut, features a sobering statistic in its liner notes: there have been more female astronauts in space than there have been female composers given a chance to shine on major tentpole movies.

If you’re wondering if there’s something about action music that makes it difficult for female composers to handle, allow me to introduce you to a sorely-missed name in many movie and TV credits: Shirley Walker (1945-2006). Though she had scored hours and hours of TV (Cagney & Lacey, Lou Grant, Falcon Crest, China Beach), she practically had to serve a second apprenticeship – arranging and conducting for Danny Elfman for many years – before breaking into movies. She also composed the music for the original 1990 TV iteration of The Flash, every episode of the grim military sci-fi series Space: Above & Beyond, and most famously, Batman: The Animated Series, before finally cracking the glass ceiling in 2000 with the score from Final Destination. She scored two sequels to that film before dying in the aftermath of a stroke.

[Via] The Evil Kung Fu Man

It’s a time-honored tradition, and depending on the mentor in question, an honor to rise through the ranks by assisting big-name composers with various projects. But for all intents and purposes, Shirley Walker had to do it twice.

I would love to have heard her musical take on the new Wonder Woman. And clearly it’ll take more than Wonder Woman (twice over!), the Bionic Woman, and Xena to put a bigger crack in that glass ceiling, because all of those have been scored largely by male composers.

While you’re contemplating that, give your mom a call for Mother’s Day. Never-before-revealed secret fact: she’s Wonder Woman too. (A little Amazon told me so.)

Singin' Sixties

Retroist Scoreboard: The Singin’ Sixties

A bit of a light week here at the Retroist Scoreboard, but there’s still music in the air. And pollen. Maybe more pollen than music this week, admittedly, but there’s still music.

Intrada has unearthed Frank Perkins’ combination score-and-songs album from the 1963 Warner Bros. all-star summer flick Palm Springs Weekend, featuring vocal contributions from the likes of Troy Donahue, Robert Conrad, and Connie Stevens. The album, restored from the original master tapes from the 1960s LP release, weighs in at just a little over half an hour, but if you need a fresh (and rarely-heard) fix from the Beach Blanket Bingo era, this is your ticket back to those times.
Singin' Sixties

Varese Sarabande will begin shipping the first-ever official CD release of the soundtrack from 1968’s Barbarella this Friday, featuring Charles Fox’s score with vocals and performances by Bob Crewe and the Bob Crewe Generation Orchestra. Pre-orders are still being taken, and the price on this one is definitely right.

And you may be able to score this score for even less! Due to upgrades of their shipping systems, Varese is offering a 10% discount on all orders placed between May 8th and 21st, the catch being that shipping may be a little bit on the slow side during that period.

Is that all? That is not all.

Occasionally I might point out new or upcoming releases that tickle our ears the way a good soundtrack does, and it just so happens that my picks in that category this week feature some of the pioneer originators of electronic music, and some of its best current practitioners. Full disclosure: both parties include friends of mine, so forgive me for being a little less impartial than usual.

The Radiophonic Workshop is a live, touring, recording amalgamation of original members of the now-defunct BBC Radiophonic Workshop and newer members. Members Dick Mills and Roger Limb were there in the ‘60s and ‘70s, when the Workshop’s pioneering works included the original iteration of the Doctor Who theme music, while later recruits Peter Howell and Paddy Kingsland helped define that show’s sound in the 1980s, Howell in particular having arranged the Peter Davison / Colin Baker era version of the Doctor Who theme.

Mark Ayres, who joined the Workshop in its twilight years partly as an archivist of its classic material, and Kieron Pepper, round out the current incarnation of the Workshop, and they’ve assembled a new album using vintage synthesizers and radiophonic recording techniques, Burials In Several Earths, now available for pre-order both as a download and on CD or vinyl. The album drops on May 19th.

[Via] The Radiophonic Workshop

The Radiophonic Workshop originated in the late 1950s, creating electronic wizardry out of tape loops and oscillators on a shoestring budget in a tiny studio in the BBC’s Maida Vale facility. They’ve done a lot more than just Doctor Who – Kingsland single-handedly scored the BBC’s radio and TV incarnations of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – though their live shows feature callbacks to their past glories aplenty.

On the slightly more modern side of things, 8 Bit Weapon is releasing an experimental concept EP on May 8th under the title DLC: The OST. Renowned for crafting amazingly multi-layered music from the sound chips of classic video game consoles and computers, the electronic duo consisting of Seth and Michelle Sternberger is taking satirical aim at the industry that made their instruments this time around…or, at least, that industry’s modern tendency to foist incomplete games upon the buying public. The press blurb for DLC: The OST asks: “What IF the music industry followed this business model? How much of a song would you hear before you purchased the rest of it as DLC?“

Next week: get ready for the Lasso of Truth to snatch your wallet, because La-La Land Records is finally releasing a 3-CD box set of music from the 1970s Wonder Woman series, including music from the pilot movie, and even more music from the second and third seasons. Tune in next week for the details!

Trying Times

This Needs To Be On DVD: Trying Times

It’s hard to argue that we’re approaching the twilight of physical media. That makes me a little bit twitchy – stuff that hasn’t made it to DVD needs to make it to DVD soon, while there’s still a DVD market to make it to. The manufacture-on-demand DVD market is one of the best things ever, giving some real niche material a fresh lease on life…but could it be that some things are too niche even for burn-on-demand?

Case in point: the ultra-obscure PBS-produced comedy anthology series Trying Times, which aired two six-season episodes in 1987 and 1989. Produced at KCET, the PBS affiliate in Los Angeles, the show had access to big names, some just before their big breakout, and some who were already household names – Robert Klein, Jean Stapleton, Carrie Fisher, Geena Davis, Tim Matheson, Rosanna Arquette, Judge Reinhold, Keanu Reeves, and even David Byrne of Talking Heads fame. Each half-hour episode was its own little universe of ennui and social awkwardness, a one-act play unto itself.
Trying Times
Trying Times

There was talent aplenty behind the cameras too.
Trying Times

With writers like Spalding Gray and Terrence McNally aboard, and directors such as the late Jonathan Demme, Buck Henry, Christopher Guest, and Alan Arkin, the question becomes…how has this evaded a DVD release for all these years?

[Via] ThorC1138

Trying Times is a rare specimen of PBS in more daring times: rather than British imports or documentaries or filmed stage plays, this was a unique attempt to generate an original comedy just for PBS. Somewhere between its lack of commercial breaks and its short seasons, Trying Times felt like American comedy having taken notes from British comedies. Of course, it’s almost inevitable that someone, somewhere, protested that this wasn’t what they thought their pledge drive money was going toward. How different would PBS be if this had been just the beginning of original comedy or dramatic programming?

What’s amazing is that there’s precious little evidence of Trying Times’ existence anywhere – IMDB listings are vague at best, and I could only locate two episodes on YouTube. On the one hand, I’m relieved that at least one or two other people remember the show. On the other hand…wouldn’t it be great if we could all see this again?

[Via] Dads Volunteer’s Channel

So my challenge, to the DVD publishers of the world, is to ease our anxieties and give us a chuckle in these very real trying times…by bringing back Trying Times for an encore.

Saturn V

1,969 Bricks For Mankind: Lego’s Saturn V Goes To The Moon!

Did I hear someone yell “Spaceship!”? Just in time for the 48th anniversary of the first moon landing, Lego is rolling out a massive set that originated from their fan submission portal, and it’s going to be one giant leap for casual Lego architects.
Saturn V

The set, weighing in at $119.99, has – appropriately enough – 1,969 pieces which add up to an over three-foot-tall faithful model of Werner von Braun’s mighty Saturn V rocket, the giant booster that sent astronauts to the moon.
Saturn V

But this huge Lego rocket isn’t just accurate on the outside.

The rocket can actually “stage” – meaning it comes apart where the real one did when the fuel in one section was completely spent, exposing an “engine” that would send the rest of the rocket on its way. The Saturn V rocket was a three-stage rocket, as is its impressive Lego counterpart.

The third stage “petals” open – again, accurate to the real thing – to expose the lunar module, allowing Lego astronauts in their Apollo command & service module to turn around, dock with the lunar module, and pull it free of the rest of the rocket.

And oh yes, did I mention Lego astronauts? There are Lego astronauts, but they’re tiny compared to the usual minifigures. (A Saturn V scaled to typical Lego minifigures would be…a lot taller than three feet.)

The Lego lunar lander can indeed land, and the command module can separate from the service module for “splashdown”, complete with flotation balloons. Basically, budding mission managers can replicate every phase of an Apollo mission to the moon with this gigantic set.

If you’re anything like me and have a soft spot for the early days of the American space program and its bold strides into the future, you’ll be waiting for this set to hit stores on June 1st. With the number of pieces and the size of the model involved, it’s not for the faint of heart…

…but then, going to the moon never was.

[Via] GigaScience