V'ger - Star Trek the Motion Picture

Retroist Scoreboard 3-14-17: V’ger, you’re my knight in shining armor

Soundtrack fans, we’re in yet another unexpectedly meaty week of wonders, so let’s waste no time in diving right in.

La-La Land Records, as previously announced, is now taking orders for their limited edition (1500 copies) double LP vinyl pressing of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, returning Jerry Goldsmith’s magnum opus to turntables for the first time in nearly 40 years, this time with the complete score spread across four sides. (The CD box set has even more music, if you’re after music instead of a display piece: Goldsmith scored half the movie before coming up with the iconic Enterprise theme, which was later repurposed as the theme for Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the CD edition presents the complete score as heard in the movie plus what basically amounts to an unused alternate soundtrack.)
V'ger

While the first Star Trek movie is returning to vinyl, another classic movie is, incredibly, only just now making its way to CD thanks to Varese Sarabande, which is presenting Dave Grusin’s music from On Golden Pond, interspersed with dialogue from the movie (in some cases, quite lengthy chunks of dialogue).

Varese also has a trio of limited editions now available: an “encore” re-pressing of Elmer Bernstein’s score from Disney’s The Black Cauldron, limited to just 1000 copies for those who missed out on the last limited edition issue of this title.

For fans of high-octane action movies (and their music), there’s a new edition of Basil Poledouris’ music from the Steven Segal flick Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, more than doubling the running time of the original 1995 CD release. Even the movie’s source music is included as bonus tracks. What’s source music? Ask me that again in a minute.

And finally, John Williams’ score from the 1990’s Stanley & Iris gets a limited edition CD release of 3,000 copies, but that’s not all: tucked into the open space left by that movie’s score is a second Williams score hitting CD for the first time, 1972’s Pete ‘n’ Tillie. The two movies’ music are a good fit to share a CD: both are heartfelt relationship movies, and hey, it’s John Williams.

So…about source music: it’s a wonderful thing when original source music winds up as a bonus track on a CD…of course, that’s assuming that the director isn’t married to his temp track. Confused yet? That’s why we have another slice of the Retroist Scoreboard Glossary this week.

The Retroist Scoreboard Glossary: How The Sausage Gets Made
Additional Music – you’ll see this in movie and especially TV credits these days…often in small print. Particularly with the breakneck production timetable of television, but also with movies, composers must hire extra help to ghost-write the sheer amount of music needed within that timetable. Some of today’s biggest names were yesterday’s up-and-coming “additional music” composers: the ubiquitous Bear McCreary (10 Cloverfield Lane, The Walking Dead, Agents Of SHIELD, Outlander, Black Sails, Da Vinci’s Demons) got his break composing “additional music” for the 2003 Battlestar Galactica miniseries, whose primary composer moved on, leaving McCreary to take over the hourly series, making his career in the process. Due to the structure of CD release contracts with the primary composer, this additional music may or may not appear on an official release, leaving music from memorable scenes off the table. (Thus was the fate of the pivotal, Joel Goldsmith-composed “Flight Of The Phoenix” scene from Star Trek: First Contact, which was left off of the original 1996 soundtrack release at the label’s demand, simply because it wasn’t by primary composer Jerry Goldsmith.) In a few cases, the assistant composers may release their material as a composer promo.

Music+FX Track or Stem – a special mix of a movie or TV show’s music score and sound effects, prepared so that local voice artists in various parts of the world can do a language dub without the original actors’ voices in the background. Particularly with older films, this may be the closest we come to having a film’s original music tapes; it’s exceedingly rare to see a CD release of a Music+FX mix, but not unheard of (i.e. La-La Land’s “archival” release of Jerry Goldsmith’s rare score from The Satan Bug). Music+FX mixes are more often the domain of bootleggers.

Source Music – composers may be called upon to create “source music” for a scene in which a movie’s characters can hear that song in question from some on-screen source – a radio, a jukebox, a band on stage, to name a few examples. (Contrast this against the movie’s score, which the characters do not hear.) Some reissue producers go out of their way to include specially composed source music, particularly if it’s been the subject of “what was that song…?” debates for years and years. In some cases, source music is a piece of music from a movie’s songtrack.

Spotting – a process during pre-production of a movie or TV show in which the composer sits in on a screening of a rough edit to discuss the timing, placement and emotional thrust of the music with the director and/or editor(s), sometimes using temp tracks as a guide. (These meetings are called spotting sessions.) Once spotting is complete, the process of composing actually begins, though some composers may discover at a very late stage that the director’s ideas on spotting has changed, and their music has been tracked over a completely different scene…or has been replaced with a piece of the temp track.

Temp Track – a “temporary track” is often assembled, during a movie’s editing process, by the director and/or the film editor to track scenes in a movie that has no score yet. Temp tracks are often cobbled together from classical pieces or other movie soundtracks, and a composer hired to score a movie will often be asked to compose music with a similar feel…without actually duplicating it note-for-note, of course. The history of film music is rife with instances of directors falling in love with their temp tracks to the point that they either don’t hire a composer, or reject a specially commissioned score when it doesn’t live up to the director’s expectations (perhaps the most famous specimen of this category being Alex North’s unused original score for 2001: a space odyssey). Temp tracks are controversial in film music, whether for the perception that they limit a composer’s creativity, or for the not-limited-to-Kubrick phenomenon which plagues composers to this day (just this year, Johann Johannson’s score for Arrival was disqualified from Oscar contention because of the prominence of Max Richter’s composition, “On The Nature Of Daylight”, in key scenes of the movie – a holdover from the temp track that the director felt couldn’t be improved upon, costing his composer a nomination).

Tracking – once a composer has turned in a completed score, that music is at the mercy of the film’s director and/or editor(s), and may not appear where it was originally spotted. The music may be chopped up, edited and tracked in a different place entirely, such as >em>Star Wars Episode IStar Wars Episode III. Additionally, licensed or specially commissioned songs may be tracked into scenes, replacing sections of more traditional scoring (Ray Parker Jr.’s memorable song was tracked into as many scenes of Ghostbusters as possible late in editing, leaving significant portions of Elmer Bernstein’s score on the cutting room floor).

Batman

Retroist Scoreboard: Of Gotham And Grails 2/15/17

It’s a slow news week here at the Retroist Scoreboard – this week’s only new release is La-La Land Records’ CD of the soundtrack from the DC Animated Universe movie Justice League Dark, scored by Robert J. Kral (Angel, Jake 2.0, Superman: Doomsday, Green Lantern: First Flight, Batman: Assault on Arkham).
Gotham - Batman - Justice League Dark

Perhaps even more exciting is La-La Land closing the books on the last few copies of some of its past releases, and when I say “last few” I mean “maybe a dozen or so”, which translates roughly to “they may be gone by the time you read this and go looking for them”. Not only will these titles be going out of print, but they’re being sold off at what the Firesign Theatre once called “unhealable deep-cut discounts!”. Titles include the late Shirley Walker’s masterful score from the 1990 TV iteration of The Flash, Haunted Honeymoon, Days Of Our Lives (yes, there was a soundtrack for that), and Les Baxter’s vintage soundtrack from “X”: The Man With X-Ray Eyes. Get ’em while they’re still there. Some of the low-quantity titles I mentioned in the last Retroist Scoreboard…some of those are already out of print. Life comes at you fast when you’re a soundtrack collector.

Since there’s a lull in the action, let’s talk about Holy Grails.

The two big fish in the boutique soundtrack label pond, La-La Land Records and Intrada, have something of a gentlemen’s agreement: this week, La-La Land releases something. Next week, Intrada releases something else. (It’s actually a pretty friendly unspoken rule: if you check the credits in the back of the liner notes booklets of any given recent vintage soundtrack releases, you’ll find the same producers, restoration experts, mastering engineers and liner notes writers are happily working for both labels.) You’ll notice this ebb-and-flow as the Retroist Scoreboard continues chronicling their releases this year.

Both labels tend to hit the pause button around Christmas and New Year, as well as other holidays during the year. So let’s assume that each label will be dropping one or two new items – or one big one, if it’s a box set – 20 weeks out of the year. The labels strive to find a mix of “crowd pleasers” (i.e. last year’s 30-years-overdue release of the complete score plus songs from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), “golden age” material from Hollywood’s postwar heyday, and more recent “silver age” material. Not all of them sell in huge numbers; La-La Land boss M.V. Gerhard has openly stated that the “crowd pleasers” foot the bill for some of the more obscure releases whose scores deserve preservation, remastering, and their own releases.

In short: you’re looking at 40 weeks out of the year with something dropping, not all of which you’ll like, but that’s okay. The late, great Jerry Goldsmith criticized soundtrack collectors who were less interested in music than in “collecting bottle caps”…point taken, Maestro Goldsmith. No one can afford to get all of them.

So…is your favorite out there? If it isn’t yet, someone’s probably working on it. One of the most surprising releases last year was the four-disc La-La Land Star Trek 50th anniversary compilation, one disc of which presented – for the first time ever – the incidental music from Filmation’s early 1970s Star Trek cartoon. (Sharp-eared Filmation fans will also know that this is, essentially, the soundtrack from Jason Of Star Command.) It wasn’t that new tapes had been found and remastered; it happened because two recording engineers who happened to be fans of animated Star Trek managed to piece together every instrumental piece from segments of the show where no one was talking! (These guys work hard for your money.)

Other grails have already seen release – the complete scores from all three Back To The Future films, the now-legendary restoration of John Barry’s complete score from The Black Hole (recorded on a no-longer-used digital tape format, which could be played back only on the same kind of tape deck that recorded it…of which there was only one left in the United States, and it fell victim to flooding just before engineers went to transfer those tapes to a hard drive for remastering), and the massive 15-disc box set of every note of music recorded for the original Star Trek.

Others that are high on people’s lists are lost to the mists of time: one frequently requested title is Disney’s The Rescuers, whose master music tapes seem to be lost forever. Intrada’s late 2016 CD release of the soundtrack from Silent Running suffered a similar problem; the CD was mastered from a pristine copy of the long-out-of-print original LP (!).

You’ll notice that there are some genres that get a little more love than others, but that’s often because their very nature lent itself to more epic music: westerns, historical dramas (especially epics like Ben-Hur and Spartacus), and sci-fi are, perhaps, over-represented. But there’s also a healthy selection of ’70s thrillers and a growing category of ’80s cinema (i.e. recent relases of Beverly Hills Cop I & II, Less Than Zero, the aforementioned Ferris Bueller) and ’90s material (i.e. Jurassic Park, Twister, DuckTales: The Movie, Galaxy Quest) that are on the rise. As the audience age range shifts, collectors are “into” the soundtracks from the movies they enjoyed in their youth, and the labels are obliging those changing tastes.

Be patient: someone is almost certainly working on that one soundtrack you’re waiting for, if they haven’t already made it available. (I’ll bring this up again in a more personal context in a couple of weeks.)

When he’s not keeping score at the Retroist, Earl Green is the founder, head writer and podcaster-in-chief at theLogBook.om, a site devoted in roughly equal parts to classic sci-fi, classic video games, classic soundtracks, and space history. You can catch him lining up carefully curated excerpts from TV, movie and game scores most months on the Log Book’s soundtrack mixtape podcast, In The Grand Theme Of Things.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E.: The Thrush Ray-Gun Affair Game (1966)

I’ve shared my love of the 1960’s NBC TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. once or twice before on the site. While I wasn’t around when it first aired back in the day thanks to the reruns I was able to catch growing up on numerous lazy Saturday afternoons I can honestly say it’s in my top 20 TV series of all time.

With it’s pseudo James Bond approach to the Cold War it lasted four seasons and even helped spinoff the popular though short lived The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. Of course it’s hard to go wrong when your cast is made up of the likes of Robert Vaughn, David McCallum, Leo G. Carroll, Stefanie Powers and featuring music by the late great Jerry Goldsmith!

[Via] The Rap Sheet

RetroArt, not only a great friend to myself as well as the site knows how much I like the show and was kind enough to share something he picked up the other day, a game that he knew would blow me away. That it did. Produced by Ideal and released in 1966, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. – The Thrush Ray-Gun Affair board game looks to be absolutely amazing.

Man from UNCLE - Side art

Man from UNCLE - Thrush Ray Gun Board Game

The Man from UNCLE - Board Game

The Man from UNCLE - Headquarters

Thanks to these photos we can see how the game board was set up. RetroArt also kindly shared the instructions. It sounds like an awesome game, I love the idea of the mine field mechanic!

The Man from UNCLE - Thrush Ray-Gun board game

RetroArt did let me know that sadly not all of the pieces of the game were present in his copy…perhaps when he completes it he might be able to share a video of the game in action? Until then we can always enjoy listening to actor David McCallum who portrayed Illya Kuryakin on the original series discuss not only that series but the 2015 theatrical film to boot.

[Via] FOX411

Why I still love the 1984 Supergirl Movie

Supergirl

Before I begin, there is something I should make clear from the start: I’m a big Superman fan. I don’t collect the comics, dress up with a cape, sport an ‘S’ tattoo or anything like that, but I did grow up watching Superman: The Movie and its sequels and those early viewings made a huge impression on my youthful self. The first Christopher Reeve film is also my favourite movie of all time and is unlikely to be displaced.

Now that you know that, you might wonder why I still think that Supergirl, the 1984 film starring Helen Slater, is a great movie? The plot of the film is incoherent, the villain is too tame, much of the acting is terrible… I could go on and on about the many flaws but, get past all of that and you still have one trump card to play with – Helen Slater is Supergirl.

Supergirl

Much like Reeve is Superman, Helen Slater struck an awesome pose as the Girl of Steel and, as a young boy, I was in awe of the blonde beauty who played her. Watching the longer Directors Cut of the film again as a 30-something, I’m still amazed by how well Slater portrayed the grace of Supergirl and the naivety of Linda Lee. It is hard to watch the whole film without wincing at some of its hokiest moments but any ill-feeling I have towards those involved is tempered by their choice in actress.

Watching the trailer from the time is a little cringe-worthy but serves Slater well:

Whilst I didn’t notice it in the 80’s, the soundtrack to Supergirl is also excellent and a great accompaniment to the character. Jerry Goldsmith doesn’t quite equal the majesty of the Williams’ Superman score but he had a good stab at it and I will happily listen to the 6 minute overture again and again.

You can listen to the full score on Youtube below, though I encourage you to buy the 1993 Silva CD for the best listening experience.

I really wish the movie had been a success at the time, we might have been able to avoid The Quest for Peace by having a Superman/Supergirl team-up!