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!

Tune - X Files

Retroist Scoreboard: The Tune Is Out There

Tune

“The Tune is out there, Scully.”

As promised last week, this week is for the X-Files fans among you, as La-La Land rolls out a 2-disc compilation of highlights from Mark Snow’s scores for the most recent “event season” of The X-Files, and the track list is a pretty tempting one:

Disc One
MY STRUGGLE
1. Prologue (2:59)
2. THE X-FILES Main Title (Season 9) (0:36)
3. Ride to Roswell (2:09)
4. Call to Mulder (1:49)
5. Sveta (4:31)
6. Sveta Exam (1:47)
7. Alien Replica Vehicle/Element 115 (3:09)
8. Lab Labors (2:16)
9. Sveta’s Story (3:17)
10. Mulder’s Office (1:58)
11. Deep Throat (2:35)
12. Home Fire (1:55)
13. Conspiracy Montage (5:14)
14. Sveta Confesses (1:48)
15. Parking Garage (2:26)
16. Sveta Gets Zapped (1:18)
17. Smoking Man (0:44)

FOUNDER’S MUTATION
18. Insecure Insecurity (2:30)
19. Hand Message (3:33)
20. Pull the Thread/Semi-Alien Boy (10:04)
21. Capsules (5:01)
22. Aquaiescent (1:46)
23. A Mother Never Forgets (2:23)
24. The Farm House/Catching Kyle (3:32)
25. The Real Molly (2:46)
26. Mulder’s Memories (2:47)
Disc One Total Time: 75:55

Disc Two
HOME AGAIN
1. City Shower Services (1:15)
2. No Prints/The Call (2:17)
3. Extubation (0:37)
4. Remorse (1:41)
5. Sub-Urban (3:05)
6. Tulku (3:33)
7. More Remorse (2:20)

BABYLON
8. Prayer (1:13)
9. Einstein/Miller (2:01)
10. Mugwump (5:02)
11. Evacuation (3:25)
12. Ummu (2:48)
13. Motel (1:35)
14. Walk With Me (1:24)

MY STRUGGLE II
15. Recap (1:31)
16. Scully’s Story (2:27)
17. Fed Ford/Alien American DNA (4:35)
18. Vaccine Alienation/One-Class Infection (2:27)
19. Smokin’ God (6:58)
20. The Spartan Virus (7:48)
21. Crispr Cas9 (6:33)
22. William Is Out There (4:32)
23. THE X-FILES End Credits (New Orbit) (0:35)
24. I Made This/20th Century Fox Fanfare (0:08)


MULDER AND SCULLY MEET THE WERE-MONSTER
25. Bonus Track: Suite (4:32)

Disc Two Total Time: 79.14
Total Set Running Time: 154.69

If you haven’t picked up any of La-La Land’s X-Files box sets from the original series run, there are two things you should know: they’re fantastic, and they’re on sale! The four-disc Volume One, still in stock, has been marked down to $30, and the second and third volumes, also four discs each, have been reduced to $40 each through May 8th. If you want to believe, that’s fine – if you want to listen, even better!

Varese Sarabande is taking pre-orders for the May 19th release of Angelo Badalamenti’s Blue Velvet soundtrack on vinyl, with side one consisting of selections from the score, and side two featuring songs from Roy Orbison, Julee Cruise, and others. This LP reprint is being offered exclusively through Amazon.

And just when you thought it was safe and there were only a couple of releases to talk about, a wild label appears! Notefornote Music is reprinting an early Hans Zimmer score, Thelma & Louise, previously issued as a limited editing by Kritzerland Records in 2011. If you missed that earlier release, this is your chance to fill that gap in your collection.

The hits, as a wise man once said, just keep on coming – watch this space next week for more of the latest soundtrack news.

[Via] JoBlo TV Show Trailer

Shoot Movies

Retroist Scoreboard: They shoot movies, don’t they? (4-12-17)

Soundtrack fans, saddle up for a return to the wild west, as La-La Land Records has a real treat this week: the complete Elmer Bernstein score, as heard on screen, from 1965’s classic John Wayne/Dean Martin western The Sons Of Katie Elder. Though there have been soundtrack releases from this film before, they have been suites or re-recordings, and not the original 1965 studio recordings used to score the film, and they’ve been nowhere near complete. And you’d better be ready to round this one up fast: La-La Land is only pressing 1500 copies.
Shoot Movies - The Sons of Katie Elder

And while you’re at it, La-La Land is making it easy to start a soundtrack stampede in your collection, dropping the soundtracks from Rio Lobo, Stagecoach, The Shootist, Bandolero, and Take A Hard Ride to $10 each through April 23rd. That, my fellow bad hombres, is enough of a steal to make you feel like a real bandito.

Varese Sarabande isn’t rolling out any new titles this week, but they are having an ongoing sale on some classics, including John Williams’ Family Plot, Jerry Goldsmith’s score from The Red Pony, Henry Mancini’s music from Who Is Killing The Great Chefs Of Europe?, and even the great Bernard Hermann’s music from TV’s The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

Classic video game soundtracks hitting vinyl seems to be a thing these days – why tickle just one retro gene when you could tickle them all at the same time? – and in that spirit, Brave Wave is rolling out the full soundtrack from Ninja Gaiden, as heard both on the NES and in the arcade, across two volumes, available on CD, vinyl, and iTunes downloads. Composed by Keiji Yamagishi, Mikio Saito, and Ryuichi Nitta, this is iconic game music given a grand treatment; the second volume, in fact, boasts the first-ever official release of the music from Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom.

European label Quartet Records is also getting in on the vintage western action, releasing a freshly remastered CD of John Barry’s score from the 1977 Charles Bronson movie The White Buffalo, but that’s not the big surprise of this release. The big surprise is that the album producers unearthed the movie’s original score, composed by David Shire and rejected by the studio and director, on the grounds that it was too modern for the movie’s setting, resulting in a late rush to hire Barry to rescore the picture. But was the studio right? Now you can judge for yourself – both scores are presented here in their entirety.

And while it may not be retro, I can’t resist the plot setup of the new Anne Hathaway flick, Colossal.

[Via] JoBlo Movie Trailers

What makes it even more irresistible is that it’s been scored by Bear McCreary, of 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Walking Dead, Outlander, Battlestar Galactica and Agents of SHIELD fame. McCreary really is one of your author’s favorite current composers, and I’m really looking forward to his score from Colossal, which should be hitting the download services as we speak.

One of 2017’s most hotly anticipated releases is just waiting in the wings, and hopefully in the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to drop some news on you about a soundtrack box set suitable for a heroine wearing satin tights while fighting for her rights. One also hears there’s music on the way from the most recent season of a show which assures us, repeatedly, that the truth is out there.

Until then, friends, it’s time for the final installment of the Retroist Scoreboard Glossary, putting all of the lingo of this wonderful hobby on the table at your disposal, so you know what you’re hearing, and how you’re getting to hear it. Hopefully this has been useful to budding fellow soundtrack enthusiasts.

The Retroist Scoreboard Glossary: what’s in a soundtrack?
Dialogue – it’s hard to do a movie without dialogue, but sometimes the producers of soundtrack albums feel that dialogue from the movie needs to be mixed into the music (instances of this include the original release of Queen’s Flash Gordon and the mixed score/songtrack album for Apollo 13). Opinions among film music enthusiasts vary wildly as to the merits of doing this, but the prevailing wind seems to favor not mixing dialogue in with music. Get three or four soundtrack collectors in one room, however, and you’re likely to hear a dissenting opinion.

Entr’acte – the older brother of the overture, the entr’acte is a piece of music dating back to when movies, particularly lengthy ones, featured an intermission. Sometimes music would play during the intermission (and sometimes it wouldn’t), but a piece of music called the entr’acte would notify the audience that the intermission is nearly over. Like the overture, the entr’acte was an opportunity for the composer to show their chops without competing with a sound mix or dialogue. While the overture could be found hanging around into the late 1970s, the entr’acte has fallen out of use (along with the intermission…). Movies with entr’actes include Ben-Hur and Ice Station Zebra; DVD and Blu-Ray releases often omit the entr’acte (…because who needs an intermission when you’ve got a pause button?), so music specially composed for the entr’acte is often lost to history unless it appears on a soundtrack release.

Overture – seldom used in the Modern Age of movies or film scoring, the overture is a piece of music played before a movie begins, prior to the opening credits, frequently summing up some highlights of the score before the audience has heard those highlights in context. It was a rare chance for film music composers to shine without having to compete against the rest of the movie’s sound mix. Overtures can still be found in movies as recent as Star Trek: The Motion Picture and The Black Hole (both released in 1979).

Score – the instrumental underscore of a movie, television show, or game. Unlike source music, the characters in a movie do not hear the score, leaving the music to act as something of a Greek chorus conveying emotions or other meaning directly to the audience. The Academy Awards specifically separate Oscar awards for best song and best score. Some collectors – myself included – will use “score” and “soundtrack” interchangeably, though commercially released soundtracks may be more akin to a songtrack.

Soundtrack – in purely technical terms, this is the full sound mix of any movie or television show, including music, dialogue, and effects – the literal sound track adjacent to the picture on a film distributed to theaters. (As such, many an older soundtrack release is labeled as “music from the original motion picture soundtrack”.) In soundtrack collectors’ parlance, of course, a soundtrack is simply the music from a movie, though a soundtrack producer may decide there’s a reason to include dialogue as well.

Die Hard

Retroist Scoreboard 3-29-17: Yippie-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon!

Yippie-ki-yay - Die Hard
A few years ago, La-La Land Records graced us with the complete score from 1988’s Die Hard, a movie that’s pretty much defined the one-good-guy-stuck-in-one-place-with-a-bunch-of-bad-guys subgenre for the past 30 years…and, no surprise given the size of the movie’s ardent following, that soundtrack sold out virtually overnight. The label is now reissuing it, with different cover artwork but identical musical content, in an edition of 2,000 copies. It’s the late, great Michael Kamen doing his tongue-in-cheek action thriller thing in his prime. Since Kamen and Bruce Willis make such a good combination, La-La Land is also marking down their already-released soundtracks from The Last Boy Scout and Die Hard With A Vengeance through April 10th.

Speaking of soundtracks that sold out in a hot second, Varese Sarabande has announced an April 14th release date for a vinyl reissue – on, appropriately enough, 180-gram sky-blue vinyl – of Bill Conti’s criminally underrated score from 1983’s The Right Stuff. This soundtrack has a long and winding history: Conti prepared an album from the original session tapes, which are now lost to time, only to see the planned 1983 album release cancelled because the movie wasn’t soaring at the box office. Conti hung on to the album masters, however, and Varese issued that long-overdue album on CD several years ago, and again, it sold out practically overnight. This is the first reissue of that album in any format, and is the first time it has hit vinyl, like it should have back in ’83.

Varese has also set the same date for the release of the score from season two of Game of Thrones on vinyl. Though a date hasn’t been set as yet, Varese is apparently also working on a long-overdue CD reissue of the original soundtrack album from Barbarella.

Fans of much-loved fairly-recent TV have another gift coming in April from Varese: a compilation soundtrack of music from the TV series Chuck, composed by Tim Jones, who sought fan input on which pieces of music from which episodes they wanted to hear on CD.

Kronos Records is now taking pre-orders for the April CD release of Italian composer Stelvio Cipriani’s score from 2001’s Death, Deceit & Destiny Aboard The Orient Express, but you’d better jump on that train now (as dangerous as it might sound), because Kronos is only pressing 300 copies of it.

So what’s the big deal with whether or not a score is “complete”? It might be the difference between hearing that one piece of music that stuck with you for years and years, or not having it show up on the album. And that, friends, brings us to another installment of the glossary.

The Retroist Scoreboard Glossary: What kind of release is it?

Box Set – some soundtracks are too big for one or two CDs, pushing them into more expensive box set territory. (Though it’s slightly subjective, the line between what is and isn’t a box set is whether a soundtrack release has a third disc, because at that point a thin double-CD jewel case will no longer contain the score’s magnificence, or at least its sheer length.) TV soundtracks have recently become the major source of box sets, such as La-La Land’s huge collections from Star Trek, Lost In Space, and Mission: Impossible, though epic films such as Ben-Hur and Spartacus have been the subjects of their own box sets. Some box sets may balloon in price due to elaborate packaging (the giant working zoetrope of the Danny Elfman/Tim Burton Collection box set, or Silva Screen’s Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Music Collection with its giant wooden TARDIS); if one of these sets goes out of print, may God or the higher power of your choice help you as you wade into the shark-infested waters of the secondary market.

Compilation Soundtrack – especially in TV music, this is a soundtrack release with excerpts of music from multiple episodes, but not necessarily the full score to any of them (see recent years’ Star Trek TV score releases, the X-Files box sets, etc.). Most TV soundtrack releases fall under this category.

Complete Score – this is a reissue (or perhaps a first-time release) that puts every note of music recorded, sometimes including music left on the cutting room floor for a variety of reasons, in the hands of soundtrack collectors. (Television soundtracks have an equivalent – see episodic soundtracks.) Since some film scores are rife with extremely short “stingers” or scene transition music, the result may be a great many short tracks, but listeners are free to skip these at their leisure in favor of longer cues.

Episodic Soundtrack – in terms of television soundtrack releases, this presents the complete score of one or more episodes of that series, usually in chronological order. Quite rare in comparison to more common Compilation Soundtracks, this is a category that includes Film Score Monthly (FSM)’s massive Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Ron Jones Project box set, Sonic Images’ series of Babylon 5 episodic soundtrack CDs in the late 1990s, and some of Silva Screen’s relatively recent releases of the scores from Doctor Who’s annual Christmas episodes. The equivalent for movie soundtracks is a complete score. Since television scores, and even some movie scores, are often heavy with excessively short (sometimes three-to-five-second) pieces of “stinger” or “act out” music heard just before commercial breaks, it is often felt that there simply isn’t interest in hearing every note of music recorded for a given television episode.

Expanded Score – a reissue that adds more previously unreleased tracks, but does not necessarily represent the complete score of a given movie or TV show. Issues at stake may be licensing costs, part of the movie’s music may be temp tracks or cues licensed from other soundtracks (the latter is a practice that didn’t exist 30-40 years ago but is growing in prominence now), some of the original session recordings may be missing or damaged beyond repair, or the composer may simply not wish for every track to be released for their own reasons.

Reissue – everyone has issues, but soundtrack collectors have reissues. While some film scores are just now seeing their first release, some are reissues that either duplicate or expand upon a previous vinyl or even CD release.

Songtrack – many movies have tie-in albums of either licensed songs, or specially commissioned songs by popular artists which may or may not even be heard briefly in the movie. Examples of movies with “songtracks” include Twister, The Martian, Ghostbusters, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Hidden Figures, and countless others; in some unfortunate cases, unless one of the specialty soundtrack labels releases a score at a later date, songtracks may be a movie’s only official music release. Some songtracks, such as the original 1984 Ghostbusters album, may include short selections or a suite of edited highlights from the score, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.