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.

Lovecraft

POW, Lovecraft! To the moon!

If you’re in the mood for the moon, or perhaps for awakening eldritch horrors, this is your week, soundtrack collecting friends.

There’s a new soundtrack out for a movie based on some classic H.P. Lovecraft lore, and if you’ll pardon the expression, it’s a great old one. Intrada this week brings us Richard Band’s complete score from 1986’s From Beyond, including alternate recordings of some of the movie’s cues. Alternates are an interesting glimpse into the compositional process, a look at how a scene could’ve played out musically…but didn’t. Maybe it’s a slight shift in arrangement, maybe it’s a total rethink of the piece of music from the ground up.
Lovecraft

Oh, but it gets better – since Intrada has rolled out a new release that combines Lovecraft and Richard Band and Jeffrey Combs, why not offer a special deal on another soundtrack that has all of those things in one place? The already-released Richard Band score from 1985’s Re-Animator can be yours for 15% off – with or without the purchase of From Beyond – if you use the coupon code BEYOND at checkout.
Lovecraft

Now let’s go to the moon. Many an ardent fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation will tell you that the show’s music was much better in its first four seasons on the air thanks to composer Ron Jones, whose tendency to buck the showrunners’ very strict ideas on music didn’t exactly endear him to them, and they simply stopped engaging his services toward the end of the fourth season, even though he’d given the show its most celebrated score (1990’s fan favorite two-parter The Best Of Both Worlds). Jones has since moved on to Family Guy, happily leaving space behind…until the makers of a new documentary about the space program sent him back into orbit.

Jones’ score from Fight for Space can now be brought down to Earth from Amazon’s digital music service. (No CD release is planned at this time.)

If you’re looking for a more fanciful trip to the moon, however, Kritzerland Records brings us John Scott’s classic score from 1967’s Jules Verne’s Rocket to the Moon (released in the U.S. as Those Fantastic Flying Fools in an attempt to grab the coattails of Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines). This soundtrack was released…in 1967…on vinyl…in the UK. Chances are, for most soundtrack collectors, this is their first realistic shot at owning this one. Scott was near the beginning of his career here, prior to such high-profile assignments as The Final Countdown, Greystoke: The Legend Of Tarzan, and King Kong Lives, and this score makes it easy to see how he started climbing the Hollywood ladder so quickly.

Coming next week: the late, great Elmer Bernstein rides again with The Sons Of Katie Elder. Tune in next time, true believers.

Speaking of showbiz and soundtracks, it’s time for the penultimate installment of the Retroist Scoreboard Glossary, giving you the lingo that crops up so often in discussion of collecting soundtracks.

The Retroist Scoreboard: The Industry & The Hobby & Some Acronyms

AFM (American Federation of Musicians) – the trade union of session musicians hired to perform film scores in the United States, the AFM represents its members in negotiations for the release or reuse of their music, and as such wields considerable power in the soundtrack industry. The AFM contends – quite rightly – that if labels or the directors/studios of later movies wish to make use of music already recorded, the musicians who performed in those recordings should benefit from that continued use as well. The AFM was responsible for establishing the approximately 45-minute “ceiling” on the amount of music on most soundtrack albums through the ‘90s (and, as such, can be inadvertently thanked for making complete or expanded score reissues necessary in the first place). Negotiations between the AFM and Film Score Monthly (FSM) in the late ‘90s led to the industry-standard 3,000 copy limited edition that has become the norm for boutique soundtrack labels, though that limit can also be said to have created the secondary market for limited edition soundtrack releases.

Film Score Monthly (FSM) – the long-running periodical publication of the film music collecting hobby, Film Score Monthly was founded as a fanzine in 1990 by Lukas Kendall, became a glossy professional publication in the late ‘90s and early 2000s, before going digital (like many other print magazines) more recently. Film Score Monthly also became, chiefly in the 2000s, a soundtrack label unto itself, releasing such classic film scores as The Dirty Dozen, Logan’s Run, THX-1138, Ben-Hur, Patton, Heavy Metal, and dozens of others, though Kendall opted to cease operating as a label several years ago. Some out of print FSM titles are now worth serious money on the secondary market.

Holst – in soundtrack collecting circles, you hear a lot about Gustav Holst (1874–1934), the composer of The Planets (Op. 32) orchestral suite, which was not a soundtrack. But Holst’s unique style, especially the opening bars of “Mars, Bringer Of War” (The Planets’ first movement), has had a profound influence on orchestral scoring. You can clearly hear its influence on John Williams’ Star Wars (and, via Williams’ influence on later generations of composers, to much more recent fare), and various filmmakers and composers have even licensed and incorporated snippets of The Planets into their own scores, such as The Right Stuff. (Director Nicholas Meyer originally wanted to track Star Trek VI with The Planets, but the cost of licensing the music from the Holst estate ruled that out; see tracking.)

Korngold – a descriptive term derived from the name of legendary film composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold (1897-1957), who all but invented the full-blooded orchestral film scoring tradition for movies with fantasy settings, bestowing a brassy, heraldic sound upon The Adventures Of Robin Hood (1938) and Captain Blood (1935). (The irony of it is that, if Robin Hood was a real person, the dominant music of that period in history would likely have been plainchant, not a brass section.) Korngold is often pointed out a major influence on most later film music composers, including one John Williams; over half a century after his death, his name has become a verb among some film music fans (“wow, he was really Korngolding it on that movie!”).

Perpetuity Rights – in the early days of the specialty soundtrack label (namely, the 1990s), small labels such as Varese Sarabande and GNP Crescendo negotiated the rights to film and TV scores they released in perpetuity – no other label can release that soundtrack. Ever. This has an effect on reissues in that, unless that label releases an expanded or complete score later itself, there’s now an additional party to pay in reissuing/expanding a previously partially released score. This was a major issue with La-La Land’s 2012 release of the 15-CD complete music collection from classic Star Trek: GNP Crescendo had to be paid because it had locked down the soundtrack rights for the scores from the original series. This behind-the-scenes negotiation is invisible to the buying public, but may substantially increase the price they pay for a reissue.