Charlie Brown

Retroist Scoreboard 3-22-17: Charlie Brown vs. The Devil

Soundtrack fans, there are some classics both well-known and obscure out this week, music for everyone from the Devil to Snoopy. Surely somewhere, in that vast spectrum, you’ll hear something you like.

Intrada has managed to squeeze onto a single CD two scores by the late, great Leonard Rosenman (Rebel Without A Cause, A Man Called Horse, Beneath The Planet Of The Apes, Lord Of The Rings, Star Trek IV, Robocop 2), but the difference in subject matter is a bit jarring. The scores in question are from the 1975 film Race With The Devil and 1982’s romantic drama Making Love (!). Intrada points out that fans of Rosenman’s music from his two entries on the original Planet Of The Apes film cycle will enjoy Race With The Devil. If you don’t get whiplash from the transition in tone, this one’s for you. Rosenman is film music royalty who often doesn’t get his due, despite a stellar high-profile resume.

For those who don’t feel like dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight, Kritzerland Records has a real treat – complete score from 1969’s A Boy Named Charlie Brown, composed by Vince Guaraldi and John Scott Trotter with songs by Rod McKuen. Though there has been an LP release for this movie, it was a dialogue-heavy “story album”, and this CD is the first-ever release of the music without that dialogue. Only 1,000 copies are being pressed, so you may need to fly a little bit faster than Woodstock.
Charlie Brown

For fans of modern reboots of their childhood, Varese Sarabande has has Brian Tyler’s score from the new Power Rangers . Tyler’s music has graced major franchises from the recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies to Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, and Avengers: Age Of Ultron… it’s safe to say he’s on the go-to shortlist in Hollywood for “big-screen epic”.

And now, to further your soundtrack collecting education, here’s another chunk of the glossary. When is a soundtrack not just an official release of the original recordings? Well…there are some grey areas. And some of them are expensive.

Until next week, music lovers…

The Retroist Scoreboard Glossary, part 3: rarities & oddities
Bootleg – when a soundtrack is not commercially available on CD, it’s not uncommon for someone to perceive a demand that has gone unfulfilled…and fill it. For many years, soundtracks released only on LP (i.e. Tron, The Black Hole, Silent Running) were bootlegged on CD. Bootlegs should be considered, if not an absolute no-no, then an absolute last resort: proceeds from bootleg sales line the pockets of individuals who happened to own an old LP, with none of the proceeds going to the composers, the studios, or the musicians who brought the music life with their performances. Keeping an eye on the bootleg market, however, has provided the soundtrack labels with something of an indicator for which releases are desired: the three examples above have all since received official reissues, two of them vastly expanded. In this collector’s opinion, if an official reissue of a title is released, even if you’ve bought a bootleg along the way, it’s only proper to buy the official reissue. (In many cases, the sound quality will be vastly superior to the bootleg.)

Composer Promo – in the days before digital music could be embedded into a web site, composers seeking future work would ship out composer promo CDs to producers, directors, and studios’ heads of music. These were not intended for public distribution (but hold that thought for a moment), and as such were not officially licensed by the studios in question. To defray the costs of having custom CDs pressed, composers would sometimes quietly look the other way while the pressing plant sold a very, very limited number of copies directly into the soundtrack collectors’ market (and would likely deny all knowledge if a studio lawyer came calling). In the 1990s, one such operation, Super Tracks, was particularly brazen about selling composer promos of titles such as Krull and Galaxy Quest, eventually disappearing in one legal dust-up too many; studio lawyers often regarded composer promos as no better than bootlegs. A close cousin of composer promos is the private-label release, intentionally created for sale to collectors. With the advent of streaming audio from composers’ professional web sites, actual composer promo CDs and their attendant legal issues have all but vanished.

Private Label Release – some composers have decided to cut out the middle man and have small runs of their scores pressed for sale directly to fans and collectors (such as John Scott’s marvelous score from The Final Countdown, or the many soundtracks released by the late Joel Goldsmith’s Free Clyde label, named after his dog). These may be subject to the same licensing and quality issues as composer promos, and can suddenly go “out of print” for that reason, but are intended from the outset for public sale. For some lesser-known composers and their even-lesser-known scores, this may be the only way to obtain the material. In some rare cases (i.e. Dennis McCarthy’s score from the PC game Star Trek: Borg), a private label release will quietly go out of print and get a fully licensed official CD release on one of the soundtrack labels.

Rerecording – a from-the-ground-up reconstruction and new recording of a score, usually using the original sheet music and the composer’s original notes, along with extensive notation on the part of whoever is behind the new recording. This is a dirty word for some collectors, as what they’re getting is not the original recording, and may differ in terms of tempo/timing, performance or instrument quality (up to and including recreating orchestral recordings entirely with synthesizers – see also the wide spread of opinions about including dialogue in soundtrack releases, and magnify that controversy by a thousand). One thing to keep in mind: there are, sadly, many cases where original session recordings have vanished or have been damaged beyond the ability to restore them, meaning that rerecordings are the only way we can listen to those scores now (example: John Barry’s Raise The Titanic!).

That Old Lady

You’ve seen her dozens of times, but you don’t know who she is. She has been in Mr. Belvedere, Star Trek IV, Growing Pains, Night Court, 227, Webster, Amazing Stories, Facts of Life, Who’s Harry Crumb, Romancing the Stone and lots of other 80s classics, but you probably don’t know her name. So I’ll give it to you. It’s Eve Smith.

Yeah, you know her now, don’t you. Eve Smith (1905-1997) was in the background of some of our favorite movies and shows. Here are a few of my favorite Eve Smith scenes:

She later sees McCoy in the hall and yells, “There’s the man who gave me a new kidney!” or something like that.

Best Eve Smith line ever.

Okay, so Eve was no Clara Peller or Anne Ramsey, but she was in a ton of stuff, much more than what I could find clips for. I saw her tons of times as a kid. And I bet you did, too.