Pool Sharks

Retroist Scoreboard: Pool Sharks and B-movie monsters!

Hello, soundtrack enthusiasts. I’ve been toiling away on a special feature that I’ll be rolling out in small chunks in future editions of this column, only to discover that it wouldn’t be needed this week by a long shot. Why? Because there is a heap of new music to talk about this week. Ears open!

Intrada has released an unexpected gem, the complete remastered Kenyon Hopkins score from 1961’s The Hustler, which starred Paul Newman and George C. Scott. An unlikely collision of mid-20th-century jazz and orchestral drama, The Hustler was released on LP at the time of the movie’s release, and while this CD duplicates the original LP track order, it also adds enough material from the restored original session recordings to double the album’s length.
Pool Sharks

Intrada promises this title will be around “while quantities and interest remain”…which is a gentle way of saying it’ll be around until the typical specialty soundtrack print run of 3,000 copies sells out. (Why 3,000? It’s a number that the American Federation of Musicians, a union representing Hollywood session players, arrived at in negotiations with the Film Score Monthly label in the 1990s, and has since become the industry standard for the soundtrack specialty labels.)

From Kritzerland Records this week comes a very limited edition – only 1,000 copies worldwide – release of the score from 1957’s Monster from Green Hell, composed by B-movie maestro extraordinaire Albert “big blasts o’ brass” Glasser (Last Of The Wild Horses, Invasion U.S.A., The Cisco Kid, The Beginning Of The End, The Amazing Colossal Man, War Of The Colossal Beast…well, basically every third movie that ever showed up on Mystery Science Theater 3000, okay?). Kritzerland brought the score up to modern digital specs from Glasser’s original session tapes, and they’re taking orders now with the CD due to ship by the end of March, if not sooner.

Varese Sarabande has dropped three very limited editions – each limited to 1,000 copies – all from current and upcoming films. The standout in this batch would seem to be Before I Wake, with a score from the Newton Brothers and Danny Elfman; also released are Laurent Eyquem‘s USS Indianapolis: Men Of Courage and the soundtrack from Bitter Harvest, scored by Benjamin Wallfisch. None of these titles are, strictly speaking, “retro”, but with the low production numbers, like it or not, they’re tomorrow’s rarities. (Welcome to the soundtrack collector’s eternal game of Russian roulette: there’s no guarantee that all 1,000 copies will disappear either, though if even one of these titles sold out, I’d put my money on the one with Danny Elfman’s name on the cover.)

Going out of print at the end of this month at Intrada is Observations, a CD featuring an original composition by Arthur B. Rubenstein (Blue Thunder, WarGames), composed for a 2009 Griffith Park Observatory presentation. Rubenstein also conducts a selection of other astronomically-themed classical pieces from that show, but the highlight is “Observations”, presented both in instrumental form and, as it was heard by the planetarium audience, with narration by the late, great Leonard Nimoy. Perhaps not necessarily a film soundtrack, but somewhere at the intersection of Nimoy and Rubenstein (whose WarGames score is an all-time favorite of this writer) is one good reason, if not two of them, to pick this up before it goes out of print.

Now, that feature that somehow managed not to start this week? Here’s a little taster: a little green friend of mine once urged me to pass on what I have learned. So, beginning with March’s Retroist Scoreboard columns, I’ll start including, piece by piece, a glossary of terms that any budding soundtrack collector will need if they’re planning on staying aboard for this hobby. They’ll be terms that I’ll probably use quite a bit going forward, so there’s a good reason for such a glossary to exist, and I’ve put quite a bit of work into it. Stick around, you might learn a thing or two.

But that starts in March. Next week, we’re going to talk about why my inner Trekkie is awash in music he never thought he’d get his hands on. Beam back here this time next week.

When he’s not keeping score at the Retroist, Earl Green is the founder, head writer and podcaster-in-chief at the LogBook.com, 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.

Colossus: The Forbin Project

Colossus: The Forbin Project

I do love a good science-fiction thriller, and this 1970 film about a computer becoming sentient and deciding to take over the world, is a fine effort!. The computer, Colossus and its architect, Dr. Forbin, find themselves at odds when Colossus is handed control of all of the United States and Allied nuclear weapons systems. Deemed to be the perfect defense system, things start going awry when Colossus learns of another similar computer, Guardian, which has control over the nuclear systems from the USSR.

As you can see from the trailer, Colossus means business and even controls Forbin’s sex life at one point! 4 times a week? Agreed!

Retroist WarGames Podcast

Retroist WarGames Podcast

Welcome to the Retroist Retroist WarGames Podcast. On today’s show I start off by talking about how lucky I feel to have had early computer influences in my life. Computer got me through my formative years and have served me well as an adult. Then I move onto a film that I found very influential, the John Badham classic WarGames. I talk about the cast, the crew, the changes that were made between directors and much much more. Great news list fans! I am joined again this week by metagirl. This week metagirl brings us the top 5 list of the best computer inspired movies. I hope WarGames is on that list! It would be awkward if was not.

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Vectrex Brought Real Arcade Play Home (and had a Light Pen!)

In 1982, while I was playing video games with rasterized graphics on my family TV, other smarter kids (I am talking about my friend Sean) were across the street in their dimly lit, but well carpeted living rooms playing games with vector graphics on their Vectrex. I say they were smarter, because the Vectrex was the greatest thing since sliced bread. Not only did it have its own vector monitor that played games that looked exactly like the arcade, but it had a light pen!

Oh light pen! You were the bees knees. Don’t laugh at what you don’t understand. While wildly inefficient, the light pen was the input device equivalent of a lightsaber in the early 80s. I cannot confirm why, but I personally believe it was because proto-geek Mathew Broderick wielded one in Wargames with such aplomb and efficiency.

The Vectrex was distributed by Milton Bradley and was well thought of by consumers at the time. Sadly it came out at the tail end of the video game boom and like most systems, it did not survive the crash of 1983, despite price drops. In 1984, the Vectrex was discontinued.

Need to see this bad boy in action? Check out this commercial…

Now I know a lot of you think your are old skool with your Atari 2600 and Intellivision. But if you really want to let your geek flag fly, stop on by eBay or check out you local garage sales and pick up a Vectrex. It might be a rare find, but fellow blogger Amelyn picked one up at a garage sale so keep your eyes peeled for this rare gem.

I can guarantee that if you plunk one of these bad-boys down on your desk at work, you will need to chase your co-workers away with a stick. You might even impress your boss enough that he will let you work on the Henderson account. Who knows. With Vectrex, the sky’s the limit!