Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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It's been a weird week for several different reasons, the most serious of which was my grandfather's most recent trip to the hospital. Today I had a most frustrating confrontation with one of the vendors, which caused me to be rather seething on my way home. Upon my arrival, I found several discs in the mail that rather decidedly raised my spirits. A contact of mine had sent me copies of the Japanese disc of the Superman II and III soundtrack albums and the complete score from Superman II, which I had requested in order to pursue someday making my proposed Superman mix... you know, the one I've been moaning about not being able to make for months now. I also ordered a copy of the Varése Sarabande edition of Supergirl, which, while not technically for my Superman mix, nevertheless fills a gap I am quite glad to fill.

Now... I had downloaded all of this material at one point or another, but in addition to the fact that I don't like to use compressed sources for my mixes, there is also the pleasant surprise that the expanded material on the Superman II set that I just recieved is of much better sound quality than the version I had downloaded. It's not perfect, but nothing that can't be made acceptable with a little tweaking, while the downloads were extremely noisy and broke up in the louder portions (it actually sounded like a bad dub of a tape that was overloading). It also has track titles, which is rather nice.

Scene from Brokeback Krypton
...which certainly gives the line "Kneel before Zod" an interesting connotation...

I have always felt that the score for Superman II should have been original, incorporating Williams' themes rather than being basically a reprise of the same music with a reduced orchestra. In fact, the approach John Ottman took to Superman Returns is pretty much what I feel should have been done with Superman II; Williams' material to maintain continuity, but the score should have had its own identity, which, aside from the brighter sound that was a side effect of a smaller orchestra that relied too much on brass, Superman II for the most part does not have.

While I am a rather outspoken critic of Ken Thorne's work on Superman II, I have to admit that there are some moments in his adaptations of John Williams' material that are quite ingenious, many of which did not appear on the original soundtrack album (which I think was put together to showcase some of the music that didn't appear on the Superman double LP). While it has nothing to do with anything, I like his adaptation of "The Trip to Earth" music in the "Getting Dinner" cue; I also enjoyed his dramatic revision of "The Fortress of Solitude" for Clark's return. This is not to mention the fact that Superman II was a film that I derived quite a lot of enjoyement out of as a child and I admit that while many of its charms have faded somewhat in favor of its predecessor in my maturity,* I do get something of a kick out of hearing some of these very familiar arrangments sans dialogue and effects. I am particularly keen on including the climax of the film on my prospective mix (a nice suite of which, entitled "Kneel Before Zod," has already been planned out in my noggin).

"Take a look at this sweet baby. Something I developed myself.
Yessir, this is my ticket upstairs. You know... for kids."

I have to admit that I actually thought Thorne's work on Superman III was a slight improvement, if for no other reason than that it contained more original music, including the extremely entertaining Dukas-inspired romp "The Streets of Metropolis" for the main title (which I intend to put on this pie-in-the-sky mix). The album isn't a very good representation of the score, as it contains five tracks of Thorne's music - two of which, the aforementioned titles and "Gus Finds A Way," are primarily his own material - three 80s vocals and two instrumentals produced by none other than Giorgio Moroder (who has the same amount of Oscars as Jerry Goldsmith did). The first of these is a silly little Helen St. John ditty, and the second is a godawful synthesized arrangement of Thorne's Superman II main title.

As for Supergirl... as I said, this isn't for my Superman mix (although I'm starting to wonder if I oughtn't incorporate music from it rather than wait for an expanded promo of Superman Returns that may never appear; I think I may have been spoiled with X2), but it is a wonderful score by Jerry Goldsmith. While I have and enjoy the expanded Silva edition, the Varése disc features quite a few different takes and especially alternate mixes that don't emphasize the synthesizers as much (the prevalence of which is perhaps my only complaint with the score) and a faster rendition of the main title. The Silva edition has the music from the finale of the film, which makes it indispensible, but I find that the repetition of several tracks in alternate versions make it a less consistent listening experience. I plan to edit my own personal version of the score from both sources for listening purposes.

So now my Kryptonian collection looks like this: Superman: The Movie (Rhino), Superman II & III (Warner Japan), Superman II (complete), Superman Returns (Warner/Rhino), Superman the series (Varése) and Supergirl (both Silva and Varése Sarabande). Now all I really need for the mix is more music from Superman Returns and maybe some Superman IV... but that doesn't appear to be plausible at the moment. Ah, well.

* Try not to laugh too hard. ;)
Tags: film music, jerry goldsmith, john ottman, john williams, superman
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