Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

"This is no fantasy - no careless product of wild imagination."

If you've come across my journal even in passing, you couldn't miss the fact that I've been intending to make this album for months now, but balked because I wanted to use material from Superman Returns that wasn't included on the record. It soon became apparent that if a 2 disc set like the one for Ottman's X2 was going to show up, it wouldn't be for a while, and so I started going through all of the ideas I had compiled for this mix.

What I found was that I was way too ambitious. There was no way I could fit everything I wanted to on one CD, and I didn't want to make this a two disc set, as I find they can ofttimes be unwieldy (my Jerry Goldsmith Star Trek mix an example of that) and besides, I wanted to make something that was concise, not include every good part of the Superman scores.

The title of this album, which is meant to match my Batman compilation Gotham Avenger: Screen Tales of the Dark Knight, isn't entirely accurate. My conceptual opening of the album would have been to start off with the fanfare (either the authoritative rendition that opened "Theme from Superman" on the original LP or the distant quote heard at the beginning of Superman IV), which would lead into the television theme complete with voice-over. It would only have been then that the "Prelude" would have begun, thus creating an aural version of the opening of the first Superman film. Unfortunately, when I put it together, it didn't work. It was just too many false starts before the "meat" of the album was reached, and so I abandoned that idea. As a result, the music is only from the three Salkind productions, Superman IV and, of course, Superman Returns, and nothing from the Fleischer cartoons, television series or serials are represented.

However, this also means that there is a certain stylistic unity to the album as a whole that wouldn't have existed otherwise. While this is not, technically, a John Williams mix, there are only a few tracks that do not have his thematic material in them, and none that do not bear the impact of his approach to the character and his world. I have discussed the score for the Superman features extensively in this journal, but it bears repeating that I have always found the approach to the scores for the second film, and to a lesser extent the third and fourth to have been flawed. Nevertheless, Ken Thorne did create some interesting sequences, and while the original Superman II LP was programmed as so to emphasize a lot of the music from Superman that didn't make that film's soundtrack album, I was able to draw on a broader range of cues from that film.

There is a lot of editing on this album; I've only retitled tracks when they somehow differed significantly from their album counterparts. Otherwise, most of the editing is simply tightening up tracks for listening and contextual purposes. Towards the end of the album, however, there is a grouping of tracks that I combined to make one unified musical sequence as a finale.

I found that having to make harder choices as to what would and would not appear on the final product made the results stronger; even if I were to get ahold of an expanded Superman Returns, the extent of alterations I would make to this album would be to replace the opening of "The Planet Krypton" from Superman with the choral version that appears in Superman Returns (as it stands, that is the only instance of two tracks from the same film being adjacent to one another). In addition to being a decent overview of the music for the five films, it also makes for some very good listening.



Original Music and Arrangements by



1. Prelude and Main Title March (5:18)
(Superman - J. Williams)

Twilight of Krypton (5:51)
(Superman - J. Williams)

Memories (1:45)
(Superman Returns - J. Ottman)

Leaving Home (4:20)
(Superman - J. Williams)

You're Not One of Them (2:12)
(Superman Returns - J. Ottman)

The Fortress of Solitude (9:13)
(Superman - J. Williams)

North, Miss Teschmacher, North! (1:17)
(Superman II - K. Thorne)

Tell Me Everything (2:04)
(Superman Returns - J. Ottman)

The Big Rescue (4:59)
(Superman - J. Williams)

The Streets of Metropolis (3:40)
(Superman III - K. Thorne)

I Spent the Night with Superman (4:53)
(Superman - J. Williams)

They Knew (3:20)
(Superman II - K. Thorne)

Crime of the Century (2:26)
(Superman - J. Williams)

Not Like the Train Set (4:20)
(Superman Returns - J. Ottman)

Lois and Clark (0:40)
(Superman - J. Williams)

How Could You Leave Us? (5:41)
(Superman Returns - J. Ottman)

Just Fly (0:43)
(Superman - J. Williams)

What's the Word I'm Looking For? (5:36)
(Superman Returns - J. Ottman)

Finding Lois (1:19)
(Superman - J. Williams)

Little Secrets (0:59)
(Superman Returns - J. Ottman)

Kneel Before Zod (3:51)
(Superman II - K. Thorne)

Saving the World (1:59)
(Superman Returns - J. Ottman)

Turning Back the World (0:10)
(Superman - J. Williams)

I'm Always Around (0:57)
(Superman Returns - J. Ottman)

Title March Reprise (3:42)
(Superman IV: The Quest for Peace - A. Courage)

Superman (1978)
Composed and Conducted by John Williams
Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra
Orchestrated by Herbert W. Spencer and Arthur Morton
Engineered by Eric Tomlinson

Superman II (1981) and Superman III (1983)
Composed, Arranged and Conducted by Ken Thorne
Incorporating Themes Composed by John Williams
Engineered by John Richards

Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)
Composed by John Williams
Adapted and Conducted by Alexander Courage
Performed by the Graunke Symphony and National Philharmonic Orchestras
Orchestrated by Frank Barber and Harry Roberts
Engineered by Peter Kramper and Dick Lewsey

Superman Returns (2006)
Composed by John Ottman
Incorporating Themes Composed by John Williams
Orchestra Conducted by Damon Intrabartolo
Orchestrated by Damon Intrabartolo, Rick Giovinazzo, Kevin Kliesch,
Frank Macchia, John Ottman, Lior Rosner, Jeffrey Schindler and John Ashton Thomas
Engineered by Casey Stone

  1. Prelude and Main Title March (Superman - J. Williams)
    I tried a few different variations to begin the album, but I found that my intended opening just wasn't working. In the end, I decided that since this sequence was always intended to be a part of the introduction, that it was a fitting opening to the album given its significance. I described this moment in the film, the music and its personal significance after my viewing of the film at the Ziegfeld. This track is essentially what appears on the Rhino release but with the "tail" edited out, as it is in the film.

  2. Twilight of Krypton (Superman - J. Williams)
    This piece is comprised of material from "The Planet Krypton," "The Destruction of Krypton" and "Star Ship Escapes" from the Rhino release. After the rousing title sequence, the camera pushes through space towards a red sun, and the planet Krypton is revealed. This is accompanied by a noble eight note fanfare that would become almost as iconic as the elements of the Superman march itself. Otherworldy textures are heard as Lara (Susannah York) and Jor-El (Marlon Brando) discuss the future of their son; a new five-note motif is introduced as Jor-El explains to his wife that their son will never be alone, even on Earth. This motif will become very significant, scoring Superman's relationship to his home planet; in Thorne's Superman II score, a variation will be adapted to represent the three Kryptonian villains (tracks 12 and 21). A very moving sequence is then heard as Jor-El bids farewell to his son, Kal-El (Lee Quigley); a burst of the Superman fanfare plays over the craft breaking free of the doomed world. As the planet meets its inevitable doom, Williams introduces a new twelve note motif built from elements of the fanfare and bridge portions of the march that he will revisit in a completely different context (tracks 11 and 15) and that Thorne and Ottman would both use in their respective scores (tracks 21 and 22).

  3. Memories (Superman Returns - J. Ottman)
    Kal-El lands in Kansas, and as a young boy known as Clark Kent (Stephan Bender) gradually discovers his powers. This is a euphoric piece that incorporates the driving ostinato and Williams' theme for the Kent family (heard in track 4). On the album, this leads to a sequence in which most likely scored Clark's discovery of the ship he arrived in. This scene does not appear in the film, so instead, we segue to...

  4. Leaving Home (Superman - J. Williams)
    The eerie 'heritage' motif is heard once again as Clark (Jeff East) is drawn to a mysterious green crystal. This then leads to a full statement of the Kent family theme as he reveals to his adopted mother Martha (Phyllis Thaxter) that he must leave. This is actually more characteristic of Williams' work before Jaws on such films as The Cowboys, The Reivers and Conrack, and fits perfectly with the images of pure Americana.

  5. You're Not One of Them (Superman Returns - J. Ottman)
    One of Ottman's most haunting compositions is his "personal" theme for Superman (Brandon Routh) that sets aside all of the pomp and glory of the march and concentrating instead on the more intimate aspects of the character. The Superman we see in Superman Returns has had to come to terms with the consequences of his choices, and Ottman's yearning theme represents his maturity.

  6. The Fortress of Solitude (Superman - J. Williams)
    A questing motif leads to quiet statements of the Krypton fanfare as Clark heads north for reasons even he does not fully understand. The 'heritage' motif is heard as he removes the green crystal from the bag and, to an orchestral and choral crescendo he hurls it into the snow, where jagged brass and an atonal sequence score the actual construction of the Fortress itself, which is completed to a proud statement of the Krypton fanfare. Clark enters the building and so begins a beautiful sequence as a hologram of his father reveals himself and explains who Clark is and where he came from. This segment is based on the Krypton material and is scored for electronics and strings. This is a rather long track, but it plays out in its entirety as I believe it to be one of the most arresting pieces of film music I've ever heard (it also appeared almost in toto on my Vistas compilation). The cue closes with a bold statement of the Superman fanfare as he is seen in his classic costume for the first time. This track marks the first of the three band "Fortress of Solitude" suite.

  7. North, Miss Teschmacher, North! (Superman II - K. Thorne)
    Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and Eve Teschmacher (Valerie Perrine) track down the Fortress whereupon Lex discovers the existence of General Zod (Terrance Stamp) and his followers Ursa (Sarah Douglas) and Non (Jack O'Halloran). The opening of this track is the wintery adaptation of the "March of the Villains" theme heard in "Lex and Miss Teschmacher (sic) to Fortress" from the original Superman II album, but it concludes with a similar restatement of the "March of the Villains" theme heard as Lex departs the fortress, realizing that there are three more Kryptonians within range of his little black box (not on the original album). The title comes from Lex's indelible encouragement to Miss Tessmacher to mush. "I am mushing!"

  8. Tell Me Everything (Superman Returns - J. Ottman)
    Lex (Kevin Spacey) has a different, six-note motif in Superman Returns, heard here in several variations as he returns to the Fortress of Solitude, the appearance of which is heralded by the Krypton fanfare. A fragment of the "personal" theme is heard as he activates the recording of Jor-El Clark originally encountered (track 6). This track is tightened from its original form.

  9. The Big Rescue (Superman - J. Williams)
    The original Superman album was a masterful presentation of that score. While there were some alterations made, it was a generous set (2 LPs worth) and wasn't overly shuffled about. However, the omission of this cue was a major disappointment. This is, after all, one of the most iconic moments in the film, and ties into the mythic aspects of the Superman character. Harsh horn calls and prime Williams action writing (similar to that heard in The Empire Strikes Back) and fragments of "Can You Read My Mind" are heard as the helicopter Lois Lane (Margot Kidder) is riding in is disabled and balances precariously on the edge of the Daily Planet building (slightly abridged for this album). The "danger" motif heard here would form the basis for much of Thorne's action music in the second and third films. The ostinato and fanfare theme play as Clark changes into Superman to rescue her, leading to a humorous moment in which Lois falls (with the music no longer is playing to the danger she's in) as she is captured by a strange man in a blue costume. "Don't worry, Miss, I've got you." "You've got me... who's got you!?!" The helicopter then falls off the side of the building; Superman captures it to the first appearance in the score proper of the primary Superman theme. This theme is only ever heard in accompaniment to the full costumed Superman figure. This is followed by one of the most rousing presentations of the fanfare theme.

  10. The Streets of Metropolis (Superman III - K. Thorne)
    While Thorne's Superman scores are mostly variations on Williams' themes, this delightful Dukas-inspired cue consists of primarily original material. The titles of Superman III play out over a comedic sequence of urban chaos. There is a moment in the film when Superman appears where Thorne re-arranged the appearance of the primary Superman theme from the previous track, which has been edited out here. I found this edit actually works to the track's advantage, as it is not more of a self-contained piece.

  11. I Spent the Night with Superman (Superman - J. Williams)
    "You will believe a man can fly" was the tagline of Superman: The Movie, and it is this sequence, filled with the sense of freedom unfettered flight would offer, that serves both to sell that idea, and also to show what is the most successful yet cheapest date in cinema history (Supes doesn't spend a dime on Lois). The twelve note motif heard towards the conclusion of track 2 is heard as Superman heads towards Lois' apartment for an interview; this is from "The Terrace," and segues into the opening of "The Flying Sequence." Variations of the "Can You Read My Mind" theme accompany Superman enticing Lois to come flying with him, and they take off to a rapturous setting of the theme. This is an extended musical sequence in the film that leads into another movement with vocals by Margot Kidder; this portion of the cue has been edited out (the complete track - sans vocals - appears on my Flight compilation). The cue closes with a wistful version of the Superman fanfare. The track name comes from the title of Lois' resulting article.

  12. They Knew (Superman II - K. Thorne)
    Harsh percussion that was introduced by Williams for the Kryptonian villains' trial in Superman is heard as General Zod enters the Oval Office. A darker version of the 'heritage' motif (with the final note trailing off) has now become the theme for Zod and his companions. It is first heard here as Zod realizes the man supplicating himself (Tony Sibbald) is not, in fact, the President (E. G. Marshall). This segues to the latter portion of the track "TV President Resigns/Clark Return to Fortress" from the Superman II album, a desparate variation on the material introduced in track 6 as Clark realizes that in giving up his powers he has placed all of Earth in fell danger. This is one of the few cases where I feel that if had Williams actually scored Superman II, his approach would probably not have been terribly different from what Thorne did. The title of the track comes from when Lois tries to comfort him, "You couldn't know." "They knew," he responds gravely, "They tried to tell me. I just didn't listen."

  13. Crime of the Century (Superman - J. Williams)
    A militaristic passage leads to several entertaining variations on the "March of the Villains" theme as Lex puts his diabolical plan into effect. As Ottman points out when discussing why he didn't carry over this theme to Superman Returns, it is much more illustrative of the bumbling Otis (Ned Beatty) than it is the fiendish Lex. Here, however, it serves as a pleasant interlude before the unbridled fury of...

  14. Not Like the Train Set (Superman Returns - J. Ottman)
    The Lex motif gets a serious workout in this dire cue, in which he begins building his Kryptonite continent with the central six notes are built up with arpeggios. Lex and his cronies abandon their sinking vessel with Lois (Kate Bosworth) and her son Jason (Tristan Lake Leabu) still aboard. Lois' paramour Richard (James Marsden) attempts a rescue, but of course this is a job for... well, you know. The familiar ostinato appears along with a variation on Williams' fanfare theme as Big Blue saves the day in the nick of time. This track is tightened from its original album form.

  15. Lois and Clark (Superman - J. Williams)
    The twelve note motif heard in tracks 2 and 11 returns in a warmer setting as Clark debates whether or not to tell Lois his true identity. This is a short cue in Superman, but would form the basis of several key moments in Thorne's score from Superman II.

  16. How Could You Leave Us? (Superman Returns - J. Ottman)
    Lois sneaks up to the roof of the Daily Planet for a cigarette, where Superman meets her to explain where he had been for the past five years. The Krypton fanfare leads into a sequence that mixes Ottman's "personal" theme for Superman with some very loose variations on "Can You Read My Mind," leading to a gorgeous statement of that theme for strings. The sequence hearkens back to the one from the first film (track 11), only it is much more introspective and adult in tone.

  17. Just Fly (Superman - J. Williams)
    The fanfare theme returns for this brief but rousing Air Force One rescue in Superman. The engines on the airplane begin to fail but the craft is saved by Superman. The co-pilot looks out the window and can't quite believe what he's seeing, and when asked, he tells the pilot, "Fly. Just fly. We've got... something. I ain't saying what it is, just... trust me." Thorne would adapt this piece for the Eiffel Tower rescue in Superman II.

  18. What's the Word I'm Looking For? (Superman Returns - J. Ottman)
    This track contains elements from "So Long Superman" and "Power of the Sun." Superman confronts Lex on the growing island, unaware that it is threaded with Kryptonite. Several settings of Lex's motif are heard, but then overtaken by a despondant variation on the "personal" theme as he and his henchmen beat down the weakened Superman. A modified version of the fanfare theme is heard as he rises above the clouds to soak up as much of the yellow sunlight - the source of his Earthly power - as possible. The title comes from Lex's contention that his new continent lacks a certain human touch... the word is "alien."

  19. Finding Lois (Superman - J. Williams)
    One of Lex's nuclear missiles hits the San Andreas fault, causing severe earthquakes throughout California. Although Lois survives the initial tremors, she is suffocated when her car is caught in an avalanche caused by the aftershocks. A despairing rendition of "Can You Read My Mind" is heard as Superman uncovers her body.

  20. Little Secrets (Superman Returns - J. Ottman)
    Lois drops her bag and Clark helps her, thus realizing that she is going upstairs to smoke (track 16). A sweet version of "Can You Read My Mind" is heard as he watches her go up the elevator with his X-ray vision. This is a very short but sweet moment, perfectly capturing the longing one can feel for someone currently inaccessible.

  21. Kneel Before Zod (Superman II - K. Thorne)
    This track is a medley consisting of material from the climax of Superman II. It opens with a forbidding rendition of the twelve note motif heard in tracks 2, 11 and 15 as Superman, realizing that continuing to battle the Kryptonians in Metropolis will only further endanger its citizens, flies off to lure them to the Fortress of Solitude. Zod's variation on the 'heritage' motif plays out as Lex leads him there and he confronts Superman; the motif is heard again as Superman is forced to return to the molecule chamber that removed his powers. Once the process is complete, he is told to bow to the vicious dictator, whose confidence is shattered unexpectedly when Superman takes his hand and begins crushing it to a victorious rendition of the Superman fanfare. The bridge portion of the theme is then heard as Lex puts together that Superman, being more familiar whom he was dealing with than Zod, had outsmarted everybody; instead of giving up his powers, he took them away from Zod, Non and Ursa. The source of the title of this track is an oft-quoted phrase of Zod's. Unlike both of the other two selections from Superman II, none of this suite is heard on the original LP.

  22. Saving the World (Superman Returns - J. Ottman)
    Lex's motif is heard in its full glory, then a monumental figure as his landmass begins rising; the twelve note motif from tracks 2, 11, 15 and 21 returns as the island is lifted, giving way to the driving ostinato as it becomes apparent why. In an interesting twist, Lex's theme plays over the ostinato before the Superman fanfare comes into play. This segues into...

  23. Turning Back the World (Superman - J. Williams)
    This short track features quotes of "Can You Read My Mind" and the Superman fanfare as Superman goes back in time to save Lois. While the piece is brief, it is placed on the album to be a seamless sequence with the previous and the next track.

  24. I'm Always Around (Superman Returns - J. Ottman)
    This is an excerpt from "Reprise and Fly Away" consisting of Ottman's version of "Can You Read My Mind," as heard in track 16, leading to a beautiful rendition of the theme in its original form.

  25. Title March Reprise (Superman IV: The Quest for Peace - A. Courage)
    This is the Superman IV march that I edited a few days ago. I tried a few different variations but decided to settle on the already existing version as it was the most satisfying. It is basically a conflation of material from the main and end titles, which in itself was based on an alternate version of the Superman main title that Williams composed for the first film. This allowed me to end the album with a relatively fresh version of the Superman march, showcasing the interesting adaptation of the march finale, bringing the album to a satisfying close.


    So there it is. The album was tweaked a couple of times, but this is the final edit; as I said, the only thing that I would change about it at the moment is that I would rather have the choral adaptation of the Krypton fanfare that opens Superman Returns, but as it stands, I'm pretty damn proud of this one.
Tags: film music, john ottman, john williams, my mixes, superman
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