Joshua Gizelt (swashbuckler332) wrote,
Joshua Gizelt

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"When I volunteered for this mission, I never thought I'd end up playing straight man to a tin can."

This was a mix that kind of took me by surprise and changed very little from the inception to final draft. I had been thinking a lot about science fiction, what with Babylon 5 and Firefly, not to mention the represented scores in my previous mix, the David Arnold compilation Myth, Faith, Belief. I had a conversation with melancthe that dwelled heavily on The Empire Strikes Back and The Black Hole. Then I listened to Craig Safan's The Last Starfighter, and it was on. In the most geeky way imaginable, of course.

The idea here was to essay the general sound of this particular subgenre, which meant that I had to exclude some material I was considering including from Firefly, Serenity, The Fifth Element. The selections on this disc all bear some form of influence of John Williams' Star Wars trilogy; most of them are in that broad, Romantic idiom and are often full of lietmotives. I then decided that I would not include anything from Star Wars itself, as I feel that if you want to know my take on that music, listen to the original trilogy and prequel mixes I made for them. I did, however, decide to put on a track from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, feeling that, as a prime example of space opera (both the film and the score), it certainly deserved inclusion (although it is not one of the tracks included in the Silver Screen Star Trek).

I knew that this kind of disc would be different from the previous genre mixes I've made because I wasn't going to be able to really explore the represented scores so much as represent them in the most basic manner. With that perspective, it actually became relatively easy to cull through the scores and find suitable selections. And I won't lie, the disc came together like butter. This is the closest I've come to making a "themes" album, although the need to allow the album to develop its own shape meant that I culled most of the material from score sections, although I made exceptions if I felt that a more formal statement was needed for the sake of the album. That's why there are even some concert arrangements popping up from time to time.

One thing I did have to make a note of, though. While the music is bold, colorful and emotive, a lot of these movies are just terrible. As a film music fan, one often ends up loving a score even if the movie isn't any good (I am, after all, a Jerry Goldsmith fan, and his career consists primarily of drek movies with a few scattered gems). There are some decent pictures here - and a few sentimental favorites - but it's really not a genre known for being taken seriously by filmmakers.

21 Tracks - 81:30

JOHN BARRY: Overture (The Black Hole) 2:18
Orchestra Conducted by John Barry


JAMES HORNER: Main Theme (Battle Beyond the Stars) 4:01
City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Nicholas Raine


TOTO: Prologue (Dune) 3:11
Vienna Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Marty Paich
Vienna Volksoper Choir Conducted by Allyn Ferguson


BRUCE BROUGHTON: Preparing for Space (Lost in Space) 2:29
Sinfonia of London Conducted by Bruce Broughton


DAVID NEWMAN: The Protector Sets Out (Galaxy Quest) 3:18
Orchestra and Choir Conducted by David Newman


JOHN BARRY: Launch Adrift (Star Crash) 1:40
Orchestra Conducted by John Barry


FREDERIC TALGORN: Julie and Kerrie (Heavy Metal 2000) 4:21
Munich Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Frederic Talgorn


MAURICE JARRE: Davidge’s Lineage (Enemy Mine) 3:28
Munich Studioorchester Conducted by Maurice Jarre


ELMER BERNSTEIN: Benson’s Journey (Saturn 3) 3:03
Orchestra Conducted by Elmer Bernstein


LEE HOLDRIDGE: Cadets (Star Command) 1:20
Munich Symphony Orchestra and Chorus Conducted by Harry Rabinowitz


HOWARD BLAKE: Resurrection (Flash Gordon) 2:47
National Philharmonic Orchestra Conducted by Howard Blake


JOHN BARRY: Zero Gravity (The Black Hole) 5:33
Orchestra Conducted by John Barry


BASIL POLEDOURIS: Punishment & Asteroid Grazing (Starship Troopers) 4:45
Orchestra Conducted by Basil Poledouris


BRUCE BROUGHTON: Guiding Stars (Lost in Space) 1:35
Sinfonia of London Conducted by Bruce Broughton


JAMES HORNER: Epilogue (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan) 8:42
Cincinnati Pops Orchestra Conducted by Erich Kunzel
Star Trek Theme Composed by Alexander Courage


FREDERIC TALGORN: Julie’s Journey (Heavy Metal 2000) 7:36
Munich Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Frederic Talgorn


MAURICE JARRE: Spring (Enemy Mine) 1:24
Munich Studioorchester Conducted by Maurice Jarre


ELMER BERNSTEIN: Leaving Terra XI (Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone) 3:48
Orchestra Conducted by Elmer Bernstein


BASIL POLEDOURIS: Whiskey Outpost Rescue (Starship Troopers) 4:39
Orchestra Conducted by Basil Poledouris


DAVID NEWMAN: Nesmith and Mathazar (Galaxy Quest) 2:21
Orchestra Conducted by David Newman


CRAIG SAFAN: Starlight, Starbright (The Last Starfighter) 9:00
Orchestra Conducted by Craig Safan

In a move guaranteed to raise an eyebrow or two, I open with the overture from The Black Hole. The Black Hole was, along with Star Trek: The Motion Picture, also released in 1979, one of the last films ever to open with a pre-film overture. John Barry was being asked to write in a style very unlike his own, and this was the result. Why would I open my mix with something so bizarre? Well, The Black Hole soundtrack was the first LP I ever owned; I got it from my father for Christmas in 1980. My discussion with melancthe about this score (actually, our respective LPs of it; mine is unplayable, hers apparently is perfect) was one of the primary inspirations for the mix. There's no way around it, I feel very nostalgic about this piece of music (and ironically prefer this arrangement, along with the more Blaster Beam heavy finale, to the "Laser" cue in which it is based). And it's my mix. So there. I then segue into a concert arrangement of James Horner's theme from Battle Beyond the Stars; in addition to being a more rounded presentation of the theme, aces the original soundtrack recording both in sonics and performance. While David Newman was the conductor on the original soundtrack sessions, Roger Corman's ever-tightening budget meant that neither the orchestra nor the facilities were going to be top-of-the-line. GNP Crescendo apparently mastered their release from vinyl sources because Horner will not release his tapes of the original score for a decent remastering because he feels the performance is embarrassing. So I hear, anyway. This score is what got Horner the job scoring Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (track 15).

The opening of Toto's Shostakovichian Dune score then follows. The original LP had Princess Urulan's (Virginia Madsen) dialogue over the prologue and segued into the film mix of "Robot Fight." This, however, is the cue itself as originally recorded and used in the film. Making a selection from Dune was difficult as I try to keep my mixes from overlapping too much, and I've mined this score often. I never included the main title before, however, and It worked really well in context. The lush textures of Bruce Broughton's lyrical Lost in Space marks the beginning of a slightly more florid section of the album. "The Protector Sets Out" is an edit of three adjacent cues from Galaxy Quest, "The NESA Protector," "The Bridge" and "The Launch;" David Newman's score is built around a heroic melody that first appears as the theme for the in-film television series, and it is heard here in a very expansive form. This idea continues with the beautiful "Launch Adrift" from Star Crash, another Star Wars clone scored by John Barry. The soaring "Julie and Kerrie" from Frederic Talgorn's Heavy Metal 2000 follows, which brings this particular thread to a euphoric close.

Maurice Jarre's Enemy Mine score was a combination of one of the electronic ensembles that Jarre was using often during this period and orchestral portions. The introspective "Davidge's Lineage" is an orchestral version of the 'friendship' theme that is first heard in the film in electronic form. This is followed by the crashing 'Also Sprach Stanley Donen' fanfare that Elmer Bernstein composed for Saturn 3. "Benson's Journey" is a portion of "Space Murder" that features an attractive theme that would be completely excised totally from the final cut of the film. Bernstein then took that theme and used it in another project; it became Taarna's theme in the final segment of Heavy Metal (which is not included itself because for the most part, it really doesn't fall into the category of 'space opera'). "Cadets" is a combination of two cues from Lee Holdridge's Star Command score, "Not a Drill" and "Ad Asta" that feature the score's rousing main theme. The ethereal "Resurrection" from Flash Gordon is comprised mostly of dramatic variations on Howard Blake's slinky theme for Princess Aura (Ornella Muti); it is basically "Bell and Coffin; Zarkov; Rocket Ship Flight" with the "Zarkov" stuff edited out (no offense intended to Topol). Part of this cue was used on the Queen soundtrack album as well.

Things take a darker turn wirh John Barry's swirling, maddening theme for The Black Hole is heard in long form in the cue "Zero Gravity." The French horn intoning over relentless circular strings is perfectly illustrative of the titular collapsar (now there's a turn of phrase I'll bet you never saw coming... it actually sounds kind of dirty, doesn't it?). The martial "Punishment" from Basil Poledouris Starship Troopers weighs in with its characteristic 'wall of sound' drums; the tone lightens for a moment during "Asteroid Grazing," the second portion of the cue, but this is overtaken by nervous energy as well. This leads into the floaty "Guiding Stars" cue from Broughton's Lost in Space. The nautical finale from James Horner's Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, which incorporates copious quotations of Alexander Courage's original series theme, is here a recording by Erich Kunzel and the Cincinnati Pops. This was done partly to keep from being too redundant with Silver Screen Star Trek, but also because this is the only known recording of this theme not to have the Leonard Nimoy voice-over on it (even the CD this recording was originally on, the Telarc album Star Tracks II, had the monologue over it).

We then return to two scores briefly visited earlier; the apocalyptic "Julie's Journey" from Frederic Talgorn's Heavy Metal 2000 and the exhilarating "Spring" from Maurice Jarre's Enemy Mine. This leads into the stirring end title from Spacehunter: Adventures in the Forbidden Zone, a 3-D film Elmer Bernstein scored for Ivan Reitman. Things kick to a fever pitch with the alternate version of "Whiskey Outpost Rescue" from Poledouris' Starship Troopers, one of the most thrilling cues from this film that never made it to the soundtrack album. This is followed by a suite from Newman's Galaxy Quest of my own creation; it outlines the relationship between "Nesmith and Mathazar" (Tim Allen and Enrico Colantoni, respectively), consisting of music from "Meet the Thermians," "'I'm So Sorry'" and "Malthazar Takes Command." The finale of this album was where I really started with respect to putting it together. It was Craig Safan's brassy, unabashedly noble The Last Starfighter that was the direct inspiration for this project, and I pay homage by closing with "Starlight, Starbright," which is an abridged version of the finale of the film, "Big Victory March; Alex Returns" and "Into the Starscape." The piece is both rousing and moving, in many ways encapsulating that "Space Opera" sound.

Tags: basil poledouris, bruce broughton, david newman, elmer bernstein, film music, frederic talgorn, james horner, john barry, lee holdridge, my mixes, star trek

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