I hope that everyone had a safe and happy Christmas holiday and was we near the end of 2012, we continue to look back at the best that soundtrack labels such as Varese Sarabande, Intrada, Quartet, La-La Land Records and many others came up with which was definitely no shortage of great vintage and exciting material that soundtrack fans have been wanting for decades.
We saw alot of new material appear for the first time and many of which were welcomed as well as expansions that were really needed in most cases. As well, as unexpected treats that fans were just taken by with. Every label I will definitely say put out great stuff without question, most fans agreed and most were disgruntled a bit, but there was plenty that soundtrack fans and collectors should definitely appreciate and savor as these releases do come out.
It was somewhat hard to choose a Best of list 2012 that appeared as part 1, but this list has remarkably easier because of the abundance of awesome material that was released from Star Trek to Conan and everything else in between which definitely was not slouch material at all.
“Where No Man Has Gone Before…” La-La Land Records gave the label’s fans a crop of great releases this year starting with their much anticipated box set of Star Trek: The Original Series which fans of the series have always wanted all along with a complete and wonderful restoration of Jerry Goldsmith’s masterpiece, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. They also produced an electric box set for Batman: The Animated Series Vol.2 that showcased the composing talents of the group of composers such as Shirley Walker, Michael McCustion, Lolita Ritmanis, Carl Johnson, Harvey Cohen and many more who contributed to the popular animated series,as well as Harry Manfredini’s Friday The 13th 1-6 collection which was an instant sell out along with some great expanded titles and debut scores such as X2: X-Men United, Die Hard With A Vengeance, Wizards, Black Rain, A Walk In The Clouds, Speed, Mommie Dearest, The Untouchables, Looper, Galaxy Quest and The Bodyguard that were titles that definitely shouldn’t be over looked in their own right.
“The Riddle of Steel…” Intrada really went all out this year as much as they have in recent years and this years batch of releases were some of the most ecclectic and exciting. Of course, I definitely have to start out with Conan The Barbarian, Basil Poledouris’ masterpiece that 30 years later finally gets its full just do in a masterful restoration much like Star Trek. They also worked with Universal Pictures in celebrating their 100th Anniversary by releasing Henry Mancini’s exciting and elegant thriller score for Stanley Donen’s classic Charade and Lalo Schifrin’s Coogan’s Bluff, one of his finest scores for a Clint Eastwood film. Not to be outdone by special releases of Jerry Goldsmith’s Hoosiers, Michel Legrand’s The Mountain Men, Gil Melle’s Borderline, Michael Kamen’s Road House and Renegades, Thomas Newman’s Whispers In The Dark and Stu Phillips’ Battlestar Galactica Vol’s 3 & 4. They also scored a bit a coup with some Disney fare such as Maurice Jarre’s Island At The Top of the World, Henry Mancini’s Condorman, Elmer Bernstein’s The Black Cauldron, and Randy Newman’s Toy Story 3 for which the label will continue to release for years to come as the studio has opened its sacred doors ever so slightly.
“Never Too Late To Join This Party” For a long time this year, it seemed that Varese Sarabande was getting its tail whopped on releases by every other label. Then again alot of labels have not been around since 1978 as Varese has so they definitely have a great idea as to what they’re doing. So along with their Club releases, they created the Varese Encore Series which was part of the club and allowed the label to reissue albums long out of print from their catalog. Amongst the great highlights which were a huge success were the welcomed reissues of Eye of the Needle, The Boy Who Could Fly, Man On Fire, Tai-Pan, Crimes of the Heart and Amazing Grace And Chuck. They also released the long overdue expansions of Michael Kamen’s electric Die Hard 2 and Maurice Jarre’s Enemy Mine, along with Jerry Goldsmith’s The Red Pony and Chinatown and special entries from their limited editions which included John Debney’s A Thousand Words and William Ross’ The Mighty Macs rescuing two wonderful and charming scores that otherwise would’ve been lost in the studio vaults instead of being heard outside their respective films.
“”Never The Same Song Twice…Well, maybe a few dozen times” Quartet Records in 2012 further solidifed themselves as a formidable label with an immediate sell out of Oscar winner John Williams’ ingenious score to Robert Altman’s The Long Goodbye, one of the maestro’s unique scores solely based on a single primary theme and song. Not to be outdone, they also released Dave Grusin’s unique crime thriller score to The Pope Of Greenwich Village, George Fenton’s brilliant noir thriller score China Moon which finally made its debut, an expanded release of Burt Bachrach’s Casino Royale released in celebration of James Bond’s 50th Anniversary, Jerry Fielding’s flavorable and darkly hued score to Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia making it a triumphant return and a Henry Mancini trifecta of titles that include Santa Claus The Movie, Sunset and Revenge of The Pink Panther, all of which have been expanded or released for the first time.
“The Perseverance…of Perseverance” After a ballyhooed, but ultimately successful year in 2011, Perseverance was another label that has now righted its ship in the positive direction with the important releases of John Corigliano’s unused score for Edge of Darkness and Philip Lambro’s Chinatown which can finally be heard in comparison to Jerry Goldsmith’s classic score. Edwin Wendler’s Escape and Mark Isham’s Nowhere To Run provided some exciting and fun action material to savor with solid dramatic scores. More importantly their Perseverance Reissue portion of their label was a major score with great and exciting reissues of out of print CD’s and long out of print LP that include Jerry Fielding’s The Gauntlet, Jerry Goldsmith’s Capricorn One and Lillies of the Field, Elmer Bernstein’s The Three Amigos and John Williams’ dark and enjoyable score to The Witches of Eastwick, which is amongst the most popular scores in his 80’s aresenal.
“Giant Steps…Giant Steps” BSX Records had another solid year with nice downloads and interesting albums. To me their stand out scores for the year are the exceptional re-recording of Vangelis’ Blade Runner, which was a nearly prefect project that captured the essence of the way the score was featured within the film which to this point hasn’t been released in its film version form yet. For the time being, this re-recording is easily one of the best representations of the score other than the so-called complete version released in 2007. Then there were two personal projects I really enjoyed most which were Craig Safan’s Tag: The Assassination Game and Joel Goldsmith’s Moon 44 which are electric and fun scores from two very underrated composers, one who was sadly lost not too long ago. Aside from those, their big centerpiece is easily David Arnold’s bombastic and brilliant score to the 1998 remake disaster, Godzilla: (The Deluxe Edition) which reissues the original 2007 La-LaLand Records album with the original conceptual score only album that had the film been successful would’ve been released by Sony later that year and sadly it didn’t.
“The Howl of the Wolf…” Howlin’ Wolf Records also had a nice year with one of my favorite releases of the year Mean Guns, the electric and mambo inspired action score by the always reliable Tony Riparetti, who also had his Tales of An Ancient Empire, finally released to positive results. But perhaps their finest achievement is Penka Kouneva’s engaging and exciting concept album, A Warrior’s Odyessy that plays like a rich and deep film score that is their crown jewel for this year.
Odds & Ends
MovieScore Media’s special release of Michael Kamen’s final score, Back To Gaya is a noteworthy album because of the care and love that was put into it by Kamen’s former colleagues as their personal tribute to him who completed the music for the film as a group as the film’s producers and director completely supported the idea. The same would happen on First Daughter, which was completed by Kamen’s friend, Blake Neely around the same time. The also rescued Patrick Doyle’s lush and elegant score to Man To Man which was a solid piece of work by the composer known for his wonderful melodies and orchestrations.
Alex North’s family personally reissued his majestic unused for Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey as a digital download after being out of print for so many years on the Intrada label as a limited edition which many missed out on. A very important release since it was long thought to be lost and in the early 1990’s Jerry Goldsmith and Varese Sarabande re-recorded the score which had so much aura and mystery surrounding it especially since it was a rejected score for a major and classic film.
Film Score Monthly finally released the complete, definitively legal version of the late John Barry’s 1981 masterpiece Body Heat, which after 30 years makes it’s complete official debut that utilizing the original session tapes that were approved by Barry and his recording engineer, Dan Wallin. The sultry score featuring brilliant solo performances on saxophone by Ronny Lang and Fender Rhoades by Michael Lang, is a long time favorite of Barry’s fans and really got the special treatment that it really deserved and thensome. Dave Grusin’s Three Days of the Condor was also given the deluxe and special treatment adding about 20 minutes that were sorely missed on the original LP and the subsequent CD issues in later years. Grusin’s brilliant jazzy sparse score really fit the late Sydney Pollack’s exceptional thriller to the hilt. Shifting from light jazz to darker material, it’s no wonder why many people love this score which was paired with another dark and jazz based score to The Friends of Eddie Coyle, which also finally made its debut this year.
Randall Larson’s book Musiqic Fantastique is a great read in this this first volume and hopefully one of many deals with many fascinating aspects of TV shows and movie genres and all the composers that include John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, Lalo Schifrin, Leonard Rosenman and many, many more., involved with their various assignments and legacy’s that they’ve left behind. Definitely a great resource material and a must have for soundtrack enthuistasts everywhere.
Twilight Time’s Enemy Mine Blu-Ray which is stunning and features a fine isolated score track featuring Maurice Jarre’s music along with their many catalog offerings to date that include The Blue Lagoon, Our Man Flint and Experiment In Terror.
It already looks like 2013 will be another fun year of speculation and thrills as to what these labels will do. So we’ll have to see what comes our way but soundtrack fans will have a fun time trying to guess what’s coming and I no doubt figure there will be more great stuff along the way!