If this is a slow time for soundtracks…imagine how expensive a busy time would be.
It’s an interesting time for all of our favorite boutique soundtrack labels – their customer base isn’t necessarily spending money on slightly pricey CDs, international supply chains for everything from compact disc duplication to packaging have been disrupted, and their already small staff has to distance from one another while packing outgoing CDs into boxes and envelopes bound for everywhere soundtrack fans are still hunkering down. Despite that, though, this latest round of releases…really looks a lot like business as usual from just half a year ago.
The Brand New: More than 20 years after it debuted in theaters, one of my all-time personal favorite superhero flicks finally has a full score release. Mystery Men, previously represented by a single CD song album that arrived alongside the movie, now has a deluxe 2-CD release that’s nothing but score. And what a score it had! Stephen Warbeck (Prime Suspect, Billy Elliot, Indian Summers) and the late, great, undersung Shirley Walker (Batman: The Animated Series, The Flash, Space: Above & Beyond, the Final Destination films) both contributed to the score, and each of them get one disc of this release devoted to them. If you have the previous “songtrack” release, hang onto it – there’s no Smash Mouth on this collection. La-La Land is pressing only 3000 copies of the 2-CD Mystery Men score release, so you might want to get yours now instead of saying “frak-you-later!”
Intrada Records has given an out-of-print John Williams score a new lease of life. 1984’s Mel Gibson/Sissy Spacek film The River may not be right on the tip of your tongue, but it did boast a John Williams score that got an LP release in ’84, now long since out of print. Intrada not only brings The River to CD for the first time, featuring the entire contents of the original LP release, but also for the first time makes the complete original film score available. (Williams often re-arranged and recorded “concert arrangements” of his film scores’ highlights, so what wound up on his albums sometimes wasn’t exactly the same as what was heard in the movie. The new jam-packed single-CD release offers listeners both on disc for the first time.
Recent, and coming soon: Varese Sarabande records has dug up the Deadites yet again (much to Ash’s chagrin, no doubt). Joseph LoDuca himself has remastered his original score from Army Of Darkness, the third film in the Evil Dead series, and this newly remastered classic is being released both on CD (in a pressing of only 1500 copies!) and vinyl (2500 copies). Hail to the long-reigning king, baby.
Announced on May the Fourth (of course!), Varese is reviving another of its classic releases for an August release date. Star Wars: Shadows Of The Empire, the 1990s every-media-except-a-movie brand extension for the then-languishing Star Wars franchise, brought us not just books, action figures, and video games, but a fantastic soundtrack composed by Joel McNeely (Young Indiana Jones, Air Force One, The Orville) and given a gorgeous performance by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. I remember being blown away, at the time, at what I was hearing – it’s as thrilling as a new Star Wars movie soundtrack, and yet there’s no movie. Varese is now taking pre-orders for a new CD pressing as well as Shadows’ first-ever appearance on vinyl, both slated for an August release. Long before Rogue One, Solo, and The Mandalorian, Shadows Of The Empire gave us a glorious taste of what post-John-Williams Star Wars music could sound like. This new release will have an identical tracklisting to the original ’90s release, since the Shadows soundtrack release was kind of an experiment, rather than an actual film score from which any unreleased pieces exist.
Back in stock: two already-released Intrada releases, Jerry Goldsmith’s Chinatown and Alan Silvestri’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, were very quickly snapped up by soundtrack collectors upon release and further copies had to be pressed. And then a global pandemic hit – that, admittedly, didn’t help get these titles back in circulation. But finally, Intrada has both titles back in stock, and they’re highly recommended – Silvestri’s Roger Rabbit score is just insane.
What am I listening to? A few recent releases have been in my ears quite a bit: Silva’s Doctor Who: The Sun Makers CD just landed in my mailbox, featuring a vintage Dudley Simpson Doctor Who score from Tom Baker’s 1970s heyday in its entirety, and it’s wonderful. The other two things I’ve been listening to quite a bit are both digital releases: Kevin Kiner’s score to the closing triogy of episodes from Star Wars: The Clone Wars‘ final season – another composer playing in a musical universe whose door was first kicked open by Shadows Of The Empire – as well as the surprise release, several years after the movie landed with a dull, wet plop, of Marc and Staffan Fantini’s score from Space Station 76. This latter movie, a somewhat plodding trying-to-be-straight-faced-ironic comedy with gorgeously designed futuristic sets and visuals, tried to evoke the all-curves-and-no-corners design aesthetic that the 1970s assumed the future would have. It looked great, but didn’t actually manage to be very funny, and its score had the unenviable task of having to lead into and out of classic ’70s tunes by the likes of Ambrosia and Todd Rundgren, which it actually did very well. So: nice score, great art direction, pity about the rest of the movie. What soundtracks are you listening to?