ScoreKeeper’s End-Of-The-Year Soundtrack Roundup Just In Time For Christmas
Christmas is hours away! Have you finished all your Christmas shopping? If you’re still looking for that super-supreme gift for the soundtrack junkie in your life, take note there are plenty of amazing film scores on CD out there. All of the major labels, big and small, have been churning out covetous titles all year long. Christmas is also the time of year where you might get a little spending cash. Treat yourself to one or fifteen of these titles…
A Far Off Place (1993) by James Horner
This is one of my favorite James Horner scores that you’ve probably never heard. I have the original Intrada album released in 1993 that quickly sold out. It’s refreshing to see them expand and release this magnificent score. There is more than thirty minutes of unreleased music on this new album. If you’re a fan of James Horner this is an absolute must-have. The “Epilogue/End Credits” (Track 28) is worth the price alone.
House of Usher (1960) by Les Baxter
For the past two years, I’ve been on a huge Les Baxter kick. It seems that all the major labels are too as they are releasing just about anything they can get their hands on. It’s a good thing, because prior to a couple of years ago, Baxter’s work had been sorely underrepresented on CD. Thanks to Intrada and La-La Land Records, that’s being quickly corrected. It’s to the point now where any Baxter score that’s released, I want it. It doesn’t matter if I’ve seen the film or heard the score. He can do no wrong in my book.
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (1989) by David Newman
This is the world premiere release of a great comedy score by David Newman. The previous album from A&M featured the pop songs only and woefully neglected Newman’s fantastic music. It’s long overdue and certainly welcome. It’s got a distinct 80s vibe to it but you can certainly hear the transition into the 90s. Scores for “smaller” films were starting to get bigger and this is a prime example.
On The Waterfront (1954) by Leonard Bernstein
I have to admit, I’m not the biggest Leonard Bernstein fan. I love him as a conductor and music educator but less so as a composer. This holds true to his film music, musicals, and even his concert works. Having said that, his work for On The Waterfront might be the best music he’s ever written anywhere. This is another landmark album featuring Bernstein’s music on CD for the first time ever!
Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Season Two (1980-1981) by Bruce Broughton, Stu Phillips, John Cacaos, Herbert Don Woods
I love this music! Intrada released Volume One last year and they came back in 2014 with four more CDs of music from the second season of this classic sci-fi television show. They just don’t score them like this anymore. I also dig the amazing cover art by Paul Shipper!
Spacecamp (1986) by John Williams
Limited edition soundtracks can sell out fast. Such was the case a couple years ago when Intrada released John Williams’ rousing score for Spacecamp. Rarely do consumers get a second chance at acquiring a sold-out score, so let’s thank Intrada for working out a deal to reissue this one. If you have the previous release, there’s no reason to get this one, as the track listing is exactly the same; however, if you missed out, there’s no excuse not to own this score now. It’s out there and there is one with your name on it. Don’t let it slip away again.
Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) by Bruce Broughton
I won’t mince words. This is a masterpiece! In fact, it could be one of the finest orchestral scores ever written in the last forty years. This score was on my list of “holy grails” for so very long and finally, Intrada came to the rescue with this absolutely stunning release. This score is an exemplar of why I love film music so much. I am rarely stunned by other people’s music. This score stuns me into oblivion. It’s just so damn good.
Transformers: The Movie (1986) by Vince DiCola
Oh hell yeah! If there’s one name that defines the wonderful world of 80’s film music it’s Vince DiCola; however, if you only listen to his scores as dated nostalgia, you’re missing out. His music is as interesting as it is complex and there will never be another sound quite like his. His music for Transformers: The Movie remains one of his best efforts to date. Released on CD for the very first time ever, this is another must-have addition to any film music lover’s collection.
Psycho II (1983) by Jerry Goldsmith
What sounds like a chapter in the book of “unnecessary sequels,” Psycho II is actually pretty good and it’s helped tremendously by an amazing score by Jerry Goldsmith. It could never live up to the masterpiece that Bernard Herrmann composed for the original Hitchcock film, but that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be. Pyscho II is a terrifying score that only Goldsmith could produce and that by itself is a wonderful thing.
La-La Land Records
Batman: The Animated Series, Volume 3 (1992-1995) by Shirley Walker, et al.
This 4-CD set marks the third volume of music released by the most Batman-dedicated label in the industry. This set alone includes more than five hours of music! You won’t find better music anywhere on television at anytime in its history. I’m sure when the composers were toiling away at these cues, they couldn’t fathom that twenty years later fans would be clamoring to buy ten CDs worth of their music. It’s a great time to be a film (or television) music lover!
The Danny Elfman Batman Collection: Batman & Batman Returns (1989, 1992) by Danny Elfman
Did I mention that La-La Land was the most Batman-dedicated label in the business? Their personal mission to adore, lavish, and release every note of music related to Batman crests with this latest edition honoring the 75th anniversary of Batman. This 4-CD set includes La-La Land’s own sold-out deluxe editions of Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) by Danny Elfman. Herein lies another rare chance at acquiring both of these titles in a single set. While the programs presented on these discs are the same as found on their acclaimed initial releases, Batman has been newly remastered by James Nelson from recently unearthed score elements, resulting in better sound quality.
Big Top Pee-wee (1988) by Danny Elfman
Make no mistake. Even though this score isn’t quite as good as Elfman’s cherry-popping dandy Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), it’s still delightful music. I have the original Arista album released back in the day which was always a nice representation of the work as a whole; however, I’m loving the idea of La-La Land giving this one the royal treatment. It makes me realize how often I erroneously overlook this as an Elfman gem. There’s some seriously fantastic music peppered throughout this album. Damn, I miss Pee-wee!
Even though I’m mostly including this title so I can make lewd innuendos like, “You have to get your hands on David Arnold’s Shaft,” and “Do you know how long David Arnold’s Shaft is?”, I still have a serviceable amount of respect for this score. It’ll never take the space in my heart for Isaac Hayes’ brilliant score for the original; but then again, it doesn’t have to. If you crave badass music, this is it.
Star Trek Enterprise Collection (2001-2005) by Dennis McCarthy, Jay Chattaway, et al.
I know that I already mentioned that La-La Land was dedicated to Batman, but they’re also pretty damn devoted to all things Star Trek as well. Last year they released a monumental box set featuring every note of every episode of Star Trek: The Original Series and now they’re back with a 4-CD set of music from Star Trek: Enterprise. I have never seen the show, nor had I heard any of the music before receiving this set, but it’s Star Trek and that alone makes it worth owning. I’ve been through the collection a couple of times and there’s some great music in there. Should anybody be surprised?
Miracle on 34th St. (1947) by Cyril J. Mockridge
Miracle on 34th St. (1994) by Bruce Broughton
Each of these scores are staples at Christmas time and you get them both on one album! If I had to rank the top 10 best Christmas scores of all time, these two might be found in the top five. They’re each the perfect blend of original music and arrangements of traditional holiday classics wrapped up into one jolly score. If you don’t already have this to enjoy Christmas this year, but sure to grab it for next year. You’ll wonder how you ever celebrated Christmas without them.
Empire of the Sun (1988) by John Williams
This should be a no-brainer. Everything John Williams composes is pretty much the gold standard; however, you may not regard this one as highly as you should. I’ve loved this film for a long time and the score has been a part of my listening pleasure every single year since the film was first released. In fact, if you asked me what my all time favorite film music moments are, one of those moments is a scene from this film when Jaimie first arrives at the camp and walks among the Japanese zeroes with sparks fluttering around him like fireflies. He gently caresses the fuselage of the plane as three Japanese pilots walk up behind him. Jaimie turns, stands at attention and salutes. As Williams’ music swells to climax, three pilots stand and return salute. It’s an epic moment that gives me goosebumps just writing about it (Track 10, “The Plane”).
If an alien came down to earth and asked me what the hell film music is, I would probably show it this scene. It’s everything I love about this crazy craft. But why stop there? This entire score is sublime.
Predator 2: The Deluxe Edition (1990) by Alan Silvestri
Varèse Sarabande released the first edition of this score back in 2003 and while it was certainly acceptable, it paled in comparison to the deluxe editions flooding the market today. Finally, this mega-awesome score gets the royal treatment. If you ever asked yourself, “Damn, I need more brass and percussion in the music I listen to,” than this should satiate your cravings.
Peggy Sue Got Married (1986) by John Barry
I probably watched this movie on HBO dozens of times back in the day. I love this film and there were some moments that really haunt my childhood. I surely can’t remember the score at all since I haven’t seen the film in ages and the score was never released. I’m tickled that another John Barry score has finally surfaced and I’m anxious to get my paws on this one.
Star Trek Into Darkness: The Deluxe Edition (2013) by Michael Giacchino
This was one of my favorite scores of 2013. Only a year has passed and it’s already received a deluxe edition (which is a year too late in my opinion). This is fantastic film music and a hallmark in the Star Trek compendium of scores. Now you can own every cue.