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“Star Trek,” “Abyss” Surface in Surprise Varese Club Batch

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Star Trek NemesisVarese Sarabande has opened up a new batch of CD Club limited edition soundtrack reissues for the holidays. Beginning in 2014, six titles – including two deluxe editions – will start shipping from the long-running soundtrack label.

First up, a milestone from the final frontier: Varese expands the soundtrack to 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis. This time, the USS Enterprise encounters a dangerous foe from within the Romulan Empire: a villainous clone of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (played by a then-unknown Tom Hardy, later celebrated for his performances in Inception and The Dark Knight Rises as the criminal mastermind Bane). Nemesis was the final mission for both the crew from Star Trek: The Next Generation and composer Jerry Goldsmith, whose scores to Star Trek: The Motion PictureStar Trek V: The Final FrontierStar Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Insurrection became icons of the franchise. Goldsmith’s dark, sinister score ultimately gave way to that heroic fanfare we all know and love, and was one of the few high points of the critically-maligned, financially-unsuccessful film. It was also one of the final scores by the ever-prolific Goldsmith until his passing the following year. With this double-disc expanded release, one now has the exciting ability to purchase the complete scores to all ten of the original TOS and TNG-era Trek films.

The AbyssVarese next heads from space to undersea with a double-disc presentation of Alan Silvestri’s score to The Abyss. James Cameron’s third blockbuster of the 1980s (following the critical and commercial smash hits The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986)) has a crew of Navy SEALs hoping to recover a lost submarine before a Soviet crew does – but what they find deep under the waves could be much more dangerous. Featuring Oscar-winning special effects (including the iconic “pseudopod” sequence, where a computer-generated water tentacle appears before the crew), The Abyss is one of Cameron’s more underrated big-budget efforts, a film that increased in critical appraisal after the release of a “Special Edition” in 1992. (With the film’s 25th anniversary approaching this year, a Blu-Ray premiere would certainly be optimal!) Silvestri’s score is now presented on two discs with 10 alternate cues.

The label’s reissue wave concludes with four straight reissues, all of which have been out of print for years. There’s the 1978 suspense Brass Target, a fictional tale suggesting the car crash that killed U.S. General George S. Patton was in fact a conpsiracy; Laurence Rosenthal’s score was the very first album of original material ever released by Varese Sarabande, and makes its CD debut here. Michael Kamen’s score to the 1987 courtroom drama Suspect, starring Cher and Dennis Quaid as a public defender and jury member working together to solve the murder of a Justice Department clerk (a then-unknown Liam Neeson plays the deaf-mute, homeless Vietnam veteran accused of her killing), also gets reissued onto CD, this time featuring all 17 of its cues indexed individually instead of as the two suites that occupied each side of the original album. The batch is rounded out by reissues of James Horner’s score to Vibes, a maligned 1988 comedy starring Cyndi Lauper and Jeff Goldblum as psychics in search of a fabled lost city, and Jerry Goldsmith’s first all-electronic score to Runaway, a Michael Crichton-penned and directed sci-fi thriller with Tom Selleck. (Goldsmith’s original LP was greatly expanded as a limited edition CD in 2006; this program is now back on disc.)

All titles are strictly limited: Star Trek tops out at 5,000 units, The Abyss at 3,000, Brass Target at 1,000 and the remainder at 2,000 apiece. They ship this week, so hit the jump and place your orders!

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 6, 2014 at 12:54

“Lethal Weapon” Box, “Superman Returns” and More Due from La-La Land

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Lethal Weapon OST Box

La-La Land never fails to amaze when it comes to Black Friday. The soundtrack label often saves some of its biggest and highest-profile titles for announcements on the shopping weekend (see 2010, 2011 and 2012) – and this year is no different, with two premiere releases of acclaimed scores, an expanded edition of a superhero sequel and a box set devoted to one of the biggest action film franchises of all time.

Police Academy OSTFirst up: call them slobs, call them jerks, call them gross – just don’t call them when you’re in trouble! Officers Mahoney, Thompson, Jones, Martin, Tackleberry, Barbara and Hightower (plus the reluctant Lt. Harris) were the misfit newbie cops in the 1984 comedy Police Academy, starring Steve Guttenberg, Kim Cattrall, Michael Winslow and Bubba Smith – and while the series is perhaps best known for the increasingly madcap sequels it never seemed to stop spawning (the seventh film in the series bowed in 1994), its score by Robert Folk has long been in high demand. Now, for the first time, enjoy every cue from the film, including the unforgettably jaunty march for the recruits, and even Jean-Marc Dompierre and His Orchestra’s “El Bimbo,” a source cue that scores a classic gag in the unforgettable Blue Oyster Bar.  LLL’s release is limited to 3,000 units.

Gunfight at the OK CorralRussian-born composer Dimitri Tiomkin was a master of the Western film score (hear his work on High Noon for definitive proof), and one of his greatest achievements, the score to John Sturges’ Gunfight At The O.K. Corral (1957), is finally available on CD in a 2,ooo-unit pressing. Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas’ Hollywoodized portrayals of Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday didn’t teach anyone facts about the real event, but it sure made for some great genre entertainment. This lengthy disc features the complete score in mono, with eight bonus stereo cues, source music and demos of the classic title song, originally sung by Frankie Laine but covered here by both singing cowboy/Disney voice actor Rex Allen and Bob Hope/USO sideman Tony Romano.  Laine’s recording is, of course, also included and in fact opens the album.

After the jump, a trio of men of steel and some of their most iconic music!

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Written by Mike Duquette

December 4, 2013 at 08:31

La-La Land Fills Stockings with Soundtrack Cheer

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One of the most beloved holiday traditions around Second Disc HQ is the annual unveiling of La-La Land Records’ Black Friday titles. Typically, the soundtrack reissue label saves some of their heaviest hitters for the end of the year, and this year is no exception. On December 4, fans will be able to order not only a mammoth box set of all the music from the original Star Trek series, but three beloved soundtracks from three legendary contemporary composers – all with a humorous “crime” theme to them.

Up first is John Williams’ score to the 1992 holiday flick Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. Williams’ surprisingly deep score to the original John Hughes/Chris Columbus comedy in 1990 remains a holiday staple (and was brilliantly expanded by La-La Land for the film’s 20th anniversary in 2010). Much like the sequel itself, which essentially transplants Kevin McCallister (Macaulay Culkin) and his bumbling nemeses Harry and Marv (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) from Chicago to The Big Apple, Williams HA2 score traverses on familiar ground, but new themes and arrangements (particularly the melancholy “Christmas Star” and the joyful “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas”) make this a keeper.

LLL has gone the extra mile with this title, both featuring a new remaster from Mike Matessino (who also wrote liner notes and co-produced the set with Nick Redman) and even a bit of extra music not featured on Varese Sarabande’s out-of-print 10th anniversary presentation in 2002. Extras include some holiday source music, an alternate of “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas” and the original presentations of “Christmas Star” and the Alan Menken/Jack Feldman-penned “My Christmas Tree,” both featured on the original soundtrack CD by Fox Records. Topped off by a package designed by Jim Titus that complements LLL’s Home Alone expansion, this set is limited to 3,000 units.

Next up, another sequel score set in the big city: Michael Kamen’s explosive soundtrack to Die Hard with a Vengeance, a limited edition at 4,000 units. In the third installment of this iconic action series (with a fifth due out next year), Detective John McClane (Bruce Willis) is back on his home turf, attempting to stop a string of terrorist attacks committed by the nefarious Simon Gruber (Jeremy Irons), the brother of his nemesis from the first Die Hard film. Featuring a greatly expanded presentation from the original RCA Victor soundtrack (while retaining The Lovin’ Spoonful’s classic “Summer in the City” as an album opener), the label has now helped provide an expansion for the scores to all of Kamen’s Die Hard scores. (La-La Land expanded Varese Sarabande’s pressing in their last Black Friday batch, and Varese themselves expanded Die Hard 2 just last month.)

Finally, the label remasters and expands Ennio Morricone’s Oscar-nominated score to The Untouchables. Brian DePalma’s crime drama told the real life story of Elliot Ness (based on his autobiography), whose team of Prohibition agents in 1920s Chicago took on the baddest gangster of them all, Al Capone (Robert DeNiro). Morricone was one of four nominees from the project, which netted Sean Connery an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor as the incorruptible agent Jim Malone. This two-disc set, capped at 3,500 copies, features the premiere release of the score in its original film mix and sequence, and is complemented by a remastered version of the original, Grammy-winning A&M Records soundtrack album and seven bonus cues, including an unused arrangement of themes from the film by composer Randy Edelman.

Stay tuned to this post next Tuesday when links go live on all titles; in the meantime, check out our track breakdown on these three new releases!

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Written by Mike Duquette

November 26, 2012 at 09:16

Reissue Theory: “James Bond 007: The Ultimate Collection”

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Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we focus on classic music and the reissues they may someday see. With 50 years of on-screen action and a new film in theaters, the name is Bond…James Bond, and the music is plentiful!

What else is left to say about Ian Fleming’s blunt, British secret agent James Bond? Our 007, licensed to kill, is an international icon of print and, since Sean Connery suavely stepped into Bond’s tuxedo in 1962’s Dr. No, the big screen. Today, the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall – the third to star Daniel Craig as a rougher-hewn 007 and, by nearly all accounts, one of the greatest films in the series – opens in American theaters, guaranteeing the legacy that film producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli created a half-century ago remains as shaken (not stirred) as ever.

Bond soundtrack fans have had much to enjoy in that time period. From Monty Norman and His Orchestra’s brassy, immortal main theme (punctuated by session guitarist Vic Flick’s staccato electric guitar licks), to lush scores by John Barry, Marvin Hamlisch, Bill Conti, Michael Kamen, David Arnold and Thomas Newman, to name a few, to the 23 title themes of varying quality but with boundless cultural currency, music is as vital a part of the Bond experience as martinis, girls, cars and guns. And fans have been lucky: in the 1990s, Rykodisc acquired the rights to much of the Bond soundtrack catalogue (in most cases, controlled by Capitol/EMI). In the 2000s, Capitol itself expanded and/or remastered many of those albums anew. And compilations, from 1992’s rarity-packed double-disc The Best of James Bond 30th Anniversary Collection to this year’s Bond…James Bond: 50 Years, 50 Tracks, have been plentiful as well.

But short of another, even more comprehensive pass at expanding the soundtrack albums to completion (one that seems increasingly like a pipe dream, thanks to the climate of the industry and the varying physical and financial statuses of the scores themselves), one could certainly find worth in a multi-disc box set that would provide the definitive dossier on Bond music. With that in mind, Second Disc HQ’s latest mission file is just that – and you can expect us to talk after the jump!

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“Die Hard 2,” “Enemy Mine” Lead Off New Varese Batch

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Like a sleeping giant, soundtrack reissue Varese Sarabande wakes only periodically and deliberately to release film and television scores from the vaults through their famed Soundtrack Club. In recent years, fans have bemoaned the lack of “Silver Age” scores – that is, more recent music from blockbuster films. That trend looks to change with the latest solid batch of limited edition reissues from Varese.

First up, following Varese’s own limited edition of Michael Kamen’s score to Die Hard in 2002 (and a subsequent further expansion by La-La Land last holiday season), the label expands Kamen’s score to the first sequel in the franchise. Die Hard 2: Die Harder had the improbable task of continuing the unlikely saga of hard-nosed hero John McClane; the New York detective this time found himself not in Los Angeles’ Nakatomi Plaza skyscraper, but Washington, D.C.’s Dulles Airport, where he has to battle another group of terrorists while his wife is stranded on a plane circling the air above. Though it was a critical and commercial success, outpacing even the first film financially, it’s easily the silliest in the series (soon to continue with a fifth installment next February). But Kamen’s score, which sees him reprising old themes and adapting classical compositions – in this case, Sibelius’ “Finlandia” – to great effect. This two-disc presentation is limited to 3,000 units.

Next, Varese premieres the score to The Red Pony, a television film scored by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith. The composer would win his first Emmy for the project, based on John Steinbeck’s short story collection of the same name. Clint Howard (Ron’s little brother) played a boy on a California ranch whose experiences with a young horse shapes his formative years. Maureen O’Hara and Henry Fonda (no stranger to Steinbeck on film, of course) played the parents; Fonda in particular had declared The Red Pony to be his favorite of Steinbeck’s words, and a diverse group of famous fans from Eric Clapton to Barack Obama have made themselves known over the years. Being a Goldsmith title, this set is also capped at 3,000 copies.

After the jump, one more expanded title and two reissues from the Varese catalogue – all from the 1980s – await you!

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Written by Mike Duquette

October 22, 2012 at 19:50

Intrada Releases Two Fists of Kamen for 2012

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After a healthy and innovative year for film score reissues, Intrada starts off the new year with a bang – or better yet, a swift roundhouse kick: two heretofore-unreleased late-’80s action scores by the excellent Michael Kamen.

The first one is a very familiar title to pop-culture junkies and cult-classic geeks: the score to Road House. The 1989 action flick starred Patrick Swayze in his first post-Dirty Dancing project as Dalton, a strangely complex, widely-renowned bouncer with a degree in philosophy from New York University. He ventures to Jasper, Missouri at the urging of a club owner to provide his unique skill set to the town’s new bar, The Double Deuce, along the way saving the very town from an unscrupulous businessman (Ben Gazzara) who will stop at nothing to control every last inch of Jasper.

The film’s cult status has long been cemented, thanks to affectionate tributes from cult TV show Mystery Science Theater 3000 (writer/star Michael J. Nelson somewhat jokingly called Road House “the single finest American film”) and director Kevin Smith (who provided a commentary track for the film’s DVD release). The late Kamen, by then a notable name for his work on the scores to Edge of Darkness and Lethal Weapon (and, in a month’s time, would see another score, to the James Bond film Licence to Kill, hit theaters), blended his signature orchestral action style with atmospheric themes for the small Midwestern town that houses the action. Intrada’s long-in-development release is sourced from all the existing session master tapes, long thought lost but recently rediscovered in the MGM vaults. (One reel, which would have held two short cues from the film, was never recovered, but the remaining tapes yielded several unused cues.)

Later that year, Kamen was tapped for another quirky action film to score: Renegades. The film reunited Young Guns co-stars Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Phillips as a disgraced undercover cop and his Sioux partner who team up to recover a Native American spear from a gang of thugs. Again, Kamen tempers his lengthy action cues with local color, employing a smaller ensemble with a focus on themes and motifs inspired by the culture of the film. This disc presents the complete score with unheard passages, all newly mastered from the original session elements.

Both releases are a fitting tribute to an underrated composer, and can be yours to order after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

January 10, 2012 at 09:08

Soundtrack Round-Up: Intrada Commits “Robbery,” La-La Land Bows Final Titles for 2011

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The end of the calendar year is a boom time for all those working in reissues, especially the soundtrack labels. Today, six major titles go on sale that are certainly worth a look here at Second Disc HQ.

Intrada’s two latest sets, announced last night, are pretty major. One is a brand new reissue of the score to The Great Train Robbery, Jerry Goldsmith’s classic soundtrack to the film directed by author Michael Crichton from his best-selling novel. Though the score is no stranger to CD, having been released and expanded by Varese Sarabande years ago, this special double-disc presentation expands the original score to completeness from newly-discovered two-track stereo masters. That includes 16 unreleased, alternate and source tracks. As an added bonus, the original soundtrack LP, released by United Artists at the time of the film’s release, is included as well. (It boasts alternate edits and mixes, as is often the case on original score albums.) And best of all, the set is both unlimited and selling for $19.99, the price of a typical single-disc set from Intrada.

The label’s other project is a very significant one: the premiere of the score to Wolfen, composed by a young James Horner. This horror flick, featuring Albert Finney as an NYPD detective pitted against a clan of shapeshifting murderers, was one of Horner’s first major screen credits, predating the one-two punch of 48 Hrs. and Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan by a year. The CD features all of the music (including two alternate takes) written for the film. (It does not, however, feature all the music in the movie; some tracks from Horner’s then-most recent score, The Hand, were tracked in, to the point where they actually sounded like they could have been written for the film.) Knowing as score fans do that Horner is usually very reluctant to release early works, this is a pretty big coup for Intrada.

Speaking of coups, La-La Land didn’t disappoint with their Black Friday announcement of four major catalogue soundtracks, available to order now. The titles are a double-disc expansion of Michael Kamen’s adrenaline-fueled score to action classic Die Hard (1988), the premiere release of Danny Elfman’s score to the Bill Murray Christmas comedy Scrooged (1988), and expansions of two latter-day film adaptations of World War II events – Jerry Goldsmith’s score to the Pearl Harbor Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) and Ennio Morricone’s music to 1989’s Fat Man and Little Boy, about the carrying out of the Manhattan Project, the nuclear missiles which ended the Second Great War.

You can order all these sets right now, after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 29, 2011 at 13:08