Here is part five of my overview of our FSM CD catalog—which titles are sold out, which are getting low (including exact quantities) and which would be around for some time to come. Go here for The Early Years, Volume 5 (2002), Volume 6 (2003) and Volume 7 (2004) reports.
Vol. 8, No. 1: The Thing From Another World/Take the High Ground! (Tiomkin): We have pressed 4000 copies of which 118 are in stock. We aim to keep this in-print—The Thing From Another World is a classic. Its master came from acetates in the Brigham Young University collection that had been transferred by Jim D’Arc. I have a confession to make: I had never seen The Thing prior to working on this CD, but I was charmed by Tiomkin’s bellicose “Look out! Here comes the monster!” theremin-and-orchestra score. Supposedly the composer loathed it—preferring his more typically melodic style—but as many have noted, an artist is not always the best judge of his own work. Take the High Ground! (a military training film) was the only thing I could find from the Turner library by Tiomkin to fill out the CD—admittedly, it’s trivial, but at least in stereo, and I never liked issuing CDs that were 30 minutes or less. (Unfortunately, that made it quite difficult and expensive to find suitable pairings on more than one occasion.)
Vol. 8, No. 2: Atlantis: The Lost Continent/The Power (Garcia/Rózsa): We have made 2500 copies of the 3000-copy limited edition and have 220 in stock. This was our first CD of the films of George Pal—people expected the earlier and better-known Russ Garcia score, The Time Machine, but that took longer to produce (see below). Atlantis had several music-editing challenges on CD as the film had been cut down, various cues dropped, and others forged from “wild” loops of harps, vibes, etc. I remember going to various lengths—I think I even checked the shooting script—to find out what was contained in the deleted scenes for which music survived. (There was a “bird man” special effect that never worked, so those scenes and shots were deleted—along with their music.) We had been led to believe that the scoring masters for The Power (Miklós Rózsa’s last score for M-G-M) were lost, so we used the Tony Thomas bootleg LP master (kindly loaned to us by Citadel Records). The 35mm three-track masters were subsequently unearthed, and I prefer the complete-score presentation (in much better sound) on the 15CD Miklós Rózsa Treasury.
Vol. 8, No. 3: Green Mansions (Kaper/Villa-Lobos): We have pressed 2000 copies of the 3000-copy limited edition of which 160 are in stock. M-G-M went to great lengths to have this Audrey Hepburn jungle-waif story (directed by her then-husband Mel Ferrer) scored by the great Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos—but Villa-Lobos was unaccustomed to the technical requirements of film composition, so his music was reworked by Bronislau Kaper for the finished film. The complete—and fascinating—story is told by Bill Whitaker in the CD liner notes.
Vol. 8, No. 4: 633 Squadron/Submarine X-1 (Goodwin): We have pressed all 3000 copies of the limited edition of which 529 are in stock. This was our second CD set of Ron Goodwin WWII music, following Where Eagles Dare/Operation Crossbow—and followed by Force 10 From Navarone. All were made possible by the Goodwin estate and their representative, Ron Shillingford, who provided the master tapes for Submarine X-1 and the bonus tracks for 633 Squadron. (The main album program for 633 Squadron came from the stereo album masters in the MGM vaults.) The main theme to 633 Squadron was inspired by the “633” of the title when Goodwin had writer’s block. I didn’t grow up on these scores but I enjoy them.
Vol. 8, No. 5: Two Weeks in Another Town (Raksin): We made 1500 copies of which 106 are in stock. This was intended to be a 3000-copy limited edition but due to slow sales it will not be repressed! The 106 in stock are all that are left. This is a wonderful score by the great David Raksin to the unofficial follow-up film to The Bad and the Beautiful—not a sequel, but another story by the same creators going behind-the-scenes of Hollywood life. Here the setting is Rome where Raksin’s melodic, sumptuous score includes such politically incorrect cue titles as “Never Let a Dago Buy” (followed by “Never Let a Bagel Die,” and don’t forget “Shiva Me Timbers”). Unlike almost all of the other Raksin/M-G-M scores, this one survives in true stereo and sounds gorgeous.
Vol. 8, No. 6: Jericho/The Ghostbreaker (Goldsmith, et al./Williams): We have made 2500 of the 3000 copies, of which 251 are in stock. (Jim Wynorski, this is because YOU requested it!) Jericho was a short-lived WWII espionage TV show with a fun, pre-Patton war march theme by Goldsmith, who also scored the second episode. Also working on the series were Lalo Schifrin, Morton Stevens, Gerald Fried and Richard Shores—making this a kind of Man From U.N.C.L.E. reunion/side-gig. The Schifrin score was actually the first one composed for the series (his unused main title theme is also on the CD), notable for an earlier version of what became the famous “The Plot” in Mission: Impossible. All of the scores (save Goldsmith’s) had to be cut down as they were rather grim and repetitive, and I am proud of the suites presented on the CD. Also on the CD is The Ghostbreaker, a super-rare John(ny) Williams theme and score for a busted pilot that barely aired—listen to the main theme with its classic Johnny Williams French horns of the Irwin Allen TV-scores era.
Vol. 8, No. 7: Quentin Durward (Kaper): We have pressed 2000 copies of the 3000-copy limited edition of which 384 are in stock. This completed the unofficial trilogy of Robert Taylor/Robert Thorpe historical knights-in-armor pictures, the first two scored by Miklós Rózsa (Ivanhoe and Knights of the Round Table). Quentin Durward, unlike the other two, has a comic bent that manifests in Kaper’s jaunty, often lighthearted music. Great stereo sound from nearly 60 years ago!
Vol. 8, No. 8: King Kong (Barry): We have made 5500 units of this and have 359 still in stock. This was intended to be an unlimited edition but for reasons I don't want to go into, the 359 remaining are all that’s left—it will not be repressed. I was delighted to be able to render obsolete the atrocious “Mask label” bootleg of this John Barry classic. We were able to license the Reprise album from Rhino, but limited to the album tracks and master. Jeff Bond says he used to sing the disco track “Kong Hits the Big Apple” with his friends as a telling thumbs-down when an overhyped movie failed to deliver.
Vol. 8, No. 9: The Devil at 4 O’Clock/The Victors (Duning/Kaplan): We have made 2300 of the 3000 copies and have 367 in stock. This was our first of four CDs (each a “two-fer”) from the Colpix library—this was Columbia Records’s label from 1958-66, the name literally from “Columbia [Col] Pictures [Pix].” The library changed hands over the years and is today owned by Rhino, but the paperwork and masters are spotty. Fortunately, stereo album masters survived for The Devil at 4 O’Clock and The Victors. The former is a terrific adventure-romance score by George Duning, one of my favorite underrated composers who did stellar work for Columbia Pictures and, later, TV programs such as Star Trek. The Victors is also by a composer who worked on the 1960s Star Trek, Sol Kaplan, though it is mostly comprised of source music to a sprawling 1963 WWII anti-war epic by Carl Foreman—so no, it doesn’t sound like “The Doomsday Machine,” though I wish it did. I enjoy releasing CDs to composers who are otherwise overlooked—these guys dedicated their lives to music, I think there should be something out there to remember them.
Vol. 8, No. 10: Knight Rider (Phillips): SOLD OUT! Kitt, I need ya! I loved working on this CD—the show was one of my favorites at the tyke. The theme is classic and it was great to do the first-ever stereo mix from the 2” 24-track masters—Stu Phillips was never happy with the original mono broadcast mix, so it was great to be able to give him the chance to make it sound like he intended it. Stu co-produced the CD with us and has kept the album available on iTunes—look it up. A couple of years ago I was with my dad at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park and they played the Knight Rider theme on the P.A. system during a pitching change—I think it was our mix so I got to tell my dad what it is I’ve been doing the last 15 years.
Vol. 8, No. 11: Lord Jim/The Long Ships (Kaper/Radic): We have made 2500 of the 3000 copies and have 197 in stock. Our second Colpix “two-fer” features a late score by Bronislau Kaper and a historical-adventure score by Yugoslavian composer Dusan Radic. This is an interesting pairing: Lord Jim features gamelan music along with soaring, elegiac orchestra, and The Long Ships has some insane “oompah” action cues that would make Danny Elfman proud. It is challenging writing track-by-track liner notes for LP programs, as there is seldom paperwork to identify the cues—as collectors know, tracks are often out-of-order, abridged, mis-identified, etc. There is usually no way to identify cues except to watch and re-watch the movie.
Vol. 8, No. 12: The Yakuza (Grusin): We have made 2500 of the 3000 copies and have 183 in stock. This is one of my favorite FSM projects—a superior Dave Grusin score for the Sydney Pollack/Robert Mitchum Japanese crime drama. From the sound quality to the liner notes I am deeply proud of this one. It is definitely on my short list of favorite projects.
Vol. 8, No. 13: The Time Machine (Garcia): We have pressed all 3000 copies and have 496 on hand. This is the end of the run—no more copies will be pressed! This is a classic movie with a score to match by Russell Garcia. I discovered the film in a late-night cable showing as a teen—I started watching it and couldn’t turn it off! Great special effects and winning performance by Rod Taylor. At first we had heard that the masters were lost, but they had in fact been transferred and mixed to 2” 24-track tape as part of a home-video project in the 1990s (which locked us into a few edits we might have otherwise finessed). Several strange passages of music/sound FX were Garcia’s doing but only existed in the film’s monaural music stem, which we mixed with the stereo orchestra. Great CD cover by Joe Sikoryak.
Vol. 8, No. 14: Crossed Swords (Jarre): We have made 2000 of the 3000 copies, and have 466 in stock. I was disappointed this Maurice Jarre score didn’t sell better—it has one of his classic swashbuckling action themes. Listen to the sound clips for tracks 1 and 4…I insist! It came highly recommended by our friend, agent Richard Kraft. One of the pleasures of producing FSM CDs over the years has been checking in with Richard from time to time to get his feedback on our releases. He buys each and every one—some necessarily stay in the shrinkwrap, but when we hit on one of his favorites…there is nothing quite like hearing his absolute delight at getting to hear a long-lost friend again.
Vol. 8, No. 15: Lili (Kaper). We have made 2500 of the 3000 copies, and have 366 in stock. People assume I am a gigantic Bronislau Kaper fan…in fact, I didn’t really know his work prior to delving into the M-G-M library, where he was a mainstay composer. I have certainly become enamored of his melodic ability over the course of (I counted) 25 scores on 19 CDs. I like that we’ve taken a composer whose work was barely available and created a substantial library of albums. The Oscar-winning Lili is one of his best, an irresistible theme that helps make the picture. If you haven’t…see the picture! It is one of the most bizarre examples of catching lightning in a bottle you will ever find…a love triangle where the competing males are the same guy, a Parisian carnival performer (Mel Ferrer) who only has the courage to speak honestly to a lonely waif (Leslie Caron) through his puppets. Love it!
Vol. 8, No. 16: Coma/Westworld/The Carey Treatment (Goldsmith/Karlin/Budd): We have pressed all 3000 copies and have 327 on hand. This is the end of the run—no more copies will be pressed! This 2CD set was a lot of work but it paid off with three scores to 1970s M-G-M projects by Michael Crichton. Also, during the course of this project I learned how to spell “Crichton.” I love the early 1970s funk-blues scores by Roy Budd and The Carey Treatment has one of his first-rate themes. Westworld is a strange, innovative, mostly electronic score by Fred Karlin, some of it recorded at his home studio (unheard of in 1973); I never liked the original MGM Records album and part of the reason was because it left off a number of overlays that made the cues make sense (e.g. “Stagecoach Arrival”). “Dormant Worlds” is a perfect example of the kind of super-short cue (0:20) that would be left off a soundtrack album even though it was one of the simplest yet most noteworthy pieces in the picture. Coma is one of Goldsmith’s 1970s suspense gems. The sequencing of the two discs was a challenge because the Coma score famously starts 50 minutes into the picture—so the complete Goldsmith score concludes disc 2, with the bonus tracks to all three scores at the beginning of that disc. Annoyingly, we only had a three-track source for the complete Coma score with the strings folded into channel one (we split them between left and right channels via Pro Tools’ electronic stereo)—keep your copies of the Coma soundtrack album (on Bay Cities and/or Chapter III) for the LP mixes with true stereo strings. This is a phenomenon we find again and again for 1970s films where the score was intended to be dubbed into a monaural movie: we have three-track music masters but they have strings, percussion and woodwinds/brass locked into their respective channels, rather than spread out like a natural orchestra. We call it “Comatose,” ha ha. Did I mention there are only 327 copies of this 2CD set left? Get it!
Vol. 8, No. 17: Invitation/A Life of Her Own (Kaper): We have made 1500 of the 3000 copies, and have 204 in stock. As you can see from the sales, this is one of our softest-selling titles—though it would be even softer today (only five years later). Dramatic scores without an action-adventure element are a tough sell, especially “women’s pictures.” Kaper’s “Theme From Invitation” is one of his loveliest and most enduring melodies, but it originated a couple of years earlier in A Life of Her Own, the surviving tracks of which are added here as a bonus.
Vol. 8, No. 18: The Getaway: The Unused Score (Fielding): We have made 2000 of the 3000 copies, and have 254 in stock. This CD/DVD combo came to us as a fait accompli that was meant to be an isolated score track and documentary featurette on a DVD of the film, but got nixed by the same studio politics that resulted in the Fielding score being removed from the picture all those years ago—replaced by one by Quincy Jones (for which the master tapes are lost). I don’t see what I can add to the Jerry Fielding/Sam Peckinpah literature that hasn’t already been said…I’m a fan…was very happy to provide a home for this release.
Vol. 8, No. 19: The Glass Slipper (Previn): We have made 1500 of the 3000 copies, and have 142 in stock. This was M-G-M’s attempt to replicate the success of Lili with a live-action version of the Cinderella fairy tale—the score by Kaper is gorgeous, and we found a wealth of unused music in earlier, longer versions of the film’s several ballets. A slow seller, and I had a feeling it would be, but it’s gorgeous and deserves better. Amusingly, one of the bonus tracks is studio cross-talk between Kaper and his conductor for the film, Miklós Rózsa—I love the overlapping Eastern European accents.
Vol. 8, No. 20: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland/Petulia (Barry): We have made 3000 copies and have 301 in stock—we intend to keep this in print. Two gorgeous John Barry soundtrack albums from the peak of his artistic creativity on one CD—another of my all-time favorite projects! The album masters were at Rhino and Jon Burlingame wrote the liner notes, so I had little to do except enjoy the music.
Next Time: Vol. 9 (2006) CDs!