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), Volume 7 (2004) and Volume 8 (2005) reports.
Vol. 9, No. 1: Bell, Book and Candle/1001 Arabian Nights (Duning): We have pressed 2500 copies of which 506 are in stock. These are two delightful George Duning scores from the Colpix catalog. When we licensed a batch of Colpix titles from Rhino (who bought the library after it changed hands a couple of times), we were warned that master tapes were spotty. A few big boxes of tapes were shipped from England’s Abbey Road (where they were being stored) to Doug Schwartz’s Mulholland Music, then in North Hollywood at Vineland and Magnolia. It was hit or miss as a few items were not what they were supposed to be—the album master for Diamond Head was mono, not stereo. For Bell, Book and Candle we had the ½” three-track stereo masters which were glorious; 1001 Arabian Nights (a Mr. Magoo movie) was ¼” two-track stereo. We found the “bonus track” from Bell, Book and Candle which had been on the Citadel LP reissue; the master takes had been snipped out and placed onto a “goodie reel” during production of the vinyl, so it took some detective work to locate the correct takes. I remember being panicked that I would not be allowed to use the Bell, Book and Candle bonus track, because it was only on the reissue, not the original Colpix release, but we snuck it through. We were not so lucky with two bonus tracks from 1001 Arabian Nights which we weren’t allowed to use, but I have them, for whoever reissues this next and wants to try to license them from Sony Pictures (who own the movie). Trivia: Bell, Book and Candle was recorded in London during the 1958 U.S. AFM strike, but a couple of pre-recorded source cues were done in Los Angeles, including “Send Me Nicky”—the L.A. tracks are in electronic stereo, not true stereo.
Vol. 9, No. 2: Zigzag/The Super Cops (Oliver Nelson/Jerry Fielding): We have made 1500 copies of the 3000-copy limited edition and have 244 in stock. Our Oliver Nelson/Jerry Fielding double-bill did not set the world on fire but I dig these early 1970s urban scores. Did you know that film scoring is a deadly profession? Here are three composers who finished scores, went home (or to their hotel) and died from heart attacks: Oliver Nelson, Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Fielding. A fourth suffered a fatal stroke on the scoring stage: Georges Delerue. It’s a high-pressure job. Nelson was a brilliant jazz arranger (particularly with strings) whose great TV scores for The Six-Million Dollar Man will hopefully one day see the light of day. Zigzag is a tuneful, jazzy score by Nelson; we included the album recording plus the previously unreleased film performance. Fielding’s score for The Super Cops—it sounds like a superhero movie, but is really an inner-city crime film was unfulfilled aspirations to comedy—is a fun mix of suspense, action and funky source music. We added Fielding’s episode scores for Hawkins on Murder (which we had from the earlier Goldsmith pilot score project) plus some source music from The Outfit. I enjoy all of the music on this 2CD set, I’m glad we did it.
Vol. 9, No. 3: Not With My Wife, You Don’t!/Any Wednesday (Williams/Duning): We have pressed 2000 copies of which 412 are in stock. This was our first album from the Warner Bros. Records catalog, which resulted in a number of double-bill reissues along the lines of the Colpix CDs (also owned by Rhino). Back in the “AOL/Time Warner” days, Warner Bros., the movie studio, was a corporate partner of Warner Bros., the music company. Then they divorced, which meant that anytime we wanted to reissue a Warner Bros. title previously issued on LP, we had to get the record tracks from the record company (if there was one released on WB Records or a sister label, like Reprise, Elektra or Atlantic) and any previously unreleased music from the film studio—twice the work! At the time of this CD, it did not appear that Warner Bros. the film studio had the original soundtrack performances (in reality, they had them, but they were being migrated from a music-only vault into the studio’s film assets and did not show up on an inventory report), so we went ahead with the album versions. We got the ½” four-track masters and the results are sonically terrific. I have enjoyed adding to the library of the “Johnny” Williams era, as well as anything by George Duning. The theme to Any Wednesday always sounded like The Brady Bunch theme to me (or vice versa, given which came first); maybe Frank De Vol likes Jane Fonda movies.
Vol. 9, No. 4: Force 10 From Navarone (Goodwin): We have pressed 3000 copies of which 554 are in stock. Perhaps some of you have seen the infamous Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom gag clip in which Barbra Streisand shows up on set and whips Harrison Ford like a dominatrix—“THAT’s for Hanover Street! THAT’s for Guns of Navarone”—to which he corrects her, “Force 10 From Navarone.” Anyway, we were lucky to release this from tapes provided by the Ron Goodwin estate. This came during that year or so in which Sony was handling the administration for MGM, so the license went through Sony. Speaking of Sony…
Vol. 9, No. 5: The Swimmer (Hamlisch): We made 2000 copies of which 259 are in stock. Our license has expired so the remaining 259 are all that will be available. I love this score! Remember the distinction between Warner Bros. the film studio and Warner Bros. Records? Same problem here: we had to license the soundtrack album from Sony Music in New York (Columbia Records), then the previously unreleased bonus tracks from Sony Pictures in Culver City. Just writing about this makes me tense up as I recall one of the ongoing problems with issuing film soundtracks: you can’t get the tapes until you have the license, but you can’t execute the license until you have the track list, and you can’t make the track list until you have the tapes. I have run across this time and time again and it is one of the major reasons why I am getting out of this business: basically the only way around it is to bludgeon everyone until they give you what you want, but it wears you out (as well as your counterparties). For The Swimmer, we were aided by Sony’s Didier Deutsch in New York who pulled the tapes…but the clearance people didn’t understand all the bonus tracks I wanted to add—it was, to them, like the extra music did not exist. It was sorted out in the end—the CD exists, I win! And you win too, dear listeners. What a great score, and an interesting film—Jeff Bond did great work for the liner notes.
Vol. 9, No. 6: Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Bricusse, arr. Williams): We have made 4000 copies and have 286 in stock—we will endeavor to keep this in print. I should pass this to Mike Matessino to tell the making-of story, but he is not here typing, I am. This project was a beast. (“Where Did My Childhood Go?” Producing this album!) I started to work with the masters and gave them to Mike for his notes; when he gave me several pages of (correct) comments, I said “here, you do it” and he took it from there. (For the uninitiated, this is a movie musical by Leslie Bricusse with masterful arrangements by John Williams.) Many of the demo songs came from the Arthur P. Jacobs collection at Loyola Marymount. We could not use the early Andre Previn demos, which are in the Warner Bros. vaults…so there remains yet more Mr. Chips content to mine one day—but not by me! There was some fascinating documentation at USC, including Williams’s personal correspondence when he was in London working on the movie. Most of the letters are business-like but a couple of them are more personal. I wish someone would write a Williams biography!
Vol. 9, No. 7: The Wrong Man (Herrmann): We have pressed 3000 copies and have 1169 in stock. There are a handful of people without whom the FSM CD series would never exist, and one of the most important is Keith Zajic, who ran Warner Bros. music business affairs until 2009. (He is now in private practice, and if you need a music attorney, hire him!) When we were starting our label and asked studios for licenses, most people told us to jump in a lake, but Keith entertained our proposals and not only blessed the Turner-Rhino licenses (as WB is their corporate owner) but let us license Warner Bros. film soundtracks from time to time—we were able to do usually one or two CDs a year. We’d finish one, then ask for another: The Omega Man, The Illustrated Man, The Green Berets, THX 1138, McQ, The Yakuza, The Getaway—and in 2006, The Wrong Man. I don’t remember the exact thinking that went into my requests (as I had a huge mental “wish list” of Warner scores), except that I’d ask for whatever was at the top of my head and most likely to clear. While The Wrong Man is a rather grim score (and film), you can’t go wrong with Herrmann/Hitchcock! The masters were originally stereo, but long ago folded down to mono and stored on 2'' tape made in a preservation project by Warners in the 1990s. Unlike our Turner CDs, we were limited to six movie images or posters per Warner Bros. CD, for reasons having to do with the still image rights. That’s why on our Warner Bros. CDs Joe Sikoryak devised ingenious graphic design solutions (the white disc for THX 1138, the prison-bars image for The Wrong Man, dark shading on Wait Until Dark) to supplement the movie stills.
Vol. 9, No. 8: Checkmate/Rhythm in Motion (Williams): We made 2000 copies and our license has expired—this is SOLD OUT. These are two great Johnny Williams albums for Columbia Records together on one CD—I hope people who wanted the CD were able to get it. There are some additional outtakes and rare Williams recordings at Sony that we were not able to license—maybe some other enterprising label will go after them. I gave a copy of this CD to Seth MacFarlane of Family Guy fame who loved Williams’s arrangement of “The Varsity Drag” (from Rhythm in Motion) so much he had a take-down commissioned and performed by the Ron Jones Influence Orchestra at his Hollywood parties.
FSM BOX 01: Elmer Bernstein’s Film Music Collection: We have 245 box sets remaining out of the run of 2000. This was our first of five box sets. I always dreamed about getting to seven box sets, because the last one could be a James Bond box and would be FSM Box 007—alas, not to be. (It’s not happening! Don’t ask!) The Bernstein box was hard in that we had to create the entire template, but easy in that the albums were already produced—even the unreleased re-recording of Kings of the Sun was already sequenced—and liner notes written. Elmer always turned down requests to sublicense his Film Music Collection, and we’re not sure why…perhaps he was frustrated about all the money he invested into the series in the 1970s. Or perhaps he was upset that the latter album tapes were lost when Olympic Studios closed their doors (we used new transfers from vinyl). The summer of 2004 was a triple whammy from the deaths of Goldsmith, Raksin and Bernstein, but we always had a great relationship with Elmer and by 2006 it felt like a tasteful amount of time had passed to approach his estate re: the Film Music Collection. We made an offer, they said yes…it was a great project. Elmer had a cottage on Pearl Street in Santa Monica that he used when he needed to be in Los Angeles (he otherwise lived in Ojai) and I would drive there to see his assistant Lisa Edmondson and pick up and return various items. One time I was there with Pat Russ (one of Elmer’s longtime orchestrators) and I was at the kitchen table which was made of soft wood, like pine, and I could see dozens of impressions of Elmer’s signature etched into the surface…I asked if that’s where Elmer sat to sign his correspondence and Pat said yes, it was. It was a very surreal feeling, considering what a titan Elmer was and how important his music has been for me, as I am sure is the case for many people reading this. When the Pearl Street house was eventually packed up—Elmer’s personal archives were donated to USC—they had some books that needed a home, so I am proud to say I have Elmer Bernstein’s personal copy of Woodward and Bernstein’s (a different Bernstein’s) hardcover masterpiece, All the President’s Men, on my bookshelf. From one lefty to another, I am honored! (Elmer was left-handed—I am not—but that is not what I mean.) We have no plans to release the discs of this box set individually—maybe someone else will, but we won’t.
Vol. 9, No. 9: Diamond Head/Gone With the Wave (Williams/Schifrin): We have made 2000 copies and have 228 in stock. This was another pairing of Colpix albums: an early John(ny) Williams dramatic score (my favorite track: “Mei Chen”) and an obscure but groovy Lalo Schifrin soundtrack for a rare surf documentary. We had to master Diamond Head from vinyl after the master tapes turned out to be mono; we had a stereo tape for Gone With the Wave but it sounded like it was made from vinyl in the 1960s—go figure! Fortunately, the mastering by Doug Schwartz is terrific.
Vol. 9, No. 10: CHiPs Vol. 1: Season Two, 1978-1979 (Silvestri): We have made 3500 copies and have 350 in stock. This is the first of our three volumes of disco action music by Alan Silvestri to one of my favorite TV shows as an eight-year-old: CHiPs! What can I say…a guilty pleasure. One of the rituals of watching the show is when the kick-drum of the main title pre-laps the end of the teaser, then slams into the opening credits—it takes a moment to realize that the kick-drum you were hearing is the main title. (I found the on-ramp in downtown L.A. where Ponch and Jon ride onto the 101, it’s right by the Dorothy Chandler complex.) We started with season two because that’s when Silvestri joined the show—I hope another label gets to the season one scores by John Parker, et al. We tried to do justice to CHiPs, interviewing Alan Silvestri (who has a great attitude about the show) and producer Cy Chermak…I tivo’d the E! True Hollywood Story on the show for background research. For Volume 1 I had the entire season two recordings transferred and made CDRs of every cue that I gave to Jon Kaplan: “You like Silvestri—here, pick the best cues.” He did, and Jon’s program is pretty much the album. Basically, there was one new theme per episode, so it was easy enough to make a sampling of the season’s scores.
Vol. 9, No. 11: 7 Faces of Dr. Lao (Harline): We have made 2000 of the 3000 copies and have 305 in stock. As we got deeper into the Turner (historical M-G-M) catalog, CDs got harder to produce because the easier projects were already done…7 Faces of Dr. Lao had some strange passages (especially for the monster at the end) that were created as much from music/sound effects-editing as scoring, so I had those passages transferred from the music stem of the picture itself. What a delightful score, and in excellent sound quality.
Vol. 9, No. 12: The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (Jarre): We made and sold only the initial 1500 of this (intended) 3000-copy edition—the license expired so it is now SOLD OUT. This was our third and final Sony license, complicated by the fact that we had to license the bonus tracks from Warner Bros., who own the movie. The tapes came from Sony Music, where they had the underscore on ½'' tape and the Andy Williams song on 2" 16-track. Maurice Jarre personally liked this score, so it was nice to be able to get it out and send him a copy. It is a strange movie; I wrote the liner notes personally and remember reading the best description of the movie as being not the past as it actually happened, but the past as it used to be understood.
Vol. 9, No. 13: Random Harvest/The Yearling (Stothart): We have made only the first 1,500 copies of this 3,000-unit edition and have 217 in stock. Ah, Stothart: how I tried to do more for you. Alas, you died right before the invention of magnetic film! Herbert Stothart was the #1 M-G-M composer in the 1930s and ’40s but very few of his scores have been issued on album, and he doesn’t have a fan base like other Golden Age greats like Newman, Waxman and Steiner (and even those fan bases aren’t what they once were). M-G-M scores, pre-1950, survive on the original optical film (as was the case for Random Harvest, very expensive to transfer) or on ¼'' tape made from the surviving optical tracks (not expensive to transfer, but incomplete and hit-or-miss as far as quality, as was the case for The Yearling). The Yearling is lovely music, with the old Hollywood “magic voices” that are so evocative of dreamy childhood…listening to a few tracks just now, to write this paragraph, reminded me of my fondness for this sound. Marilee Bradford won an ASCAP Deems Taylor award for her liner notes.
Vol. 9, No. 14: Guns for San Sebastian (Morricone): We have made 3,000 copies and have 192 in stock. This may or may not be the end of the run—sorry I can't give a definitive answer but of this writing I don't know yet. This isn’t the best or most famous Morricone western but it’s a very good one and I was pleased with our expansion and improved sound quality compared to the old MGM Records album. My main recollection is that whereas most M-G-M scores were recorded in Hollywood and had ample studio paperwork, this one did not—owing to its Rome recording—so I had to do it by ear, comparing the raw tracks against the movie and LP program.
Vol. 9, No. 15: Dead Ringer (Previn). We have made 1800 copies and have 431 in stock. This is a phenomenal score! I cannot believe more people did not buy it. I think through reading these blurbs you’ll see I am fair in assessing the merits of our albums—I’ll tell you when something has compromised sound quality, or only appeals to collectors of the particular era or composer. But this is a great score by the legendary André Previn. Do you like John Williams’s playful harpsichord style, as on Family Plot? This is where it comes from—Previn was a major influence on Williams’s style—just listen to the opening French horn line of Dead Ringer (and Inside Daisy Clover) and compare to Williams’s None But the Brave. Dead Ringer (this is NOT the Cronenberg movie!) is a macabre evil-twin movie starring Bette Davis, and Previn wrote a lush, romantic love theme, like a throwback to Korngold. Our CD presents the Warner Bros. LP program (a terrific listen) in stereo—we had the ½'' three-track tape masters and they are as good as it gets—followed by previously unreleased cues in mono.
Vol. 9, No. 16: The Liquidator (Schifrin): We have made 2000 copies and have 126 in stock. Lalo Schifrin’s enjoyable Bond-spoof score has a title song performed by Dame Shirley Bassey herself. Oddly, we had the previously unreleased cues, but most of the album tracks had been snipped out of the masters and sent to the record company…where they were lost. We actually took some of the album tracks from a fan’s transfer of a commercial cassette kindly provided to us (dearest fan, thank you, and forgive me as I forget your name), but the sound is quite good. My favorite track: “The Killer.”
Vol. 9, No. 17: Tom and Jerry & Tex Avery Too! Vol. 1: The 1950s (Scott Bradley): We have made all 3000 copies of the limited edition and have 343 in stock. Our artwork has run out so this will be the end of the run. This was a major undertaking, the goal being to do for Scott Bradley what was done for Carl Stalling in the 1990s. When I was a kid, the local channel 10 showed a half-hour of Tom and Jerry cartoons at 3PM—perfect for afterschool viewing—followed by Scooby-Doo. Later I discovered the Tex Avery shorts, which still impress long after Tom and Jerry's antics have become formulaic to watch as an adult. The previous Scott Bradley CD by Milan in the 1990s was so disappointing, but as I discovered, working with this material is not easy: there were dozens of cartoon scores preserved from the 1950s, but the 1940s scores (not included on this album) are mostly still on their original optical film. We decided to punt on those—I hope another label picks them up, as my favorite we did transfer and restore (“Mouse in Manhattan,” based on the song “Manhattan Serenade”)—and pick the best of the 1950s scores, including several in true three-track stereo (glorious!). Curiously, many of the main titles were missing—others appeared to be done in groups, several cartoons at once—and it was a jigsaw puzzle locating cues for different cartoons spread across a number of DA88s created in the 1990s. Incidentally, the cartoon scores have no component cue titles—just part 1, part 2, etc. until the end. Each cartoon was typically six or seven or sometimes as many as ten or more cues, not to mention music/sound FX, overlays, etc. I had to use the music/effects track and sometimes the finished cartoon soundtrack to fill in a few gaps. It was a pleasure working with cartoon music expert Daniel Goldmark, who wrote the liner notes and recommended which shorts to use.
Vol. 9, No. 18: The Spy With My Face: The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Movies (Various): We have made 3500 units and have 995 in stock. Jon Burlingame’s fourth and final U.N.C.L.E. album for us was his suggestion: a collection of the U.N.C.L.E. soundtracks as recorded/adapted for use in the feature films adapted from selected episodes that were primarily distributed overseas. “The Helicopter Spies” was problematic because the only source was acetates stored at USC. I left it all to Jon to produce and annotate—a pleasure, as always. (I remember we had to discuss what to call this particular edition, which was the hardest my involvement got.) I trust that across our seven discs and four albums of U.N.C.L.E. music that channel D has been sufficiently opened!
Vol. 9, No. 19: Raintree County (Green): We have made all 3000 copies of the limited edition and have 342 in stock. Our artwork has run out so this will be the end of the run. This was a moral imperative—Johnny Green’s masterpiece for the Civil War love-story megaproduction. I’m afraid not even the game of “spot Monty Clift’s old-vs.-new face” made this movie involving for me, but the score demands a complete presentation without the horrible reverb of the old RCA Victor album—and with the main and end title vocals by Nat King Cole. Cole's vocals cost a pretty penny to license from EMI (his label) and I was afraid we wouldn’t get them, but it turned out that preposterous overpayment did the trick. So I hope everybody appreciates what a bear this was, and I’m glad we were able to do it.
Vol. 9, No. 20: The Last Run/Crosscurrent/The Scorpio Letters (Goldsmith/Grusin): We have made 2500 units and have 573 in stock. This was the first and only album in which we mixed Turner and Warner Bros. content—even though both libraries are owned by Warner Bros., they are administered separately, and it is costly and difficult to mix them. But I wanted more Goldsmith than the Last Run soundtrack album (only the re-recording survives, although it’s basically the same as the film performance), and Crosscurrent (aka The Cable Car Murder) was an intriguing curio with its early version of the Escape From the Planet of the Apes main title. I love this era of Goldsmith’s “mod” writing—“Border Crossing” from The Last Run is a prime example. Unfortunately two of the better scores in this style, Shamus and the ABC TV movie Pursuit, are kaput as far as master tapes. The Scorpio Letters is a Dave Grusin TV movie score starring the expressionless Alex Cord—when we did our first Silver Age Classics CD, Stagecoach, in which Cord had the thankless task of replacing John Wayne, I spent the whole movie wondering how do I recognize that guy? (He was “Archangel” on Airwolf.) Dave Grusin was great from day one…The Scorpio Letters is a little bit subdued for an espionage score but I always assumed that if people complained about two or more scores on a CD not quite going together, I would always ask, would you prefer the rest of the disc to be blank instead?
Next Time: Vol. 10 (2007) CDs!