Here is part nine 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), Volume 8 (2005), Volume 9 (2006), Volume 10 (2007) and Volume 11 (2008) reports.
In reviewing the titles, I am reminded—2009 was a backbreaker. In a normal year we’d release 20 titles—that’s 20 discs of content. This year, between the multi-disc sets and the Rózsa box set, we released 47 discs of content. Maybe that’s an average year for Varèse Sarabande, but for us it was almost two and a half times the norm.
Moreover, almost every single title was a “problem” project that took years to complete, involving either a licensing tangle, or a production hurdle, or both. Many were in the pipeline for months or years and kept getting pushed back until I built up the knowledge or confidence to deal with them—or simply bit the Bullitt (ha ha).
Vol. 12, No. 1: Maurice Jarre: Concert Works: We have pressed 1,500 copies of which 870 are in stock. In other words, this may be our worst-ever selling title, even more disappointing than A Man Called Adam...and I’m honestly surprised. It’s a collection of rare, early non-film works by the great Maurice Jarre—some of them far removed from his familiar film style, but one (“The Night Watch”) a fascinating forerunner to Lawrence of Arabia. I suppose film music collectors are simply not interested in a CD unless there’s a film involved—oh well. This also had the bad timing to be released during the depths of the 2008-09 financial crisis, when the glut of releases was making it difficult for collectors to keep up. But I know Maurice was personally very pleased that this album was released, so that makes it worthwhile for us.
Why It Was Hard: In one sense this was easy, because it came to us fully formed from French producer Jacques Hiver. But it required forging a new licensing relationship with the rights-holder in France (I still do not fully understand exactly who they are...it might involve the government) and one of the only times I have done so internationally, which I usually avoid due to the hassle.
Vol. 12, No. 2: David Raksin at M-G-M: We made 2,000 copies and have 443 in stock. I am very proud of this 5CD set, collecting a multitude of obscure but excellent David Raksin scores from the 1950s at M-G-M.
Why It Was Hard: Five discs of rare content, encompassing 12 films, with acetate transfers from USC supplementing the studio masters—of course this was a monster to produce! And we wrote free online notes to chronicle each and every cue. Oh, and Eydie Gormé’s pivotal vocals for Until They Sail had to be newly licensed from the singer.
Vol. 12, No. 3: Time After Time (Rózsa): We have pressed 3,000 copies of which 421 are in stock. What a magnificent score! It was a dream come true to release the original soundtrack performance (as opposed to the re-recording) of this late-Rózsa masterpiece.
Why It Was Hard: First, I unintentionally asked a lot of Warner Bros...there were certain licensing issues they had to resolve with the re-recorded album before giving the green light for us to proceed with the OST—I didn’t realize this would be the case, but fortunately, they stuck with it and delivered the go-ahead. Then I ask Nicholas Meyer if he would like to be involved (I met him at a screening of Star Trek II—more on that below—and have been a lifelong fan), who could not have been nicer or more gracious in writing new liner notes for us and lending his enthusiastic support. But still, I was nervous involving the film's cowriter-director and wanted to make sure he was pleased with our handling of his movie. Finally, even though Mike Matessino handled the music score remix, we had to go searching for the Ripper’s “music box” element which was not part of the scoring masters. We eventually got it from the film’s music stem and layered it into the stereo music mix using the original scores (at the Warner Bros. library) as a guide.
Vol. 12, No. 4: A Johnny Mandel Trio: We have pressed 2,000 copies of this 3CD set of which 739 are in stock. While not the kind of Goldsmith or Williams action score you can count on for big sales, I considered it a moral imperative to release two of the greatest of the 1960s: The Americanization of Emily and The Sandpiper by the American legend, Johnny Mandel. A third score, Drums of Africa, rounded out the presentation.
Why It Was Hard: Anytime you have a 3CD set, plan on triple the work, no matter what shortcut you think you can take. Emily was problematic because, along with The Time Machine, it had had its original 35mm music masters physically cut up for a home video project in the 1990s and transferred to two-inch tape. Delicate Pro Tools work had to be done to reunite the used and unused cues, and portions thereof. The other two scores were straightforward in comparison. We had a bit of a shock late in the process when we misunderstood that Johnny would be willing to autograph some booklets for us. In point of fact, he would prefer we jump off a cliff although his wife relayed a more polite version to us.
Vol. 12, No. 5: Inside Daisy Clover (Previn): We have made 1,500 copies and have 264 in stock. One of André Previn’s last hurrahs in film was this 1965 tale of the rise and fall of a 1930s movie star (Natalie Wood), requiring incisive psychological scoring and ersatz Hollywood numbers. Great score, great sound quality, tons of alternates and demos.
Why It Was Hard: Tons of alternates and demos! The scoring tapes went on and on with different takes and versions of the songs. Here’s where the Warner Bros. music library is essential: I scoured the 1965 music editing paperwork and conductor’s scores to find precise indications as far as which takes and portions thereof (especially re: vocals) were meant to be used. Not easy! There was also one missing roll at the end (lost probably due to water damage in the 1994 Northridge quake) so we couldn’t include a few short film revisions, though I did turn over rocks looking for it. The project was emotionally “hard” because I knew all the work was going to be of interest only to a sliver of the market—but a few of those folks are good friends with great taste. The circus is a wacky world….
Vol. 12, No. 6: Dr. Kildare (Goldsmith/Sukman/various): We made 2000 copies and have 434 in stock. This is a great collection of music to the television classic, with an entire disc of Goldsmith’s early scores and two discs of additional suites and themes primarily by Harry Sukman. As with many of our television projects, I can’t imagine anyone but Jon Burlingame producing and annotating it.
Why It Was Hard: Five years of television music (in different formats, mostly ¼'' tape and 35mm mag) is a lot to sort through—and the Goldsmith pilot was missing from the studio elements. We found a copy of its music stem and, at USC, acetate reference discs—whew!
Vol. 12, No. 7: Twilight Zone: The Movie (Goldsmith): We have made 4,500 copies and have 400 in stock—we will continue to keep this in print. It is one of our best-selling titles and deserves to be: Goldsmith sci-fi wonderment circa 1983, what is better than that?
Why It Was Hard: There were many tapes to transfer to get the desired film mixes—most of it on 32-track 1'' Mitsubishi, a fickle and expensive format. The source music songs were on the even more problematic 32-track 1'' 3M format, which can only be transferred by Walt Disney Imagineering (who operate the last working machine). This was our first project with Bruce Botnick, Goldsmith’s recording engineer from Star Trek: The Motion Picture through the rest of the Maestro’s career. This did not make the project “hard” per se, but it was rather like going up Mt. Olympus itself in order to retrieve one of the artifacts of our favorite Greek God! We had to make sure we were giving Bruce the best source from which to work. Oh...I think someone noted (complained) that the cover image was not as sharp as a prior edition. That’s because we had to scan an LP jacket. Do you think the labels keep the color separations? The studios have high-quality images of film stills and posters (usually), but LP covers? Forget it. We’re lucky if the labels acknowledge they own the rights and actually have the masters.
Vol. 12, No. 8: Captain Nemo and the Underwater City (Morley): SOLD OUT! This is a delightful score by English composer Angela Morley. I hope someone reissues it.
Why It Was Hard: It wasn’t—in fact it was fairly straightforward. This was the first FSM title to be released that I turned over to Neil Bulk to handle the Pro Tools editing and assembly. Neil is probably the only person in the world I’d trust with this responsibility. Sadly, Ms. Morley passed away while we were working on the production.
Vol. 12, No. 9: The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (Grusin): We have made 1,500 copies and have 250 in stock. This is a lovely early Dave Grusin score for the Southern melodrama starring Alan Arkin and a young Sondra Locke.
Why It Was Hard: Cues used on the record album had their master takes snipped out of the scoring masters at Warner Bros. and put onto separate “work reels” stored at Warner Bros. Records—and the work was not well logged. Fortunately I was able to sort everything out with the help of the WB music library, and the CD is, I think, a good presentation of the original album, a lengthy program of just score, and some extra source cues—an eclectic mix, some of it stylistically dated, but the underscoring is gorgeous.
Vol. 12, No. 10: The Thief Who Came to Dinner (Mancini): We have made 1,800 copies and have 359 in stock. I’m crazy about this little-known early ’70s Mancini score, with its irresistible main title groove and “cool” moods.
Why It Was Hard: It wasn’t too hard—like Twilight Zone: The Movie, The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter and a batch of other titles around this time (Jeremiah Johnson, Bullitt, Outland), we had to license the album tracks from Warner Bros. Records and the unreleased cues from Warner Bros. Pictures, which means double the paperwork. But unlike The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter, the masters were all intact at WB Pictures and we used the 2'' multitracks for great sound quality.
Vol. 12, No. 11: Whose Life Is It Anyway? (Rubinstein): We have made 1,500 copies and have 581 in stock. This is a terrific, little-known dramatic score by Arthur B. Rubinstein. Richard Kraft (prominent film composer agent, and lifelong film music fan) suggested it to me at the 2008 San Diego Comic Con. I’m glad he did.
Why It Was Hard: Not too hard—this was Neil Bulk’s second production for us. There was a little bit of a “worry factor” because we wanted to do it with Arthur, who had never been happy with the sound of the original recording. Fortunately we were able to mix and master it to his satisfaction.
Vol. 12, No. 12: None But the Brave (Williams): We have made 3000 copies and have 981 in stock. This is an early dramatic score by John Williams to the Frank Sinatra-directed WWII-Pacific film. The main theme is gorgeous.
Why It Was Hard: Not too hard—once we found everything. I had looked into the master tapes some time before getting the license. Once we got the green light, I formally requested the tapes—but a few rolls were missing. Yikes! Tragedy! But curiously, WB’s inventory had the missing items "checked out” to the tape transfer building—who had no record of having received them. Long story short, I found them on a shelf tucked into a corner—this was my own fault, as the tapes had been moved due to my initial request to research them, a couple of years earlier. Mike Matessino handled the audio production. Getting the license for the cheesy single at the end was a hassle…and the single is pretty bad, but at least we have it… you be the judge!
Vol. 12, No. 13: The Split (Q. Jones): We have made 1500 copies and have 305 in stock—this is all that will be available! This is a dynamite, jazzy crime score by Quincy Jones from his great late ’60s period. The film is little-known (perhaps deservedly so) but check out the main theme. I love this era of film scoring—and the composers who did it best—where there’s more melody in the opening bassline than in an entire modern-day score.
Why It Was Hard: Thankfully, this one was easy. Aha, but one thing: there was an overlay recorded but not used for one of the suspense pieces. To this day I have no idea how the overlay was meant to go with the track. I tried everything, checked all the paperwork, went to USC to check the conductor’s score—I think it was some random piece of source that was not meant to synch to anything. It was not “musical” at all. I left it off—but not after weeks of trying to solve the riddle.
Vol. 12, No. 14: Cain’s Hundred (Goldsmith): We have made 2,000 copies and have 474 in stock. After The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Jericho and Dr. Kildare, this was the final early Jerry Goldsmith TV theme/series from the M-G-M vaults, a short-lived 1961–62 crime series. Can you imagine watching television and having music this good? That’s what it used to be like when Goldsmith scored a show.
Why It Was Hard: All television soundtracks are challenging due to the quantity (usually) of material. This one also had a problem rare for the historical M-G-M library: Usually the studio paperwork is comprehensive, but in this case there were some missing logs so we weren’t even sure, at first, how many Goldsmith scores we had—four, it turned out (the last one a “partial” score). I used a Morton Stevens score to fill out the CD. We also had some music by Fred Steiner but in all honesty and with affection for Fred, it wasn’t very compelling. I dimly remember that a couple of Goldsmith cues were unusable from the studio elements, so we got them from acetates at USC.
Retrograde 80128: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Horner): I won’t even tabulate these sales but suffice it to say they’re in the 8000–9000 range and holding steady—this is our single-bestselling title, and deservedly so. I am also proud to say this was one of my all-time biggest childhood “wants,” ever since I mail-ordered a cassette (dubbed from the LP) in the 1980s from some convention shark and was aghast to discover the absence of “Enterprise Attacks Reliant.” (It’s so funny: this was my all-time favorite unreleased cue and now I can just link to a low-res MP3 of it to write a web column.) So imagine my religious experience when we got the master tapes and the very first piece that played when we rolled the first tape (it was the first cue recorded) was that very cue (M101). I could write an entire essay, and maybe I will one day, why this film is the best version of Star Trek ever, but imagine this: take a memorable line or scene from one of the other films—even a good one like Star Trek VI, where McCoy and Spock load a torpedo at the last minute, and ask yourself, if that was transplanted into Star Trek II, would it be good, or stupid?
Why It Was Hard: This was our first dance with Paramount, who were historically averse to any kind of licensing from their film library, but a new administration has seen the light—and thank goodness. We had to license the album rights from Rhino (Atlantic Records), then get the previously unreleased music from Paramount. A few tape rolls in the infamous 3M 32-track format had to be transferred by Walt Disney Imagineering (see Twilight Zone: The Movie, above). “Genesis Project” we licensed from Craig Huxley. Alas, we could not tell the story (in the liner notes) of how director Nick Meyer immediately recognized the use (rip-off) of Prokofiev’s Alexander Nevsky in the “Battle in the Mutara Nebula” and called Horner on it, who sheepishly replied, “I’m young, I haven’t outgrown my influences.” As with Time After Time, thanks to Admiral Meyer for his time and assistance. Jeff Bond and I went to his house and when Nick sat down to speak with us, the first thing he said was, “This will be like one of those detective movies where the suspect sits down with the cops for the thirteenth time: I’ll tell you everything I know, but it won’t be any different from the last twelve times we’ve done it.” During the conversation, Nick was espousing something about film history (perhaps that movies are best left for others to judge and should not be explained or, contrary to the George Lucas approach, altered), and I said, “We’re the same as you.” Not looking up or missing a beat, Nick said, “I am relieved beyond words.” Ouch!
Vol. 12, No. 15: Jeremiah Johnson (Rubinstein/McIntire): We have made 3,000 copies and have 214 in stock—we will keep this in print beyond 3,000. It has been surprisingly popular, probably due to people catching the film on cable and wanting the songs. This is a lovely score by the little-known composing duo of Rubinstein and the late McIntire for a poetic and memorable wilderness-western.
Why It Was Hard: As with several other titles (above), this was a combination of the Warner Bros. Records album tracks and previously unreleased selections from Warner Bros. Pictures. There were missing bits from the studio elements so it was a jigsaw puzzle to reconstruct. We were fortunate to have John Rubinstein’s support and input—and priceless demo tapes he kept from his early recording sessions with late songwriting partner and vocalist Tim McIntire.
Vol. 12, No. 16: The Five Man Army (Morricone): We have made 2,300 copies and have 465 in stock. This is a(nother) classic Morricone western, complete for the first time.
Why It Was Hard: Not too hard, though I remember there were some pitch-correction issues and as often happens with Italian productions it took some deduction to sort out everything as there was no paperwork. The main title—the only piece in stereo—came from Italy.
FSM Box 04: Miklós Rózsa Treasury (1949–1968). We have made 1,500 box sets and have 89 in stock; we have parts to make another 500 and will do so when needed. From 1949 to 1968, Miklós Rózsa worked almost exclusively at M-G-M, and when our Turner–Rhino license deal started in 2002, I immediately released complete-score editions of the obvious titles: Lust for Life, Knights of the Round Table, Plymouth Adventure, Diane, Tribute to a Bad Man, and so forth. But there were quite a few minor projects, oddities, short scores (The Asphalt Jungle), previously bootlegged scores (Young Bess), “archival” scores (requiring use of music-and-effects tracks, particularly Quo Vadis) and strange-sounding scores (Something of Value). At a certain point, I worried that the “odds and ends” would become too marginal to release without being bundled with more bigger-name titles, so, rightly or wrongly, after Valley of the Kings/Men of the Fighting Lady, I decided to throw everything remaining into one mega-collection.
Why It Was Hard: !!!!!! It took years (I’d have to calculate how many) to produce this box because there were so many rocks to turn over and roads to go down—see the online notes. I mean, we went so far as to scour the M-G-M library for scores where Rózsa’s music had been re-recorded for B movies like Desperate Search, and include those on disc 11. We also found—finally—the original 35mm scoring masters for The Power, and have included those, complete. I quite literally went through Rózsa’s M-G-M payroll records at USC to make sure we weren’t missing any projects—through those I discovered he started work on The Sheepman (an obscure 1958 western eventually scored by Jeff Alexander) but only got so far as recording a few generic folk source cues...shocking, but I actually left those off. (That research led to this neat page.) This box set would not have been possible without the support and cooperation of several folks from the Rózsa Society, and particularly Frank K. DeWald, who has joined Jeff Eldridge in proofreading all of our booklets. (Among other things, Frank took over writing the CD ad copy on our site.) I honestly don’t know what the Maestro would think about collecting so many odds and ends into this emerald cube…maybe he’d be horrified...but I’m glad we did it.
Vol. 12, No. 17: Bullitt (Schifrin): We have made 5,500 copies and have 1,304 in stock. This is a steady seller and we will keep it in print. Bullitt is one of my all-time favorite scores and coupling the excellent LP recording with the previously unreleased original film soundtrack was a long-held dream of mine. You can’t argue with Lalo’s LP arrangements as a commercial presentation of the score, but the film version is great too (and quite different), and they both deserve to heard.
I’ll tell a funny story—though it is only indirectly about this score (you'll have to wait for the punchline). We got to know Leonard Rosenman (who has nothing to do with Bullitt) towards the end of his life. Lenny sadly suffered from frontotemperal dementia and it was heartbreaking to see what it did to such a towering intellect (a whole other story). There were, alas, a few years in the late 1990s where we were in touch with Lenny but not exactly sure if he was ill or just eccentric (I don’t blame anyone for keeping it private). We found it peculiar that Lenny could no longer remember names (at all) when we were interviewing him for some of the CDs we were doing, like Fantastic Voyage.
Both before and during the illness, Lenny was notoriously snobby in interviews, dismissive of other composers and most films. But as I have long tried to explain, in person it did not come off as malice; he was a charmingly, lovely, well-humored (albeit opinionated) man.
After Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Lenny would call us up asking if we wanted to have lunch and on one occasion a bunch of us went from the FSM office to meet him at a deli in Beverly Hills, where we watched as he was nearly run over (so it seemed) crossing the street. (“Fans cause death of Academy Award-winning composer” was not the Variety headline we wanted to see.)
Finally on one occasion I went by myself to lunch with Lenny (and his request) and picked him up at his house in Laurel Canyon. It was during that meeting when he was acting so odd that I kind of asked what was up, and he told me he had this “lesion” on his brain, and I put two-and-two together and deduced that he was not well, which was later patiently and kindly explained to me by his wife Judy.
(This was the famous occasion—famous in that I feel like I've recounted the story more than once to my pals—when I asked Lenny, out of curiosity, what his parents did all those years ago in New York, and he replied: “Oh, my parents were horrible, evil people. I only wish they were still alive, so I could kill them.” Shortly thereafter at lunch, Lenny was telling me about his second wife, Kay Scott—also a musician—who one day had excused herself to go to the bathroom and dropped dead of an aneurysm. Keep in mind he had also been close with James Dean, and we know what happened to Dean. So I said, “Wow, you’ve had a tough life… you lost your wife… your best friend…” And he nodded, “Yeah.” Then, God bless him, he adds, “My brain”—and he laughs! I loved Lenny.)
I drove Lenny to Hamburger Hamlet on Sunset in my crappy old Subaru (my college car, which I am still driving) and had a few cassettes in the glove compartment (the car has no CD player, just a cassette deck). One of the cassettes was a crummy, many-times-dubbed-down mono copy of the Bullitt original soundtrack (which I adored, and it was this cassette that inspired me to release the original all these years later).
Keep in mind this is Leonard Rosenman, who hated just about everyone—you might think he’d respect Alex North, right? Brilliant East Coast modernist composer? Per Lenny, North was “dance crap.” When we dared mention (at the Beverly Hills diner) Maurice Jarre’s name, Lenny blew a raspberry—a big old fart sound. Ha ha. Now, nothing against Lalo, but I was afraid Lalo Schifrin would be exactly the kind of trendy jazz-pop artist that Lenny would piss all over.
So I put in a cassette of Bullitt and told Lenny who and what it was. The main title came on, and I expected him to hate it…I should make clear that music was the one thing specifically not affected by Lenny’s illness, due to the part of the brain involved—he was able to keep composing despite his other problems.
Lenny listens, then says, “This is good.” I say, “Really?” He confirms, “Yeah, this is good.”
So Bullitt has Leonard Rosenman’s seal of approval!
Why It Was Hard: Not too hard. I really wanted the album to sound great and took the unusual step of sending the master to Lalo to make sure he liked it. Our first attempt at mixing the 8-track originals for the album version had too much reverb so I had it redone. He liked it, but then didn’t want to participate for the liner notes. I dunno. I quit. Seriously, I have, that’s why I am writing these memoirs.
Vol. 12, No. 18: Northwest Passage: Classic Western Scores From M-G-M, Vol. 2 (Stothart, Various): We made all 2,000 copies of this limited edition and have 753 in stock. Our first two 3CD western collections sold out at 1,500 units, so I did 2,000 on this one—naturally, it didn’t even crack 1,300. Did I mention I quit? Maybe people are less interested in the troika of Stothart, Mockridge and Sukman…I don’t have the time to worry about it. Some lovely stuff here—Northwest Passage was requested for years.
Why It Was Hard: Not too hard, except the usual difficulties in doing three times the content for one album. I split the work with Neil Bulk and Mike Matessino.
Vol. 12, No. 19: Black Sunday (Williams): We have made 4,000 copies and have 152 in stock. Time to make more! We’ll be keeping this one in print. This was the #1 item on all the labels’ shopping lists at Paramount (one of the few post-Jaws unreleased John Williams scores) and I am happy we got it.
Why It Was Hard: There were various procedural, licensing and approval matters to work out at Paramount, who had never done this kind of classic score CD from their film library. (La La Land did Airplane! slightly before us, I think, but it was all happening around the same time.) Strangely, the actual finale heard in the finished film could not be located, and we couldn’t even find an AFM (union) report for when and where the pick-up session took place—we used the revised finale in mono from the film’s music stem.
Vol. 12, No. 20: Islands in the Stream (Goldsmith): We have made 3,000 copies and have 892 in stock. Our number-two wanted score at Paramount was the original soundtrack performance of this Goldsmith classic.
Why It Was Hard: Not too hard, but the story of the master tapes is interesting.
Next Time: Vol. 13 (2010) CDs.