Here is part ten 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), Volume 11 (2008) and Volume 12 (2009) reports.
Sorry I didn’t post this sooner but we’re now almost caught up to the present, and some of these titles are so recent that I am still recuperating from their experiences!
Vol. 13, No. 1: Prophecy (Rosenman): We have pressed 3,000 copies of which some 1700 are still in stock—this was one of our first picks from the Paramount library, a rambunctious Rosenman horror score (with some beautiful pastoral moments) and I was (ahem!) overenthusiastic about its sales potential. (I would be remiss if I didn’t offer you a link to one of the funniest scenes you will ever see.) By the way, it's one of the genre scores with a prominent use of Craig Huxley’s blaster beam. TWANG! And GLRONNK! (This is hard—where’s Don Martin when you need him?)
Vol. 13, No. 2: The Cincinnati Kid: Lalo Schifrin Film Scores Vol. 1: We made 1,500 copies and have to cut it off here (we had planned on 2,000 but the license has expired). FEWER THAN 90 COPIES LEFT! Go here for the free online notes. Lalo Schifrin did a lot of work at M-G-M in the 1960s and ’70s and I thought we might be better off aggregating the material into multi-disc collections than releasing them piecemeal (or maybe I just wanted the challenge), thus this ambitious collection includes Rhino! (great early Schifrin safari score), Once a Thief (both LP and OST), The Cincinnati Kid (ditto), The Venetian Affair and Sol Madrid. I thought it came off well. I was going to put Lalo's ’70s M-G-M scores in a “Vol. 2” but we ended up releasing Pretty Maids All in a Row (love that score!) and Telefon separately, and folded Earth II into our TV Omnibus. If any other enterprising label wants to follow up on this Lalo library, the Schifrin/M-G-M scores still unreleased are The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (album version, which we have without the narration), Quest for the Mask of Sheba (TV movie), Medical Center (many episodes), Bronk (a few episodes) and some early ’80s obscurities: Chicago Story (TV movie pilot) and A Stranger Is Watching.
Vol. 13, No. 3: White Dog (Morricone): We have pressed 2,000 copies of which 623 are in stock. Our fourth pick from Paramount, this is an obscure Morricone gem to a fine Samuel Fuller film that was unjustly suppressed due to its sensitive racial content. We used the ½'' Dan Wallin mixes which blow away the hissy dubdowns (actually an unreleased album master, many times copied from a cassette) that were ripped off and circulated on bootleg CDs.
Vol. 13, No. 4: The Wonderful World of the Bros. Grimm/The Honeymoon Machine (Harline): We have pressed 1,500 copies of and have 196 in stock. This was one of two projects with which I brutally hazed Neil Bulk, who has done most of the audio preparation (editing) for FSM the last few years—and it wasn’t even the hard one, hee hee hee! (You’ll encounter that below, keep reading.) This is a story with a happy ending: for years the fine score to the George Pal Bros. Grimm (songs by Bob Merrill, score by Leigh Harline) was considered lost but that wasn’t accurate—the scoring masters were at Warner Bros., but keep in mind, this was one of the few true three-strip Cinerama films ever made. The music was recorded in the rare, high-speed seven-track Cinerama format and could only be played back on a Cinerama machine—fortunately, one is owned/maintained by Chace Audio in Burbank. However, there was so much audio, and so much preparation work that had to go into servicing the one workable machine, that the price was simply beyond any boutique CD label’s means. I asked several times if I could pay for all or some of it myself and was told to forget it—but not to worry, the film’s assets were all scheduled for internal preservation at the studio and it would be taken care of in due course. And what do you know…it was! But even then, there was such a tonnage of audio (in unwieldy six- and seven-track formats) that I dumped it on Neil in a “here kid—sink or swim” moment. And he swam! (I think he even managed to get the main theme out of his head.) I went through boxes at Warner Bros. to find the David Rose album master and include those tracks on disc 2. There was still room left, so I threw on Harline’s obscure romantic-comedy score The Honeymoon Machine as a bonus—but here’s an example of how fatigued I was after a couple hundred soundtrack albums: I needed to order a screener videotape (for reference) and accidentally ordered M-G-M’s Honeymoon Hotel. I didn’t notice the mistake until I started watching it.
Vol. 13, No. 5: Marathon Man/The Parallax View (Small): We have made 3,000 copies and have 825 in stock. Ah, now we’re talking! I think I have explained before in these columns that I’m sufficiently passionate about film music that every CD offers something of interest to me…but once in a while we hit a real film music raison d’être and these two Michael Small-’70s paranoia thrillers fit the bill. They are emblematic of what I consider the “Silver Age” of film music and showcase what made Small one of the most important voices of the period: intimate, strange, visceral, ambient and sophisticated. I remember the first time I saw Marathon Man, where the love theme is recapitulated for the drive to the farmhouse, thinking, “This is so great—this isn’t available? Really?! We’ll have to do something about that one day!” One day has arrived—and even better, Neil Bulk did all the audio work (did I mention: “hee hee hee”). Marathon Man is gorgeous in a new mix from the 16-track masters. Unfortunately all that survived of The Parallax View was the mono music stem, but it is better than nothing—gotta love the “Parallax Test” and the demented “End Title” campaign march.
Vol. 13, No. 6: Cleopatra Jones/Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (Johnson/Frontiere): We made 1500 copies and have 548 in stock. I had hoped that blaxploitation titles might reach a larger audience but sadly it hasn’t been the case. I love this film music/R&B-soul sub-genre and the Cleopatra Jones films offer two fantastic examples, from the J.J. Johnson score and Joe Simon song of the first film to the Enter the Dragon-inspired Dominic Frontiere score of the sequel. There is a particular orchestration from this era that I have always found so buoyant and thrilling—listen to “Airport Flight” from Cleo 1, with the jazzy horns, proto-disco strings and great rhythm section. And check out Frontiere’s “Dead Dragon Lady” from Cleo 2—love this stuff! This 2CD set was a challenge to put together and took a lot of work at Warner Bros. sorting through different elements, demos, vocal stems, etc. For reasons unknown, the Millie Johnson songs on Cleo 1 had always been on the LP (and French CD) in fake stereo; we used true stereo.
Retrograde 80129: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (Horner): We have made 7,000 units and will keep this in print as long as we can. How sweet it is! This was the obvious follow-up to Star Trek II and the 2CD set I always wanted to have of Star Trek III, with the complete film soundtrack on disc 1 and the album program on disc 2—for several of the cues, the film and album versions differ, so you really need two discs to present everything. Like most Trekkies, it was something of a religious experience to hear the music for the destruction of the Enterprise—and I never realized that the music for the self-destruct countdown and the immolation in Genesis’s atmosphere was one complete take. We used L-C-R film mixes on the digital ½'' 24-track masters for ideal sound quality. Licensing was a bit difficult because we had to work out a sublicense with EMI (Capitol Records) as well as Paramount, but it turned into a good relationship with EMI that resulted in a couple other albums I long wanted to do (though not as much as this one). So this was a great experience and even greater to get to do it with friends—look at the CD credits and it’s our usual gang (Mike Matessino, Neil Bulk, Jeff Bond, Joe Sikoryak, Jeff Eldridge, Frank DeWald). Just checking the CD package now to refresh my memory, I love how Joe used a picture of the lush Genesis surface on disc 1, and then a picture of the planet exploding on disc 2. To help with the liner notes, I thumbed through Greig McRitchie’s orchestrations at Paramount to identify a lot of the exotic instrumentation that makes this score sound different from Star Trek II: cimbalom, EVI, Alpine and Tibetan horns, Roland Jupiter-8 emulator (specifically playing its “ocarina environment,” I remember that). This score has my all-time favorite blaster beam note (outside of Star Trek: The Motion Picture): listen at exactly 4:58 of “Stealing the Enterprise.”
Vol. 13, No. 7: Tootsie (Grusin): We have made 2,000 copies and have 210 in stock. Time to name-drop: you can thank Seth MacFarlane for this CD. I saw him at one of his jazz club performances with Ron Jones’s big band and he asked if we had thought about doing a CD of Tootsie. So I looked into it, and it took some time (particularly to sort out the licensing of the bonus tracks), but we got it done. I enjoy this kind of CD where we present the album first (which was very well produced for listening purposes) and add various alternates and film versions afterwards (like all the silly soap-opera cues). Needless to say—a great movie and score. Go Tootsie go!
Vol. 13, No. 8: Outland (Goldsmith): We have made 4,000 copies and have 737 in stock. This CD was a beast to produce. The Goldsmith score (recorded in London) we found at Warner Bros. in a fine-sounding three-track mix on 1'' eight-track tape—but paperwork was over at 20th Century Fox (via some material that had been in the possession of music editor Len Engel); Doug Fake at Intrada kindly sent us the Morton Stevens cue (which had been done in Los Angeles); and we did a deal directly with Michael Boddicker for his two source cues. Mike Matessino and Neil Bulk worked on the audio which was mastered by Bruce Botnick. The Outland LP sequence had been released in the early 1990s by GNP Crescendo but I’m proud to say that this 2CD set is the be-all and end-all of Outland soundtracks. Jeff Bond and I journeyed to Peter Hyams office for a long interview (published in full at FSM Online) in which we discussed basically every composer with whom he ever worked.
Vol. 13, No. 9: BUtterfield 8: Bronislau Kaper at M-G-M Vol. 1: We made 1,200 copies and have 279 in stock. This is a nice collection, if I do say so myself, of lesser-known Kaper scores from M-G-M, with the lovely BUtterfield 8 the centerpiece. See the online notes here. Oh yeah—you have to get it to get the last piece of the puzzle of Mutiny on the Bounty! I didn’t mean to do that to be cruel—it was an honest oversight the first time. There are many more unreleased Kaper scores in the M-G-M library if another label wants to tackle them.
Vol. 13, No. 10: Dragon Seed (Stothart): We made 1,000 copies and have 300 in stock. One of my biggest regrets in the decade we spent working with the M-G-M library is that we did not release more Herbert Stothart scores…but commercially, they are a very tough sell. Anything pre-1950, with the possible exception of Bernard Herrmann, and you’re down to a fraction of the audience for soundtrack collectibles—the people who buy everything (bless you!), and the people (usually older collectors) who have a passion for the era. Why Dragon Seed? Because we came across it and it was complete. Let me explain: Pre-1950 scores from M-G-M exist either on the original optical 35mm masters (very expensive to transfer) or ¼'' tapes made from said optical masters in the 1960s and ’70s. It is rare to find a score in complete form from the era, and the post-war years (1946-1950) were especially hard hit (not sure why—maybe cheaper film stocks). Most of the ¼'' tapes were archived by Warner Bros. onto a frankly awful and now obsolete digital cartridge format called M.O. Disks—I hate these things! They use SCSI connections (so recent and new Macs no longer connect to them) and the disks crap out constantly. But on several occasions we rented a M.O. Disk player, hooked it up to an old SCSI Mac at Private Island Trax, and transferred a dozen M.O. Disks at a time. Each disk had multiple ¼'' rolls on it, thus we accessed multiple titles (this was primarily for producing the Rózsa box). I was shocked to find Stothart’s Dragon Seed not only in complete form, but with dual microphone angles for almost the entire score (so we could mix to rudimentary stereo). In mid-2010 I had a hole in the schedule and decided to release a 2CD set of Dragon Seed, rather than hold it back for a possible Stothart box or mini-box. On that topic: there is a Stothart family archive that I attempted to gain access to for several years; it never worked out, and for me to vent any further about it will serve no useful purpose. Sadly, the only proper way to release more Stothart is to take the studio masters, and the family masters (acetates and transfers therefrom), and combine them in the computer to reconstruct these classic scores into the most complete forms possible. (I have some 78 minutes from the studio in very good mono sound of Marie Antoinette, but wanted to see what the estate had...and we never got that far.) There are quite literally dozens of Stothart scores that could be done as a limited edition box set of 500 (I am, sadly, not joking about that small number) that would take a lot of work, but if any other label wants to tackle this—and can get the studio and the estate on board—I will gladly, and thankfully, turn over all my paperwork, research and digital files pro bono.
Vol. 13, No. 11: Hunters Are for Killing (Fielding): We have made 2,000 copies and have 1158 in stock. Okay, I can’t blame anyone—this is a 1970 TV movie (starring Burt Reynolds as an ex-con going back to his home town) that probably only a handful of collectors have ever seen. The CD took 12 years to release: When we started the Classics series (circa 1998) Jon Burlingame kindly sent over faxes (I still have them—on the old thermal fax paper, yikes!) listing which CBS scores would be worth going after. Jon knew (and knows) everything about television music: TV movies, series, obscure pilots, etc. And not only that, he generously volunteered to venture into UCLA’s storage area (not exactly sure where that was at the time) where the CBS collection was being stored before being formally inventoried by UCLA. Jon and UCLA’s Tim Edwards went through the material and located a number of goodies, out of which we were able to release only one: John Barry’s Monte Walsh. There were four TV projects that Jon located that we had transferred to DAT and I tried (repeatedly) to license from CBS: The Homecoming, Hunters Are for Killing, Nightwatch and A Step Out of Line. Alas, CBS kept putting us off (they were not set up to research these ancient projects) and eventually I stopped asking. But all those years, I had these DATs, and it was killing me that we couldn’t release them. Fast-forward to 2010 where I approached CBS again, and by this time they were set up to do album projects, so we have been able to release several of these scores (the first to go ahead was the Star Trek: The Next Generation box set). Only…the DATs went bad! (They were full of drop-outs.) So we had to go back to UCLA to re-transfer the tapes…which could not be located. Perversely, Jon and Tim’s act of finding the tapes back in 1998 had caused them to go to the “back of the line” of the official inventory, and while the vast majority of the CBS collection is today searchable via an online finding aid, there remain a couple hundred boxes that still need to be logged…including the goodies we want. So long story short, UCLA’s current curator let me accompany her on a trek into the aisles of boxes and we found the temporarily “missing” tapes. And we produced this great Fielding CD. From the jazzy 5/4 main title (which later became the theme to Fielding’s Big Sleep remake score) to the varied source cues, this is a gem, but in the current economic environment it’s asking a lot of collectors to buy a CD to something that they have not only never seen, but never heard of. I hope people check out the sound clips because this Fielding score, coming as it does relatively early into his 1970s peak period, is full of zest and also a bit of the 1960s Advise and Consent romanticism that he later found few opportunities to revisit. One last story…when I had a cassette (made from our DAT) of Hunters circa 2000, I was out in my car and a friend of mine used to like to play the cheesy fake-acid-rock source cues (“Acid at Carl’s”) and roll down the windows as we pulled up next to other cars—preferably those with young women in them, a la Suzanne Somers in American Graffiti. We joked about cruising the Sunset Strip with this music. I am glad we did not.
Vol. 13, No. 12: CHiPs Vol. 3: Season Four 1980-1981 (Silvestri): We have made 1,500 copies and have 545 in stock. Our third installment of Silvestri CHiPs CDs was based on the research and recommendations of CHiPs super-fan Larry Sherrod—Larry, take a bow! Because there was a 1980 musicians strike, there were fewer original scores available from this season of CHiPs, so each one could get a longer presentation—including the (failed) back-door pilot, “Mitchell & Woods.” I hope people enjoy these things.
Vol. 13, No. 13: TV Omnibus (Various): We have made 1,500 copies and have 554 in stock. Looking back it’s clear I was reaching the end of my line circa 2010 because I wanted to throw as much material as possible into 3CD and 5CD sets, which probably resulted in packages that were too expensive and too obscure to justify the cost to consumers. The “TV Omnibus” came about because there was so much cool (but little-known) television in the M-G-M library and I hoped that putting it together into an “Omnibus” might make it more appealing—check out this roster of names: Williams, Rosenman, Ellis, Grusin, Parker, Fielding, Duning, Mellé, Schifrin, Goldenberg. For people who grew up on this era of TV programming, you are getting an assortment of stellar musical voices. (Mellé’s score to “The Forest Primeval” from Then Came Bronson is a mini-masterpiece of jazz TV scoring.) Almost all of it is in terrific-sounding stereo. Check out the online notes…and how cool is Schifrin’s loungey-spacey theme to Earth II, which starred a ridiculously disinterested Gary Lockwood?
FSM Box 05: Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Ron Jones Project (1987–1999). We planned to make 5,000 units but I was clearly on drugs—we’ve sold around 1,200 so we’re still going through the first 2,000 we manufactured. We’ll probably have to end it there. But of all our projects…I don’t care! Jeff Bond and I practically wrote a book on these scores for the online notes, but I don’t know (or remember) if I ever explained how these fit into my biography: circa 1990–91 the most interesting thing in the world to me was Star Trek: The Next Generation, and specifically the episode scores by Ron Jones. The cliffhanger ending of “The Best of Both Worlds, Part I” was one of Star Trek’s greatest moments; maybe I was just a naïve kid, but it seemed like we (Star Trek fans) honestly had no clue what would happen: there were rumors that Patrick Stewart wanted off the show, so it seemed that Picard might be killed and Riker would become the captain, for good. The end of Act II with the Borg on the viewscreen and the first use of the synth choir for the Borg made me sit up (literally) and pay attention to the score, after which I retroactively discovered Ron Jones’s music to his previous episodes. I remember, as the broadcast for “Part II” approached, I did a night of volunteer work directing the car-parking for a dance studio called The Yard in Chilmark (which is still around). All I remember is that it was an idyllic summer night, with that particularly sweet and nostalgic smell of greenery in the countryside, and my heart was aflutter…at the imminent prospect of finding out what would happen on Star Trek. So I’ve said it before and I will say it again: this is the kind of obsession and mania that passes for normal around here. I had (and still have, in Mom’s basement) off-air videotapes of numerous ST:TNG episodes, and I used to roll them back and forth to hear certain cues over and over again—I can’t count the number of times I watched this scene. I used to fantasize about making a complete box set of Ron’s Star Trek scores, even trying to figure out how many discs it would take—so I’m deeply proud of this project. (We even included Ron’s computer game scores.) By the way, after working on as many Star Trek CDs as I have, I have called for a moratorium on emails with “make it so” and other dialogue quotations in the subject lines. You know, approving the pdf for manufacturing, approving a master—“make it so!”...the thrill is gone!
Vol. 13, No. 14: Hawaii Five-0 (Stevens): We have made 3,000 copies and have 607 in stock—the budget price ($12.95) has helped this sell well. Yes, I know what you want: the complete H50 soundtracks…maybe one day, via some label, that will happen. This album (a reissue of the ancient Capitol LP) probably represents the only tracks that survive in stereo—great stuff, including arguably the greatest TV theme ever written.
Vol. 13, No. 15: Kung Fu/Man in the Wilderness (Helms/Harris): We have made 1,500 copies and have 463 in stock. Like Hawaii Five-0, Kung Fu is a reissue of an LP from back in the day—which was all the rights we could get. If any enterprising label wants to do a collection of the original Jim Helms soundtracks, the stereo masters are available at Warner Bros. (as opposed to Warner Bros. Records). We added Man in the Wilderness (cool main title theme!) in the longtime FSM spirit of “why not?”
Vol. 13, No. 16: The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T. (Hollander): We have made 2,000 copies and have 1,077 in stock. This 3CD set was a money pit as we scoured the world for acetates and transfers of Dr. T. material—the bill from the Library of Congress (who had the bulk of the acetates) came to many thousands of dollars. I dumped everything on Neil Bulk to organize. My role in this was solely and truly “executive” as I cowered in fear of the scope of the material, and left it to others to produce, particular Neil and Mike Matessino. The movie is a bizarre hoot but having not grown up on it, it’s not really my thing. I’m glad we got it done. Michael Feinstein was very generous with his time, contacts and materials.
Vol. 13, No. 17: North Dallas Forty (Scott): We pressed only 1,000 copies and have 336 in stock. I think I knew this title would not sell well (it reminded me of Whose Life Is It Anyway? in its profile—an orchestral dramatic score circa 1980 by an excellent composer, but not a Williams, Barry or Goldsmith), which is a shame as it’s a classy sports film with a beguiling main theme. Years ago, when I began the newsletter that became FSM, one of my first pen pals and collaborators was Andy Dursin—he was in Rhode Island and I was on Martha’s Vineyard, so we would take trips visiting each other to talk movies and movie music. Andy had an outstanding collection of laserdiscs and weird videotapes he had taped off-air (Siskel & Ebert reviews, things of that sort—i.e. today’s youtube content). During one of my visits to him he said, “You’ve got to hear this end title theme, it’s the greatest thing ever!” He put on a laserdisc and we were both delighted by the theme that came up as the end credits rolled: John Scott’s disco-styled theme to North Dallas Forty, which we found hilarious in the best way possible. To Andy (who did liner notes for this CD)—this one’s for you!
Vol. 13, No. 18: Poltergeist (Goldsmith): We made 3,000 copies and have 196 in stock, but we’ll keep this in print as long as we can. This came about because Mike Matessino asked to do it: he thought he could improve upon the Rhino album from the late 1990s (working in this case with Bruce Botnick), and I think did the definitive presentation. It’s by far one of Goldsmith’s greatest, and that’s saying a lot. I’m only really qualified to speak as to the bonus tracks to The Prize, which came about because I was looking for masters from MGM Records at Warner Bros. one day (I might have been looking for the David Rose Bros. Grimm album.) Warners had some time ago received from PolyGram the MGM Records album masters pertaining to movie or TV soundtracks (otherwise, the MGM Records library belongs to Universal Music Group). The tapes were boxed together and put into inventory, but some were not labeled precisely due to missing or incomplete documentation. So, if you go looking for one tape (say, Bros. Grimm) you’ll tend to go through boxes of many other titles from the era, and one of the tapes I pulled from a box was the ½'' three-track master to Goldsmith’s album session of The Prize. I muttered “darn it” that I hadn’t found it years earlier when we were doing the Prize CD (using an inferior source for these tracks), but we had space to add the better-sounding masters to the end of Poltergeist.
Vol. 13, No. 19: A Man Called Horse (Rosenman): We have made 2,000 copies and have 1,096 in stock. The lack of sales for this disappoints me because this is one of Leonard Rosenman’s most lovely and powerful scores and I thought there would be much more interest. Also, it took some six years to pull off—I will explain: Around the time we did The Swimmer, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean and Checkmate (licensed from Sony Music), we started work on A Man Called Horse (originally released by Columbia Records). Sony had the 1'' eight-track masters (containing most of the score) and I was thrilled with the sound quality. Alas…the title had been cleared (approved) for release by one business affairs employee, but months later I was informed the title had been un-cleared. WTF? I was told that this particular staffer had been more interested in planning her wedding than her work, and upon departure all of her recent clearances had been re-evaluated, and there were not sufficient rights to release A Man Called Horse. I was pissed and may have tried to inquire with CBS (who own the movie) but there was no one there to help me. So the project went into limbo…until I re-established a relationship with CBS (see Hunters Are for Killing, above) and finally released A Man Called Horse. I hope people take a second look at this title because Rosenman’s use of Native American material may be old-fashioned today, but at the time it was cutting-edge and musically this is a gorgeous piece of work.
Vol. 13, No. 20: Lassie Anthology (Amfitheatrof, et al.): We made 1,000 copies and have 314 in stock. This was an awful lot of work…at first I intended to release a 3CD set of Son of Lassie, Courage of Lassie and The Painted Hills, as Lassie Come Home could not be located, and the two Previn scores had no surviving masters. Then we found the surviving mono tracks for Lassie Come Home…we filled it out with music-and-effects cues…we did a disc of the Previn scores from music-and-effects cues…and got acetates from USC to fill in missing pieces of The Painted Hills. It just seemed to get bigger and bigger, and after turning over each rock, there seemed to be the next rock to look under, until finally we had to just release the thing. I was pleased to include the Elmer Bernstein score (in stereo) to It’s a Dog’s Life, a charming (non-Lassie) work. Woof! Check out the free online notes. This did not sell well, but I didn’t expect it too…and I don’t really care...it was really meant for the people who like these films, and I’m glad to have done it for them.
Next Time: Vol. 14 (2011) CDs—then we’re almost done!