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Screen Archives Entertainment 250 Golden and Silver Age Classics on CD from 1996-2013! Exclusive distribution by SCREEN ARCHIVES ENTERTAINMENT.
Wild Bunch, The King Kong: The Deluxe Edition (2CD) Body Heat Friends of Eddie Coyle/Three Days of the Condor, The It's Alive Ben-Hur Nightwatch/Killer by Night Gremlins Space Children/The Colossus of New York, The
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By barely popular demand, I will wrap up my reminiscences of producing the CDs in the Film Score Monthly catalog. Go here for the previous installment, which has links to the earlier ones.

I am not including sales and pressing numbers because I don’t even know what they are. I put off writing this column because, in all honesty, I was so burnt out that many of my memories are not happy ones. I never got tired of the music, but the administrative duties of running a boutique label—negotiating contracts, proofing packages, maintaining financing, finding new titles to release—did me in. Circa 2012 I was preparing to get married, producing a micro-budget movie, and embarking on the La-La Land Records 15CD box set of Star Trek music—so finishing the FSM catalog was fourth on my list of priorities. In addition, the last half-dozen albums had high degrees of difficulty as they had long been postponed in favor of easier ones. I took my time to release the last albums so that we could do them properly.

Vol. 15, No. 1: Ben-Hur (Rózsa): Mike Matessino handled the restoration and presentation of this mega-classic. My lasting memory is being grateful for Mike—and, when it was finally released, people complaining that they couldn’t get one of the discs out of the tray. Then when I got my copy, I thought, darn it, this disc won’t come out of the tray!What can you do? Manufacturing issues—good thing I quit! We had to get the Vol. 1 LP master from the Rózsa collection at Syracuse which took a while. 

Vol. 15, No. 2: It’s Alive (Herrmann): I love this crazy Herrmann score. I used to have a hissy cassette of it (back from the pre-CDR days when collectors traded these things amongst themselves). The legend (possibly true) is that the recording engineer was never paid for his work, so he either wiped or kept the tapes—so all we have left are the mono mixdowns which were at Warner Bros. The first roll had the cues at a miserably low level, so there was a lot of hiss when we kicked it up.

Vol. 15, No. 3: The Friends of Eddie Coyle/Three Days of the Condor (Grusin): This is fantastic two-fer of groovy ’70s Grusin classics. It doesn’t get much better than this! I was so glad we were able to include the Condor cues not on the original LP (newly mixed from the multitracks)—especially “Life and Death Introspection,” as Redford and Von Sydow talk at the end of the movie—and the complete Eddie Coyle, which is a terrific companion. The first time I heard Condor was in college when I got the Japanese SLC CD and I thought it was absolutely fantastic.

Vol. 15, No. 4: Body Heat (Barry): Talk about an album whose time had come. The original Label X release had been mixed without Barry’s involvement, and the composer loathed it—listen to the opening bars of the main title on the Label X mix with the piercing keyboard and compare it to how it is supposed to sound on our release. We used Dan Wallin’s original intended album mix and sequence (the album Barry wanted to release) for disc 2, and Mike Matessino mixed the multitracks anew for the complete score presentation on disc 1. We also added all those demos of the theme we found at Warner Bros.—and got Jon Burlingame, the best in the business, to write the liner notes. This album contains perhaps the all-time best movie cue title: “Kill for Pussy.” Vulgar, perhaps, but unforgettable.

Vol. 15, No. 5: King Kong (Barry): The penultimate release was our second bite at this big apple (ha ha), as the initial release had to be restricted to the LP master for licensing reasons. But since that time, Paramount opened up, and we could do a 2CD set with the complete score newly mixed by Mike Matessino with Neil Bulk’s editorial assistance. I can admit that I produced two albums of this soundtrack—and I avoided watching the movie each time. I love “Petrox Marching Band,” one of those unmistakable Barry throwaway creations. Jeff Bond told me that back in the '70s he and his friends would start singing “Presentation“ (aka “Kong Hits the Big Apple“) whenever they saw something overhyped and lame.

Vol. 16, No. 1: The Wild Bunch (Fielding): Ah, the grand finale—a fitting thematic conclusion to our 250-album, 15-year series. This was a mega-production and I remember going through some three dozen rolls of ½” tape at Warner Bros., folders of the scores at the Warner Bros. music library, correspondence from the Sam Peckinpah Collection at the Motion Picture Academy, gigantic Pro Tools sessions of the transfers (lining up all the stems and overlays)—all for the purpose of making this the definitive presentation. It was fascinating to read the memos between Peckinpah and producer Phil Feldman during the scoring of the picture. We even got ahold of the 1” master for the two tracks recorded specially for the LP, and (from AMPAS) the two tracks Fielding recorded as demos. Check out the supplemental online notes available for free at the site—it took ages to make sure all those slate numbers and recording dates were correct. I had a slight Peckinpah moment myself, if I do say so, when Warner Bros. refused to approve the use of the “Darkey’s Awakening” period overlay due to the lack of legal paperwork, and I put my foot down and said under no circumstances would I take it off. (It is so old, it’s conclusively public domain—and it’s in the movie, after all!) I was prepared to just say we removed it and leave it there, on the assumption nobody would ever listen to it—but they acquiesced.

There you go, friends. I am happy to have stayed involved in soundtrack CD production since ending the FSM CD series, particularly on Paramount titles for Intrada, La-La Land, Quartet and Kritzerland. As I said...I never got tired of the music! But those stories are not really mine to tell. Thanks for reading—and listening!

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Thanks for reading—and listening!

You're welcome! And as a fan of the previous recaps, thanks for writing this one. :)

It's been five and a half years since LLL's Airplane! announcement. It's amazing how Paramount went from 0 to 100 in seemingly no time. (For us at least - no doubt your perspective is quite different.)

A few extra comments, if I may.

Ben-Hur came from the original 6-track recordings. I was surprised how much longer many of the cues are compared with the film. A lot of cutting was done post-scoring.

While working on Body Heat, I discovered that Barry recorded the score in order, and this may have been his working method in general, as The Golden Child was similarly done that way.

King Kong was an enormous project. The first few reels were 24-track with dbx noise reduction. Our engineer, Johnny Dee Davis needed to rent dbx decoders for that. The rest of that show was 16-track Dolby. For a short period, Mike Matessino and I thought we had stumbled upon an alternate score because of the different recording methodologies, but once we heard the music we realized we didn't. We still don't know why they started with one format and switched to another.

Barry also started recording Kong in film sequence, but then things got complex. Most of the alternates on disc 2 are from the earlier 24-track sessions as Barry went back to revise the cues. I was worried that with so many takes putting this together would be a massive jigsaw puzzle, but they always went with the last take.

I'll also note that King Kong was transferred around the same time as La-La Land's Star Trek - The Motion Picture, and the 16-track tapes were played back on the same machine as TMP in Johnny Dee's studio. Also, he used the resolver again, the device that picks up the 60Hz tone on the tape to make sure the machine is running at the correct speed. The Kong sessions lined up precisely with the final movie.

Neil

Thanks Lukas for finishing off the run! It's always great to read your reminiscences...thanks too to Neil for chiming in with yours. Fascinating details! Please feel free to post additional comments on past installments for projects you worked on (the monumental Brothers Grimm and 5000 Fingers were you, right?)

Yavar

The King Kong 2-fer was re-issued by - what was it, an extra 500? An absolute gem. You did good, Lukas!

My selfishness wished that the FSM label kept going for an even 300 releases so more scores from the classic MGM catalog could be released. We don't get much of anything from that these days. Intrada backed releases of Then Came Bronson and North by Northwest, and I think that's it.

I'm with you Smitty. I would have hoped at least that Lukas would continue as overseer making sure MGM stuff got out like he's been doing for Paramount, but aside from those two great releases, nothing!

And when FSM was going it was the strongest part of their catalog ...heck we thought we'd be getting *every* good surviving MGM score (TV or Film) at the rate Lukas was putting them out, plus he teased us with all of those great box sets marked 'Vol. 1'!

Yavar


Thanks Lukas for the wonderful 250 FSM CDs.

Thanks too for producing CDs for LLL, Intrada, Kritzerland etc. It's great to get these (mostly) Paramount titles. Please keep them coming! :)

Any chance you can issue a few more MGM and WB titles?



King Kong was an enormous project. The first few reels were 24-track with dbx noise reduction. Our engineer, Johnny Dee Davis needed to rent dbx decoders for that. The rest of that show was 16-track Dolby. For a short period, Mike Matessino and I thought we had stumbled upon an alternate score because of the different recording methodologies, but once we heard the music we realized we didn't. We still don't know why they started with one format and switched to another.

Neil


This is only a guess. But, around the same time, Steely Dan was using dbx for their "Katy Lied" sessions. They had problems with the dbx gear, and included an apology for the sound caused by these problems when the LP was released (although it still sounded better than the majority of pop records of the time; more here: http://www.steelydan.com/dennys3.html).

Perhaps Barry and his recording crew were having the same issues with dbx that Steely Dan had, and switched to Dolby?

Thanks again to you and Lukas for these stories, and all your hard work in releasing these CDs. My ears are very grateful!

Thanks Lukas for finishing off the run! It's always great to read your reminiscences...thanks too to Neil for chiming in with yours. Fascinating details! Please feel free to post additional comments on past installments for projects you worked on (the monumental Brothers Grimm and 5000 Fingers were you, right?)

Yavar


Yes I worked on the reconstruction of both of those scores. As Lukas says in the "Grimm" notes, I was "mercilessly hazed" on that one. Looking back on it, it wasn't that bad, but when you're just starting out, being given an enormous project like that seemed a bit daunting, even though I'd already assembled "5,000 Fingers".

The thing with "Grimm" and many of the MGM titles I've worked on, is that the paperwork was clear and easy to organize. Once I figured that out, putting it together was relatively painless. The most fun I had on it was cutting the song, "Dee-Are-A-Gee-O-En (Dragon)". I had it cut one way, but it was a mess, so I simplified it, using five of the six music tracks and using the center channel from the 6 track movie for the vocals. This movie had directional dialogue though, so I had to grab pieces of the vocals from other tracks and put them on the center. It worked out well.

I remember getting some material on that after the main program was done, some missing odds and ends. At this point I can't recall what they were, but I was happy to get them. I remember driving to the studio to get them mixed and talking with my family on the phone. They were at my grandmother's funeral. The album is dedicated to her.

"The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T" was a total mess. I remember my friend and colleague Mike Matessino had a stack of transfers on this one, and every time I visited, that stack seemed a little bigger. I don't recall how I got on it (did I volunteer?, was I recommended?) but I wound up with everything and it became my job to sort it all out. Unlike other projects, I had minimal paperwork and only the released version of the movie, but it was clear that wasn't the movie that was scored! One piece of documentation I found made it all possible. It was hand written and had running times of cues, and it looked like it was for the original longer cut. I used that as my guide, and when I found cues that were close to the listed running times I placed them in that order. When it came time to put cues together with Mike, it was gratifying to learn that they worked out so well.

Neil


So that's how Neil did it! Great job!

lk

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