Maestro, If You Please…

Someone recently sold a slew of older movie soundtracks on CD to a local resale shop, so naturally, I had to jump and take my fill.  I have collected soundtracks in one form or another since I was old enough to go to Beautiful Day, a long-since gone record shop (actually, the record shop) in my hometown.  Whether on LP, cassette, CD, and now MP3, if I have a choice of which genre of music I’ll listen to, it’ll almost always be a soundtrack.

Sort of.

See, there are two types of soundtracks: a score, which is almost always just orchestrated music from a film, and a soundtrack, which is often some orchestrated music along with pop vocals, dialogue, and/or whatever else the producers decide to toss in there.  Most so-called “soundtracks” are actually “scores,” but the distinction comes in handy when a film releases multiple recordings: For example, 2009’s Watchmen released both a soundtrack (of popular music as used in the film), and a score (of Brian Tyler’s fantastic orchestral composition).  It’s not common for a film to cut two separate recordings, but it’s not rare, either.

My haul was small, but significant as I’d finally managed to get a few items on CD that I’d long wanted: First on the list was Philip Sainton’s Moby Dick (1956), which hadn’t been released in its full form until 1997.  (Naturally, I learned just after I purchased it that there’s a re-release occurring in just three weeks.  Wow.)  Now, I have to confess – I love that movie, but part of it is that I’ve been a fan of Gregory Peck since I was a child.  He made that movie for me, and the fact that it’s one of the few times that he’s ever played a “negative” character, makes it all the more special.

Then there was Maurice Jarre’s 1977 Jesus of Nazareth.  This was released on LP back in the mid-1990s, and it has the distinction of being the first thing I’d ever purchased on Ebay (so many, many years ago).  This CD is the Italian version, meaning that while the music itself is the same, the track containing a recitation of the Beatitudes does not feature actor Robert Powell (in the movie), but rather an Italian speaking actor (who probably dubbed the Italian version of the film).  This is a bit of a letdown as this – for me – was one of the best parts of the LP version.

Then there’s John Scott’s 1980 The Final Countdown, and here I struck pay dirt.  I haven’t seen that film since it first premiered on cable, so figure about twenty or twenty-five years.  Yet I remember certain aspects of it (namely, that I didn’t like it) and it’s interesting plot: A modern-day nuclear aircraft carrier gets transported back in time to a point just days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Do they warn everyone?  Do they stay quiet?  How do they return to the modern (1980) world?  What I did not remember was the soundtrack, and while I’m not as blown away by it as many people on Amazon seem to have been, it’s not bad.  More to the point, is that it’s rarer than I thought, so the meager fee I paid to own it has been paid back many times over.

Which is good, because it more than makes up for the piece of crap version of Blade Runner (1982).  I haven’t seen this film in years, either, but I vaguely recalled that the soundtrack was supposed to be a piece of art.  Supposed to be – as in, “allegedly.”  Sadly, I was duped (likely as the original owner) into buying the infamous “orchestral cover” of the soundtrack, and having wasted half an hour of my life in doing so, I doubt that I’ll ever look for or listen to the “authorized” version ever again.  I want to go back to the store and scream, “Seriously?”

Batting 3 for 4 – not bad when it comes to used music…


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