“JOURNEY TO INTO A VAST SPACE, TO BOLDLY GO WHERE NO MAN’S GONE BEFORE!”
“Star Trek: The Original Series Collection”
Soundtrack Review Part 1 Season One Discs 1 -5
LA-LA LAND RECORDS LLLCD1701
Featuring Music By Alexander Courage (Discs 1&2)
Fred Steiner (Discs 3 &5), Sol Kaplan,
Joseph Mellendore and Gerald Fried (Disc 4)
Disc Five Features 1st Season Library Music & F/X Tracks
Disc 1: 30 Tracks/Disc Time: 60:06
Disc 2: 31 Tracks/Disc Time: 70:07
Disc 3: 47 Tracks/Disc Time: 68:04
Disc 4: 40 Tracks/Disc Time: 72:36
Disc 5: 76 Tracks/Disc Time: 73:21
*BEST OF 2012/13*
Since it’s unpreceidented release at the end of last year, “Star Trek: The Original Series” box still remains as one of the most important and exciting releases for the La-La Land Records label and a major gamble as well after scoring major successes with their sold release of Jerry Goldsmith’s “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” expanded album years ago and their brilliant expanded release of Goldsmith’s “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” which should be on its’ way to selling out in the near future. This comprehensive and spectacular box set was one long in coming after soundtrack fans have been teased by several solid releases of some of the more popular music from the best episodes of the series by labels such as GNP/Crescendo, Varese Sarabande and Label X over the last few decades. This collection is the first ever release of all the original tracks from all three seasons of the series which ran from 1966 to 1969 under the DesiLu banner with Paramount Television. The series for most who have seen it and still think it’s remarkable for its’ time, revolves around the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise lead by it’s charismatic Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and his crew that includes the benevolent and wise Spock (Leonard Nimoy), Dr. Bones Mc Coy (DeForest Kelley), Lt.Uhura (Nichelle Nichols), Chekov (Walter Koenig) and Scotty (James Doohan).
During its’ run, the crew would under go through various enemies such as the Kilngons, encounter unique characters and of course the series most popular villain that would later make the leap onto the big screen, Khan (played with gusto by the late Ricardo Montalban) which would overshadow Captain Kirk in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. Some of the episodes were also an influence on their big screen adventures as well much like their future spinoffs “The Next Generation”, “Deep Space Nine” and “Voyager” would later go on to achieve their own grand success of their own and would also feature memorable music for their series run much like this one. The series featured some of the finest composers in Hollywood at the time featuring Alexander Courage, Jerry Fielding, Gerald Fried, George Duning, Fred Steiner, Samuel Matlovsky, Sol Kaplan and Joseph Mellendore among others. Each with their own ecclectic styles that really transcended well both on the big screen and in television.
Season One is led by the famous fanfare by Alexander Courage and Gene Roddenberry that has become a cultural icon like the show has and has been re-orchestrated in modern, almost contemporary ways by Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Cliff Eidelman, Dennis McCarthy, Leonard Rosenman and now, Michael Giacchino with his latest opus. Whoever doesn’t know this theme by now aside “Star Wars” is really missing something. The first season music was a solid and engaging production by this group of composers that pretty much led to their best work through their run in the series. Alexander Courage’s “The Cage”, “Where No Man Has Gone Before” (Featured on Disc One) as well as “The Man Trap” and “The Naked Time” (Disc Two), which featured some of very interesting and interesting styles and orchestration to his music ranging from bombastic to sultry at times to suspense filled moments with playful undertones. I have to admit it is an interesting approach and pretty much was the style with most television series scores during this time period. I particularly enjoyed the first disc of his work because it really did establish where the music in the series was headed and set a blueprint of sorts for the other composers that would come on board later on. Disc Two of Courage’s work is very solid as well and is somewhat in keeping with his work on the first disc only with a little more varied and just as intriguing.
Fred Steiner’s work is featured on Disc Three and features some ecclectic and fun material and in particular his interpretation of the show’s theme (“Main Title (Cello Version)”) which is the version of the theme that most have become accustomed to hearing from the show’s reruns and many, many renditions of the theme featured on television soundtrack collections like the ones that the record label “TVT Records” used to produce for example. Steiner’s work featured throughout this disc that includes the episodes “Charlie X”, “Mudd’s Women”, “The Carbonite Maneuver”, “Balance Of Terror” and “What Are Little Girls Made For?”, is actually some of more interesting and engaging of most of the discs from the first season scores. This probably is my favorite of this batch of discs due to its’ wonderful dramatic music and overall, a well balanced disc and excellent representation of Steiner’s material. Of the scores, I highly enjoyed “Charlie X” and “Mudd’s Women” throughly for its’ shifting fun styles, which adds to the many reasons I really liked this disc the most.
Disc Four features the work of three great talented composers in Sol Kaplan, Gerald Fried and Joseph Mullendore, who are somewhat overshadowed by the work of Courage, Steiner and Fielding in popularity of the Star Trek music for the series. Each with their own eccletic style but definitely do keep the blueprint that Courage, Steiner and the others have remained faithful to. The disc features Kaplan’s score to the popular episode “The Enemy Within” featuring the “evil” Captain Kirk and delivers the best score on the disc without a doubt. Filled with suspense and dark, brooding energy, it’s easy to see why I chose this as the best one because it just is for this disc. Not to say that the other composers on this disc didn’t do solid work as well. Mullendore’s score for “The Conscience Of A King” is very engaging and surprisingly is quite romantic in parts that I honestly really enjoyed and his music is up there with the works of the others. Gerald Fried’s music for “Shore Leave” is very interesting and features a nice array of styles from militaristic to lush romance to playful comedic material that is fun and entertaining for what it is. Not the greatest score in the bunch, but it is infectious fun.
Disc Four features another popular score in the series “The City On The Edge of Forever” that is in keeping with Steiner’s fine and enjoyable work featured on the earlier on Disc Two. This score is a wonderful piece albeit brief, but the material is just outstanding. It’s like a noir score that doesn’t sound like it is for the series and that’s why it is so good. The disc is rounded out by Library music recorded for the series to be reused when need by each composer as well as a sound effects archive to cap of the disc.
In reviewing this set, which has been an exhausting, but unique experience in so many ways. I can easily see why fans of the show have really wanted a set such as this one for the longest time. It’s full of thrills and unique moments, that are really missing from most soundtracks today. There was a craftsmanship of music that was established here and set a standard for what a Sci-Fi television show should sound like for years to come. All of the composers works represented over the 15 discs was a labor of love and enjoyment in that they did have alot of fun composing for the series and the music itself dictates that. The energy is there. The passion and the excitement of creating something original for what would become a legendary TV series despite its’ short lived run, but would find a home in the hearts of many viewers since their original airings. With these experiences to take account for, I took a fresh approach to this since I’m personally not a die hard fan of the series eventhough I’ve enjoyed all of the films, there is a uniqueness about it that is just easy to see why people love it so much and were bitterly disappointed when it was cancelled in 1969. This set is special reminder for the extremely loyal fans of the series, that somethings were just simply ahead of its’ time and “Star Trek” was easily in that category. That the series remains as popular today and stronger than ever is a great achievement and started out with these excellent composers busting their butts to write the memorable music that made for memorable television.
This is just simply part ONE of this review which will be followed by Part TWO which will cover the scores (Discs 6-10) that comprise the music from Season Two and it only just gets better.
UPDATE: You can access the second Part of this review here: