This was another of those “labor of love” assignments: An opportunity to extol the genius of Jerry Goldsmith, this time for his uncanny, but generally underappreciated, ability to write a great song. This album features new recordings of 20 of them, chosen from a 40-year span of the respected — and much-missed — composer’s career. For me, it was a chance to revisit such scores as A Patch of Blue, The Sand Pebbles, The Omen, First Blood, The Russia House and The Sum of All Fears; and to unearth such forgotten treasures as “May Wine” from The Blue Max, “The World That Only Lovers See” from The Chairman and “No One Like You” from Powder. Most of all, to marvel at the best-ever version of his love theme from Star Trek: The Motion Picture (sung by Raya Yarbrough); appreciate the poetry of lyricist Paul Williams in such songs as “Flying Dreams” and “If We Could Remember” (both sung by Katie Campbell); and restate my long-held conviction that “Nights Are Forever” (by Kira McClelland) could have been a colossal hit had it not been attached to the controversial Twilight Zone: The Movie.
Together with The Film Music Society and La-La Land Records, I have launched a new series of albums of classic TV music we are calling The Quinn Martin Collection. Martin was one of TV’s top producers in the 1960s and ’70s, and he enjoyed considerable success in the law-and-order arena. Volume 1 is subtitled “Cop and Detective Series” and features the pilot scores for Barnaby Jones (1973-80, by Jerry Goldsmith), Most Wanted (1976-77, by Lalo Schifrin), Dan August (1970-71, Dave Grusin) and Cannon (1971-76, John Parker). Rounding out the two-disc set are additional scores by Bruce Broughton, Grusin and Parker (for Barnaby Jones, Dan August and Cannon, respectively) and themes from other ’70s QM series including The Manhunter (Duane Tatro), Caribe (Nelson Riddle), Bert D’Angelo / Superstar (Patrick Williams) and Tales of the Unexpected (David Shire). In the colorfully illustrated 16-page booklet, I discuss all of the series and the circumstances of these top composers working in series television.
This was long in the making. There were only six episodes of this 1975 TV series starring Brian Keith as Ross Macdonald’s L.A. private eye, but the theme (and pilot score) was by the legendary Jerry Goldsmith — so naturally I audio-recorded one episode for posterity. When the original recording sessions were unearthed 40 years later, I asked to write the notes — and I dug out my old reel-to-reel tape of that forgotten NBC show. Goldsmith was doing a lot of TV in that era (Barnaby Jones, Hawkins, Police Story, etc.) and in fact this was the last hour-long series television episode he would ever score. My notes explore the backstory of the series, why it didn’t last, Goldsmith’s involvement, and a bit about Warning Shot, the 1967 cop drama whose music is also featured on this album.
The success of Tadlow Music’s earlier album celebrating Jerry Goldsmith’s music for the TV series Thriller has prompted a sequel, and once again producer James Fitzpatrick turned to me for notes — another fun opportunity to provide musical and historical perspective to a major early credit in the composer’s filmography. This album (superbly reconstructed by orchestrator Leigh Phillips) includes another six scores from the 1960-62 series hosted by Boris Karloff, including one of my favorite scores (“God Grante That She Lye Stille”) and two that employ surprisingly modernist piano techniques for TV scores of that era (“Late Date,” “The Terror in Teakwood”).
One of my favorite end-of-year assignments involves choosing the top 20 albums of “classic film music” released during the previous 12 months. This year’s task seemed harder than ever, because several labels gave us truly remarkable discs — some of them expanded classics, some previously unreleased scores, some of them reissues of very rare LPs. I enjoyed all of these, from the music of John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith to that of Aaron Copland and Vince Guaraldi and many more. The list spilled well over the 20 slots, so I added an “honorable mention” paragraph to sneak in a few more titles.
On Monday night, it was my pleasure to lead a Q&A with composer Michael Giacchino after a Society of Composers & Lyricists screening of his latest film, War for the Planet of the Apes, on the 20th Century-Fox lot. It is Giacchino’s second film in the Apes series (after Dawn, in 2014) and his fourth film with director Matt Reeves (the Apes movies, Let Me In and Cloverfield). The composer reported that 90% of the score — played by a massive orchestra and choir on the Fox scoring stage — was original, and he even came with props: the mixing bowl used by percussionist Emil Richards on Jerry Goldsmith’s original 1968 Planet of the Apes, and a ram’s horn that he played himself on both of his Apes scores.
Composer Brian Tyler (The Fate of the Furious, Avengers: Age of Ultron) penned more than two hours of music for Universal’s remake of The Mummy, including a massive orchestra and choir recorded earlier this year at London’s Abbey Road. I interviewed Brian for Variety, which asked me to place the new Mummy score in the context of previous musical efforts along these lines — which gave me a chance to link to excerpts from past scores by James Dietrich, Hans J. Salter, Franz Reizenstein and Jerry Goldsmith. And not only did Back Lot Music gave us an exclusive four-minute track, but Tyler clued us in to an “Easter egg” of a hat-tip to Goldsmith that he quietly inserted into his own score.
From 1960 to 1962, horror-movie legend Boris Karloff hosted an hour-long anthology of tales of terror titled Thriller, produced by Revue (later Universal Television) and aired on NBC. Jazz great Pete Rugolo scored many of the first-season episodes and even released a wonderful LP of those themes in 1961. When a change in producers led to a fresh musical approach, Jerry Goldsmith succeeded Rugolo, composing 16 remarkable scores for some of the best, and scariest, episodes — a worthy followup project to his classic Twilight Zone scores for CBS. Producer James Fitzpatrick supervised a reconstruction and re-recording of six of these, and the result is a Thriller album of classic Goldsmith. I was pleased to recount Jerry’s history with the series — along with considerable musical detail about the scores — in a 2,200-word essay for the booklet (printed in glorious, and appropriate, black-and-white).
Oscar-winning composer Jerry Goldsmith finally received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today, May 9, 2017. For a section in this week’s Variety, I asked composers who knew him and directors who worked with him for a little perspective on the man and his career. Goldsmith, whose filmography included The Sand Pebbles, Patton, Chinatown, Planet of the Apes, five Star Trek films and more than 100 others, was among the most respected composers in the history of Hollywood. Directors Joe Dante, Paul Verhoeven and Fred Schepisi contributed thoughts, as did composers David Newman, Christophe Beck and Charles Fox. Goldsmith died way too early, in 2004, and the star is not only overdue but well deserved. Here is the main story and here is a sidebar discussing 10 of his greatest scores. Finally, here is a complete rundown of the ceremony, who attended and what was said.
This was another really fun project. Filmmaker Daniel Griffith (with whom I worked on the Twilight Zone box) asked me to participate in his documentary on the making of an obscure 1960s TV series called The Loner. I was delighted to accept, because composer Jerry Goldsmith’s theme and two scores for this Western starring Lloyd Bridges are among my favorites from the Goldsmith canon. But it so happens that I am also a fan of the series itself, which was created (and often written) by the great Rod Serling. CBS unfortunately scheduled it in an out-of-the-way Saturday-night timeslot in 1965, and it lasted only a single season. I had seen many of the episodes and I knew much of the unhappy backstory of the series, so in this case — unlike most of my DVD appearances — my comments cover more than just the music.