Thursday, December 31, 2009

Five favorite expanded or limited-edition score albums of 2009

Are you Team Charger or Team Mustang?
Manigong Bagong Taon. This is the only year-end list I will do because I hate doing these year-end things. Selections from all five of the following CDs can be heard during "Assorted Fistful" on the Fistful of Soundtracks channel.

Dennis Dun as Wang Chi in Big Trouble in Little China
5. Big Trouble in Little China (La-La Land)
The cheesy end title song, in which director/composer John Carpenter does his own singing, hasn't aged as well as the rest of Carpenter's score or the movie itself, which remains subversive for giving its Asian American characters a chance to shine as the heroes of the piece for once in a genre that still doesn't care for Asian American protagonists (and no, Jackie Chan doesn't count as an Asian American lead, shitbird).

4. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (La-La Land)
La-La Land followed up the long-overdue Batman: The Animated Series box set with an expanded version of the score from the show's 1993 feature-length spinoff. Before Christopher Nolan came along, the Bruce Timm incarnation of Batman was the definitive screen take on the Dark Knight. Batman: The Animated Series was also beautifully scored by the late Shirley Walker, who provided music for Phantasm that's both powerful and playful (the choir is actually singing backwards pronunciations of the names of Phantasm crew members and orchestrators).

3. The Split (Film Score Monthly)
I was on a Donald E. Westlake kick during the summer because of the release of Darwyn Cooke's adaptation of The Hunter and the debut--in any format--of an unknown and very sampleworthy Quincy Jones score to a forgotten 1968 Jim Brown flick based on The Seventh. Say the following five words--"caper movie score by Q"--and I'm there, baby.

2. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (Film Score Monthly)
One cool thing about FSM's reissue of the Khan score is that it gives listeners the option of hearing the film's end title music without Leonard Nimoy's voiceover, an element of the 1982 Atlantic release that annoyed those who prefer not to hear dialogue during score albums. Also, it's nice to finally have the complete score. Somewhere, Ricardo Montalban's smiling.(*)

(*) I hate that Flanders-esque catchphrase from Fantasy Island. It's mostly because a former co-worker I couldn't stand liked to say "Smiles, everyone, smiles" a lot.

Jacqueline Bisset as April O'Neil in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
1. Bullitt (Film Score Monthly)
FSM also stands for Fulla Surprises, Man. Sometimes, I won't visit the FSM site for weeks, and I'll miss announcements like the debut release of Lalo Schifrin's Bullitt score as it was heard in the film (Schifrin's 1968 and 2000 re-recordings of his score, one of which is included on the CD, are both decent, but I always preferred the way the score originally sounded in the film). I didn't know about FSM's Bullitt CD until a couple of weeks ago and immediately snapped it up. The Bullitt score is my second favorite Schifrin film score after Enter the Dragon. The main theme has been covered so often that it's a shame the original rendition hasn't been available on CD until now.

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