Being an avid soundtrack collector and having an extreme appreciation for the art of a good film score I'm always happy when a score is made available on CD, but even more excited when a record label takes the bold move of releasing a score in its entirety.
You'd think that wouldn't be that big of a deal, but scores aren't exactly top sellers so record labels obviously don't want to pour that much effort or money into them much to my (and many others) chagrin.
However, speciality labels like Varese Sarabande, the label responsible for some of the best soundtracks on the market, keep us aficionados happy with an extended or full release of a score which contains not just a selection of tracks, but as many cues as possible -- in sequential order and without the intrusion of nasty pop songs (the worst offenders are those soundtracks that are 90% pop songs, and only a few score tracks).
Anyhow, getting to my point, there are 2 expanded soundtrack collections -- one already released and the second out next week -- that are must buys for any serious soundtrack lover.
The first is a set I have been waiting to be release for a very long time, and that is a full set of THE INDIANA JONES series.
Back in the mid-90s (95 I think), there was an expanded release of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK with several more tracks than the original 1981 album, and a comprehensive booklet of liner notes compiled by FILM SCORE MONTHLY's editor Lukas Kendell. At that time, Kendell reported that an expanded score for INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM was quite unlikely due to lack of certain masters, and even though a very poor quality bootleg of the full INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE score was floating about, an official expanded release of that seemed unlikely as well.
So now it's 2008, and with the release of the fourth movie on DVD and Blu-Ray, Concord Records has released a 5 CD INDIANA JONES COLLECTION, featuring a further expanded RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK score as well as expanded editions of TEMPLE OF DOOM and LAST CRUSADE, the recent release of KINGDOM OF THE CRYSTAL SKULL (no extra tracks) and a fifth disc featuring a selection of cues from the first 3 movies as well as interviews with John Williams, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas. The entire set is produced by Laurent Bouzereau, one of (if not the) top DVD producer working today (among the titles he is responsible for is THE BACK THE FUTURE trilogy).
The set, released on November 11, comes in a collector's case with a booklet featuring rare photos and liner notes by Spielberg, Williams, Lucas and Bouzereau. I'm especially excited about the expanded TEMPLE OF DOOM score which is one of my favorite John Williams works. I am a little confused as to why, like a similar STAR WARS box set released in the 90s (before the release of the special editions to theatres) instead of including all the tracks with their respective soundtracks, they chose to put random extra tracks grouped together on the fifth disc. Personally, it's not that big of a deal...I'm just happy to have these expanded scores.
I have purchased the set, and am in the midst of compiling a review for WIX PIX II (along with all the films I am behind on...whoops...sorry).
The score retails for $59.99, but can be had on Amazon for $43.49, and is also available for MP3 download (but why would you do that and not get the great collector's case?).
The second set is a 2 Disc expanded Hans Zimmer/James Newton Howard score for THE DARK KNIGHT which includes 30 tracks with a special collector's book in a cool looking case and will be released on the same day as the Blu-Ray/DVD, December 9. The issue I have with this collection though is that for a set that only has 2 CDs, it retails for $57.99 (is available for pre-order on Amazon for $44.99). That's kind of steep if you ask me -- that collector's book had better be good. Consider that the INDIANA JONES set has 5 discs with close to 80 tracks and is available for the same price.
Let's hope these kind of releases keep coming. Here's hoping for one day an extended STAR TREK II, STAR TREK III (both by James Horner) among others too many to name here.