by Dan Goldwasser
But it wasn't what Horner was putting out that was new, but what CD manufacturers were putting out that was old.
GNP / Crescendo Records re-released the scores to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek III: The Search For Spock with new stickers, indicating that these scores were written by "The Academy Award Winning Composer ofTitanic".
A bootleg called "James Horner: Suites and Themes" was released. Then the officially sanctioned compilation albums began to arrive: Sonic Images' "Heart of the Ocean: The Film Music of James Horner" led the bunch. It was soon followed by Varese Sarabande's "Titanic and Other Film Scores of James Horner", and Silva Screen's "Titanic: The Essential James Horner Film Music Collection". It is these four CDs that I will focus on for this article.
James Horner: Suites and Themes [Bootleg]
This bootleg was released in Spring 1998, and contains over 70 minutes of music from scores not likely to be released anytime soon, at least in any official capacity. The sound quality is quite good, and if you happen to come across this CD for a reasonable price, it might be worth picking up. Music contained on the CD is from Honey, I Shrunk The Kids, 48 Hrs., The Pursuit of D.B. Cooper, The Journey of Natty Gann, House of Cards, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Tales From the Crypt, My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys, I Love You To Death, Jack The Bear, and Uncommon Valor. All of these are from the original recordings, which is why this is a bootleg.
Heart of the Ocean: The Film Music of James Horner [Sonic Images]
A detailed review of this CD was posted previously on Soundtrack.Net as a "Soundtrack of the Week" article.
Titanic and Other Film Scores of James Horner [Varese Sarabande]
Varese Sarabande hopped on the Titanic bandwagon closer to the time of the 2ndTitanic album than the first, but they do so with quite an effort. The first track of this CD contains a suite from Titanic as conducted by John Debney and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus. That is what separates this re-recording from the original - the use of a live chorus instead of Horner's obviously synthesized voices. Debney does a fine job conduction the suite, and does a very accurate re-telling of Horner's score. But once the choral parts arrive, it's as if we are on a whole new level - this is how Titanic should have sounded to begin with!
The remainder of the CD contains re-recordings of music from Apollo 13, Casper, Courage Under Fire, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Aliens, Brainstorm, and Braveheart. Also included are original recordings from Once Around and Cocoon: The Return. All of the performances are top notch - conductors Joel McNeely, John Debney and Cliff Eidelman do a fine job leading the orchestras. The interesting thing was that James Horner himself conducted the re-recording ofBrainstorm, and according to the liner notes, this recording was done exclusively for Varese Sarabande.
If you are an avid Horner fan, chances are that you don' t need to own this CD because you probably have all the scores represented on this album (there is nothing that hasn't been released before). However, if you don't know too much about Horner this album is an excellent way to get exposed to his works. It is definitely a worthwhile listen solely for the Titanicsuite.
Titanic: The Essential James Horner Film Music Collection [Silva Screen Records]
Silva Screen Records has released what has to be the largest Horner compilation CD to date: it is almost 114 minutes long, and is spaced out over 2 CDs. All of the music is re-recorded by the City of Prague Philharmonic under the conducting baton of Nic Raine. Most of the interpretations are excellent (some are a tad too fast for my liking) but people used to some of the original recordings might be a bit put off at first at some of the re-recordings - there is an explanation.
The first CD contains music from Titanic, Glory, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Legends of the Fall, The Land Before Time, We're Back: A Dinosaur Story, Ransom, Red Heat, The Rocketeer, andBraveheart. The music from Glory sounds different than the film version, and some people might be prone to instantly complain. But upon examining the liner notes, it is discovered that the only scores available to the producers for this re-recording were the original orchestral and choral drafts of Horner's work. So in some instances, the music differs and is fuller than the music heard in the film.
The second CD contains music from Apollo 13, Cocoon, Battle Beyond The Stars, The Man Without a Face, Willow, Field of Dreams, Patriot Games, The Name of the Rose, Commando, Deep Impact and a special symphonic version of "My Heart Will Go On" fromTitanic.
What makes this compilation album different than the others, aside from the amount of music, is that there are actually re-recordings of unreleased scores by Horner. Most notably, it's nice to have music from Red Heat, Commando, and Battle Beyond the Stars presented on this CD. For those that are familiar with John Woo's classic action film The Killer, you might be surprised to discover that Red Heat was used in the Hong Kong film. I also have to say that I prefer the rendition of the main theme that John Beal did for "Heart of the Ocean", since it was based directly off the film version, and has more energy.
This compilation is definitely worth picking up - especially since the price is supposed to be that of a normal CD, and you're getting a lot of music for the money. Silva Screen Records is also releasing a similar styled 2-CD compilation album for the music of Jerry Goldsmith later in September. Be prepared for a review on Goldsmith compilation albums around that time.