In 1979 a whole new generation of sci-fi and horror films were redefined by Ridley Scott's thrilling classic; ALIEN. The film was met to strong positiv reviews and became one of the most parodied and inspirational films of the time. Only one thing was missing, Jerry Goldsmith
's score. The story behind this was well documented in documentaries (as well as the the liner notes for the score.)
Apparently Goldsmith and Scott were disagreeing over whether the film should contain little to no music. The score written for the film itself was completely butchered, pieces either re-written or replaced by temp music. On top of that, Scott ended up dropping a large portion of the music in exchange for more quiet moments in the film. In 2007 Intrada Records finally delved deep into the story and presented a two part album containing; the complete original score, the rescored alternate cues, the original 1979 album, as well as numerous bonus tracks.
Disk 1 of the album features both the original and rescored cues. Listening to the album is a great example of why Ridley Scott shouldn't have dropped Goldsmith's score. The opening 'Main Title' is orchestrally impressive, starting off with a beautiful yet mysterious trumpet solo and suddenly changing into a darker, repeating two note motif. The theme is reprised in 'Hyper Sleep' and finally expanded into a full orchestra in 'End Title'. Thanks to his skill in the horror genre; Goldsmith also delivers a very creepy soundscape for alot of the score. 'The Passage', 'The Skeleton', 'A New Face', 'The Lab' 'Cat Nip' and so on barely even resemble music, but more intricate sound complete with harsh stingers and eery noises that don't resemble any instrument. Some of the best horror moments, however, are the brassy ones. 'The Shaft', 'It's A Droid', 'Parker's Death', and 'Out the Door' offer orchestrally terrifying music with pounding percussion and a clashing of trumpets and tubas. Overall, it's a shame that Ridley Scott dropped the score the way he did (although the new music holds up very good as well). The music really capture the beauty, mysteriousness, and terror of being alone in space with a deadly creature.
Continuing on from the original score is Goldsmith's revised score. The main title, for example, was changed from the previous orchestral version to a creepier, more ambient theme (the two note motif remains, albeit slightly altered.) The rest of the cues follow suit. Tracks that previously contained thick orchestrations are changed to more ambient style cues with brooding brass motifs and quick flashes of horror. While the music doesn't sound as good as before, the decision was well made. It's alot more effective than before. One good example is 'out the Door'. The cue starts off with explosive brass and changes into a darker variation of Goldsmit's original main theme.
The second disk covers the original 1979 album as well as several excerpts and inserts related to the film. The inclusion of the album istself is a little excessive, as it is just a compilation of what you have heard before but for true soundtrack fans, it's a nice little treat. The bonus tracks themselves are interesting, however. 'Main Title' is a shortened version that appears in the film. 'The Skeleton' is an alternate take on the original cue. The following three cue include demonstration excerpt and give you a listen to original ideas for the cues. They also feature the conductor announcing the track at the beginning of each. 'It's a Droid' also features some unused inserts. The last cue on the album is 'Eine Klein Nachtmusik', a brief excerpt of a classical piece.
So did Goldsmith's music really need to be removed or altered for the film? Yes and no, depending on which side you want to take. The original score is easily one of Goldsmith's best, but Alien also does work better with less orchestration and more ambience. Regarding the album, this has to be one of the most detailed albums that any score collector should own. The liner booklet is so detailed on the music that every little detail about the score still impresses me. Intrada really did a good job putting together this detailed little exploration into Goldsmith's fabled score. A must have for any score lover.
Read other recent reviews by Jason FLZ: Man of Steel
, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
, The Thing