Fifteen-CD collection contains every note from original series
By now, 46 years after the original series’ September 1966 debut, one might imagine that every conceivable aspect of “Star Trek” lore and memorabilia has been mined and merchandised.
Not quite. Next week, Burbank-based film-music label La-La Land Records will release a 15-CD boxed set of music from the original “Star Trek” series: every note that was written and recorded for the sci-fi drama, more than 17 hours of music in all and retailing for $225.
Although music for the daytime soap “Dark Shadows” got a similarly deluxe treatment in 2004, this is perhaps the first time that the score for a classic, primetime network series has received such a lavish (and complete) presentation.
“This is a rare case where the collectors’ market is big enough that it could finance a proper restoration,” says album producer Lukas Kendall, who oversaw the project and brought several parties to the table including CBS, which controls all things “Star Trek,” and GNP Crescendo, the label that had previously released several “Trek” albums.
“I think I speak for a lot of ‘Star Trek’ fans and film-music fans when I say we just wanted to hear every note of music,” Kendall adds.
Once the deal was struck, GNP Crescendo relinquished control of the original “Trek” tapes — mostly on quarter-inch tape, some dating back to 1965 — and digital transfers began.
Kendall, meanwhile, consulted all the handwritten original scores by composers including Alexander Courage (who penned the familiar fanfare and theme), Fred Steiner (“Perry Mason”), Sol Kaplan (“The Spy Who Came in From the Cold”), George Duning (“Picnic”) and Gerald Fried (“Roots”).
Luckily, CBS retained extensive paperwork from original producing studios Desilu and Paramount, notes fellow producer and “Trek” aficionado Neil S. Bulk, who waded through all of the many recording sessions to assemble the various scores in proper order.
And, Bulk adds, the music survives in remarkably good sound. “You’re hearing detail you’ve never heard before. Better clarity, better dynamics. The difference (from earlier LPs and CDs) is stunning.”
Also consulting throughout the four-month editing and assembly process was Jeff Bond, author of the book “The Music of ‘Star Trek,'” who penned the extensive notes that accompany the set.
It’s a very different style of scoring than exists today, Bond says. “Music had to give a sense that you were really out in space on this giant ship with these heroic characters. The music played an integral part in convincing the audience that all this was happening.” It was all done with orchestras averaging just 25 players.
And, because only 34 of the 79 episodes sported original scores and the remainder were “tracked” with music from earlier episodes, the repetition meant that fans were especially aware of the music. “More than any other show,” says Bond, “this music not only recalls specific moments or action, it recalls even lines of dialogue, it’s so ingrained in our subconscious. You re-experience the show by listening to this music.”
La-La Land will unveil the new box Monday at 7:30 p.m. at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. Bond will moderate a discussion with “Star Trek” writer David Gerrold (“The Trouble With Tribbles”) and composer Fried. Classic episodes “Amok Time” and “Mirror, Mirror” will be screened.
Fried, 84, is the only survivor among the original “Trek” composers and still plays oboe. At the event, he will perform a suite for oboe and piano based on eight themes he wrote for the series.
Fried’s Vulcan combat music from “Amok Time” is often parodied on shows like “Futurama.” Asked about his “Trek” fame, he says from his home in Santa Fe: “I love it. Andy Warhol said 15 minutes of fame is a good deal, and here I’m getting worldwide attention. What’s to complain?”