Friday, July 17, 2015

Friday 80s Flashback for July 17, 2015

Still from an Entertainment Tonight Segment on 1982's Summer Movies
[1982 Summer Flicks] -- The summer of 1982 was a great time for science fiction films, quite possibly the greatest. In that year, we saw the release of The Road Warrior (May 21, 1982), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (June 4, 1982), ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (June 11, 1982), Blade Runner (June 25, 1982), John Carpenter's The Thing (June 25, 1982), and Tron (July 9, 1982). And regarding 1982 as a great year for sci-fi isn't just a view we have with the benefit of hindsight. Even Entertainment Tonight, which was a decent program in its pre-Internet heyday, recognized the significance of that Summer in this Movie Sneak Preview segment. So, for this week's Flashback playlist, we'll look back at one piece each from three of those movies. Which movies and tracks did I select? Read and hear more after the break!

Flashback #1Instrumental

Vangelis composed and recorded the soundtrack for Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982). It is a dark and moody collection of pieces made from a combination of classical composition and synthesizers. That's not exactly a unique combination for a film in the 80s. However, in Vangelis' hands, these audio tools were used to create a revelatory set of recordings that directly mirror the gritty noir atmosphere of the film. The soundtrack was not available for purchase until 1994 even though fans clamored for it and critics acclaimed it -- the soundtrack received nominations for both a BAFTA and Golden Globe as best original score. To date, there are eight different versions of the soundtrack. If you want to hear just about every song that could appear on the soundtrack, visit this YouTube playlist: Vangelis Blade Runner - Trilogy. "Blade Runner Blues" appears on every Blade Runner soundtrack, and it is our first Flashback of the day. 

Flashback #2Instrumental.

The original soundtrack for TRON (1982) was primarily composed by Wendy Carlos with two tracks by Journey. The Carlos pieces were a mix of synthesizer (analog and digital) and orchestral, with the latter parts being recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. In an interview after the movie's theatrical release, Carlos revealed that she was unhappy with the orchestra recordings. She later replaced parts of the orchestral performances with performances on a GDS digital synthesizer. Originally released on vinyl and cassette, the soundtrack remained unavailable on CD for many years due to a dispute with the record company ... and the deterioration of the original tapes. Carlos was eventually able to use tape baking to restore the original recordings long enough to transfer them to digital masters. You can check out most of the Wendy Carlos TRON tracks here, but for our second Flashback, I went with one of the Journey tracks, "1990's Theme."

Flashback #3Instrumental.

John Williams, longtime Stephen Spielberg collaborator and a veritable master of the movie soundtrack, scored Spielberg's 1982 film, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Williams' challenge with this soundtrack was to create music that would create sympathy for the odd-looking title character. Williams combined polytonality and the Lydian mode to express a mystic, dreamlike and heroic quality (Karlin, Fred, and Rayburn Wright. On the Track: A Guide to Contemporary Film Scoring. New York: Schirmer Books, 1990). The original issue of this soundtrack consisted simply of various recordings of concert arrangements based on the film's music. Later releases contain actual soundtrack cues. Our third and final Flashback of the day is the "Flying Theme" -- perhaps the movies most recognized theme as it was the piece used for the flying bicycles scene.

Just as I have so many times before, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

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I'll see you in seven!

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