SciFi Japan


    La-La Land Records Brings the Long Unreleased Score to Disc Author: John “Dutch” DeSentis Official Site: La-La Land Records, David Special Thanks to Robert Saint John In the history of Godzilla fandom, there are few events that had as much of an impact on the image and perception of Godzilla globally than the release of TriStar’s “remake” in 1998. Before the movie was released, it seemed everyone wanted a piece of Godzilla. His name was in high demand…books, newly released DVDs, VHS, toys…the licensing rights to the name GODZILLA were being sought after by everyone. Memorial Day that year came and went and all that changed. Instead of giving the fans something to be proud of and the general public something worth their $6.50 (my how the times have changed in nine years), what we got was a virtual master class in how not to make a movie, much less a vehicle for a character which has been well established as an enduring icon. French connection be damned, the image of Godzilla hasn’t quite recovered since. Like Sonny LoSpecchio said, “That happens. What are you gonna do? That`s the way it goes, you know?”

    One of the shining spots that most people will universally regard as being the strength of the film is David Arnold’s fantastic score. Most fans will recognize Arnold’s name from the modern James Bond era. He entered that series after his album of reinterpretations of classic Bond themes (SHAKEN AND STIRRED: THE DAVID ARNOLD JAMES BOND PROJECT) came to the attention of John Barry, who recommended him by name to producer Barbara Broccoli during the production of TOMORROW NEVER DIES. In an age when mindless action movies are plagued by the likes of Hans Zimmer clones that simply program the loop machine and slap on some standard rhythm sequences, David Arnold’s music has always had a wonderfully organic life. The GODZILLA score and his scores to INDEPENDENCE DAY and STARGATE are often coupled together being as they all have similar musical subject matter as well as being his only collaborations with director Roland Emmerich.

    By all accounts, a score album was planned in 1998 to come out following the release of GODZILLA but the backlash and critical reception of the movie is said to have caused the album to be shelved. Up until now, this score has only been available in a couple of ways. First, there are two tracks (an altered Main Title theme included) that are on the film’s “music from and inspired by” soundtrack album that came out in 1998. Then there is the Oscar promo that David Arnold himself personally produced and prepared for consideration at the Academy Awards the following year. From that promo, scores of bootlegs have been pressed and distributed among fans. Finally, there is an unofficial European pressing that also contains some score tracks from the Americanization of GODZILLA 2000 (Gojira Ni-sen Mireniamu, 1999). While the quality of these versions is good, fans have been longing for a more complete and professionally mastered score release. That finally happened this past July when La-La Land Records released the GODZILLA: LIMITED EDITION 2 CD Set. The sound and production of this CD release is fantastic. The disc opens with the main title track “The Beginning” as it is heard in the movie. Despite a somewhat deliberate lift from the score to CAPE FEAR, Arnold’s music sets a great and ominous tone for what we would have hoped to see in the movie. The exploding brass, percussion, and shrilling chorus as the hydrogen bombs are going off is easily enough to blow one out of their seat. There are several musical identities for the creature in the movie. The first being the “horror” theme indicated in the opening. The second is the “wonder theme” that plays when the creature comes out in the middle of the movie to eat fish (“Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner”). This was reportedly a change in direction after David Arnold had begun scoring. Producer Dean Devlin had wanted to add a sense of wonder and beauty to the creature and so David Arnold delivered. Indeed, the scene could have been played much differently with a darker choice of music. At first listen, this theme might leave one recalling John Williams’ “Theme of Jurassic Park”. However, on its own merits, the piece is a great listen as the melody floats between major and minor tonalities.

    Another fantastic track is the one that follows in which the monster is being chased by helicopters (“1st Helicopter Chase/Godzilla Swats a Chopper”). This track is a feast of the rhythmic and orchestral details that have come to define David Arnold. Underlined with tribal sounding bongo drums and manic rhythms, the brass and strings here are at full strength: at times harmonically complimenting each other, other times showcasing call and response. Arnold’s rhythmic sensibilities are also on display in the pounding track “Mayor’s Speech”. It certainly isn’t hard to create mindless, metallic sounding rhythms in movies. It is however, challenging to integrate them into the mix in such a way that doesn’t just make them sound like they are there for the heck of it. There are several bonus tracks on the end of disc two. The first is the opening track without a chorus. There are alternate versions of the tracks “Footprints/ NewYork/ Audrey” and “The Boat Gets It”. Finally, there is an “album version” of “Gojira”. This is nothing more than the previously released alternate main title music from the pop album in 1998. If there is to be one main criticism of this set, it is the track names. Most of them appear to be phoned in and little effort was made to be creative with them. Tracks like the aforementioned “The Boat Gets It” and “Big G Goes to Monster Heaven” are a bit silly but perhaps slightly fitting to the movie itself.

    The set comes with a comprehensive set of liner notes in the booklet. There is much insight into the scoring process for this picture and words from David Arnold himself. However Dan Goldwasser, editor-in-chief of SoundtrackNet who wrote the liner notes, didn’t do much research about the true Godzilla himself. He writes that Godzilla had lost his edge by the early 1980s (try early 70s) and that the release of GODZILLA 1985 “…put the kibosh on the big lizard (don’t you hate it when people call Godzilla a big lizard?) for most of the next decade”. He certainly did not look into the fact that the Godzilla series was in full swing in Japan in the 1990s but perhaps he just meant for American audiences. In either case, it would seem that he is a big apologist for the movie as he blames it’s failure on the marketing and the fact that it is hard to live up to the hype. How about, the movie just plain stunk? True, marketing was huge on this movie. But the ploy was obvious as Sony probably knew that they had a bomb on their hands and needed to get as many people in the theaters opening weekend as possible before bad word of mouth spread…which is exactly what happened. The notes still do make for a great read, however, and David Arnold offers some vague insight as to why he has not worked with Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin since. Overall, this is just an amazing release from La-La Land Records. Although the title character in this movie does not resemble the real thing at all, this set makes a fantastic addition to one’s collection with their soundtrack releases of GODZILLA 1954 and KING KONG VS. GODZILLA. The company should be applauded for making available in complete and legitimate form what is arguably one of the best aspects of a dismal movie. The set is a limited edition with only 3000 copies pressed and retails for $24.98. For a complete track listing, MP3 track samples, and to order, visit the La-La Land Records website.

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