Jerry Goldsmith’s Thriller (and Prince’s Purple Rain)

tadthrillrWhilst on the subject of Jerry Goldsmith in my previous post, I thought it timely to raise the release by Tadlow Music just recently of a re-recording of some of the Jerry Goldsmith scores from the 1960 tv series Thriller. While I grew up thrilled and scared by classic anthology shows like The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, I never saw Thriller, so I was unfamiliar with the particular episodes Goldsmith scored or the music itself. But really, it’s Goldsmith. Classic, vintage Goldsmith. No-brainer.

Turns out the music is great. Innovative orchestrations with some creepy music, some of it akin to the original tv Star Trek music from the sixties (which is perhaps odd, as Goldsmith had no involvement in that- likely it’s just me, or something related to the limited orchestras involved in tv scoring back then, the ensuing creativity in tv scores of the time). In anycase, it is a great disc and sales have been good enough to encourage a second volume, so it’s all good news. How odd that stuff like this surfaces even now with cd sales falling through the floor and so long after the work was originally created- it’s the very definition of ‘niche’ market and likely means nothing at all to most who read this.

purpleRecently I’ve been following the rather tortured path to release of the remastered Purple Rain remaster/expanded edition due this month. Following Prince’s death last year there has been great interest in the artist’s fabled vault that houses hundreds, perhaps thousands of unreleased songs and abandoned album projects etc. From what I gather, this Purple Rain release may have unreleased tracks but they are not likely to be sourced from original masters within the vault itself- Warners seem to have their own copies of material from around that period which are second-generation. At any rate, there has been endless legal wrangling over rights to the music within the vault and whether it will be properly archived/restored and released one day. Some Prince fans feel that proper archive releases are likely years away, possibly decades- and indeed, some speculate they will never live to see/hear them (some of us Prince fans, as he ‘peaked’ in the ‘eighties, are getting a little long in the tooth now). After all, the recent deluxe Sgt Pepper remaster/expansion is 50 years after its original release.

The complication is simply that the cd, and physical music formats in general, are becoming increasingly marginalised in an ever-more digital market. So even if, say, work began on a series of properly mastered, deluxe vault releases tomorrow, would there even be a physical format and market for them over the coming decade/s? Or if there was, would it be so niche that prices/limited numbers would make them unviable? Of course we fans would like to think that Prince was a huge megastar, and he was a great performer/musician, but how popular/relevant is his music to the general public (and younger generations) today? Hardcore fans would likely pay any price but the general public? Perhaps this reality is why this Purple Rain release seems to be so low-budget and unambitious packaging-wise compared to some deluxe packages doing the rounds, with some Prince fans looking at the Sgt Pepper deluxe with envious eyes and wondering of what might have been. Warners seem to be dumping out a cardboard cheapie in order to keep the price down (and keep impulse purchases up?).

Naturally in this there are parallels to movies being released on disc. With streaming and downloads increasing in popularity, we have to wonder how long we will be so spoilt by films -particularly older, catalogue films- being released on disc. It can already be seen that some of those expansive, intensive bells and whistles releases of new films are becoming all the more rare. We’re lucky to get a commentary track days- usually its just EPK fluff thats no interest at all. So whats the future for film lovers who just want to treasure their fave films and have them pride of place on a shelf as part of a collection?

4 thoughts on “Jerry Goldsmith’s Thriller (and Prince’s Purple Rain)

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    As regards deluxe re-issues, I don’t think they’re marketed for ‘the youth’: they’re for those of use who’re older and have the disposable income (because god knows, young people these days have to pay through the nose for everything we took for granted – education, healthcare, ridiculous house prices).

    Kids don’t care about Prince anyway; and why should they? I never cared about the Stones in the 80s.

    I don’t mind the packaging on these releases being cheaper as long as we get the actual music. I shelled out £100+ for the Sgt Pepper box set, and I wish it had been half the price with fewer whistles and bells as long as I got the discs. It’s the music itself that matters to me.

    1. Yeah, I balked at the price of that Sgt.Pepper set, and will likely not bother with it, so I’m not so sore about the Purple Rain set being more of a budget item. I only hope an eventual Sign of the Times set (I mean, there has to be one, surely?) does that album real justice, its my favourite Prince album. Like you say, its the discs that really matter, I just hope the format lasts long enough to see some kind of archive vault collections on disc- I’ve listened to many of the bootlegs and there is some great stuff in there. Suppose the legal wranglings regards the estate are not helping.

      As for kids not caring about Prince- you are right, but that whole culture/ musical era thing just scares me when it reminds me of how many years have passed and how adrift I am from what the youth of today listens to. I used to be of that generation but it was er, such a while ago its a rather sobering reminder that I’m now on the wrong side of 50. I’m now the old guy that my 1970s/1980s self thought was so old and out of date. Not exactly zarjaz.

    1. Yep, SOTT for me. I probably preferred 1999 too, but Purple Rain will always be the album that defines Prince. Its funny though, it became a weight on his neck and something he could never recapture, like Citizen Kane for Orson Welles, or Blade Runner for Ridley Scott, Whats Going On? for Marvin Gaye. Artists create something special but can seldom recapture the magic, the moment. To achieve it once though, surely thats enough, as long as it doesn’t consume you afterwards.

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