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Volume 3
by Hans J. Salter, Herman Stein, Richard LaSalle, and John Williams


Remember when TV music used to actually be GOOD?  I think that in our "less is more" society, we've forgotten the gems such as The Twilight Zone, Star Trek, Amazing Stories the Irwin Allen series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Land of the Giants, The Time Tunnel, and, yes, Lost in Space.  This comes from an age when TV scoring was able to draw attention to itself and a lot of it was as good or better than some of the film work.  Composers that we now take for granted originally made their living by scoring these series.  Lost in Space served as the original home of John (Johnny in those days) Williams, where he integrated the jazz that he was so used to with the new sound of the symphony orchestra.  In his TV music, you can hear the basis for all his later adventure scores such as Star Wars, Close Encounters, Indiana Jones, Superman, and a host of others.  His episode featured here, called "My Friend Mr. Nobody" shows the basis of his lush romantic writing along with some of the trademark dissonance of the period.  GNP Crescendo gives us an aural treat with the complete scores from two episodes (the aforementioned Williams one and "The Derelict"), along with a short alternate main title.  As with all their releases, the liner notes feature informed essays on the music.  I'm not going to rate the sound quality - it's fully acceptable, but somewhat archival (the producers found it with termites eating away at it.)  "The Derelict" featured the work of no less than three different composers, each of which had a different duty.  It seems as if LaSalle did all the dissonant music, Stein did the lush calm music, and Salter did the action cues.  In summation, Volume 3 proves to be a great album, and most people will find something to like about it.


Track by Track Analysis:

The Derelict:
1. Rescued from Space/The Comet Cometh (8:36)
The Derelict's score definitely sounds like something that could have been written for Star Trek.  This lengthy teaser cue introduces the desolate sound found in most of the score, filled with eerie orchestral dissonance common for the period.  Unlike some of the more typical material found in sci-fi series back then, though, this keeps enough elements to stay listenable throughout its duration.  In The Comet Cometh, an alien soundscape is conjured up through the use of a pipe organ.

2. LOST IN SPACE Main Title - Season One (:58)
John Williams wrote this outrageous main theme, which combines a cliched trumpet theme with theremin runs and bongo drums.  Groovy :)

3. Derelict Title/Don Rescues John and Maureen (5:30)
"Derelict Title" continues the eerie dissonance with pipe organ effects.  The second cue melds the dissonance with a more action-oriented approach.  It's all quite impressionistic, actually.

4. The Robot Performs (1:19)
Here we have another track full of progressive dissonance in brass with pipe organ over it.  The composer supposedly incorporated part of the theme, but I can't hear it.

5. Writing In the Log/Family (1:58)
"Writing in the Log" is made up of a brass fanfare over a fluttering flute figure (say that 10 times fast.)  "Family" has supposedly been one of the most requested tracks from the series, and although it's a serviceable theme, I don't really see what's so great about it.  I'm sure fans of the series will be all over it though.

6. The Treatment/Swallowed (4:18)
These two cues continue the tense atonal action/suspense moods heard in other tracks.

7. Flashing Lights/Frontal Robotomy (:39)
Flashing Lights is a quick outburst of, you guessed it, dissonance, while "Frontal Robotomy" presents a short military march backed by snare drum.

8. Filmy Spider Web/Crystalline Power Source (3:28)
The first cue does a great job of conjuring an alien mood with parts for marimba and shimmering percussion backing an otherworldly trumpet solo.  "Power Source" continues this motif, now with woodwind lines.

9. Smart Kid/Bubble Monster (5:30)
One of the better tracks, this forms an action cue from the alien atonality.  Later, the "Spider Web" soundscape returns for a while with its shimmering orchestration.

10. Lift Off (4:21)
Salter continues the action music with this climactic track, which is much more tonal than anything we've heard so far, even becoming a military march at various intervals.

11. New Planet/Continued Next Week (1:34)
The mood becomes decidedly more upbeat in this ending track with an ending theme, as well as more of the alien sound effects in the final cue.

My Friend Mr. Nobody:
12. Wonderland Discovery (2:58)
The first track by John Williams presents a fragmented, almost serial flute melody that's reminiscent of Goldsmith's main theme from Planet of the Apes.  It goes through several variations throughout the track, eventually taking on a mood like that of "The Derelict."  At the end, it almost becomes a lush string theme, but it's held back by the aimless nature of the melody.

13. Hairstyle Book/Penny's Friend/Diamonds/Penny/Diamond Play Off (4:13)
"Hairstyle Book" is short and in the style of the previous track.  "Penny's Friend" introduces a chasing flute motif, along with a return to the main episode theme.  "Diamonds" seems more in the vein of "The Derelict" with shimmering starry percussion as well as a theremin and string trills.  "Penny" moves the aimless quality of the main theme to the strings, which perform a formless chromatic motif.  "Diamond Play Off" continues the violin trill motif and ends with a jolting wind glissando.  I've got one thing to say - this is nothing like his main title theme.  Thankfully.

14. Penny's Cave/To The Cave/Gathering Wild Flowers/Moving Rocks (5:44)
"Penny's Cave" is a trademark Williams scherzo with a fun theme and typical full orchestration.  Later, it returns to the mood of the title with a quirky figure.  "To The Cave" turns ominous with both a brass theme, a return to the violin trill motif, as well as the flute melody.  In the next cue, the typical "spacey" music comes back with marimba backing.  The cue then becomes the foundation for Williams' Mynock Cave music from "Empire Strikes Back."

15. Mother & Daughter/Penny's Problem (5:54)
As you could probably tell from the title, the mood changes to a tender family moment.  I usually can't stand this kind of stuff, but Williams keeps it interesting by reintroducing the chromatic tension motif from earlier.  Penny's Problem continues the typical atmospheric music, which is the basis for lots of his later work.  For example, I just heard one of his main Star Wars transition motives.  The low string trills here sound vaguely like his later work in Superman's "The Planet Krypton."

16. Storm Coming Up/A New Galaxy (3:57)
Several of the previous motives develop more in this track. One of the highlights is a chromatic harp motif backed by unearthly theremin wails.  In the final cue is an interesting dance-like section full of dissonance.  A final lush string chord backed by typical Williams woodwind runs ends the score.

17. LOST IN SPACE End Credit (:53)
We get a reprise of the main title.  Uh oh.

18. Bonus Track: Lost in Space Unused 2nd Season Main Title - Warren Barker (:48)
This one's even worse than Williams' version.  Instead of intergalactic jazz, this takes the tone of an intergalactic circus.  Not exactly the best way to end the album.

Overall, Lost in Space Volume 3 will greatly appeal to Williams collectors, since it shows the basis for a lot of his popular motion picture scoring style.  Also, fans of the series will definitely want to buy it.  For everyone else, if you want a taste of typical '60s-'70s TV music, this album is worth looking at.



 
Lost in Space Vol. 3: The Final Score
Music Rating 8/10
Packaging/Liner Notes 7/10
Orchestral Performance 9/10
Length 10/10
Sound Quality N/A


Lost in Space Vol. 3 is Copyright 2000 by GNP Crescendo.  Review Copyright 2000 by Andrew Drannon.  All Rights Reserved.