- Composed by Jerry Goldsmith
- La-La Land Records / 2011 / Complete score 73:07 / Other material 59:28
The least well-received of the six Star Trek films featuring the original crew, the fifth instalment – directed by William Shatner – suffered from a low budget (despite the previous entry being very financially successful) and some consequently dodgy effects, not to mention a somewhat silly plot. However, I do think it’s been a little unfairly treated over the years – the warmth of the relationship between the three central characters was never more evident than in this film, which is a great guilty pleasure for me. One thing the film does have going for it is that Shatner was able to entice Jerry Goldsmith back to the world of Star Trek for the first time since his work on the first of the films, ten years earlier – work which was amongst his very best.
This score isn’t in that league (the film isn’t the same kind of blank canvas over which he could paint, fairly uninterrupted by such inconveniences as dialogue or in fact much of anything going on). The legendary composer still managed to provide a large number of wonderful musical moments, moments summarised by a brilliant soundtrack album released at the time of the film. Now, for the first time, we can enjoy more of those moments, thanks to the release of the complete score by La-La Land Records, a release which thoughtfully also includes that original album presentation on the second disc.
The familiar highlights are all here, of course. The sweeping theme Goldsmith wrote for Captain Kirk, heard after the familiar Star Trek theme in the opening titles music, “The Mountain”, is a true beauty – it’s a shame the film didn’t give him any real opportunity to explore it any further. There’s God’s Theme (not many scores have one of those) – peppered throughout the score, heard most rapturously in “An Angry God”. There’s a four-note motif which the composer uses extensively and went on to use extensively in his subsequent scores for the series. The Klingon music from Star Trek: The Motion Picture is smoothed out a bit and used as an action theme for the aliens, to great effect. The action music is what really makes the score so good – while it doesn’t have the laundry list of highlights that the composer’s exceptional first score for the series did, this is consistently great music which I personally never tire of hearing. “Without Help” and “Open the Gates” are simply wonderful action pieces.
Over half an hour of music has been added, and some previously-released pieces are markedly different in their film versions. The recording of the end title music (“Life is a Dream”) is one – I think it’s the most satisfying of all the end title arrangements Goldsmith did and it’s nice to hear this alternative arrangement (but it will take some getting used to after all the years of hearing the alternative, album arrangement). In two cases, the film version of the cue is notably a lot worse than the album version. First, there’s “Without Help” – Goldsmith edited parts of the piece out to give a far superior listening experience on the album. Then, there’s “Let’s Get Out of Here”, arguably the strongest action piece of all on the original album, but here spread over two tracks and with a couple of minutes of fairly uninteresting filler present. It’s remarkable how much better Goldsmith made it sound for his album release. Of course, the beauty of this set is that because both versions of these cues are featured, the listener is free to make his own choice (and I have little doubt that most people will be replacing these two cues with their alternative arrangements before too long).
Of the brand new music, it generally doesn’t stand out as being all that noteworthy, but rather it’s just high-quality material that makes the overall listening experience an even richer one. Little touches like hearing hints of Star Trek: The Motion Picture‘s “The Enterprise” in a couple of cues are all part of this. There’s some decent new action music too (I love “Approaching Nimbus III”) and in “Raid on Paradise” you can hear the composer’s original, rejected theme from the first film. Some of the other new material isn’t all that interesting, but I guess that’s par for the course. There’s an hour of great stuff here.
The perfect Star Trek V album has to be manually assembled and consists of cues from both discs of this release, but this is one instance where I don’t really mind having to make the effort to do so myself. It’s great to have all the extra music (and the sound quality is of course exemplary). The package also includes excellent, detailed liner notes by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall. 5,000 copies were pressed and all have been snapped up from the usual retailers, but I’m sure copies can be found on the secondary market. It may not be top-drawer Goldsmith, but it’s still great and a very welcome release. **** 1/2