The Best Of Godzilla 1984-1995 OST Soundtrack
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Godzilla, the beast that even a big-budget Hollywood stinkeroo couldn't kill, has been many things in his (her?) illustrious career: nuclear allegory, loving parent, neighborhood pest, property insurance exemption clause. But has-been? That's what many cynics were calling the Big Lizard by the late '70s. Resurrecting their cash, er, cow after a nine-year hiatus in the mid-'80s, Japan's Toho Studios wisely moved away from the tired stock footage, cheap effects, and kiddie-corn plot lines that had come to characterize the series, moving the final seven sagas back to the deadly-serious aesthetic of the original. Ironically, as Gojira's handlers got back to their cinematic roots, the films' music initially moved closer to the Hollywood mainstream, including healthy doses of heroic Korngold-esque romanticism and even screaming, diddly-squeak-school metal guitar. But after the more modern, if questionably effective efforts of Reijiroh Koroku and Kohichi Sugiyama (for Return of Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Biollante, respectively), Gojira music godfather Akira Ifukube returned to score four of the series' last five installments, truly bringing the saga full circle; the man who had musically brought the monster to life 41 years earlier was gratifyingly now allowed to write its moving Requiem. The annotation and illustration (which equals the high standards of its companion volume 1954-1975) are even more crucial here, as most of these "second cycle" films have seen but spotty distribution outside their native Japan. --Jerry McCulley
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Even if you are not "into" Godzilla, give this album a listen. You'll be surprised that such good music would come from films with "guys in rubber suits destroying model cities."
Note: If you are not interest in spending the money for the whole album and only wish to hear the best music from these Godzilla films, then I would suggest heading over to youtube and looking up the soundtracks to Godzilla 1985, Godzilla vs King Ghidorah and Godzilla vs Destroyer.
The album begins with Akira Ifukube's iconic "Godzilla Theme". The theme is actually cut into two parts: the "rampage theme" which opens the track and then the "Godzilla March" which is the memorable three-note pattern in the brass played over steady military percussion.
From there the album moves on to a collection of cues from Godzilla 1985 ("Main Title", "Godzilla vs Super-X", "Army March", "Godzilla's Exit", "Ending"). Reijiroh Koroku's style is much more Gothic than is typically heard in a Godzilla film, much more akin to the work of Christopher Young in the 80's. This darker style perfectly fits the attitude of the film and makes for probably the best non-Ifukube Godzilla music on the album.
Moving along in chronological order, we next get three tracks from Kohichi Sugiyama's Godzilla vs Biollante (1989). While this score is lauded as one of the best in the series by fans, it just is not a good "Godzilla" score. There is nothing wrong with the music, (well except for the hard rock vibe of "Bio Wars") it's rather pretty in several spots. The problem is that it sounds too much like something from one of the Final Fantasy video games. Of course, Mr. Sugiyama was a composer for that game series, soooo....
Tracks 10-12 feature the triumphant return of Ifukube to the Godzilla series in Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991). The track selection for this film is rather odd as there is a lot of great music not presented while the cues that are available are lesser cues, except for the "Main Titles" (track 10).
Continuing with Ifukube, the next six tracks contain music from Godzilla vs Mothra (1992) and Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II (1993). Again, the music selection for these two scores are somewhat weak, with Mothra being the better of the two. The music for Mechagodzilla II is rather annoying at times, especially Mechagodzilla's theme heard in the Main titles.
For the sixth film in the Haisei series, a new composer was hired: Takayuki Hattori. Hattori's score for Godzilla vs Spacegodzilla (1994) is well represented with four tracks including the film's end credits in the track "Crystal" (track 24). Harroti's style is more derivative of David Arnold and John Williams than his fellow composers on this compilation. By far "Main Titles" and "Crystal" are the best cues from this score.
The album comes to a epic conclusion with the (then) last Godzilla score: Godzilla vs Destroyah (1995) by Akira Ifukube. The music here is dark, epic and heartbreaking. All five cues from this score are highlights, especially "Godzilla Attacks Hong Kong" (featuring Destroyah's theme) and "Requiem" (for Godzilla's death). I dare anyone not to get choked-up while listening to "Requiem".
Unfortunately, the album ends with the completely unneeded and tacky "remix" of the Monster Zero March from Invasion of the Astro-Monster (aka Godzilla vs Monster Zero) (1965).
After a very nice version of Godzilla's signature theme, by Godzilla's signature composer, maestro Akira Ifukube, we listen to a suite of five songs from THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (aka GODZILLA 1985). These pieces by Reijiro Koroku, a severely underrated composer, are some of the best on the disc; "Main Title," "Take Shelter/Godzilla vs. Super X," "Japanese Army March," "Godzilla's Exit," and "Ending" can be re-listened to over and over again, espeically "Super X."
Next are three songs--"Scramble March," "Bio Wars," and "Ending"--from GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE, composed by Koichi Sugiyama. They are also quite nice, but are rather long, which cuts down on their replay value a bit.
Now we enter Ifukube-sama's section. The first of the Heisei films he scored was GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH. "Main Title/UFO Invasion," "King Ghidorah Attacks Fukuoka," and "Get King Ghidorah" are, sadly, the only songs from this excellent soundtrack.
This album's first misstep comes with the songs from GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA. Although "Main Title," "Mahara Mothra," "Mesa March," and "Rolling Title Ending," are all good Ifukube works, there are too many; this soundtrack was not as good as the previous (or the next), and it is over-represented. They also erred by including "Mothra's Song," when they'd already included a version in "Mahara Mothra."
The next misstep was including only two songs from GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA II, the soundtrack of which is widely considered to be one of Ifukube's best soundtrack's ever. "Main Title" and "G-Force March #1" are excellent, but together they are not even 4:30 minutes long. At least one more should have been added.
The final misstep was including so many songs from GODZILLA VS. SPACEGODZILLA, composed by Takayuki Hattori; with "Prologue/Main Title," "Bass Island," "Mogera vs. Spacegodzilla #2," "Mogera vs. Spacegodzilla #3," and "Crystal," this is another overrepresented title. Only the first and last songs should have been included; the middle three are not that good.
Fortunately, they also include five songs from Ifukube's swan song: GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH, which at the time of production was also thought to have been Godzilla's own, final film. "Main Title/Hong Kong's Destruction" is a majestic, sweeping piece; "Attack Of Super X III" and "Mesa Tank Super Freeze Attack" are stirring militaristic marches. "Requiem" is a truly moving piece played during Godzilla's death, and "Ending Title" is a blending of some of Ifukube's greatest hits that ran as a montage of some of Godzilla's was shown.
The last track on this CD is "Monster Zero March," a rearrangement of one of the great Ifukube pieces of the 60's by Neil Norman and his Cosmic Orchestra.
Despite some flaws, this CD is definitely worth a buy, not just for Godzilla fans, but for movie music fans in general.
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