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Heavy Metal: The Score (1981)
Music  Composed by Elmer Bernstein
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Price: $19.95
Limited #: N/A
Line: Silver Age
CD Release: March 2008
Catalog #: Vol. 11, No. 2
# of Discs: 1

Premiere CD release made possible through the courtesy of Rhino Entertainment Company, Elektra Entertainment Group, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc., Irving Azoff, the estate of Elmer Bernstein, the University of Southern California Cinema-Television Library, and the Loc Nar.

One of the great ironies of soundtrack collecting is that one of the most fantastic symphonic scores ever written is for a movie entitled “Heavy Metal.” The 1981 animated feature Heavy Metal (adapted from stories published in the magazine of the same name) was an adult-oriented anthology with copious amounts of sex and violence. Sporting a hit soundtrack of contemporary pop-rock songs (licensing of which delayed the film’s video release until 1996), the film also benefited from an extraordinary symphonic score by Elmer Bernstein which did the lion’s share of the musical storytelling. (Bernstein was, at the time, the regular composer for producer Ivan Reitman.)

To put it simply, Heavy Metal is Elmer Bernstein’s Star Wars—a rich, vital, thunderingly symphonic work bursting with melody and drive. The anthology nature of the film allowed Bernstein to write distinct melodies for the disparate segments: from the heroic anthem of “Den” to the moody film noir stylings of “Harry Canyon,” and, especially, the soaring chorus and ondes Martenot of “Taarna”—the latter adapting the composer’s rejected love theme from Saturn III (1980).

Heavy Metal: The Score has long been desired by soundtrack collectors. FSM releases not only the original LP but the complete score remastered from the composer’s personal 1/4” stereo tapes (in excellent sound quality). The cues are presented in chronological order, with bonus tracks of selections edited for the 1981 Asylum Records LP—meaning listeners can, if so inclined, program a recreation of the original album sequence.

Liner notes for this historical and long-anticipated CD are by Paul Andrew MacLean, drawing from interviews with Bernstein and including new comments from orchestrator David Spear, who adapted two of the cues from Bernstein’s thematic material. The package is beautifully illustrated with stills from the film.

Elmer Bernstein Scores on FSM
Bridge at Remagen/The Train, The
Comancheros, The
Elmer Bernstein's Film Music Collection
From the Terrace
Great Santini, The
Gypsy Moths, The
Heavy Metal: The Score
Lassie Come Home: The Canine Cinema Collection
Never So Few/7 Women
Saddle the Wind
Some Came Running
Unforgiven: Classic Western Scores From United Artists, The
View From Pompey's Head/Blue Denim, The
World of Henry Orient, The
About the Composer

Elmer Bernstein (1922–2004) had a Hollywood career that lasted over a half a century; invented and reinvented himself as a composer across several genres (jazz, epics, westerns, comedies and adult dramas); and scored more than a few Hollywood classics—The Ten Commandments, The Magnificent Seven, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Great Escape and Airplane! to name but five. FSM has released a dozen of his scores and counting, but the most popular may be Heavy Metal (1981)—don't be fooled by the title, it's Elmer's "Star Wars." In addition to his prolific work as a composer, Bernstein was a tireless champion of film music as an art form, serving on the boards of several professional organizations and in the 1970s recording his own LP series of classic Hollywood scores, Elmer Bernstein's Film Music Collection, released by FSM as a 12-CD box set. IMDB

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