When I was younger I didn’t have a lot of CDs of my own. Whatever I listened to was what my brother and sister or parents had, so my choices in what I could listen to were…limited, to say the least. When I started to actually buy CDs (or ask for them for birthday’s and whatnot) I of course gravitated toward anything relating to Batman. This meant that I would repeatedly check out the Tim Burton Batman soundtrack from the library…sadly all they had was the Prince disc and despite listening to that over and over again, I never touched it once I got the actual score to the film. By the time I was eight or nine I had most of the orchestral Batman soundtracks out there (which mean just Batman, Batman Returns and Mask of the Phantasm) and was eagerly listening to each and every one of them. To this day there are certain elements of the Elfman soundtracks that raise the hair on my arms and to hold a two-disc set of the first films various composure elements (both previously released and unreleased) was nothing short of a treat after all of these years.
As part of our Expanded Archival Collection, La-La Land Records presents the world premiere release of the film version of Danny Elfman’s acclaimed original score to the 1989 Warner Bros. blockbuster BATMAN, starring Jack Nicholson, Michael Keaton and Kim Basinger and directed by Tim Burton. With a running time of 144 minutes, this 2-CD SET, produced by Dan Goldwasser, Neil S. Bulk and MV Gerhard, and remastered by James Nelson, features the previously unreleased film version (mix/edit) of Mr. Elfman’s score, as well as a remastered presentation of the 1989 soundtrack album and never-before-released Bonus Tracks. 20 Page CD Booklet features in-depth liner notes by Jeff Bond. Limited Edition of 5000 Units. In order to present as much music as possible from Batman in the best possible quality, multiple sources were utilized with the best-quality elements selected for each cue on an individual basis. For disc one and the bonus cues on disc two, three sources were used: Eric Tomlinson’s 35mm 4-track mixes, 1/4 inch stereo mixes and a stereo 35mm music only track. The album cues on disc two were sourced from the original digital album master featuring Shawn Murphy’s stereo album mix.
There is plenty to listen to here (over two hours’ worth) and while some of it overlaps, it’s the type of overlap you just don’t really care about as it sounds great regardless if it’s pulled from the “film” score or the “soundtrack album.” Admittedly there is a tonal difference between the two; the film version (which is housed entirely on the first disc) does sound a bit dated in sound, but that’s really just due to the elements they had to pull the score from. It’s certainly nothing that really detracts from the overall aural experience, but it is noticeable…especially when you get to the second disc and hear the remastered original soundtrack.
Perhaps the coolest thing about this soundtrack isn’t just the complete score, but the unused and alternate themes that close out the second disc. Some of them are brief and not quite as alternate as one would expect, but others are definitely “new” cues that you haven’t heard before. In the end I just came back to the basic score as that’s what I grew up with listening and for me all that really matters in at the end of a 1989 Batman score is the “Finale”, as you can close your eyes and imagine the camera panning up the buildings in Gotham to finally land on an iconic shot of Batman standing in front of a glowing signal.
Overall there really isn’t much here you haven’t heard before if you’ve drilled that original composure into your skull like me, but the benefit of that is that whenever a new piece of music does crop up you immediately notice it. That certainly made this CD all the more entertaining and engaging to listen to because you never knew when a familiar piece of music would transform into something you weren’t quite so familiar with. In the end this is a Highly Recommended release.
La-La Land Records has kind of cropped up even more in recent years as the source to go to for obscure soundtracks. On occasion though they land something like this, which is probably one of the most exciting CD releases from them I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing. Not only because of its nicely done packaging and disc art but also because of the twenty-page booklet with liner notes by Jeff Bond. I don’t know much about that man personally, but he did a superb job transcribing notes on every one of the tracks presented on this set. They’re usually a brief one or two sentences, but aside from just denoting what they were and what influences they might contain, he also goes into detail about the usage of specific instruments in them as well as what was different about particular versions of the songs included at the tail end of the second disc.
This is a truly fantastic looking package. Not only do you get over two hours of music to listen to but also a great booklet full of interesting elements that you can read while listening to the individual tracks. Once again this is a Highly Recommended release.
Batman: The Expanded Archival Collection is now available for purchase exclusively through La-La Land Records.