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Alien Nation
Rejected Score Composed and Performed by:
Jerry Goldsmith

Rejected Score Produced by:
Joel Goldsmith

Finished Score Composed by:
Curt Sobel

Varèse Sarabande
(Rejected Score)

Release Date:
May 16th, 2005

Also See:
The Russia House
Criminal Law

Audio Clips:
Rejected Score:

4. Take It Easy (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

5. The Vial (0:30):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

17. Just Ugly (0:29):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (239K)
Real Audio (168K)

18. The Wedding (0:33):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (269K)
Real Audio (189K)

The Sobel score heard in the film has never been commercially released, nor has Goldsmith's rejected score. The latter was circulated widely in the bootleg market before being officially released by Varèse Sarabande in 2005. Despite a pressing of only 3,000 copies, the Varèse album remained available at its initial price of $20 for the rest of the decade.


Alien Nation

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Sales Rank: 608221

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Buy it... if you either seek every incarnation of the classic theme from The Russia House or were among the minority to appreciate Jerry Goldsmith's equally synthetic futuristic detective score for Runaway.

Avoid it... if you find Goldsmith's solo electronic scores of the 1980's to be badly dated and have no interest in hearing a rough, demo-like version of The Russia House's beautiful theme.

Alien Nation: (Jerry Goldsmith/Curt Sobel) Although the premise of Alien Nation was successful enough to green-light the production of several television incarnations along the same lines, the original 1988 film is often forgotten because of its lack of distinctive characteristics. The plot postulated that in the near future, a few hundred thousand aliens (called "newcomers") take refuge on Earth and assimilate into society. The Graham Baker film doesn't attempt to explore the larger worldwide societal issues that such an event might cause, but instead redirects the story to the confined spectrum of a cop and buddy picture. A lonely officer, played by James Caan, is a bigot in regards to the newcomers but is forced to reckon with the assignment of one such alien to be his partner in the investigation of his previous partner's slaying. On one hand, you have a typical detective story, and on the other, you have comments about prejudice that could have been equally explored (and have been countless times) in more conventional ways. Only the fact that the aggrieved group here is alien distinguishes Alien Nation from the plethora of similar films. By rooting the story in the short-term future, Alien Nation avoids all the expenditures of a science fiction tale, instead opting to treat its subject matter in a much more down to earth manner. That was in part the problem with the score provided for the film by composer Jerry Goldsmith, who had written an impressive work for Baker's The Final Conflict several years prior. Goldsmith approached the film as he had done once before for a futuristic cop story, Runaway, deciding to record an all-electronic score for the picture. Ultimately, Goldsmith's music was likely too cold and alienating to serve Alien Nation, emphasizing the cultural divide on screen rather than the urban, contemporary location and standard detective elements. When Goldsmith was reportedly unavailable to re-score the film, his music was completely dropped and veteran music editor and novice composer Curt Sobel stepped in. Not only did Alien Nation end up with a predictably stale light rock and jazz score from Sobel that did absolutely nothing to extend the fantasy aspect of the film, but the experience turned out to be a tremendous blessing for Goldsmith, who was not bothered by the rejection because he recognized the poor quality of the film. In fact, Alien Nation turned out to be simply a practice run for one of the composer's greatest career achievements.

Goldsmith once again performs the score solo, and of his three purely synthetic efforts of the 1980's, this one is the most interesting. The electronic textures of the score are engaging in places and certainly an improvement over Runaway and Link. Compare "Alien Dance" in this rejected score to the rejected cue "The Rec Room" in Outland to hear that Goldsmith had made significant progress in applying his synthetic tones. Intriguingly, the ambience of Alien Nation arguably has more in common with the composer's 1990's sound than his previous endeavors. It's still obnoxious in many places, anonymous in others. An ominous title theme is punctuated by a rising two-note progression that is liberally quoted throughout the score and is treated much like the three-note motif that was so effective in Lionheart. Some of the wacky renditions of this rising motif in Alien Nation, especially detached from the rest of the theme it forms, are striking in their unique character and other-worldly demeanor. The action music is the weakest portion of the score, sometimes revisiting the stinging and obnoxiously flat tone of Runaway's most irritating staccato pounding on the keyboard. All of this discussion about Alien Nation's primary elements is completely irrelevant, because for Goldsmith enthusiasts, this score is all about one unlikely thing: The Russia House. Indeed, for those not familiar with the evolution of The Russia House, learning about the relevance of Alien Nation to that classic score's primary identity might seem bizarre, but Hollywood is full of such strange circumstances. In 1987, Goldsmith wrote but never recorded a heartbreaking theme of romance for Oliver Stone's Wall Street. After substantial disagreements with Stone, however, Goldsmith took the theme with him and used it to represent the solitude of Caan's character in Alien Nation. Though hinted in "Alien Landing," Goldsmith provides an eerily chilly synthetic sax rendition of this theme in "Take it Easy" before unleashing its full character in light rock fashion in "The Wedding" at the end. The progressions eventually changed in two places over the length of the entire idea, but for the many lovers of The Russia House, the theme is immediately recognizable (casual listeners may not even notice a difference). The rejection of the score for Alien Nation allowed Goldsmith to take the theme with him once again, translating it into its stunning jazzy incarnation in The Russia House.

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Despite the hardships that Goldsmith experienced in the middle to late 1980's in regards to the rejection of his music (led by his masterful work for Ridley Scott's Legend), The Russia House was not only the kind of highly personal and redemptive assignment that the composer had been waiting for, but also an opportunity to beautifully apply a defining theme that he would later declare as one of the personal favorites of his career. He would even adapt an altered version of the melody for the end of The Vanishing a couple of years later. Some might argue that to label Alien Nation as simply a footnote to The Russia House is unfair to the former score. But let's face it, Alien Nation is a somewhat mindless two-star score at best and The Russia House is considered by many Goldsmith collectors to be a classic on the level of Hoosiers and Under Fire in terms of emotive quality. For a long time, few fans had the opportunity to hear this rough draft of the theme on album. Sobel's score never received a full album release, nor should it have; such generic muck exists in abundance and is indistinguishable from elevator music stereotypes. Goldsmith enthusiasts had long circulated bootlegs of Alien Nation (going back to the very early days of CDr's), but these roughly 40-minute presentations almost always featured extremely unsatisfying sound quality. Their purpose was to simply give listeners a feel for what the film was ultimately missing. In 2005, with the death of Goldsmith still fresh in mind, Varèse Sarabande released 47 minutes of Alien Nation in perfect sound quality. The 3,000-copy pressing sold out quickly, likely taking advantage of collectors eager to hear six minutes of what amounts to a demo recording of the favorite theme. This material is appealing on the strength of the melody and not necessarily because of the cold or pop-like renderings; only the tingling flow of metallic effects in the background connect the two highly disparate scores' performances. Outside of these six minutes, Alien Nation isn't worth exploring unless you're attempting to maintain a complete collection of the composer's works (or liked Runaway for some reason). Goldsmith has done far worse on his synthesizers, but those keyboards and their associated sounds are still much more powerful when merged with a symphonic ensemble. Overall, if The Russia House melts your heart every time, then allow your loyalty to that score the luxury of this album's rough foreshadowing of that classic. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For Jerry Goldsmith reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.26 (in 113 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.26 (in 138,513 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

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 Track Listings (2005 Rejected Score Album): Total Time: 46:41

• 1. Alien Landing (3:47)
• 2. Out Back (2:00)
• 3. Are You Alright? (1:50)
• 4. Take It Easy (2:53)
• 5. The Vial (2:12)
• 6. Jerry's Jam (1:51)
• 7. Alien Dance (1:57)
• 8. Are You There? (2:01)
• 9. The Beach (3:40)
• 10. Tow Truck Getaway (1:51)
• 11. 772 - I Shall Remember (4:08)
• 12. Tell Them (1:29)
• 13. A Game of Chicken (2:26)
• 14. Overdose (2:26)
• 15. Got a Match? (2:53)
• 16. A Nice View (2:34)
• 17. Just Ugly (1:57)
• 18. The Wedding (4:43)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The 2005 album's insert includes extensive information about the score and film.

  All artwork and sound clips from Alien Nation are Copyright © 2005, Varèse Sarabande(Rejected Score). The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 7/18/09 (and not updated significantly since). Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2009-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.