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Section Header
Battle Beyond the Stars
2001 GNP Crescendo

2011 BSX Records

Composed and Produced by:
James Horner

Conducted by:
David Newman

Labels and Dates:
GNP Crescendo Records
(August 28th, 2001)

BSX Records
(July 18th, 2011)

Also See:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

Audio Clips:
2001 Album:

1. Main Title (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (248K)
Real Audio (154K)

3. The Battle Begins (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

5. Cowboy and the Jackers (0:34):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (263K)
Real Audio (164K)

2011 Album:

11. Nanelia and Shad (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (254K)
Real Audio (179K)

The 2001 GNP Crescendo album (with Humanoids from the Deep) was a regular U.S. release but became scarce after the label went out of business, increasing in value to $30. The 2011 BSX Records album is limited to 1,000 copies but sold through soundtrack specialty outlets for an initial retail price of only $16. It sold out within a few months but did not immediately escalate in value.


Battle Beyond the Stars

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Buy it... if you want to know where it all essentially started for James Horner, not to mention the fact that Battle Beyond the Stars is an impressively engaging score by any standard.

Avoid it... if enduring the inspiration for Horner's eventual self-regurgitation is as disturbing to you as hearing the composer blatantly pull material from Jerry Goldsmith's Star Trek: The Motion Picture for this score.

Battle Beyond the Stars: (James Horner) The New World Pictures studio headed by Roger Corman was at the height of its ambitions in 1980, determined to not just fill the screen with B-rate science fiction and horror trash but actually compete with the major blockbuster franchises already established in cinema at the time. Undoubtedly, Battle Beyond the Stars was a response to the space opera phenomenon caused by Star Wars, and its plot involves mercenaries hired to protect a distant farming colony from nasty aliens. The character-driven picture features a dose of Corman's usual flesh on display, though the special effects of starship combat were akin to television's Battlestar Galactica in their general design. Most of the movies that came out of Corman's troop were undeniably trashy, but that group did include several big names that would go on to mainstream greatness, including Ron Howard and James Cameron. Both directors eventually used the services of composer James Horner, who himself was a Corman regular during the initial years of his career. Horner was fresh out of his doctorate education in music composition and theory when he landed the position with Corman, making his story initially very similar to Cliff Eidelman's, especially with their overlapping involvement with the "Star Trek" franchise. His score for Battle Beyond the Stars was among the later in the rather impersonal collaboration, and it had far more of a lasting impact on the direction of the composer's career than other Corman entries. For Horner's collectors, it's a bit strange to go back and revisit Battle Beyond the Stars, if only because it came at a time during which not one listener could compare the music to a previous Horner score. Ironically, though, being the first entry in an illustrious career doesn't automatically mean there isn't some borrowing to be heard. Horner's writing has always been a hotbed of controversy regarding his tendency to borrow material from himself and others, though Battle Beyond the Stars was a case of temp track emulation of the highest order. Despite this obvious reality, the score directly caused Horner's employment on Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and an acquaintance with Battle Beyond the Stars art director James Cameron that may have likely led to his troublesome assignment on Aliens.

Being the young, impressionable composer at the age of 26 in 1980, Horner freely admits that he was strongly influenced by the works of other composers when assembling Battle Beyond the Stars. In interviews done early in the decade, Horner went so far as to admit that Jerry Goldsmith was an enormous influence for him in the earliest days (not to mention some unsavory rumors about Horner's involvement with Goldsmith's daughter), explaining some of the overlaps in electronic experimentation with the orchestra and other various rhythmic similarities. He could also provide several names of classical composers whose motifs were inspiring to him then (and for many years to come). Thus, at a time when Horner was too young to rip off his own material, he took the opportunity to quote some recent favorites. In the case of Battle Beyond the Stars, Corman was looking for music similar (if not identical) to Jerry Goldsmith's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and it was ironically Horner's ability to so well incorporate that material into his own that he got noticed. As one must recall, the early 1980's were the time when space fantasies and sword and sorcery films were at their height, with John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith re-establishing the power of the full orchestra in film music. Corman wanted to take advantage of that sound, but on a fraction of the budget. Thus, Horner was given only 62 orchestral players with which to simulate the adventurous sound of the London Symphony Orchestra. What surprised everyone is the plain fact that he succeeded. He composed a spirited title theme, a longing interlude for romance, and a Western-styled character subtheme, all of which already exhibiting traits of the composer's style that would dominate his work in the first half of the 1980's. In the end, though, what Horner wrote for Battle Beyond the Stars was simply too complex for the musicians to perform. The composition is superb, but the performance, while inspiring in the enthusiasm drawn from the players by David Newman's conducting, is sometimes badly lacking in the brass section. An entire series of brass performances at 3:40 into "Epilogue/End Title," for instance, is badly mangled. And yet, there's something about the performance mistakes that enhance the Corman B-rate film atmosphere; it fits snugly with the cheesy costumes and sets, and it is no coincidence that the director used Horner's music for the film in countless of his other similarly poor flicks. In retrospect, the music for Battle Beyond the Stars is a riot, one of nearly smirk-inducing fun many decades later.

To a distracting extent, the references to Goldsmith's Star Trek: The Motion Picture are aplenty in Battle Beyond the Stars, with reports existing that the blaster beam in the two scores was even performed by the same musician. The uniquely crisp, metallic edge that no modern synthesizer can imitate is unmistakably joined by familiar rhythms and counterpoint techniques taken directly from the Goldsmith classic. The entire cue "The Battle Begins" pays tribute to the opening Klingon sequence in Goldsmith's score, with whole motifs from the blaster beam and other percussion providing a cheap and light-hearted (but entertaining) imitation. You'll easily recognize the brass Klingon theme altered for use here, as well as the propulsive rhythmic crescendo that exists late in the equivalent battle cues for both scores. The start of "Love Theme" is an even more shameless rip, using woodwinds and piano to affectionately reflect Goldsmith's score with no alteration. It's interesting to note that when Horner was actually hired to work in the "Star Trek" franchise and tasked with writing his own Klingon music, he disappointingly never produced anything as similar to Goldsmith's famous Klingon material as what you hear in Battle Beyond the Stars. In a general sense, it's also intriguing to hear, even beyond all of these obvious influences, the process of Horner testing out the original motifs and ideas that would later become staples of his career. In and around all the obvious borrowings from Goldsmith's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Alien, and even A Patch of Blue in Battle Beyond the Stars are the fledgling ideas that would later be fleshed out in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Aliens, Cocoon, and even Willow. The raw enthusiasm written into this score is something that slowly taped off as Horner matured, however, leaving classically complex compositions that have rarely matched the brute excitement heard in this 1980 work. This is in part why listeners held on to their LP records of Battle Beyond the Stars for two decades. It's an extremely engaging score, even with all of its performance and recording flaws. Aside from the fanfares, look for highlights in the softer cues like "Nanelia and Shad," which features some alluring translations of the score's themes by an oboe over harp and strings. In 2001, the score finally made the transition to CD courtesy of sci-fi schlock label GNP Crescendo, which combined its contents with Humanoids from the Deep on one product, another Horner collaboration with Corman from the era.

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While Humanoids from the Deep came after Horner had matured a little more, it lacks the spunk and personality of the previous score. The performance is significantly better in that work, but the horror genre was not as exciting for Horner as the realm of space had been. Even for a film with massive, evil fish pursuing barely clothed women with giant boobs, the music for Humanoids from the Deep is substantially less interesting. Much of it lingers in the murky depths, and the moments of action are less complex. It is a score of function rather than inspiration, and it remains nothing more than a small footnote in Horner's career. Sound quality was always a problem with these scores, and while Humanoids from the Deep has better clarity than Battle Beyond the Stars, both are afforded superior sound on the 2001 CD release than either the LPs or the CD bootlegs that had been representing these scores by drifting around the secondary market over the course of the late 1990's. The long awaited and readily available GNP Crescendo product made the bootlegs completely obsolete, though the folding of the label shortly thereafter didn't help collectors' prospects. The sound quality in the Battle Beyond the Stars section varies greatly from cue to cue, with some sequences muffled considerably while others are vibrant and impressive. It largely depends on the volume of the individual cues. A 1,000-copy 2011 CD from BSX Records, essentially the GNP Crescendo label rebranded, then presented Battle Beyond the Stars alone with slightly remastered sound (the same label also pressed Humanoids from the Deep alone that year as well). Even here, there are bass artifacts that distract in the later cues. That quickly sold-out CD did add Alan Howarth's source music and sound effects, as well as the decent but not overwhelming City of Prague Philharmonic performance of the main theme from many years prior and released by Silva Screen. The re-recording sometimes suffers from performance flubs itself, again in the brass section, and its gain levels seem to have been pushed too high for this release, yielding frustrating distortion and a tinny sound. Those who already own the 2001 album will really have no need for the 2011 expansion (Howarth's material is impossible to appreciate out of context). On any product, though, the exciting personality of Battle Beyond the Stars can easily make the listener forget about its age and subsequent performance and sound issues. For enthusiasts of both Horner and Goldsmith, the score will be an enjoyable listening experience as long as it isn't taken too seriously. You have to appreciate it for what it is, an exhibition of Horner's youth and a testing ground for ideas to be littered throughout his scores for a decade to come. **** Price Hunt: CD or Download

Bias Check:For James Horner reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 98 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.19 (in 187,899 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.

 Viewer Ratings and Comments:  

Regular Average: 3.58 Stars
Smart Average: 3.46 Stars*
***** 132 
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    * Smart Average only includes
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   Re: Thanks your a life saver!!!!! *NM* *NM*
  Amuro -- 8/30/03 (10:23 p.m.)
   go right to GNP's website and order it
  Scott -- 7/21/03 (6:29 a.m.)
   No true Horner fan without it
  Amuro -- 7/1/03 (8:40 a.m.)
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 Track Listings (2001 GNP Crescendo Album): Total Time: 68:12

Battle Beyond the Stars:
• 1. Main Title (2:00)
• 2. Malmori Rear Guard (3:52)
• 3. The Battle Begins (4:33)
• 4. Nanelia and Shad (1:27)
• 5. Cowboy and the Jackers (3:36)
• 6. Nanelia's Capture (1:29)
• 7. The Maze Battle (3:11)
• 8. Shad's Pursuit (3:23)
• 9. Cowboy's Attack (1:45)
• 10. Love Theme (3:52)
• 11. The Hunter (1:40)
• 12. Gelt's Death (1:30)
• 13. Nanelia (1:32)
• 14. Heading for Sador (0:59)
• 15. Destruction of Hammerhead (2:36)
• 16. Epilogue/End Title (5:03)
Humanoids from the Deep:
• 17. Main Title (2:27)
• 18. The Buck-O (3:45)
• 19. Unwelcome Visitor (2:02)
• 20. Night Swim (1:48)
• 21. Jerry and Peggy (0:57)
• 22. Trip Upriver (1:58)
• 23. The Humanoids Attack (2:54)
• 24. Jerry's Death (2:04)
• 25. Search for Clues (1:56)
• 26. Strange Catch (1:07)
• 27. The Grotto (3:22)
• 28. Night Prowlers (2:08)
• 29. Final Confrontation (3:04)
• 30. Aftermath and New birth (2:22)
• 31. End Title (2:12)

 Track Listings (2011 BSX Records Album): Total Time: 70:38

• 1. Main Title (1:59)
• 2. Malmori Rear Guard (3:46)
• 3. Love Theme (3:48)
• 4. Cowboy and the Jackers (3:30)
• 5. Nanelia's Capture (1:24)
• 6. The Hunter (1:35)
• 7. Nanelia (1:28)
• 8. The Battle Begins (4:28)
• 9. The Maze Battle (3:06)
• 10. Gelt's Death (1:25)
• 11. Nanelia and Shad (1:23)
• 12. Heading for Sador (0:55)
• 13. Cowboy's Attack (1:42)
• 14. Shad's Pursuit (3:18)
• 15. Destruction of Hammerhead (3:35)
• 16. Epilogue and End Title (4:58)
Bonus Tracks:
• 17. Gelt's Chamber* (1:30)

Sound Effects Library: (24:15)
• 18. Command Ship Radio Chatter* (4:17)
• 19. Drone Chatter #1* (0:06)
• 20. Drone Chatter #2* (0:06)
• 21. Drone Chatter #3* (0:06)
• 22. Drone Chatter #4* (0:06)
• 23. Drone Chatter #6* (0:07)
• 24. Drone Chatter #7* (0:06)
• 25. Drone Chatter #8* (0:08)
• 26. Drone Chatter #9* (0:06)
• 27. Drone Chatter #10* (0:14)
• 28. Drone Chatter #11* (0:15)
• 29. Drone Chatter #12* (0:13)
• 30. Drone Chatter #13* (0:08)
• 31. Drone Chatter #14* (0:07)
• 32. Laser Artillery #1* (0:13)
• 33. Laser Artillery #2* (0:47)
• 34. Laser Artillery #3* (0:23)
• 35. Laser Artillery #4* (0:13)
• 36. Stereo Fly-Bys* (0:40)
• 37. Pass-Bys with Vocoder* (0:26)
• 38. Hammerhead Low Rumble* (1:30)
• 39. Nell Cave Launch - 1st Stage* (0:42)
• 40. Nell Cave Launch - 2nd Stage* (0:45)
• 41. Nell Cave Launch - 3rd Stage* (0:50)
• 42. Nell Fly Away* (0:35)
• 43. Nell Engine Build-Up* (2:09)
• 44. Nell Exterior Fly-By* (0:42)
• 45. Nell Maneuvering Thrusters* (1:29)
• 46. Bad Guy Lasers* (1:13)
• 47. Telemetry #1* (1:37)
• 48. Laser Blast* (0:33)
• 49. Sonic Tank Short Blast* (0:56)
• 50. Sonic Tank Long Blast* (0:56)
• 51. Drone Chatter #5 (Long Live Lord Sador)* (0:08)

• 52. Theme From Battle Beyond the Stars** (4:04)

* composed, performed, and produced by Alan Howarth
** performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nic Raine

 Notes and Quotes:  

The inserts of both albums include extensive notes about the film and its music, as well excerpts from an old CinemaScore interview with Horner. The track listing on the packaging of the 2011 BSX Records album erroneously adds a 53rd track.

  All artwork and sound clips from Battle Beyond the Stars are Copyright © 2001, 2011, GNP Crescendo Records, BSX Records. 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 9/1/01 and last updated 11/28/11. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 2001-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.