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Star Trek: Generations
1994 GNP Crescendo

2012 GNP Crescendo

Composed, Conducted, and Produced by:
Dennis McCarthy

Orchestrated by:
William Ross
Mark McKenzie
Brad Warnaar

Existing Theme Composed by:
Alexander Courage

Labels and Dates:
GNP Crescendo Records
(December 7th, 1994)

GNP Crescendo Records
(October 15th, 2012)

Also See:
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: Insurrection
Star Trek: Nemesis

Audio Clips:
1994 Album:

2. Main Title (0:27):
WMA (154K)  MP3 (187K)
Real Audio (116K)

8. Out of Control/The Crash (0:30):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)

11. Jumping the Ravine (0:30):
WMA (193K)  MP3 (238K)
Real Audio (147K)

15. To Live Forever (0:26):
WMA (168K)  MP3 (210K)
Real Audio (130K)

The 1994 GNP Crescendo album is a regular U.S. release. The expanded 2012 GNP product is a commercial offering but limited to 10,000 copies and retailed for an initial price of $25.


Star Trek: Generations
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Buy it... if you appreciated the conservative sound of Dennis McCarthy's music for the concept's episodes on television, for Star Trek: Generations is largely a simple expansion of that sound.

Avoid it... if you expect the memorable themes or dramatic majesty of the superior film scores that came before and after this comparatively dull entry in the franchise.

Star Trek: Generations: (Dennis McCarthy) A valiant attempt was made by Paramount in 1994 to bridge the gap in the "Star Trek" franchise between the "Original Series" and "Next Generation" casts, with widely mixed results. Inevitably, Star Trek: Generations would face insurmountable obstacles in both script and expectations; Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country was such a robust and popular conclusion (and goodbye) to the original franchise of films, while Star Trek: First Contact would follow this film with easily the most memorable "Next Generation" entry. With so many important story elements forced upon the plot of Star Trek: Generations, including the destruction of the Enterprise-D and the death of Captain Kirk, it's no surprise that the film become lost in the transition. Several almost laughable aspects of the production exposed its lack of focus, including the use of the same footage of an exploding Klingon Bird of Prey from the previous film as well as a confusing and unexplained switch of Starfleet uniform style for only some of the characters halfway through the film. With the seemingly unorganized producers of the popular television series now in charge of the film series, they made the nearly fatal mistake of treating Star Trek: Generations like an expanded episode, failing to elevate the ambience of the production to levels that could compete with the resoundingly massive scope of the films that came before and after. It was the first attempt by the producers of the franchise to use a regular composer of the television series instead of a traditional Hollywood composer, and, throughout the run of the original ten films, it would thankfully be the last. The prolific Dennis McCarthy had won an Emmy for his 80 hours of music spread over more than half of the 178 episodes of "The Next Generation," and director David Carson asked McCarthy to deliver the musical identity of that series onto a larger canvas for Star Trek: Generations. The result is a score that has all the elements of a "Star Trek" score (the big orchestra, Alexander Courage's television theme, and a full chorus), and yet McCarthy's music struggles to disconnect itself from its roots in television.

The scores for the television episodes were written quickly and were sparsely orchestrated, and a number of rules set upon their contributing composers by the producers (including such things as thematic limitation and an emphasis on ambience instead of sharp, individual personality for each episode) caused music that was serviceable but no competition for the feature films' scores. Unfortunately, McCarthy's music for Star Trek: Generations is doomed by the attempt to draw stylistic connections between this film score and the previous episodic ones. As a consequence, this score has the personality of an expanded episodic television score rather than an individual motion picture work that stands among the others in the series. Advocates of the music will claim that the use of the 95-member ensemble and a chorus negates this argument, but the problem with Star Trek: Generations is not its size. Rather, it's the lack of expansive thematic scope, a reliance upon obnoxious harmonic discord, and the absence of genuinely robust action structures. So much of the score is subtle and ambient that such issues are clearly a conceptual problem rather than one of execution. The opening titles are a frightfully blatant example of this deviation. Every film in the franchise before and after is graced with a fanfare, overture, or other massive title sequence. The floating bottle in space that accompanies the opening credits this time around was obviously not intended for a rousing score cue (a parody environment would have resulted), but at the same time, there has never been such a boring and more understated opening to any of these films as this two minutes. Granted, McCarthy's well-rendered explosion of Courage's theme at the end of the scene is a highlight of the score (and a truly magnificent recording), but the damage was already done. McCarthy's music excels when involving Courage's theme, but it flounders when his own original, primary theme tries to take center stage. The theme is far too optimistic in tone and bland in structure... much like one of the television episodes, of course. It's all in the major key, and considering the tragic storyline of the film, it borders on being completely inappropriate. The same bouncing, fluffy approach to a title theme was provided for Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home by Leonard Rosenman, though it was acceptable in the context of that film because it was, essentially, a comedy entry.

The horse-riding sequence in Star Trek: Generations, heard in "Jumping the Ravine," is an embarrassingly lame example of where the primary theme of heroism is badly two-dimensional, as is the overture suite performance that cannot compete with other suites in the franchise. To his credit, McCarthy does allude to this theme on solo trumpet and in other various guises throughout the score, and the short snippet that is combined with Courage's theme at the conclusion of the film ("To Live Forever") is strong. Otherwise, all the best thematic moments in Star Trek: Generations include solely Courage's theme. A meandering secondary theme for the mystical environment of the Nexus is completely forgettable, wasting the use of electronics and choir in an attempt to provide a wishy-washy atmosphere for the parallel universe. The theme of villainy for the movie is understated, its main three-note phrase completely anonymous and failing to provide a cue such as "Picard's Message/Raid's Post Mortem" with any significant sense of dread; Malcolm McDowell's character lacks any of the music charisma that his performance deserves and demands. Perhaps more disturbing is the decision by McCarthy and the producers to abandon all the other established themes of the franchise. The absence of Jerry Goldsmith's fanfare for two of the prior feature films and the "Next Generation" show, a very explicit choice by McCarthy (who was worried about dishonoring Goldsmith by treading over his territory), is unforgivable, and thankfully Goldsmith would contribute the theme to the three subsequent films with the same cast. Most fans associate Goldsmith's bright and strong brass theme with the Enterprise-D, and, even if McCarthy intentionally steered away from the use of the "Next Generation" theme in his score, something brassy to the equivalent would have served the topic far better. Also gone is a strong Klingon theme; whether he had decided to reference the Klingon ideas by Goldsmith, Cliff Eidelman, or James Horner, or even conjured his own variant, something more than the half-assed percussive statement as the Bird of Prey first decloaks in the film was necessary. The absence of musical representation is bizarre given how deeply involved the Klingons (or their babes, more specifically) would be in this particular film. The lack of continuity in Star Trek: Generations, despite McCarthy's intentions, slips this score into a void of nothingness... or, perhaps, a Nexus.

Other problems abound. The scenes of Kirk's death (both of them) needed much more depth in sentimentality. After everything his character has been through, a slight performance of Courage's theme and more of McCarthy's dull string ambience is hardly a fair accompaniment for Kirk's exit, especially not after the send-off he received at the conclusion of Eidelman's score. During the scene in which Captain Picard standings above Kirk's buried body atop a cliff, the sorrow of the moment calls for either significant flair or overwhelming musical sadness. Once again, McCarthy fails. The actual destruction of the Enterprise-D, heard in "Out of Control/The Crash," ends the ship's short-lived film career with bland action material suitable only for television. The rhythmic movements pound away without forming a cohesive narrative flow. Did he not take inspiration from Horner's impressive cue for the destruction of the Enterprise in the third feature film? The action material in Star Trek: Generations is stirring at times, but all too familiar to cues in "The Next Generation" and "Deep Space Nine." The "Outgunned" ship-to-ship battle sequence, one of the most ridiculously paced and illogical confrontations in the franchise's history, suffers particularly from the "we've heard this standard material before" phenomenon. In "Kirk Saves the Day," McCarthy actually seems to pull a few ideas from John Williams' first Star Wars score, though the performance makes this influence all too transparent. Even outside of the prospect of a decent villain's theme, the material for the McDowell's conversational scenes contains no resonating suspense, a tragedy given how menacing the actor can be in any setting when you stand his hair on end. In the end, the most frustrating aspect of Star Trek: Generations could be the fact that it has no unique style. Both Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and Star Trek: First Contact have emotionally powerful and distinct styles to them, as each of the films has a singular villain or mystery at its heart. In the former, Eidelman constructed a dark and menacing bass string and male chorus motif to signal the presence of the Klingons; his motif began the score, rumbled at the appropriate times throughout, and drove a section of the end credits. Alternately, in Star Trek: First Contact, Goldsmith used a powerful mutation of his electronic "Blaster Beam" effect from the first film in a heavy, relentless minor key motif to portray the mechanized Borg. McCarthy offers no such creativity.

1994 Album:
Only $9.99
In Star Trek: Generations, the mystery element revolves around the Nexus energy ribbon. McCarthy chose to use a blend of choir and electronics for this idea, which, in and of itself, was promising. And yet, the light, whimsical, and flighty manner in which he added aimless strings to the equation sucks the life out of the concept. Whereas the villain or mystery themes by Eidelman and Goldsmith can be called to mind easily, McCarthy's Nexus theme is a total loss, adequate in a basic sense for the film, perhaps, but unremarkable in the larger scheme of the franchise. Overall, the Star Trek: Generations score is commonly considered a bastard child of the franchise, and with Rosenman's occasionally intolerable entry floating in the ranks, that's a disturbing label to have. McCarthy's work is easily the weakest of the "modern" scores of the franchise, lacking the memorably powerful essence of the Goldsmith scores, the dramatic majesty of the Horner ones, and the rich balance of good and evil in the Eidelman one. Even Michael Giacchino's entry into the franchise for its reboot is infinitely more engaging. The 1994 album for the score was also somewhat strange. A quarter of the running time is occupied by 23 tracks of sound effects from the film. The catchy little chirps of the computer for things like door chimes are cute, but the battle and crash sequences (along with the cloaking and decloaking sounds, which are promising prank material on larger systems) require a decent sound system to be viable on album. This material is provided at the expense of some of the score material that did not make the pressing, a disappointment finally rectified by original label GNP Crescendo in 2012 with an expanded edition that presents the full 76-minute work. Unfortunately, nearly all of the additional material (aside from the action of "Soran Kidnaps Geordi") is bland conversational muck, lengthy cues like "Distress Call/Harriman and the Ribbon" and "Picard's Message/Raid's Post Mortem" ambient wastes of space suitable, once again, for the realm of television episodes. Despite the praise that McCarthy regularly receives for all of his work throughout the years on the "Star Trek" concept, all of the best film scores and most of the best episodic television scores for the franchise have come from others. This is especially evident in some of the contributions by other composers to "Voyager" and "Enterprise" in the later years of the concept's presence on television. The standard for "Star Trek" film scores is extremely high, and many of them have boldly gone where few other scores had gone before. Unfortunately, Star Trek: Generations lackadaisically went to where many hope no "Star Trek" score goes again. ** Price Hunt: CD or Download

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 Track Listings (1994 GNP Album): Total Time: 60:24

• 1. Star Trek: Generations Overture (4:14)
• 2. Main Title (2:53)
• 3. The Enterprise B/Kirk Saves the Day (3:13)
• 4. Deck 15 (1:41)
• 5. Time is Running Out (1:12)
• 6. Prisoner Exchange (2:57)
• 7. Outgunned (3:21)
• 8. Out of Control/The Crash (2:07)
• 9. Coming to Rest (0:57)
• 10. The Nexus/A Christmas Hug (7:07)
• 11. Jumping the Ravine (1:37)
• 12. Two Captains (1:32)
• 13. The Final Fight (6:15)
• 14. Kirk's Death (2:45)
• 15. To Live Forever (2:42)
16-38. Sound Effects

 Track Listings (2012 GNP Album): Total Time: 141:50

CD1: Film Score: (75:39)
• 1. Main Title (2:54)
• 2. Past Glory (1:19)
• 3. The Enterprise B (0:42)
• 4. Distress Call/Harriman and the Ribbon (4:27)
• 5. Kirk Saves the Day/Deck 15/HMS Enterprise (4:50)
• 6. Picard's Message/Raid Post Mortem (4:43)
• 7. Data and the Emotions (0:54)
• 8. Time is Running Out (1:11)
• 9. Data Malfunctions (2:29)
• 10. Soran Kidnaps Geordi (2:44)
• 11. Guinan and the Nexus (2:47)
• 12. Torture (1:37)
• 13. Soran's Plan Revealed (1:49)
• 14. Prisoner Exchange (2:59)
• 15. Outgunned (3:22)
• 16. The Gap/Coolant Leak/Appointment with Eternity/Out of Control/Blasted/The Crash (5:43)
• 17. Coming to Rest (1:00)
• 18. The Nexus (1:32)
• 19. A Christmas Hug/The Kitchen Debate (8:03)
• 20. Coming to Rest (1:38)
• 21. Two Captains/Crash Recap (2:04)
• 22. The Final Fight (6:15)
• 23. The Captain of the Enterprise (Kirk's Death) (2:45)
• 24. To Live Forever (2:40)
• 25. Star Trek: Generations Overture (4:13)

CD2: (66:11)

Soundtrack Album: (41:56)
• 1. Star Trek: Generations Overture (4:13)
• 2. Main Title (2:54)
• 3. The Enterprise B/Kirk Saves the Day (3:13)
• 4. Deck 15 (1:41)
• 5. Time is Running Out (1:11)
• 6. Prisoner Exchange (2:58)
• 7. Outgunned (3:22)
• 8. Out of Control/The Crash (2:05)
• 9. Coming to Rest (1:00)
• 10. The Nexus/A Christmas Hug (7:07)
• 11. Jumping the Ravine (1:38)
• 12. Two Captains (1:34)
• 13. The Final Fight (6:15)
• 14. Kirk's Death (2:45)
• 15. To Live Forever (2:40)

Star Trek: Generations Sound Effects: (12:35)
• 16. Enterprise B Bridge (3:13)
• 17. Enterprise B Doors Open (0:13)
• 18. Distress Call Alert (0:10)
• 19. Enterprise B Helm Controls (0:16)
• 20. Nexus Energy Ribbon (1:38)
• 21. Enterprise B Deflector Beam (0:08)
• 22. Enterprise B Warp Pass-by (0:14)
• 23. Enterprise B Transporter (0:12)
• 24. Tricorder (0:30)
• 25. Hypo Injector (0:03)
• 26. Communicator Chirp (0:06)
• 27. Door Chime (0:07)
• 28. Enterprise D Warp Out #1 (0:22)
• 29. Bird of Prey Bridge/Explosion (2:51)
• 30. Klingon Sensor Alert (0:08)
• 31. Bird of Prey Cloaks (0:04)
• 32. Bird of Prey De-cloaks (0:10)
• 33. Klingon Transporter (0:12)
• 34. Soran's Gun (0:11)
• 35. Soran's Rocket De-cloaks (0:05)
• 36. Shuttlecraft Pass-by (0:21)
• 37. Enterprise D Bridge/Crash Sequence (3:21)
• 38. Enterprise D Warp-Out #2 (0:09)

Bonus Tracks: (3:38)
• 39. Prisoner Exchange (Film Version) (2:59)
• 40. A Christmas Hug (Choir Only) (1:22)
• 41. Lifeforms - performed by Brent Spiner (0:17)

 Notes and Quotes:  

The sound effects comprise 23 tracks on the 1994 GNP album, so don't be fooled by the "track 16" listing on the exterior of the packaging. Each one has a title in the liner notes. The insert of that product also includes extensive notes by David Hirsch and Mark Banning about McCarthy, the score, and the film. Similar commentary can be found in the insert of the 2012 GNP album.

  All artwork and sound clips from Star Trek: Generations are Copyright © 1994, 2012, GNP Crescendo Records, GNP Crescendo 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 2/5/99 and last updated 3/20/13. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1999-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.