Doing More than Scratching Planet Wax in this Review

22 Oct

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Music editors Aaron Lupton and Jeff Szpirglas are back with Planet Wax, and they are blasting off again with a nostalgic look at more iconic movie scores from the past. This time, they are looking at the many soundtrack albums which defined last century’s best genre films, and there’s some obscure titles which I wasn’t aware of.

The focus on sci-fi and fantasy defines this release. Like this team’s prior work, Blood on Black Wax: Horror Soundtracks on Vinyl, and there’s no need to reprint entries. Overlap is inevitable, and it’s tough to find something new to say about specific albums. Phantom of the Paradise and Rocky Horror are analyzed to death, and I’m okay with them not being included here. They are considered more “horror” than “sci-fi” even though some people will argue over which genres the Picture Show fits under.

However, certain individuals, bands or films made a lasting legacy more so than one offs. Fans know about John Williams’ contribution to Star Wars, and Queen’s stamp in the pop culture lexicon with Flash and Highlander. But in my look through the book, I couldn’t find any reference to these feuding Immortals. I’m losing my head over it! This franchise is supposedly getting a remake.

Anyone who loves the pulps will be thrilled to read the interview with Stu Phillips. If I ever get a chance to ask him if he had something more in mind when composing the lyrics to “Suspension” (the theme song to Buck Rogers when it played in cinemas), I can only hope his answer is as revealing as “Believe it or Not,” the title track to the Greatest American Hero. Both scores are contemplative. More is said about the tune Joey Scarbury sang and composers don’t always talk about the meaning behind their best tunes and/or if the artist wrote it after seeing the TV pilot.

Say what you will about (Jefferson) Starship’s “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” from the Mannequin album–for better or worse–but this song’s legacy is one that still haunts us today. The entry in this book reveals just how many times it’s been re-recorded and continues to be played. I hoped for information on why South Asia loves it so much. I hear it far too often on various programs on Fairchild TV and believe it’s worn out its welcome.

Planet Wax has made me think it’s time to put together a playlist based on the songs actually mentioned. It’s a terrific callback to all the tunes I enjoyed listening to, including a few that I haven’t considered. And yes, that Starship song won’t be on it. I’d rather throw in the title track to Fraggle Rock to keep me sane.

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