Sunday, June 15, 2014

Entirely Memorable, Now Obsolete: “The Best Of Both Worlds” Soundtrack!

The Good: Evocative, moody score
The Bad: Duration/Already replaced by a more complete version
The Basics: One of the few soundtrack albums that grabbed me in my teen years, “The Best Of Both Worlds” Soundtrack still (mostly) holds up!

In the annals of science fiction television, there are few television series’ that have had such distinctive and almost universally-recognized moments as the chilling revelation in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s third season finale, “The Best Of Both Worlds” (reviewed here!), where the assimilated Captain Picard is revealed. Unlike many of my peers, I had only a week of suspense between “The Best Of Both Worlds” and its second part; I was not actually a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation all along. Instead, I had been an original Star Trek purist until the summer before the fourth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation aired. And, like so many others, catching “The Best Of Both Worlds” (in reruns before the fourth season premiere), one of the aspects of the episode that truly caught me was the power of the music. In fact, the score to “The Best Of Both Worlds” was so incredible that it won awards and the moment it was released on audio cassette back in the day, I picked up the soundtrack.

“The Best Of Both Worlds” Soundtrack was a twenty-one track album that clocked out at fifty-five minutes worth of music. “Was” is the correct term for it, too; last year an extended album was released that contains the complete score. The thing is, even as a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation and “The Best Of Both Worlds” in specific (the episode is high on my Top Ten Episodes Of Star Trek: The Next Generation List, which is posted here!), the “missing tracks” were not exactly missed. The album I bought all those years ago as “The Best Of Both Worlds” Soundtrack was quite sufficient to satisfy me (and most fans).

“The Best Of Both Worlds” Soundtrack is an orchestral soundtrack that starts and ends with the Jerry Goldsmith-created Star Trek fanfare that was created for Star Trek: The Motion Picture and became the theme song for Star Trek: The Motion Picture. The nineteen tracks in between are a series of escalating tracks that create a moody classical music experience that starts slow and contemplative and builds into a tense, riveting musical experience. The entirety of the “The Best Of Both Worlds” Soundtrack is an acceleration, a rising tension in musical form. Composer Ron Jones created a score that involves trills and deep basses that alternate to create an unsettling sound that is the musical equivalent of entering the unknown and finding something horrible there.

The potential weakness of any soundtrack is that it will not stand on its own. A soundtrack, of course, should be evocative of its source material. However, as an album of its own, a soundtrack must be a complete musical work that justifies its own experience. “The Best Of Both Worlds” Soundtrack does that, though some of the pieces are predictably shorter and feature a crescendo that sounds like it is leading into a commercial break. On its own, those interstitial pieces create a sense of movement that raise the tension level and even though one might know they preceded commercial breaks, they actually help create the operatic sense of acts and movements within the music. “The Best Of Both Worlds” Soundtrack holds up surprisingly well on its own, independent of the episode for which it was scored.

“The Best Of Both Worlds” Soundtrack has a surprisingly strong sense of cohesion between the tracks, despite some of the shorter pieces, making for a fairly complete – if short – work of classical music. That makes “The Best Of Both Worlds” Soundtrack one of the best investments in modern Classical music and soundtracks.

For other soundtrack reviews, please visit my takes on:
The Little Mermaid Soundtrack
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Soundtrack
Music From And Inspired By I Am Sam


For other music reviews, please check out my Music Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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