Saturday, June 27, 2015

Even The Diehard Fans Will Have Trouble Getting Enthused For Star Trek Volume 3!

The Good: Good instrument diversity, Some is truly evocative/memorable
The Bad: Short, Mostly forgettable, Lack of cohesion
The Basics: The soundtrack album Star Trek Volume 3 is hardly an exciting one worth picking up!

Once upon a time, there was not a lot of Star Trek merchandise. That time is pretty alien to me, as I discovered Star Trek right before its 25th Anniversary, during a time of explosive merchandise growth. I recall the merchandising getting so overwhelming to me that I started to cut back on the novels, then the action figures, and finally honed my collection to trading cards and Klingon Bird Of Prey pieces. But before the merchandising for Star Trek became absolutely insane, there was comparatively little of it, so what did get licensed tended to be more eclectic and, in retrospect, ridiculous. The Star Trek Volume 3 Soundtrack album is one such absurd piece of merchandise.

Star Trek Volume 3 is a compilation of music from the Star Trek episodes "Shore Leave" (reviewed here!) and "The Naked Time" (reviewed here!) and the result is a musical body of work shorter than either single episode.

Unlike prior Star Trek soundtracks, most notably Volume 2 (reviewed here!), Star Trek Volume 3 lacks any truly iconic musical cues - outside the opening and closing themes composed by Alexander Courage. The closest one gets is the upbeat, xylophone-driven riff from "Shore Leave" that playfully introduced the Alice In Wonderland rabbit or the contemplative (oft-reused) Star Trek ballad that was played when Captain Kirk saw his former love, Ruth. Neither has the bearing, mainstream recognition or even duration of something like the fight theme from "Amok Time."

As with many of the prior Star Trek Soundtracks, one of the unfortunate issues with Star Trek Volume 3 is that the musical works are based on short cuts in the television work they are from. As a result, there are reversals and crescendos that are far less musically intriguing and more unsettling when the soundtrack is listened to without its visual accompaniment. "The Naked Time" portion of Star Trek Volume 3 is much more murky, but consistent (interestingly enough considering it has no strong musical moments evocative of the episode, longer) collection than the "Shore Leave" half. The soundtrack to "Shore Leave" is unfortunately erratic as musical themes actually start to develop and then are abruptly crushed or changed. While this might work well in the context of the story of "Shore Leave," it is hard to enjoy as a musical piece.

Ultimately, Star Trek Volume 3 is an inconsistent and short instrumental work that fails to hold its own outside the context of the episodes the musical snippets are from. That makes it easy to avoid now.

For other Star Trek soundtracks, please visit my reviews of:
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier Soundtrack
Star Trek: The Next Generation Volume 2
Star Trek Volume 1


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

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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