WarGames - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (CD)
Reviewed by Nathan Strum
It seems some reviews are never finished. First, when I reviewed the WarGames DVD, I wished that the soundtrack had been released on CD, but it never had. After much searching, I found and reviewed the soundtrack on vinyl LP. I thought that would pretty much be the end of it.
Well after a great deal more searching - my persistence finally paid off. I found the WarGames soundtrack on CD! And this release addressed a number of the issues I had with the LP version.
First though, a note about this CD. You won't find it in stores, or on Amazon, or pretty much anyplace else that carries CDs. This was a special promotional CD, made in cooperation with Arthur B. Rubinstein, and never widely distributed. It was made in very limited quantities, and the place I got it from was involved in its production (which is the only reason they had it). It's not a bootleg, or a transfer from vinyl - it's the real thing. But it's really rare, and very hard to find.
The CD includes the same soundtrack as the LP - annoying dialogue snippets and all. But the CD breaks the tracks down in more detail, so instead of just listing "The Game Begins" for example, it lists "The Game Begins Part I", "The Game Begins Part II", "Joshua Dialogue" and "The Game Begins Part III". When listening to the tracks, these expanded listings make a lot more sense. The first two parts of "The Game Begins" are quite different from each other, and now the dialogue that was stuck in the middle has been listed separately. This is done in several places of the soundtrack, and is a most welcomed change. Best of all - it allows you to skip over the dialogue if you wish.
The difference in clarity between the CD and LP is remarkable. It's been a long time since I listed to vinyl on a regular basis, and few of my records were ever in that bad of shape. Many subtle details that were lost among the hiss and pops of the LP emerge and add a lot of extra depth to the music. Of particular note are the synthesizer-based tracks, which have a much greater presence than they did on the LP.
That said, there is some hiss and a few odd clicks in some tracks (notably "The Game Begins Part III"), but given the age of the material, those could be present on the master tapes, or may be artifacts from the synthesizers used. There are also some strange "flanging" effects on some of the tracks, but it's hard to tell if that was due to possibly damaged master tapes, or something that happened in the mastering process for this CD. Some tracks also have distortion, especially where there is dialog from the movie, yet other tracks are pristine. The flaws aren't particularly distracting however, when compared to the noise of the LP, but they are unfortunate.
The first half of the album is a track-for-track re-creation of the LP (except for one line of dialogue), but with better fidelity, and much smarter track separation.
But the CD goes far beyond just a reissue of the LP soundtrack. The CD is nearly double the length of the original soundtrack, adding in an extra 33 minutes of material.
Some of this is comprised of tracks that were already on the LP, but had dialogue and effects from the movie mixed in with them. For these revisited versions, they are presented as music only. It's a relief to be able to hear the music, unencumbered.
The rest of the extra tracks are ones that were either left out of the LP version (including David's escape from Norad, which I'd noted during the LP review), or other LP tracks that had otherwise been altered, and presumably restored here to Rubinstein's preferred versions. The deleted and expanded tracks are especially nice to have, and only reinforces my view of the LP version feeling very "chopped up". The restored and added tracks make the soundtrack finally feel complete.
One of the additional tracks is yet another version of "Edge of the World". Although referred to as "The Film Version", it doesn't actually appear in the film. The arrangement is similar to the "End Title" version, except with vocals sung by a chorus. It's still an effective song, but one has to wonder why there were two vocal versions - neither of which were used in the film. (I still think they were trying for an Oscar nomination for "Best Song".)
Although the CD still hops around in a different order than the movie, it doesn't bother me as much as it did with the LP. Perhaps it's because I know I'm getting a much more complete picture of the music, and nothing is being cut out merely for the sake of fitting onto an ill-conceived LP. The CD runs almost an hour and twelve minutes, so if there's any music left in the film that's not on this CD, it must be pretty inconsequential.
The drawbacks to this CD are threefold:
The music from WarGames finally gets the CD treatment it deserves. Although the dialogue and sound effects are still there, the music is finally presented in its full glory, thanks to all of the extra CD tracks. Despite less-than-perfect quality, the music still shines through without the annoying clicks and pops of the LP.
Although the sequencing of the tracks is, if anything, even more disjointed than the LP, this still feels like a more cohesive soundtrack, due to its completeness. Hopefully, this can see the light of day as a full, commercial release complete with liner notes, and remastered fidelity. Until that happens, it only rates a three out of four.
Missile Silo Dialogue / WarGames (Main Title)
Vocals (Video Fever, History Lesson)
The Beepers (Arthur B. Rubinstein, Cynthia Morrow, Brian Banks, Anthony Marinelli)
Vocals (Edge of the World)
Synthesizers Programmed and Performed by
Brian Banks, Anthony Marinelli