Back to the Future Soundtracks Part III

Naturally all great trilogies come to an end – as must this catalogue of BTTF soundtracks. Today: CDs and the Telltame Game (which was approved by Bob Gale and featured most of the cast).

For my in-depth Skype interview with film oboist Tom Boyd, click here and travel back to 2014 where we discussed his life in film music in Los Angeles, recording Back to the Future for Alan Silvestri, and working with Hans Zimmer and John Williams. He was very open about the industry and has such a beautiful tone on the soundtracks. I was quite starstruck!

Here are the official CD releases from 1985 (mostly the pop songs plus the main theme and “overture” – see my earlier blog for details), 1989 and 1990 with an additional newer recording of 20 tracks from the trilogy. The latter was the first opportunity to hear some of the unreleased music from the original film and the music from Back to the Future: The Ride. It is performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, conducted by John Debney and is rather reverb heavy with some poorly executed snare drum rhythms. Oddly, the music from Part III (Main Title, Indian, Point of No Return and End Credits) are just taken from the standard soundtrack release. I guess that Varese Sarabande only owned the rights to Part III so they had to get new recordings of Part I and II. It was recorded on May 7th and August 7th 1998 in Glasgow and released in 1999 and at the time a vital part of one’s collection.

Original CD releases

Next up – the 30th anniversary releases of the soundtracks – each has the main CD of Alan Silvestri’s score on CD1 and alternate takes and other source music on CD2. After the initial run of the 2CD BTTF was sold out, Intrada released a 1-disc edition of the soundtrack. It’s a short score but such an important one.

2CD and 1CD reissues of the complete scores.

There are always a number of bootlegs and these “expanded editions” mimic the official releases although sometimes there are different takes or extracts – This version of Part I has 90 tracks on 2 discs, including all of the various source songs and score alternates, bits of Van Halen and some music not even from BTTF! The recording of The Wallflower (Dance with me Henry) is 23 seconds longer than the original cut (i.e. not faded out) and has no additional reverb added to it – closer to the original recording I guess. The bootleg of Part III has over 2 minutes more Clementine source music including the breakdown ending when it all falls apart. Top right in the photo below, is the VCD (Video CD) edition of the third film – a low spec alternative to a DVD! The other famous bootleg is the “Delorean” bootleg, pictured below.

Bootlegs and a VCD of Part III

I have a standard CD single of ZZ Top’s Doubleback – with two mixes – the single version (3:57) and AOR Mix or Edit (2.45). This also features the B side Planet of Women. The plain Promo Copy just contains the two title tracks.

ZZ Top’s Doubleback

Finally we have Back to the Future The Game, set in 1931 to start with (over 5 episodes). The Telltame game engine is rather frustrating at times although when it wants, it does allow you to walk or jog around Hill Valley as Marty freely and the designs are beautifully and faithfully recreated – if nicely stylised. The actors (for they use Mo-Cap too) include the great A.J. Locascio as Marty, Christopher Lloyd as Doc, Claudia Wells (the original and best girlfriend) as Jennifer and in the re-issue, Thomas F. Wilson as Biff. He was sorely missed in the original version of the game. Due to his fight with Parkinson’s Disease, Michael J. Fox could not commit to performing as Marty but did allow his likeness to be used. However, towards the end of the game, he does perform as William McFly (now grown up) and as a number of Future Marty McFlys in the final scenes. (Click here for the documentary). This is the icing on the cake. I’ve played it on PC, iPad (which is infuriating but handy) and on PS4 when they released the 30th annivesary reissue.

The music is an odd combination between the original recordings of live orchestra plus a selection of new cues in the style of the original by award winning video game composer Jared Emerson-Johnson. These are using good samples but the mixing between sampled and real orchestra is just weird. The songs sung by Trixie Trotter are cleverly used in the game and well performed by Melissa Hutchison, who is well known for her voice role as Clementine in The Walking Dead.

The boxset special edition and 30th anniversary PS4 edition of The Game

The use of the original score in the game may have been the reason that the original PDF of BTTF was leaked online. You can buy an official typeset of the score from America for about $80 but the postage to the UK will be able the same!

Let’s hope that Back to the Future The Musical will reconvene and release a cast album. Next week – as much footage and recordings that I can find!