Title
 Greatest Science Fiction Hits IV
International Title
 [Compilation]
Music By: Neil Norman
Record Label: GNP Crescendo
  Order
Running Time: 77:14 Discs: 1
Release: October 1998 CD Number: GNPD-2258
Comments
Anthony Romero
Thanks goes to Neil Norman for sending this disc in!

This CD is a compilation of many different themes from a large selection of science fiction films and shows. Rather than being a collection of material straight from the original sources, though, it has all been redone by Neil Norman "and his Cosmic Orchestra". If one is unfamiliar with their work, a lot of synthesizing as well as a more modern band is used to create the themes. The end result is sometimes very close to the original, and sometimes drastically different. Now time to dive into the actual music contained on this CD, and at 77 minutes there is a lot of music to cover

First up, let's get to the reason this disc is appearing on this site: tracks 22 and 23 are related to the Godzilla franchise. One of these is the popular "Monster Zero March", which is also found on The Best of Godzilla 1984-1995 (GNPD-8056). This version of the theme is given a more modern take with Norman's band while sound effects are mixed in, including one from Ebirah which seems out of place. Its overall a stellar version of the theme that's different enough from the source to stand out, but faithful enough to be instantly recognizable and of interest to fans. The other track is the "Godzilla's Interlude", which actually isn't from a Godzilla film at all. I asked Norman about this theme and his response was: "It is an original composition written by one of my band members - Bill Burchell to honor Godzilla's anniversary and as an intro to “Monster Zero March” on the album." So there you have it. This theme isn't all that great, as it sounds kind of clichéd for "oriental music" ala what you would find on a Casio keyboard, although much more professionally done of course than a stock theme.

As for the rest of the music on this CD, there is quite a bit of ground to cover. The disc was released in 1998 (although copyright on the back would indicate it was re-released as late as 2001), and consequently has music from films made around that time along with older productions. To start with the contemporary 1990's material, there are some obvious misses here. "Lost World: Jurassic Park" is kind of a dud, with the t-rex roar that is added in taking most of the spotlight which should have gone to the music. "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess " are, on the flip side, both really nice themes. The Xena one, in fact, is arguably preferable over the actual source. "The X-Files" is also decent. It's pretty close to the original theme, except with added echo work and sound effects that take away from the music but do help to distinguish it from the TV version. The disc also has a theme from the, then very recent, "Men in Black". This track is sadly one of the worst ones from the disc. The beginning stuff mostly zaps the energy out of Danny Elfman's originally captivating themes. The second half is actually the song, which is odd considering all the rest of the CD is simply orchestral work. Still, its not a bad version of the song, although is surprising when the vocal work kicks in.

In regards to the older themes, its all handled pretty well. "Wild Wild West" and "Adventure of Buckaroo Banzai" are surprisingly good. The Predator theme probably would have been better without the sound effects, but still is pretty good. The "James Bond Theme" appears to be a live recording too, as there is screaming heard at the start and through out in the background from an audience. The Bond theme sounds different from what one might expect from the films, but actually sounds nearly identical at times to music from Goldeneye 007 for the Nintendo 64 and should make fans of that game happy for the similarity.

Overall, this CD has its ups and downs, but in the end is a pretty good disc for fans of science fiction music. Even those who aren't directly familiar with a lot of these movies/shows shouldn't be turned off from this release as it works very well as a standalone experience. Not perfect, and there are a few tracks which could have been better, but still suggestible for those looking for a different approach to some of these themes.
Rating: Star Rating
Tracks
  1. Amazing Stories
  2. Men into Space
  3. Outer Limits II
  4. Conquest of the Thaxton Nebula
  5. Escape from the Planet of the Apes
  6. Wild Wild West
  7. Lost World: Jurassic Park
  8. Reanimator
  9. Adventure of Buckaroo Banzai
  10. Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
  11. Stargate SG-1 Main Title
  12. Stargate SG-1 End Title
  13. Alien Autopsy
  14. Xena: Warrior Princess
  15. Saturn 3
  16. Saint
  17. Predator
  18. Predator II
  19. Universes
  20. Star Trek Encounters
  21. Airwolf
  22. Godzilla's Interlude
  23. Monster Zero March
  24. X-Files
  25. Babylon 5
  26. Escape from New York
  27. James Bond Theme
  28. Men in Black