By far the best thing about this CD is that most of the music was composed by the legendary Akira Ifukube. This is not at all surprising, since all but one track in this compilation are taken from 13 of the 14 G-films of the Showa Series, eight of which were scored by Ifukube. In addition, several other composers used some of Ifukube’s themes in their own G-scores, so much of the album carries his familiar stamp. Those who love Godzilla films and the music in them will appreciate that fact.
The single non-Godzilla movie track included is “Mothra’s Song,” from Toho’s 1961 Mothra [the song was recited again by the Peanuts in Godzilla vs. Mothra, which is likely why it was included on this soundtrack—CN] . The CD comes with extensive liner notes, including brief synopses of the films, brief biographical sketches of several of Godzilla’s creative team, and a real treat--the lyrics to “Mothra’s Song” in three languages, including the Malay version sung by the Peanuts.
Oddly, none of the music from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster is included. The producer’s notes simply dismiss this score as “unremarkable.” While that may be true, surely they could have found something worth including. (Now I will have to watch Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster again to evaluate its “unremarkable” score myself.) On the down side, there are a few tracks on this album that I’d just as soon the producers had omitted. However, since the idea was to pick the “best” music from each film, every film in the Showa Series [and the first G-film, which this editor does not consider part of the Showa Series, but the prologue to all three film series—CN] except Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, is represented by at least one track. Unfortunately, a couple of the movies’ scores offer pretty slim pickin’s, and choosing the “best” must have been a challenge. For example, “The Cute Kid Theme/Monster Fight” from Godzilla’s Revenge (a.k.a., Godzilla, Minya, Gabara: All Monsters Attack) tells you the rest of the film’s score is fairly lame. And don’t get me started on Godzilla vs. Megalon, since Jet Jaguar’s theme annoys me like chalk squeaking on a blackboard.
Finally, there is “Miyarabi’s Prayer” from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. I don’t remember what the singer was praying for, but she ought to have been praying to sing on key, since some of the high notes cause me to wince when I hear them. At the end of the album the producer tacked on a bouncy band version of “The Theme from Godzilla” that I feel intrudes on the other music. Nevertheless, most of the album is a pleasure to hear, and especially many of Ifukube’s tracks evoke enjoyable memories of the movies.
Vennie did a very commendable job in reviewing the above CD, and I would like to add my own thoughts on it, as I really enjoyed this G-soundtrack and I have a few things to say about it.
For one thing, I highly recommend this CD to all G-fans who have a strong appreciation for the musical accompaniments that complimented the first G-film and the 14 subsequent films that made up the Showa Series (and isn’t that most of us in G-fandom?). This one CD had a whopping 43 tracks on a single disc, and that is a total bargain. In fact, this CD has the great majority of all the musical numbers (along with some sound effect snippets) from the first 15 G-films. Many years ago, I ordered a two-volume CD series from an unknown Japanese manufacturer, the first volume of which included the main themes and a lot of extra musical numbers and sound effects (including monster roars) from the first 15 G-films. Since those two CDs were foreign imports they cost me a small fortune, and I can’t help but compare the first volume of that import with what appears on “The Best of Godzilla 1954-1975” (the Heisei Series soundtrack will be the focus of a future review).
The above CD compares very well with the first G-film and Showa Series tracks that appeared on the first volume of the above mentioned imports. In fact, this CD from GNP Crescendo Records greatly surpasses the Japanese import I mentioned above in many ways. For one thing, many of the greatest tracks from Akira Ifukube and Masaru Satoh, the two greatest maestro’s to ever score the G-films comprising the first 15 movies, are included here. Ifukube’s great and unique score from Godzilla, King of the Monsters when Godzilla tramples Tokyo was included on this CD, something that was left out of the above Japanese import, presumably for reasons of space. It was too great a sacrifice, and its lack of inclusion on that import really brought its quality down several notches. Also, we got the great Odo Island chant for Godzilla from the first film, which is a great melody to listen to. The scoring of the first G-film is mostly complete here.
As for the tracks belonging to the Showa Series, many of Ifukube and Satoh’s great numbers from each film are represented here with the exception of any of Satoh’s score from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (as Vennie noted in her above review). Thankfully, one of Satou’s best tunes from Son of Godzilla, the theme that played during Godzilla and Minya’s battle with Kumonga/Spiega near the movie’s climax, was included. However, the equally distinct and unique number of Satoh that played as the theme for the initial attack of the kaiju-sized Kamakiras was left out, and this was a highly unfortunate omission. It was included in the above mentioned Japanese import, so at least I still have this great G-tune in my audio library, but other G-fans who share my appreciation for that distinctive tune (one of Satoh’s best, IMO) will not find it on this CD, which is one of its few drawbacks. I fully agree with Vennie’s assertion that Riichero Manabe’s rather awful tunes from the two G-films he scored (Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster and Godzilla vs. Megalon) could have had their number trimmed down, and it’s a great loss that Kamakiras’ theme was sacrificed so such a large number of Manabe’s themes could be included. I was extremely thankful that another of my all-time favorite Ifukube numbers, the great title credit theme for Destroy All Monsters, was included. This CD would have been much poorer without it. I am also glad that another of Ifukube’s best numbers, “The Farou Island Chant” from King Kong vs. Godzilla, is here. The inclusion of the original version of “Mothra’s Song” on this soundtrack was terrific, though I still believe the particularly beautiful rendition of this famous song that appeared in Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for the Earth was the best version to appear so far (hopefully, this will be on the second volume of “The Best of Godzilla” series).
One glaring omission from this CD that should have been included in place of one of Manabe’s other numbers was one of the most famous tunes ever composed for a G-film, the beautifully sung pro-ecology song “Save the Earth,” which served as the highly memorable theme for Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster. No one who has ever heard the American version of this song has ever forgotten it, yet neither this version nor the Japanese rendition of the song that appeared in both the version of this film that was released in the Land of the Rising Sun and the international version (both called Godzilla vs. Hedora) were anywhere to be found on this CD. It’s a terrible shame that both versions could not be included on this soundtrack, particularly the superior American version, and it would have been a wise and generous move if yet another of Manabe’s themes and that highly inappropriate band rendition of Ifukube’s “Godzilla Theme” by Neil Norman (which never appeared in any G-film) were kept off of this CD so that at least one of those versions of “Save the Earth” could have been included in their place. Amazon.com doesn’t currently sell the mp3 to either version of “Save the Earth,” so it would appear that I will have to do some searching all over cyberspace in order to find it.
Thankfully, this soundtrack did include another of Satoh’s greatest numbers, the dramatic and exciting music from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla that played as the themes for both the faux Godzilla’s battle with Anguirus and for Mechagodzilla in general. I suppose it was only fair to devote a single track to one-time G-film maestro Kunio Miyauchi, who scored the largely reviled Godzilla’s Revenge (though more of his sometimes awful material was seen in the Japanese version of this film, All Monsters Attack), though truth be told I wouldn’t have minded if it had been left out so that one of the versions of “Save the Earth” could have found room on this soundtrack album.
Despite the few glaring omissions mentioned above by Vennie and I, the inclusion of too many of Riicherio Manabe’s inferior themes, and that inappropriate final track in the CD (featuring Neil Norman’s less than stellar iteration of “The Godzilla Theme” that should have been left untampered with), this soundtrack is well worth purchasing by G-fans, as it includes the very best of the great Akira Ifukube’s instrumentals from the first G-film and all the Showa Era G-films that he scored, along with a large serving of Masaru Satoh’s greatest themes from the Showa Series G-films that were scored by him (while unfortunately leaving a few of his good numbers out).
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