Over two years ago, I blogged about the Airwolf Themes album, the soundtrack CD that holds the record for the most expensive soundtrack album ever – and indeed regularly breaks it’s own record whenever a copy comes up on eBay.
I said back then that as the only soundtrack album related to the series, indeed the only recording of the theme actually conducted by the original composer, Sylvester Levay, it deserved a wider distribution. The people making money off the soar-away prices on eBay weren’t the original producers of the album, and with the crazy prices copies of the music were available on the file sharing networks however much the producers tried to get them removed.
When you went to the Airwolf Themes site the most commonly asked question on the forums seemed to be whether there would ever be a re-release of the album.
Eventually last year, Mark J Cairns, the person behind the album relented and started taking opinions about a release online. After multiple delays, today the album finally appeared on iTunes, at a cost of Â£15.99 – somewhat less than the cost of an original CD.
The majority of the tracks are Mark’s recreations of the original episode soundtracks and some of the variations of the themes, all done on synths. However the real stand out tracks from my point of view are the last three, which are a new arrangement of the main theme, and two medleys conducted by Sylvester Levay himself, along with a full orchestra, streaks ahead of any of the other arrangements of the theme that are available. One point to note when listening to the music that is worth mentioning is that if you’re only ever used to seeing the show on reruns in the UK, the tempo of the main theme especially will seem a bit slow, this is what it is supposed to be, but thanks to the conversion process that the episodes go through to be shown in the UK, we’re all used to hearing it slightly differently!
You can read more about how the original Airwolf Themes project came about here.
If you’re of a certain age, you’ll may be familiar with a series called Airwolf which ran from 1984 to 1987. The plot followed a super (and frankly impossible) helicopter, that had been stolen by it’s test pilot in order to try and persuade the branch of the CIA that built the machine to help with the search for the pilots brother, missing in Vietnam.
One memorable aspect of the programme was the music and the theme, written by Hungarian composer Sylvester Levay. Indeed there is one person who works on my floor at work who has the theme as a ringtone. However despite it’s popularity, aside from a few cover versions on soundtrack CD’s, there has never been a CD soundtrack album, or so I thought.
Yesterday I came across the Airwolf Themes site which in part describes, and includes snippets from a special 2 CD set of music from the series. However, whilst the second CD has Sylvester Levay himself, the first CD is entirely down to a massive fan called Mark J Cairns who recorded the tracks having played them by ear – neither being able to read music himself, nor having access to the original scores. It has to be said that from the samples on the site he has done a stunning job, with the samples that I have heard being almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
Having heard the samples, I thought it would be great to pick up a copy, however this leads to the problem, only 1000 copies of the album were ever produced, so much so that it holds the record for the most expensive TV soundtrack album, one copy having sold for over $700 on eBay. Further than that there are dire warnings on the samples page requiring that the samples be deleted after seven days, let alone what would happen if someone made the full CD available online. There is also the curious threat that they have the resources to mount a legal case, and yet when you can get even game soundtracks on iTunes, and Silva Screen have been selling the Battle of the Planets soundtrack, one wonders why these resources couldn’t be used to produce a longer run of the CD, or make it available online to satisfy demand. The response from the makers of the original CD is that they are putting their time into a new CD. Whilst with a limited repeat run such as they produced for the original version, the costs and risks would be high, however I’m sure that a specialist such as Silva Screen would be only too happy to pick it up, give Cairns stunning work a much wider audience.