Star Trek First Contact: Complete Motion Picture Score – Soundtrack Review

Released in April 2012 from GNP Crescendo, the release of the complete motion picture score for Star Trek First Contact fulfilled a long desired wish from many who longed to experience the full orchestral score to this entry in the Star Trek franchise. Originally released alongside the film in 1996, the original score was a heavily truncated experience with many of the shorter themes and moments removed to abide by the demands of the Musicians Union at that period of time. This limited edition soundtrack from composer Jerry Goldsmith with supporting material from his son Joel Goldsmith includes an additional twenty five minutes of music removed from the original score restoring the soundtrack to its original entirety. With First Contact celebrating its 25th Anniversary this year, it was an opportune time to pick up this limited edition score and to reflect on an incredible composition from one of the industries most acclaimed composers who brought the series to life with his score for The Motion Picture in 1979, with that films underlying theme carrying forward over the decades, becoming the opening score for The Next Generation and returning once more in First Contact. Notably absent are the licensed songs originally present when the soundtrack debuted in 1996 featured prominently towards its conclusion, one of the few times the soundtrack in the series opted to use licensed music in addition to an orchestral composition.

Long form, complete edition soundtracks have found a demand in recent years, relying entirely on the power of nostalgia and goodwill to sell to a demanding audience. Originally constrained due to union laws and rights, a new trend emerged at the turn of the Millennium to release long form orchestral scores of both critically acclaimed compositions in addition to more niche cinematic experiences of notable composers. The Lord Of The Rings was a notable example of this practise, bringing to market a truncated first edition close to the theatre release window that had many of the major themes but significantly reduced and edited down the more quiet and reflective moments that brought the film to life. A new expanded edition at a notably higher price was released four years later that restored the entirety of the composition and set a precedent for many other films to bring to market long form soundtracks aimed towards a small target audience willing to invest and support these endeavours. Though not always directed towards a target audience, the release of the Aliens expanded soundtrack for example readily available to purchase years after the event, they tend to release in relatively small volumes and depending on the scarcity and acclaim, can resell for hundreds of dollars in the second hand market. In the Star Trek franchise, the expanded release of the The Wrath of Khan soundtrack a perfect example of this demand with a limited press coming to market towards the end of the year.

This edition of the score for First Contact is still available to buy today from various online stores but did pick up notable appreciation as it celebrated its 25th anniversary of its release with a new, growing audience to the series following the release of the first season of Picard and the legacy of the franchise that had come before. Whilst Generations had served admirably to bridge the divide between the two crews, First Contact as noted in the production sketch book and material was an attempt to continue the legacy of the series in cinematic form with a new, rich feel in keeping with the legacy of the series and the returning orchestral themes scored by Goldsmith decades earlier. It created a sense of connectivity and harmony that continued on to the final film in that iterations run, Nemesis. Being able to go back and listen to the entirety of the suite was a real joy, picking up the familial distinctions between the two composers whilst appreciating the unifying experience of the music available to you. The format and nature of this release affords a rare opportunity to bask in the bombastic and orchestral tones of the main theme whilst also being able to appreciate the more subdued notes of the quieter moments in the film. The omission of the licensed songs is noticeable, particularly for this soundtrack and their prominence and use towards the end but it does support the direction of the soundtrack for the ardent fan over the casual enthusiast.


Cinematic Feel

The original enhanced soundtrack released in 1996 was a great assortment of themes from the films score with the addition of two licensed tracks that felt a little out of place in contrast to the orchestral tones of Goldsmith. But given their use in the film worked to add a little variety and depth to the soundtrack. This expanded version released in 2012 includes over an additional half hour of music including three alternate versions of themes on the soundtrack delivering a richer and more fulfilling audio experience. The absence of licensed music is notable however consistent with other recent expanded scores that have opted not to include recognisable songs such as the expanded Ghostbusters soundtrack missing it’s iconic theme. On balance, I’d prefer the option to listen to the score in its entirety and to pay separately for a particular track for that sense of fulfilment and completion. The score was a collaboration between father and son with no real difference in quality or tone between the two, notably Joel Goldsmith scribed the more ominous undertones of the Borg themes but one of the soundtracks more popular tracks, ‘Flight of the Phoenix‘ towards its conclusion returns to the more positive and optimistic tone and style of music composed by his father. This format allows for the shorter themes and musical queues, notably the introduction to the new Sovereign Class Enterprise passing through the nebula set to ‘How Many Ships‘. It was an entirely incidental brief musical passage but made an impression as it introduced to an audience this new variation of the star ship and was notably absent and felt on the original release.

1 Main Title / Locutus
by Jerry Goldsmith
4:19
2How Many Ships
by Jerry Goldsmith
0.32
3Battle Watch
by Joel Goldsmith
1:13
4Red Alert
by Jerry Goldsmith
2:17
5Temporal Wake
by Jerry Goldsmith
2:12
6Shields Down
by Jerry Goldsmith
1:49
7The Phoenix
by Jerry Goldsmith
1:04
8Evacuate
by Joel Goldsmith
2:22
9They’re Home
by Joel Goldsmith
0:29
1039.1 Degrees Celsius
by Joel Goldsmith
4:48
11Search For The Borg
by Joel Goldsmith
1:54
12Retreat
by Joel Goldsmith
4:02
13 No Success
by Jerry Goldsmith
1:34
14Borg Montage
by Joel Goldsmith
1:04
15Welcome Aboard
by Jerry Goldsmith
2:43
Star Trek: First Contact (Complete Motion Picture Score)
16Stimulation
by Jerry Goldsmith
1:08
17Getting Ready
by Jerry Goldsmith
1:37
18Smorgasborg
by Joel Goldsmith
1:08
19Fully Functional
by Jerry Goldsmith
3:23
20The Dish
by Jerry Goldsmith
7:09
21Objection Noted
by Jerry Goldsmith
1:57
22Not Again
by Jerry Goldsmith
2:44
23Evacuate
by Jerry Goldsmith
2:25
24New Orders/All the Time
by Jerry Goldsmith
3:52
25Flight Of The Phoenix
by Joel Goldsmith
6:23
26First Contact
by Jerry Goldsmith
6:04
27End Credits
by Jerry Goldsmith
5:33
28bonus track: The Phoenix (alternate)
by Joel Goldsmith
1:10
29bonus track: Borg Montage (alternate)
by Jerry Goldsmith
1:21
30bonus track: Main Title (alternate)
by Jerry Goldsmith
2:55
Star Trek: First Contact (Complete Motion Picture Score)
1 Main Title / Locutus
by Jerry Goldsmith
4:19
2Red Alert
by Jerry Goldsmith
2:16
3Temporal Wake
by Jerry Goldsmith
2:10
4Welcome Aboard
by Jerry Goldsmith
2:42
5Fully Functional
by Jerry Goldsmith
3:21
6Retreat
by Jerry Goldsmith
4:00
7Evacuate
by Jerry Goldsmith
2:22
839.1 Degrees Celsius
by Jerry Goldsmith
4:47
9The Dish
by Jerry Goldsmith
7:08
10 First Contact
by Jerry Goldsmith
5:55
11 End Credits
by Jerry Goldsmith
5:26
12Magic Carpet Ride
by Steppenwolf
4:25
13Oooby Dooby
by Roy Orbison
Star Trek: First Contact Soundtrack

It continues the tradition of basing the track names on quotes of dialogue or moments of action in the narrative. As such, out of context it can be a little confusing or difficult to find a specific theme or moment you remember from the film but this is most certainly aimed towards a specific demographic, as such, listening to specific tracks irrespective of length draws those connections to specific moments and beats. On balance, with a restricted format the style and sound on the original soundtrack did sound more distinct between tracks, however it did come across as a very truncated version of the original score. In the expanded version, there is perhaps a lack of distinction and separation in the themes with many musical queues flowing into each other however with two almost distinct narratives in the themes, the more ominous metallic notes and sounds of the Borg theme in contrast to the more melodic and uplifting notes of the Phoenix, it works well to recreate the general feeling of the films narrative in the absence of any dialogue or visual clues. Subjectively, it certainly has it’s own character and personality, introducing new themes and ideas to a series that was already thirty years old on release. One of the defining characteristics of the film series, for better or worse were the individual and distinct scores for each release with only The Next Generation movies establishing a measure of consistency through composition by Goldsmith. The Borg theme for example would go on to influence the TV series in later years with the species emergence in Voyager, Enterprise and Picard but lacked the gravitas and menace of its introduction here.


In Summary

This is an outstanding release and edition of a great score and composition by the late Jerry and Joel Goldsmith whose contribution to building and enriching the Star Trek franchise is notable and of merit. It builds on his original theme from The Motion Picture that brought audiences back to this positive and inspiring cinematic universe with acclaim whilst making necessary changes for modern demands. Celebrating its twenty fifth anniversary, it still sounds as prominent and distinct today, aged only perhaps by the use of such a recognisable and distinct central theme where the new style of recent years has been to abandon this direction with a more subdued and balanced approach in orchestration and composition. With so few of the greats left today whose work contributed and enriched the cultural domain at that period of time, it does feel like a lament to go back to these soundtracks and scores nearly two decades later to appreciate just how much joy and how big an impact they made to the overall cinematic experience. From the opening, almost ethereal strings proceeding the brass tones of the familiar Star Trek theme, after the more subdued experience of Generations, this really did feel like the return and evolution of the series in a bold new direction, scored by one of the greatest soundtrack composers of all time. Equally, it was the way it drew inspiration with connotations to themes and tones from its past celebrating the legacy of the series and what had come before.

Star Trek managed to achieve through perseverance and good fortune a template for the cinematic shared universe that would become prominent decades later with the emergence of the Marvel brand across various platforms. Creating a shared universe, it was able to establish themes and tones in 1979 that remained relevant and critical almost 15 years later with the release of First Contact. The warrior theme for the Klingon species introduced for The Motion Picture celebrated briefly during ‘Red Alert‘ and the battle with the Borg. Equally, the emergence of the Enterprise in ‘How Many Ships‘ reflecting reflecting a similar tonal beat of exploration and wonderment from that first musical score. In contrast to recent efforts from the franchise with no real distinctive qualities of note or merit, this soundtrack works perfectly to remind you of a period of time when the studio were ambitious and trusted the franchise to enlist one of the great cinematic composers of the generation to score this modest science fiction release, to bring back a measure of grandeur and style. That it was released at a period of time when that work was curtailed to a degree with the original release was lamentable, and an unfortunate period of time when many compositions suffered a similar fate. That it continues to influence and shape the series with the main themes inclusion and use in Picard speaks to the timeless quality and nature of this particular score, and what makes it such a great addition to any collectors of cinematic soundtracks.

If you’ve enjoyed reading this blog please come and visit and ‘like’ the Comfortably Adventurous Facebook page and contribute your feedback and comments, the interaction for those that have enjoyed and found these articles informative helps beyond measure. Alternatively join me in the Twitter Universe if you enjoy a good tweet or two. Or on Instagram for a gallery of images.

If you have enjoyed this review, you may enjoy these articles:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.