Review of Wrath of Khan Extended Soundtrack + Producer Interview

Last week, TrekMovie reported that Film Score Monthly and Screen Archives Entertainment was releasing an expanded version of the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan soundtrack by James Horner. Today we have a review, focusing on the new material, plus an interview with the producer of the new expanded soundtrack, providing some behind the scene details. 


Thoughts on the expanded ST: II Wrath of Khan soundtrack

Like many fellow fans, I have been wishing for an expanded TWOK soundtrack for decades. The FSM version doesn’t disappoint. I will admit that I became emotional listening to some of the music in its pure form, devoid of the imagery and sound effects that obscure on the DVD. The best of the new material is:

"Kirk Takes Command/He Tasks Me": This is truly heroic music, and hearing it without the other sounds really shows what a master Horner is at establish character with his maritime music. This is about as close to a "Theme for James Kirk" as any of the original film soundtracks allow.

"Genesis Project": What is interesting listening to the soundtrack is how many sound elements I assumed were sound effects are actually musical notes or effects. This is especially true of Craig Huxley’s "Genesis Project" which is postmodern music that has some real texture to it.

"The Genesis Cave": This is wonderfully beautiful and sad at the same time

"Spock (Dies)": I dare you not to cry

"Amazing Grace": I dare you not cry again

Bonus Track: "Epilogue (original version without Genesis/Spock casket interlude)/End Title": This is a cool bonus track that allows fans to hear what the soundtrack would have been to end of TWOK had the filmmakers not added the "Spock’s casket on Genesis" sequence. This contains a very beautiful rendition of the Alexander Courage music that is not as clear in the version included in the film. In fact, one of the amazing things about the expanded soundtrack is it reveals that Alexander Courage’s music was utilized more than many originally thought. 7 of the 23 tracks include some version of the original TV theme.

Fans of TWOK and Star Trek soundtracks will not be disappointed by this expanded score. It includes every available track and is in the proper sequence. While the original soundtrack was 44:50, this new version is 76:58. The music sounds much better than the previous CD re-release of the music and is really a work of art. It is enjoyable music in its own right, and the newly expanded music is wonderful.

New Star Trek II Expanded Soundtrack

Beyond the music, there is a fantastic28-page program booklet with liner notes written by Jeff Bond, Lukas Kendall and Alexander Kaplan. The provides in-depth information on the making of the original and expanded Soundtrack and also includes some rare artwork.

Sample page from booklet

Producer talks treknology of the TWOK Extended Edition
Lukas Kendall of Film Score Monthly is the Katra behind the Star Trek II expanded soundtrack. In an interview with TrekMovie, the producer explained some of the challenges bringing back (and expanding) the music of Star Trek II:

Fans may remember that the LP to Star Trek II had “Digital Recording” plastered on the front of the jacket. The score was recorded using the first multitrack digital recording machine, which was a 1-inch, 32-track tape format made by 3M. A little bit of an interesting anecdote: this format is now completely obsolete and to our knowledge only one machine survives capable of playing it, which fortunately is at Walt Disney Imagineering in Glendale. (They keep a working machine because a lot of their 1980s sound recordings are archived on the format.) We had a project a few months earlier where Imagineering kindly transferred a tape for us, that being Twilight Zone: The Movie, so we knew how to reach them—they were terrific. Although we did not do a new mix from the 32-track there were some mixdowns and elements (like Spock’s voiceover) we needed that were stored on the format.

Star Trek II was also recorded on a 2” 24-track analogue backup and the three-track (left-center-right) film mixes were stored on ½” analogue tape (easy to play) and a ½” digital 3M tape (impossible to play even for Imagineering!). We were asked by Paramount not to remix the score because, among other things, the engineer, Dan Wallin, is one of the best ever to work in Hollywood—he recently recorded the 2009 Star Trek for Michael Giacchino, talk about longevity. So we used his three-track film mixes although in one spot (I won’t say where) there was a defect on the tape so we had to go back to the multitrack (thank you, Imagineering).

Original ‘Digital Recording’ Star Trek II LP

For fans with Vulcan-like listening abilities, there is an Easter egg of sorts on the CD. Kendall explains "There was an article in Starlog in 1982 in which James Horner playfully claimed he used a “perverted” version of what he called “the Star Trek love theme” from the TV series for the moment after Chekov and Terrell get the eels put in them (“now, why are you here…?”). I had strained to hear this forever in the finished film but could not tell what theme he might have been referencing. I had hoped that hearing the cue on CD I might finally be able to make the connection—but alas, it’s still unclear. Maybe “Vina’s Theme” from “The Cage”?" The first fan to find it gets bragging rights!

Kendall was able to secure the help of various artists to help with the CD. Craig Huxley (who played Peter Kirk (nephew to Captain Kirk in "Operation Annihilate!") and Tommy Starnes ("And the Children Shall Lead")) was the composer of the music played during Carol Marcus’ explanation of the Genesis Project. He was able to supply Kendall with first generation masters from his vault. Also, director Nicholas Meyer, who selected the then 28 year old James Horner as composer, also was available for questions and gave permission for use of photos from his archives. For trivia fans, Meyer’s sister Constance was in the violin section of the orchestra recording Star Trek II in 1982.

Available now
The Expanded Star Trek II Soundtrack costs $19.99 and is available now from Amazon and also from the FSM website.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I’ve never seen a studio milk a 27 year old film for more cash like this situation!

Great score!

Contemporary Hollywood just can’t compete with the classic generation.

It’s sad really….

I loved the movies with Mr Horner’s music. It’s funny now-a-days, as I can now spot his music a mile off in moviedom … Aliens, Titanic etc etc etc …

Must buy … off to Amazon …

The music is great but there are still two points to this film that leave me wondering. 1: Shouldn’t the last thing Kahn see before he dies be the Enterprise escaping once again defeating him. Not in the film.

2: Kirk saying that Spocks soul was the most human he had ever known is an insult to the way Spock lived his life, how could they write that.

Over 27 years later and it still irks me, sorry.

I for one applaud the efforts of the producer to bring back the original music as it was meant to be heard. It’s a very good score. I remember hearing the directors commentary on the DVD. He said, “James, don’t worry what Jerry Goldsmith did, just give it your best.” He did that and more in my opinion. He also kept Alexander Courage’ work in the end there to make sure Courage got the credit he deserved, not just in the end titles.

I want this…and I shall have it!!!

When you leave your cave, you may be interested to learn of a film called Star Wars.

I was getting very confused by the Craig Huxley name thing: I thought he was called Craig Hundley. Seems he changed his name!

Really looking forward to getting this CD. I know people go on about Jerry Goldsmith’s TMP score, but I feel Horner’s score still captures Star Trek for me better than any of the others.

In my book, these are two of the greatest element of the movie:
1. Who says that Khan “should” see himself defeated once again? Why shouldn’t he die believing that he finally succeeded? To me, it makes the situation a more dramatic one and his character in a way more tragic. I don’t need to gloat over his defeat when watching the movie. In fact, one of the moments I didn’t like that much in Trek 09 was the stereotypical gloating over Nero’s defeat in the end. Khan has “paid” enough by dying in the end, give the man a rest!

2. I donät think Spock would have seen it as an insult. If he hadn’t been dead, he would certainly have said so in his wry, quipping way, but he would still have taken it is a compliment.

6. “Over 27 years later and it still irks me, sorry.”

Well one can only hope that a re-boot will deliver you the happiness you were denied those many years ago.

Feel the love ;)

2: Kirk saying that Spocks soul was the most human he had ever known is an insult to the way Spock lived his life, how could they write that?

^^ How sad for you, that you miss the point of the comment.

[[… there were some mixdowns and elements (like Spock’s voiceover) we needed …]]

Oh, so we still have that, do we? I was hoping for a version of the OST without the Spock voiceover. Oh well, I’m still jazzed about getting this.

“Over 27 years later and it still irks me, sorry.”

Well one can only hope that a re-boot will deliver you the happiness you were denied those many years ago.

Amen, Brother! I agree…Some people it seems just didn’t get the meaning……Watch ST2 again “Soapboxes”……

@14. “I was hoping for a version of the OST without the Spock voiceover.”

I hear that. It’s in the movie and the original LP, so why not do something different? I own three of the original series soundtracks, all the movies and two of TNG episode soundtracks and none of them feature the voice over. While it’s by no means a deal killer, the alternative epilogue which does not include the voice over does provide a nice alternative even if it does sound slightly different.

If the Star Trek III soundtrack is ever released by FSM, I hope Lukas doesn’t put the voice over during the opening sequence.

Got mine in. It’s a beautiful recording. There are so many more instruments to be heard in the score here than what I can hear in the film. The music in the film now sounds muted somewhat. Bring on STIII!

Bragging rights? I had always thought that the eerie, descending notes underscoring Khan’s “now, why are you here …” referenced the underscore of Kirk’s initial “reunion” with “Ruth” in “Shore Leave” (a motive tracked in many later episodes of the original series).

Just got mine yesterday, can’t wait to listen to it!

#1… ? huh?

With an item like this waiting years to be released, all I can say is, “milk it, baby, milk it!”


6. passions and soapboxes – July 28, 2009

2: Kirk saying that Spocks soul was the most human he had ever known is an insult to the way Spock lived his life, how could they write that.
Over 27 years later and it still irks me, sorry.

I think you completely missed the point.

2. Kirk saying that Spock’s soul was the most ‘human’ is a beautiful thing to say and is more of an insult to humanity than anything else. It means that despite our self congratulatory attitudes about our ‘humanity’ and our ’emotions’, Spock exceeded us all.

My memory was that Horner claimed to have put in a bit of Uhura’s song, “Beyond Antares.”

I don’t know if I’d be able to recognize it, though.

I received my copy in the mail yesterday and have been very impressed with it.

I know Harry,…

but I got my last night. Will listen this week. I’ll see if I can catch this hidden easter egg

Best… Soundtrack… Ever.

Got it last night. LONG overdue. hey, BTW, if you remember the movie “Cocoon,” in the scene where the boat is escaping, James Horner re-used an entire selection of ST2:TWOK soundtrack. I noticed it years ago :)

Anyone may do know the europe-release of it?

Live lond and prosper,

Like the 20th anniversary release of TMP’s expanded soundtrack, I will buy this release as well but I still have some issues with Horner’s score.

To me, it was a step down coming from Jerry Goldsmith’s Academy Award nominated score. TMP pretty much set the standard thematically as far as I am concerned. You had the theme as traditional fanfare during opening credits, when the Enterprise was shown and even in a somber piece such as right after the Transporter accident.
A good theme brings a movie together and should accentuate the scene shown while not drawing attention to itself.

I wonder if there is commentary as to why the decision was made to go with Horner. My guess is money. They went for the cheap and Horner is what they got. This was repeated, again, for ST6 in the hiring of another young, relatively unknown but energetic composer.

A lot of this score sounds like his previous work on Battle Beyond the Stars. Going forward, you can here a lot of this score in his future work in Brainstorm, Cocoon, Aliens, Willow, etc.

Just got it in the mail from Amazon…………..IT”S GRRRRRRRRREAT!

Easter egg-I always thought it was derived for the Vina theme used throughout the series – sorry I dont know the exact title.

I really hope they release an expanded edition of 3 next. Out of all the scores I think 4 had the weakest. I never really liked the score for that movie.

#1 – I don’t see this as “milking” anything. It’s a release of something that was previously unavailable. Something long overdue that many fans were apparently eager to have. Now seemingly endless re-packaging of the movies for home viewing, that’s serious “milking”.

31. Spock: TVH’s score goes very nicely with the movie, but doesn’t necessarily stand on its own. Arguably, nor should it have to!

Someone make (a good) expanded ST V score available. I really love that score!

#32 *cough*LUCAS*cough*

Moving on, I’m really gonna have to get a hold of this. I love the STII soundtrack, but regretfully had to sell my copy when I was in serious financial straits. Lucky thing too, eh?

30 – I think you’re right. Vina’s Theme was often tracked as a generic Love Theme in later episodes, and we hear it on the glass harp thingy in the background, just after the Ceti Eals have been buried.

Agreed #28 – This score is good but one wonders what it would hgave sounded like if Goldsmith had done the film. I really miss his majestic “Enterprise” theme when she re-launches from the drydock.

#14 – The original version of the epilogue and end titles doesn’t include the Spock voice over. So you hav eboth versions on this CD.

Just got mine from FSM yesterday; have listened to it a couple of times. Having heard the other soundtrack for a couple dozen years, it was strange not hearing certain musical cues moving into others.

#28 is right; one of the reasons they went with Horner was money. The other was that Meyer was looking for a different feeling — something more “swashbuckling” (as Meyer put it) than grandeur. Meyer — himself a classical music buff — worked closely with Horner on the sound and feel he wanted, according to interviews I read at the time (and on the web a dozen times since).

What I’d really, really like to see is this done to the rest of the film series, more or less. And, honestly, I’d love to see a “TOS Remastered” take on both music from the original series and, as a bonus, some of the themes used in the animated series. (Did I just type that?)

One of my favorite old soundtracks is the music from THE CAGE but the sound is quite bad; I keep hoping someone’ll fund a project to re-record it.

Just got mine yesterday. I had forgotten how beautiful and motivating this score is. The tear-jerker cuts are just that, after all this time, they still bring a tear to my eye but with different meaning in my life now.

Got mine yesterday, listened to most of it…I love being able to relive the movie, so to speak, without actually watching it. Makes the emotions and feelings so much more real…

AMEN to that, I’d pay real money for a CD of The Cage soundtrack COMPLETELY remastered or re-done effectively. I have the LP and CD, but the quality is so poor it lessens the desire to have repeated listens.

i am still hoping that we have another star trek symphony performance some time soon… i would love to hear all that great music live!!!!

Glad I’m not the only one.

I have the various Varese Sarabande and GNP Crescendo releases, which are all quite enjoyable. But a remastered/re-recorded soundtrack for THE CAGE is kind of a holy grail for me. I had really hoped that, with the new film and the TOSR project over the past few years, someone would do just such a project.

Closest I’ve ever gotten to a better recording is a track called “Star Trek: The Menagerie (Suite)”, which clocks in at about 7:40, on a Telarc release; “TIME WARP”. It’s music from the TOS ep “The Menagerie”, obviously, but it’s mostly music from THE CAGE. Worth a listen. (The whole album, and series of sci-fi theme CDs from Eric Kunzel & The Cincinnati Pops, are well worth a listen).

Note that Amazon mis-titles the track on that page as “The Menagerie Suite (original pilot for the TV show Star Trek)”.

The downloadable versions are great, of course (instant gratification!) but you can get the CDs used for under a buck.

Only 27 years and Kirk yelling Khaaaaaan is still rigning in my ears.

And did ST:TWOK come out between Empire and Return, and did they not say Return or at the time the next Star Wars film. Better be good since it is the last Star Wars film and has to beet Star Treks latest.

So will the Wars movies wait 24 years before it gets rebooted for the last of the 9 Star Wars movies, or will it go down the Clone Wars road.

But by 2025 Star Trek will be venturing NASA from the Moon to Mars and we may be starting to step off this third rock from the Sun. At Least we’ll be sending ION/Plasma space ships to the Orit (sp?) Cloud and beyond and Companies will start looking at mining the Asteroid belt to build things in space. Figure the Moon will send things to be used on Earth. Things like microwave Energy from the silicon dust on the Moons surface melted into Solar Panels, but first skimmed for the Helium 3 for our Fusion Reactors.

Just think your grand kids could have a home on a crater rim on the Moon as they watch space ships in a traffic jam above you wanting to land on the few landing pads in or around the crater you bought for your families future.

Will we know enough about Genetics that we error and create mutant humans, or just be able to pick there gender, hair and eye color. May be by then we’ll start making Pre-Borg’s by placing computer chips in our heads that will let us play the Dow Jones and watch 3D TV with out a TV, and who will need hookers, you’ll have virtual sex with anyone you want.

That all sounds great but remember not all will be peace, there are those that want only one (themselves) to have total rule over everything. Just as we have those demented people today, not just around the world but even elected ones in America.

The one grand thing about James T. Kirk is he is great at balancing power to a benign 50/50 perfection.

It tasks me and I shall have it!

Actually, the theme from the original series that Horner changed was not the love theme. it was the very beginning of ST TOS’s title sequence, a 5 note motif:

B-flat, F, A-flat, C, B-flat – all played in high octaves.

It’s changed slightly by Horner, becoming the beginning of Spock’s theme (Track 7 on the new CD).

I’ve listened to the soundtrack since the first LP was issued in 1982, but only figured it out a few years ago!

Horners soundtracks for Cocoon and Krull ( and STII ) are some of my favourites.

46 – I hear you.

I listen to this score often.

I can tell you, I am emotionally compromized.

#33. Dom wrote: #31. Spock: TVH’s score goes very nicely with the movie, but doesn’t necessarily stand on its own. Arguably, nor should it have to!

While I agree with your argument, I cannot agree with your assessment of TVH’s appropriateness for the film. Leonard Rosenman was just wrong for the movie and totally out of character for the level of composers otherwise engaged to score Trek. His overall body of work suffers from the same general unmemorable malaise that affects TVH. For me, certain cues just took me right out of the movie, totally inappropriate for Trek or for a any film. None of the music was cohesive, Rosenman seemingly just went from one style to another without any thought as to whether they belonged in the same movie. In fact I would argue that the film doesn’t even sound like it was scored by the same composer given its lack of uniform style and thematic motives. Whether a score should be able to stand on its own is far less important than whether the score works with the film and for me that means the score supports the dramatic elements without getting in the way. This score got in the way a lot and it wasn’t particularly well executed either.