Review: Expanded Star Trek III Soundtrack

Following on from their excellent Expanded Star Trek II score from last year, FilmScore Monthly and Screen Archives Entertainment have just released the expanded score for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock by Oscar-winner James Horner. TrekMovie gets into the groove with this review of TSFS expanded soundtrack, available now.

REVIEW: Star Trek III: The Search for Spock Expand Edition
Composer: James Horner
Publisher: Film Score Monthly / Screen Archives Entertainment
2 CD set – $24.95

Operatic Subtly Linked To Trek History

There is a moment in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock that is at once maudlin, and yet loving. The Enterprise crew prepares to beam to the Genesis planet after setting the self destruct sequence (and by the way, has there even been a cooler, albeit easily guessed, code that “Zero-zero-zero-destruct-zero”?). As the beam is activated, director Leonard Nimoy has the crew re-appear ever so briefly for a final goodbye. The quiet moment complete, all proverbial hell then breaks loose as ship and planet meet their fates. That scene, a wink at the fans, is indicative of the conflicting (and often affecting) dichotomy that is TSFS. It is a film that has both pathos and humor, death and life, action and character, subtle and operatic sequences.

The new expanded soundtrack for Star Trek III is much like the film it accompanies, a mixture of quiet character pieces (such as “The Mind Meld” and “The Katra Ritual”) and frenetic energy (“Stealing the Enterprise” and “A Fighting Chance to Live”). The second Star Trek sequel and its soundtrack work because they play these tendencies against each other to create a unified work of art from disparate emotional notes.

What is most enjoyable about the expanded score, and not readily apparent on the original 1984 edition, is that it really displays how important the original show’s Alexander Courage fanfare is to the emotionalism of the film and the entire franchise. TSFS expanded score demonstrates a constant usage and variation of the theme (evident in 7 of the 16 tracks on Disc One). While there is still  much that is original here, the reiteration of the classic Trek fanfare connects the film symbolically to the television show, and that is a good thing. Often Star Trek films (including Star Trek III) are critiqued for being too close to the television show or being just a "two hour glorified episode”. But it is exactly the affinity for the television version and style which lead to Trek’s popularity and film franchise and the film’s shouldn’t run from that. Plus, Star Trek has always been space opera, and as such, with its characters of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, et. al, always ready for feature films. Whatever one thinks of that criticism, such a connection to the television show is symbolized by the soundtrack’s utilization of the original fanfare. There is great joy in hearing the fanfare utilized so excellently by Horner in TSFS as it helps the reunion of the characters with the audience, and provides an emotional palette for an adventure about friendship and sacrifice.

Star Trek III: The Expanded Soundtrack front cover

The Search For Two Disks

The first disc of the expanded soundtrack (69:45 running time) includes many tracks that were not included in the original 1984 release, including the moody “The Klingon’s Plan” and most notably, “A Fighting Chance to Live” which provides the music for the destruction of the Enterprise scenes. “A Fighting Chance to Live” is beautiful, and it is remarkable to hear the music without special effects or dialog for the first time. It is heroic and sad, and its juxtaposing emotions again reference the film’s dualisms. Listening to it is the best thing about a soundtrack filled with many good moments. Fans are also treated to different takes on music that was featured on the 1984 soundtrack, such as the “Prologue and Main Title” which was slightly different as recorded than as was featured in the film.

The first disk ends with a 10:32 track of “That Old Black Magic/Tangerine/I Remember You” source music which plays in the bar as McCoy talks to Yoda, er, I mean the backward talking alien captain. Listening to it definitely brings back memories of seeing the sequence in the film and is an enjoyable addition.

Disc Two (46:57) features the original 1984 soundtrack version, which is nice for fans because the CD of that edition is almost impossible to find for less than $100. Included is the “techno” version of TSFS theme by James Horner and Group 87. Conjuring feelings of “Axel F” and Meco’s “Star Wars Theme,” this is a fun, nostalgic take on Horner’s music. On both Disc One and Disc Two, the track “Stealing the Enterprise” retains all its glory, as the soundtrack ratchets the action and enthusiasm of the music.

Star Trek III: The Expanded Soundtrack back cover

20 pages of Liner Notes

The expanded Star Trek III soundtrack includes liner notes by Jeff Bond and Lukas Kendall offering trivia and commentary. It would have been nice if the liner note booklet included rare or behind the scenes photos as the TWOK expanded soundtrack did, although the images that are included are fine since they feature William Shatner and friends in all their 1980s Trekification (disclosure: I helped procure some of these behind the scene photos for the Wrath of Khan edition).

This is a most welcomed addition to the ever expanding “expanded” editions of Star Trek soundtracks (which now include TMP, TWOK, TSFS, and ST09 from various companies). The music of TSFS features some of the most fun and emotional of all of the soundtracks, composed and conducted by a true master, James Horner in the earlier stages of his career. There is much new material to enjoy, and old favorites to engage. Listening to the music isolated from special effects and dialog of the film plays the film itself, and all its emotion, in the imagination. It is a trip worth taking. Even if they tell me no, I will therefore go anyway.

Expanded Star Trek III Available now

This complete Star Trek III: The Search for Spock CD set began shipping this month and is available now at and

Also available – Expanded Star Trek II

As mentioned in the review, last year FSM/SAE released an Expanded Star Trek II Soundtrack, which is highly recommended. It is available now from Amazon and also from the FSM website.

Expanded Star Trek 2009 Score too

The past year has been an exciting time for fans of Star Trek music. In addition to the two FSM/SAE expanded Horner soundtracks, Varese Sarabande has just released the expanded version of Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek (2009) score. You can order it at

FSM/SAE provided TrekMovie with a review copy of the expanded soundtrack.

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Just got my 2009 – Expanded today. Count me in with Search for Spock and Wrath of Khan!

I say this every time a soundtrack article comes up – bring on more TOS scores. The third season scores for Spock’s Brain, Empath, and Elaan of Troiyus are some of the best music done for the show, regardless of what people think of the season itself.

Having heard this score over, and over again (I own the original disc, along with the original and expanded WOK), I was shocked at the minor differences between the original soundtrack album and the film score. “Stealing the Enterprise” is missing the frantic strings in the first few seconds. I love these expanded releases.

It sells for $24.95, not $26.95.

I want more original series soundtrack releases, particularly for such episodes as “Metamorphosis,” “Who Mourns for Adonis?,” etc. …

2. “The Empath” is already on one of the four original series cds I have…also have them on vinyl and had the cds are now hard to find…

I agree.
In order to make the recent TOS Blu-rays in 7.1 DTS-HD sound, the music needed to be isolated from the sound effects/voices, so why not release all of these recordings and make a bundle! :)

2. Zebonka – “…Spock’s Brain, Empath, and Elaan of Troiyus are some of the best music done for the show, regardless of what people think of the season itself.”

I actually like those episodes, each in their own way…

Elaan of Troyus: great space battle and Frances Nugyen in her prime (also liked her in St. Elsewhere)

The Empath: great trinity episode. Great themes: Life, death, and self-sacrifice. And, one of Kirk’s best speeches.

Spock’s Brain: “Brain and brain! What is brain?!” “You are not Morg, and you are not iMorg.” It still makes me laugh! :)

Mine came on Wed, this was a great CD. It is great to finally hears the cues as they appeared in the film and the tracks of scenes I have always wanted to hear.

A great purchase

This is the only Star Trek soundtrack I bought when it first came out and listened to endlessly in my car while driving! Glorious!

#10, I totally agree!

No offense to Michael Giachinno as I grown to respect and enjoy his art, but I wouldn’t mind hearing the works of James Horner in the next movie. I thought his music really emphasized the emotion in ST II and III. The more I listened to these soundtracks, the more I wanted to hear!

My TSFS cd arrived last week from the States. Great album.
“Stealing the Enterprise” is a hairs on the neck track.

TWOK score fantastic too and hopefully tomo morning ill be listening to the Giacchino expanded score. Come on Mr Postman where are you?!?

there is an expanded album for TMP? where when how?

When I first heard that this was to be a 2-disc release with the second disc the original album release I couldn’t understand why. But now that I’ve heard it, I completely get it and wholeheartedly agree that it should have been reissued here. It’s an enjoyable ride from front to back, even with the tracks that repeat from one disc to the other.

I’m with Judd Sandage — there’s an expanded TMP album?? I’ve heard of alternate takes but I’ve never heard or seen an actual CD around. An internet search showed nothing. What key words should I be using?

And as far as TOS scores on CD, I am another loud voice in the chorus for having ALL of the rest of the ORIGINAL soundtracks, not just the symphonic suites, released. It’s frustrating because the more recent Phase II fan-made episodes use tracks that have yet to be released to the public. Clearly they have some inside line, and let’s face it — it’s fun to share.

I always thought the orchestration of III was superior to II.
Must order it!
But please, NO Horner in the next film. His Avatar was on of his WORST.

I am sorely tempted to order this one, if only to get the “Genesis Destroyed” track. That moment where Kirk, having just kicked Kruge down into the lava, climbs up and looks out to see the sunrise. That music gets me everytime!

Star Trek: The Motion Picture still has alot of music that was never released… (Legally). I’m hoping for a proper 2 Disc Expanded Edition of that awesome score as well. They can keep the “Inside Star Trek disc”!

– It’s pretty much everything that you hear in the film.
– “Fighting chance to live” favorite moment now in musical form.
– No Spock voice over during the opening credits
– Alternate ‘film version’ takes of selected tracks like “Klingons” and “Stealing the Enterprise”.
– Source music tracks are a fantastic bonus.

– Disc 1 art. I don’t remember the Genesis looking like that.
– One notable cue is missing cue*

– Nothing. I’ve got nothing bad to say about this soundtrack at all. Unlike TWOK exapanded edition where I criticized the heck out of putting Spock’s voice over in the ending track, this release didn’t even take the liberty of putting one in despite the fact that there are now two alternate opening themes.

*It’s the cue where after Kirk finds out that Spock put his Katra into Bones and he swears he’ll do whatever he can to Sarek and we cut to David and Saavik beaming down to Genesis. While this cue is missing from the soundtrack, it’s not hard to figure out why. The cue is actually a combination of cues from two different tracks that ARE on this soundtrack, “The Klingon’s Plan” and “Spock Endures Pon Farr”. Here’s where they come from specifically.

It starts on “Spock Endures Pon Farr” right when we cut from Saavik’s close up to the Enterprise entering the Genesis sector and stop directly before the klingon theme comes up. What should come after that is where the Klingon’s Plan comes in. It starts just after the original Star Trek theme plays when Grissom passes by the camera.

I agree with #2 and #8 — but I would add that we also do not have the score for Who Mourns for Adonais? And that was a great score also — used quite a bit throughout the second season.

I’ve wanted all those scores for years!

I’ll be getting this. I have the vinyl, but haven’t listened to it in decades.

I agree with #2 and #5 as well. Add “Friday’s Child” in the mix too.

Nice review, John! Thanks for acknowledging the primal importance of the fanfare to any Trek score.

Scott B. out.

#18 – Yeah, I wish they had included that track since in the film it’s so well edited together.

Now if they could do an expanded release for Star Trek V. Jerry Goldsmith at his best. The music around the campfire when Kirk says he’ll die alone is one of my all time favorites.

I got my ST 2009 Deluxe Edition yesterday as well.

Re: Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the 2-disc set that’s out there now technically is “expanded” from the original LP release but it’s still missing several minutes plus 20+ minutes of alternates.

Lukas Kendall at Film Score Monthly said they weren’t working on any more Trek movie scores at the moment so hopefully one of the other specialty labels will get to release the complete TMP and Trek V (both are owned by Sony and both La-La Land Records and Intrada have deals with Sony Music).

Fingers crossed!

Loved the ST II expanded soundtrack and can’t wait to hear this one!

I’m another who’d love some more TOS soundtrack albums – particularly The Corbomite Maneuver and The Enemy WIthin!

I love the extended soundtrack series — Goldsmith’s OUTLAND is worth picking up as well from the company — and hope it continues.

And though the mentioned Varese Sarabande & GNP Crescendo CDs are great to have, I’d *still* like to see a re-mastering project (or even a professional re-recording if re-mastering isn’t an option) of the entire TOS catalog, starting with THE CAGE/WHERE NO MAN HAS GONE BEFORE, the two TOS pilots, which had a CD release ages ago (but the sound is quite bad in spots). Apologies to all other Trek TV series composers throughout the years, but none came close to TOS for memorable cues.

And even if we’ve heard the entire TMP score, I still want more. :-)

To add/echo, I hope these are selling great and do fund/spark interest in doing up all the film scores as expanded editions. Essentially we’re seeing, perhaps, a “Composer’s Cut” movement, in the same way we’ve seen “Director’s Cut” releases; maybe the record companies are recognizing there’s a market for this beyond what they think is a simple burn & release business model (they’ve been stuck in the “will it fit on a single record/tape/CD mode for so long they’re not thinking outside the box, as it were).

Actually, toasteroven, the mix of “Stealing the Enterprise” on the expanded disc is the one used in the movie itself. In fact, I believe the majority of those tracks reflect the music that was actually used in the movie. It’s the same thing with a lot of John Williams’ soundtracks, where they’ll have a “concert version” which differs from the version heard in the movies.

I am definitely ordering both of these from Amazon, and I hope that somebody considers doing an expanded version of Dennis McCarthy’s “Generations” score. The sound effects were nice, but I would much rather have the music where Picard learns that his brother and nephew died.

Anyone who’s thinking about getting this should’nt hesitate – a superb package. Roll on ST IV-V-and VI ..

Unreleased TOS scores are a must as well !

Star Trek Insurrection needs an expanded release badly! Same for Nemesis. Both highly underrated scores who’s original soundtrack releases were butchered in the editing process.

I’m all for a James Horner return to TREK. Michael Giachinno’s score was uninspired and repetative. How can he do such a wonderful job in UP and fail so horribly with TREK (IMO)?

I cast my vote with the guys above… I would really, really like to see some of that third season Star Trek background music from the original series. Yes, there is some of that already out there, but this is surely an untaped goldmine for some company to release. The original Star Trek music was beautiful and unique and surely deserves it’s own release

James Cawley uses these unreleased music cues in some of his newer productions and it’s time for the general public to have the opportunity to enjoy these as well.

And now I’m going to order my copy of the ST III Expanded soundtrack.

“James Cawley uses these unreleased music cues in some of his newer productions and it’s time for the general public to have the opportunity to enjoy these as well”

It would be my guess that, unless Cawley and crew have a really good inside source at Paramount, they are getting some of this unreleased music from the DVD/Bluray releases. Some players have connections that separate each part of a 5.1/7.1 soundtrack to it’s own discrete channel. I’ve gotten burned copies of tracks from people who have done just that. The only problem is that most of the time, in these mixes, the music is combined with surround sound effects, so for example, throughout much of the “Who Mourns For Adonais” score, you hear birds chirping. Not to mention as the Enterprise attacks Apollo’s temple, all of the phaser, lightning, and wind effects…oh, and anytime Apollo ‘throws his voice’ you hear the reverb of his dialogue.

Still, it’s better than nothing. Although, if Cawley is getting the use of unreleased original music, I’m sure there is a stipulation that it will not be duplicated, given away or sold. That would sever that connection for good.

18 – That cues was tracked by combining portions of 2 other cues. Read the liner notes :)

Trek III expanded soundtrack was great. My favorite scene (and music) in the movie is where the bird of prey lands on Vulcan.

And now, how about a boxed-set of the entire original TOS soundtrack from every episode??


Agreed, James Horner’s music is better than Giacchino’s score. There is more emotion I think in Horner’s and in Goldsmith’s and of course more use of the Star Trek theme.

I hate the reboots not playing the themes now as if they have to earn the fanfare at the end credits. Its the same with James Bond and therefore makes today’s scores seem more bland.

AAnyone who has yet to get the Star Trek III score has to get it, it is a great purchase as was the Star Trek II one last year.

I do think listening to the expanded 2-CD version of Giacchino’s score will make people appreciate it more–there was a lot of important music left off the original album.
#18–what #32 said. When I was going through the film I thought that was a missing cue first too–if I had just gone back and read my own book I’d have realized that that cue was created editorially, so the album represents the entire score as written and recorded.

As far as a complete TMP and more TOS music goes, all the labels are well aware of the value of this music and would love to do these projects. At present they are still quite a ways from becoming a reality. Hopefully both will happen, but there are roadblocks involving multiple rights issues and other things that have to be settled long before any such project is set into motion. Just know though that neither Paramount, CBS nor any of the soundtrack labels–FSM, Intrada, La-La Land or Varese Sarahande–are the impediments. All of those parties are well aware of the demand and would be very happy to put this music out. Other elements will have to be resolved first.

@32 & 35: Did I not just describe in my comments what you just told me? I just wanted to put it in my own words. Not many people will come up with that conclusion by themselves that a particular cue isn’t there that they heard from the film. We’ve had commenters come in here saying that the Enterprise arriving at Space Dock was still missing when it was never missing from any album to begin with.

35 – Yeah, we Trek fans are very demanding :P

Nice to know something about the issues involved with releasing this material.

IMHO, I think FSM would be the best guys to release TOS Movie and TV scores, especially looking at the recentr Trek II and Trek III releases, which are my favorite CDs in virtually every respect.

Dispite certain issues, I’m greatly enjoying Star Trek: DE, and even with just what was heard in the movie and the OST, I find his work has been grossly under valued and under appreciated.

I think it’s safe to say that it is one of my personal favorite Trek scores, along with TMP, TWOK, TSFS and TFF.

With Trek II, Trek III and Trek:DE, I believe we are being spoiled beyond belief with these releases.

If I were a rich man, I’d be putting my own funds in to get Treks I, IV, V and VI released by FSM in the same style as Treks II and III, with you doing the liner notes etc., and Mr. Mattesino ensuring that the mastering is correctly handled.

Unfortunately, I don’t have the kind of funds required, don’t have a copyright legal expert to help sort out the rights, and completely lack the necessary skills to negotiate anything even remotely like a release deal.

I’d like to thank FSM and Varese for my recent Trek Geekfests.

Wasn’t really thinking about getting this but on the basis of Tenuto’s revue I think I will now.

My favorite of all the Trek soundtracks! I am so pleased about this.

#36–yes, you did describe this and yes we are belaboring the point. But there are kind of different philosophies among fans as to what they want (or demand) in terms of film score releases. Some want to hear EXACTLY what they heard in the film–but in many cases film cues are written for one scene and used in another, and they are sliced and diced so that musically they make no sense. So a lot of fans of these types of albums (and in general this includes the composers) prefer to hear the music as it was written and recorded. Giacchino’s Star Trek (like Jerry Goldsmith’s Alien and numerous other examples) had a number of moments where the music was switched around, and in the case of Alien a lot of music from an entirely different movie was tracked into the final cut of the film, and lots of Goldsmith’s score was left out. So do you want to hear the composer’s original conception or exactly what was in the movie? If those two are radically different, that becomes a very important question for album producers, and in most cases album producers prefer to present the original intent of the composer. On Star Trek III this is not a huge deal because we’re talking about one small cue, but to include that, you’re basically putting a “rerun” of something that’s already been heard on an album that has limited space. Some labels will recreate end title suites or other cues that were achieved editorially but I think that’s the exception, not the rule.

I’m still waiting for my expanded version, how is it?

I agree with you 100% I own all score from TOS CDs that are available.

I have Empath, I bought it at amazon

(sorry about the weird link, my computer is acting up, you’ll have to copy and paste it.)

#35 – Jeff, you seem to know a bit more than you’re willing or able to tell us here. Can you say if the hold-ups to more Original Series music are the composers/composer’s heirs, or are there other entities with rights to the music? Do you know if indeed all of the original Trek score recordings still exist?

Can you tell I’m dying to get hold of every bit of TOS music I can? :-D

Scott B. out.

If there are more soundtrack releases from the original series, I would prefer new recordings by orchestra, as was done on the four cds I have. The GNP releases from Neil Norman fill the gap, but they’re just mono remasters of the originals. What I call Ruk’s theme from “What Are Little Girls Made Of?” isn’t available anywhere else, so I’m glad to have it at all…this is the same piece used when Kirk fights the antagonists in “The Savage Curtain.”

“On Star Trek III this is not a huge deal because we’re talking about one small cue, but to include that, you’re basically putting a “rerun” of something that’s already been heard on an album that has limited space.”

Jeff, we’re same page here. Look at my first comment again. I listed the missing cue as “neutral”, i.e. not a huge deal just like you said. I think it would have been nice if it was there, but I fully understand why it isn’t and have accepted it. If I want to, I’ll make my own edited version of the cue. The material is there, and that is what’s most important.

#46 – Well, Jey, if you can make that editied cue there are those of us who would love to have it…

@13, 14: TMP had a 20th anniversary edition release:

It’s pretty complete, as far as I can tell; all it’s missing are the quiet TOS theme that plays during the “Captain’s Log” sequence, and the cue that plays when they successfully make it to warp.

Bravo to FSM for releasing these wonderful expanded scores!

@20: I agree — Friday’s Child had friggin’ awesome music. WANT.

I’m wondering the same thing 43 asked Jeff Bond. Is the rights problem for TOS soundtracks for a small number of episodes or everything? Why have selected episodes been released? Or is GNP the holdout? Can you elaborate a bit?

In any case, keep at it and please get the TOS boxed set out while there’s still a market for it!

47 – It contains 64:50 of a 120 minute score.

It covers the best material from the movie, but it is still far from complete. :)

Yes, there’s lots of TMP music not on the Sony release, plus some spectacular “alternate” cues that were recorded for the movie but not used.

Regarding the TOS music, it would not be helpful to go into more detail but I can say that composers’ heirs are not the problem. The point is that petitions etc. at this stage are unnecessary and not necessarily helpful–rest assured that labels do want to put this music out and whatever can be done to do so IS being done, but this process has stretched over a number of years and regimes. It doesn’t take a genius to look around and see what has been released recently and know that the current atmosphere for getting older music out there has improved a great deal. But there are still a few mountains to move, so while it’s great to discuss this music (with the possible exception of Sam Matlovsky’s “I, Mudd,” I adore ALL the original Star Trek scores), I would still be very patient. It’s not going to happen this year and it may not happen next year–or at all. But if it can happen it will, eventually. That vague enough for you? :)