• Lukas Kendall

The Abandoned Predator/Die Hard CD



I went into my box of old cassettes looking for a story to tell. Here’s one!


The last quarter-century (or more) of soundtrack releases from vintage films are basically due to a deal that Nick Redman made with Sue Collins at the American Federation of Musicians to establish an “archive rate” for older scores. (I’m sure there were other executives involved, but my memory is that it was largely Nick and Sue.)


The AFM had never allowed this before. To release a CD (or LP) of a union-recorded score (anything in Los Angeles), you had to pay the musicians their salaries (or a huge portion thereof) all over again, and it was insanely expensive.


Thus the only soundtrack albums to L.A.-recorded scores were typically for big movies at the time of their release. And, furthermore, they were limited to 30 minutes (or at most 35 or 40) because of the payment structure.


This was an insane situation that prohibited pretty much the entire history of recorded film music from being released in anything more than dribs and drabs.


I was friends with Nick at the time (remotely, via phone) and he landed a great job at 20th Century Fox overseeing a new program of soundtrack releases. Part of that involved brokering a deal with the AFM to finally take pennies on the dollar because there was no reasonable way to generate the revenue that their “re-use” or “new use” fees would require. The thinking was that at least this way, the musicians and/or their heirs would be paid something, instead of nothing (if the scores remained unreleased).


Sue Collins was the rep at the AFM who I remember Nick dealing with—I am sure there were others. But whatever the case, Sue was cool and reasonable and he often mentioned her name. When I had the FSM label, I think I talked with her once or twice in the late 1990s before she retired.


The AFM agreed that for older scores—they picked at least 25 years old, to start—they would take a per-unit “archival rate,” so that limited editions could come out. Hooray!


Seriously...probably 80% of our collections are due to this one deal. I can’t stress enough how influential it was.


Nick put together a first batch of classic Fox scores that would come out on an imprint via the Arista label: The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Robe, Stormy Weather, Laura/Jane Eyre and How Green Was My Valley, on November 9, 1993. Then the Star Wars Trilogy Anthology box set (which was non-AFM), on November 23, 1993.


I’m not going to tell the entire story of these releases. Frankly, I don’t feel like looking it up to get all the details right. I’m sure Nick told it many times in various interviews.


Arista lost interest not long after—that always happens when major labels think they can make a fortune on archival soundtracks, and quickly realize, they can’t—but Nick was able to bring the series over to Varèse Sarabande.


Something funny happened when he went to release The Mephisto Waltz/The Other on Varèse. Somebody realized that the scores were not exactly 25 years old, so as to qualify for the AFM’s archival rate. No problem—they just changed the rule to be 24 years, not 25. That was how cool Sue was!


But there was one more title Nick planned, and actually produced, for release in 1994: a combination Predator/Die Hard CD. These were two hugely popular, late 1980s action scores, with nothing to do with each other except that John McTiernan directed both. And they were great scores and people loved them.


Above is the reference cassette I was given, with a helpful date on it: April 6, 1994.


However, this time, the union said—waitaminute. These are less than 10 years old, let alone 24. No-can-do. So the project was canceled.


Maybe five years later, the AFM revised their rules again to allow for 1980s scores to be released, albeit with a higher cost (but still not nearly as high as without the archival rate).


It’s probably just as well...folks would have HATED this CD! Predator was significantly edited. And Die Hard was just a one-track, 24-minute suite! (Nick loved to make suites. He seemed to delight in pissing off collectors this way...sorry to take a potshot, but it’s true.)


What’s more, somebody at Fox had a cow about the fact that Die Hard uses all kinds of quotes of other works—“Singin’ in the Rain” being the most famous example. Fox instructed all those quotes to be excised from the suite! Nick did, and the edits were awful.


Incidentally, there was no real reason to do this! If you are putting “Singin’ in the Rain” into a film, you need a synchronization license. This is at the discretion of the copyright owner, and the price negotiable.


However, if you are including “Singin’ in the Rain” on a phonograph (LP/CD), it’s a mechanical license—as in, mechanically reproduced. And it’s compulsory—they have to give it to you! You have to pay royalties—and these can add up—but they can’t stop it. (So you and I right now can make a CD, “Die Hard on a Kazoo,” if we wanted. It would suck and we’d lose all our money, but we can make it, legally.)


The Die Hard suite was terrible and it’s just as well nobody ever heard it.


The coolest thing on this CD was that for the “Fox Fanfare,” Nick went out of his way to get the recording Elliot Goldenthal made for Alien3, where the orchestra gets “stuck” on the penultimate note. It is, frankly, the high point of Alien3:


When Predator finally came out, by itself, first on Varèse and later Intrada, Nick kept the Goldenthal fanfare on the master.


So that’s the story of this “unrelease.”


Maybe somebody can correlate the above slate numbers in the photo to see what track titles this album would have actually released, as far as the Predator portion.


I do think it’s amazing to think that Die Hard was almost a 24-minute suite, when the most recent release from La-La Land is a 3CD set.


Times have changed!


UPDATE: Many thanks to Jason LeBlanc for posting this at the FSM message board, identification of the Predator cues included on the 1994 master:


If you have the 2003 Varese CD Club VCL 0803 1022:


2 Maintitle (3:49) = 1M1 Main Title = track 2

3 2M1 (3:50) = 2M1 What's He Got = track 3 "Something Else"

4 2M2 (1:56) = 2M2 Cut 'Em Down = track 4

5 2M3 (2:06) = 2M3 Payback Time = track 5

6 3M1 (4:20) = 3M1 What's He Doin' = track 6 "The Truck"

7 6M1 (1:45) = 6M1 Jungle Trek = track 7

8 6M2A/6M3 (2:45) = 6M2AR1 First Arrow = track 9 "Blaine's Death" [0:00-0:45] / 6M3R1 What Happened? = track 9 "Blaine's Death" [0:45-end]

9 6M4 (1:15) = 6M4R1 He Was My Friend = track 10 "He's My Friend"

10 7M1 (3:04) = 7M1 Building The Trap = track 12 "Building A Trap"

11 7M5 (1:58) = 7M5 Can You See Him? = track 14 "The Hunt Is On" [2:52-end]

12 8M1 (1:06) = 8M1 Weather's Death = track 15 "Dillon Is Disarmed" [1:05-end]

13 8M2A (1:16) = 8M2A Arnold Runs = track 16 "Billy Stands Alone" [1:17-end]

14 9M2 (5:08) = 9M2 A Builds Trap = track 17 "Battle Plans" [2:10-7:02]

15 10M1 (4:12) = 10M1 Predator Injured = track 18 "Wounded Predator"

16 11M2 (2:00) = 11M2 Predator Rises = track 20 "Predator's Big Finish" [1:42-end]

17 6M4/1M1 (3:39) = 6M4 He Was My Friend / 1M1 Main Title {tracked, which is what the film does}


If you have the 2010 Intrada Special Collection Volume 141


2 Maintitle (3:49) = 1M1 Main Title = track 2

3 2M1 (3:50) = 2M1 What's He Got = track 3 "Something Else" [0:00-3:36]

4 2M2 (1:56) = 2M2 Cut 'Em Down = track 3 [3:36-5:29]

5 2M3 (2:06) = 2M3 Payback Time = track 3 [5:29-end]

6 3M1 (4:20) = 3M1 What's He Doin' = track 4 "The Truck"

7 6M1 (1:45) = 6M1 Jungle Trek = track 5

8 6M2A/6M3 (2:45) = 6M2AR1 First Arrow = track 6 "Blaine's Death" [5:55-end] / 6M3R1 What Happened? = track 7

9 6M4 (1:15) = 6M4R1 He Was My Friend = track 8 "He's My Friend"

10 7M1 (3:04) = 7M1 Building The Trap = track 10 "Building A Trap"

11 7M5 (1:58) = 7M5 Can You See Him? = track 12 [2:52-end]

12 8M1 (1:06) = 8M1 Weather's Death = track 13 "Dillon's Death" [1:06-end]

13 8M2A (1:16) = 8M2A Arnold Runs = track 14 "Billy and Predator" [1:16-end]

14 9M2 (5:08) = 9M2 A Builds Trap = track 15 "Dutch Builds Trap" [2:09-7:06]

15 10M1 (4:12) = 10M1 Predator Injured = track 16 [0:00-4:13]

16 11M2 (2:00) = 11M2 Predator Rises = track 17 "Predator's Death" [1:42-end]

17 6M4/1M1 (3:39) = 6M4 He Was My Friend / 1M1 Main Title {tracked, which is what the film does}


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