The Varèse Sarabande CD Club was a huge deal for soundtrack collectors in the late 1980s and early ’90s. It still releases exciting titles today, but back in the day before soundtrack boutique CD labels were common, it felt like the only hope for fan-favorite scores.
The CD Club was pretty much the model for the FSM label releases: limited editions via mail order only. I stole their idea, and it worked!
In the first few years of Film Score Monthly, the magazine, I remember very well the anticipation for the annual Club releases—because none of us had any idea what they were before we got Varèse’s flier in the mail. So naturally we dreamed of every favorite score under the sun possibly being the next Club premiere—and back then, the list of unreleased scores we wanted was seemingly endless.
In 1992, the Internet was mostly confined to academic labs and college campuses, so we couldn’t even share the news with each other—that’s why I put “Monthly” in the title of FSM, because getting film music info monthly rather than quarterly was a big deal.
What I remember of the 1992 Club releases...is that we were all disappointed. There were two big genre scores that fit the bill: The ’Burbs (Goldsmith) and Flesh + Blood (Poledouris). Yes, we wanted those!
A third premiere, We’re No Angels by George Fenton, didn’t seem that sexy. There was a straight CD reissue of an out-of-print Varèse LP, Jagged Edge—by a top composer (John Barry), but it was a subdued synth score. There was a Tony Thomas-produced Alfred Newman CD compilation for the Golden Age folks.
And then there was a Masters Film Music release, Those Secrets, of an obscure TV movie score by Thomas Newman. (Masters Film Music was the personal imprint of Robert Townson, Varèse’s primary CD producer for many years.)
And Those Secrets was only 17 minutes long. Seventeen bucks for 17 minutes! So we kind of ridiculed it. (The FSM edition with the news can be found here.)
And for whatever reason, the CD Club then went on hiatus for ten years.
Well, I just want to say something. I finally heard Those Secrets, 31 years later, and I thought it was terrific!
Thomas Newman is so good, and this score is so bewitching in its hypnotic textures for whatever this obscure, vanilla sex thriller was, that I listened to all 17 minutes—then promptly listened to it again. It’s great! (You can watch the TV movie on tubi.)
So thank you, Varèse Sarabande CD Club!