The Satan Bug (1965) is one of the first science fiction scores in Jerry Goldsmith's career, the predecessor of such landmarks as Planet of the Apes, The Illustrated Man, The Mephisto Waltz, Capricorn One and Alien.
It is also a recording long thought to be lost, and that is in some ways still true—please see below.
The Satan Bug was a "techno-thriller" (as it would be called today) about a top-secret virus—capable of ending all life on earth—stolen from a secret government installation in the Southwest U.S. George Maharis plays the government agent assigned to retrieve it, with Richard Basehart, Ed Asner, Anne Francis and Dana Andrews among the supporting cast. Based on a book by Ian Stuart (a pseudonym for Alistair MacLean) and directed by John Sturges, the film features hidden identities, cloak-and-dagger intrigue, and chases galore.
Jerry Goldsmith's score to The Satan Bug was an important stepping stone, featuring snaking, snarling atonality and avant garde suspense as a kind of bridge from his television work (such as on The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) to feature classics like Planet of the Apes. Goldsmith wrote for an orchestra devoid of high strings—only cellis and bass—with a battery of brass, percussion, woodwinds and two early synthesizers, the Hammond Solovox and Novachord. Utilizing 12-tone serial techniques, Goldsmith concocted an eerie, malevolent sound world of astringent action and seething creepiness.
The master tapes to The Satan Bug were thought to be long destroyed (along with most of United Artists' original soundtracks), but two reels turned up miraculously in the collection of Bob Burns, a beloved industry figure who has archived countless movie props and artifacts. The two units of the 1/2" three-track stereo masters—recorded on the Samuel Goldwyn scoring stage in terrific sound quality—represent around 40% of the score, though none of the large-scale action cues. The only other source for the Satan Bug recording is a monaural music-and-effects track which was isolated on a 1996 laserdisc of the film.
Because, in our opinion, all Jerry Goldsmith music is worth preserving, this premiere "archival edition" of The Satan Bug combines the music-only tapes with the music-and-effects source (newly retransferred) for a chronological presentation of the complete score. (Fortunately, the main and end titles are free of sound effects, as they appear that way in the film.)
By sound effects, please note, we mean sound effects: car noises, helicopters, gunshots, doors slamming, grunts and groans, air conditioners, monkey chirps, telephones...it is not pretty. But it is all that there is.
The surviving music-only sections total 30:34, and our original intention was to release this material only. We then decided to add the music-and-effects cues as a bonus. It simply happened to work out that the music-and-effects cues "cleaned up" better than we had hoped (due in large part to the transparent way Goldsmith wrote the music), and that the cues were best presented chronologically. The CD liner notes (by Jeff Bond) provide programming instructions for making a music-only sequence.
Whether you buy this CD or not, please understand exactly what it contains, and why we chose to release it. For us, it's a Jerry Goldsmith masterpiece from the sterling '60s and we are delighted to present it.
The Satan Bug is one of Jerry Goldsmith's most imaginative scores of the 1960s. Long thought lost, two reels of the stereo master tapes turned up in a private collection. The rest of the score survives only as a music-and-sound effects track. Both sources have been combined for this archival presentation.
*Contains Sound Effects!
Main Title/The Base 3:04
Tired Doctor* 1:40
The Bottle Snatcher* 2:55
No Answer 1:14
The Deal 3:11
Chemistry Lesson 2:16
The Vault* 2:10
Empty Box 0:41
The Telegram/The Killers at Home 2:11
The Skin Diver 2:46
His Master's Voice/The Phone Call 1:18
The Investigator 0:55
The Box 1:00
The Captives 1:45
Escape Route 2:27
The Getaway* 6:19
Lock Up 2:09
Instant Death* 1:26
The Hitchhiker* 1:31
End of the Line* 2:17
Road Block* 3:10
The Clue/Traffic Jam* 1:31
The Hidden Bottle*/Bail Out*/End Title 5:25
Total Time: 55:02
Bongo Blues* (Jack Costanzo)/Dockside 1:45
Source Music 2:52
The Clue 1:01
End Title 0:27
Total Time: 6:12
Total Disc Time: 61:21