It’s the 75th anniversary of Wonder Woman and there’s a celebration going on. Earlier this year she made her big screen debut in – and was the saving grace of – the much maligned Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (played sensationally by Gal Gadot). The character is also going through a much anticipated rebirth in her main comics title thanks to the return of veteran Wonder Woman writer, Greg Rucka. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial 75th anniversary iceberg. I could talk forever about all the things that are being planned, but since the primary focus of our podcast and blog is on the Lynda Carter television show, I need to reel myself in. You can read up on all the events at the DC Comics website.
Overshadowed by all this 75th anniversary excitement is the fact that the TV show is also celebrating a birthday – 40 YEARS! It may not have the prestige of 75 but it’s still a milestone – especially when you consider how famous it remains after all this time. It’s even back on Primetime television thanks to the Me-TV Network. It’s also available for steaming – in HD! – on multiple online platforms (we’ll tackle the implications of this in another post). So the question remains: where’s the 40th anniversary love for the TV show? Well… there are some exciting things to report!
First, some backstory…
Back in 2010 Watertower Music released The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Collection which featured 31 tracks of fan-favorite music associated with DC Comics‘ superheroes, including two tracks devoted to Wonder Woman: Christopher Drakes‘ End Title from the 2009 animated movie, and naturally, the season one main title TV theme by legendary composing team Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel (specifically, from the “Fausta: The Nazi Wonder Woman” episode which boasts an alternate sound mix).
Last Friday, Watertower released a followup album: The Music of DC Comics: Volume 2. Like its predecessor, it’s available in physical CD format, digital download, and through streaming services like Spotify. Also like the first volume, there’s lots to love about this release as it includes some rare vintage themes from film and television as well as familiar favorites and some exciting new additions from the CW‘s recent live-action canon (Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, Flash vs. Arrow).
Of interest to fans of the Wonder Woman TV show is the inclusion of the season three main title theme as arranged by Johnny Harris. To my knowledge, a “clean” version (without sound effects) has never been available to consumers before now. Moreover, it’s in STEREO!–which makes it an extraordinary track, indeed. Fans have only heard it in mono as it appeared on the show. I don’t know if it’s an original mix from 1978 or newly mixed for this release but it sounds glorious; brass, strings, bass, percussion – all are richly identifiable on their own while they contribute to the whole. It’s brilliant. Johnny Harris would be proud. Here’s a sample…
A little about Johnny Harris: described in his biography, The Man Who Turned Elvis Down Twice (written by his daughter), as a flamboyant, energetic conductor, he has worked with the likes of Tom Jones, Dame Shirley Bassey, Englebert Humperdinck, and Liza Minelli. His friendship with Lynda Carter started almost 40 years ago when he was hired as music director for her 1978 headlining concert at Caesar’s Palace. He then followed her back to television for the third and final season of Wonder Woman where he created his funky new arrangement. He went on to direct music for all five of Lynda’s TV specials and score several of her TV movies as well as her next series, Partners in Crime. He’s also written for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and The Powers of Mathew Star.
But his work on Wonder Woman remains prolific not only because he arranged a new theme, but because he seamlessly infused Charles Fox‘s iconic melody into the more disco-funk style of the final season without compromising a heroic statement. Indeed, Harris was not the only new composer to wave a baton at Wonder Woman; several others would round out the season: Roland Ragland, Angela Morley, and Richard Lasalle all contributed memorable and even quirky motifs. But Johnny Harris set the tone with his new arrangement. I’m thrilled that it was selected to represent the TV show in this latest collection of DC Comics music.
But wait!–there’s more…
In early June, La-La Land Records announced plans to attend San Diego Comic-Con in partnership with Geek LLC. They used promo one-sheets to advertise their world-premiere soundtracks available at their booth (#4536) this week between July 20-24 (while supplies last, I imagine). Displayed prominently were images of Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman representing a 7″ vinyl picture disc! Designed by Dan Goldwasser, the images used are the same that Paul Lanner used in his DVD packaging designs years ago. The disc is produced by Neil S. Bulk. Still, it would have been fun to see something different; Lynda Carter in the star-spangled costume guarantees recognition no matter what images are used.
On July 13 La-La Land finally revealed hi-res images of the vinyl disc with the following details:
WONDER WOMAN: PICTURE DISC VINYL 7’’ SINGLE: LIMITED EDITION
Music by Charles Fox
Limited Edition of 1000 Units
RETAIL PRICE: $15.98
AVAILABLE FIRST AT COMIC CON JULY 20 AND THEN ON OUR WEBSITE JULY 26, 2016
La-La Land Records, Warner Bros., DC and WaterTower Music commemorate 75 years of Wonder Woman, with a very special, limited edition 7’’ vinyl picture disc single featuring the immortal Wonder Woman theme from the classic 70’s TV series! This wondrous release showcases the iconic character as portrayed by Lynda Carter on a picture disc, with the Diana Prince side containing the Season One Main Title and the Wonder Woman side containing the Season Three Main Title. The disc is housed in an attractive sleeve that radiates the gloriously fun spirit of this beloved series. Produced by Neil S. Bulk and art designed by Dan Goldwasser, this must-have presentation of a timeless TV theme is a limited edition of 1000 units.
Diana Prince: Main Title (The Wonder Woman) Season One
Wonder Woman: Main Title (The Wonder Woman) Season Three
Talk about an anniversary gift! If La-La Land was striving for contrast – they achieved it; seasons one and three could not be more dissimilar in arrangement, which makes for an eclectic musical pairing. The fact that the Diana Prince image (taken from the episode, “I.R.A.C is Missing”) is from neither season one nor three is nitpicking. And, of course, some music mysteries remain: will La-La Land use the new Johnny Harris mix? It would make sense. And what about the season one theme? Remember: the 2010 album used the more dynamic mix from the “Fausta” episode – will La-La Land simply port it over – or will they use the mix from the pilot? Although, I prefer the “Fausta” version, it would be great to have the other season one mix on vinyl.
And what about stereo? Hearing the Harris mix has spoiled me. Will La-La Land give us a season one stereo mix? Do they have access to the original tracks? Even though I love the “Fausta” version, it’s still presented in original mono on the 2010 album. As a purist, I’m fine with it. But La-La land may have an opportunity to offer the first Wonder Woman season one television theme in stereo! Wouldn’t that be perfect for a 75th/40th anniversary vinyl? I just hope they don’t use the TeeVee Toons’ stereo version that was produced in the 80s. This Too Fast, Too Synth, Too Falsetto Background Vocal has become the “Go-To” version that relentlessly appears in compilation after compilation. Honestly, I’d be happier with the original mono version.
(Here’s a crazy thought: what if La-La Land uses Charles Fox’s 1977 Wonder Woman single? Although, it’s not the legit season one TV theme, it’s still a certifiable gem. Fox was a believer in turning his TV themes into singles for the charts. Close your eyes and picture yourself on the Studio 54 dance floor…)
Okay, stop dancing and continue reading – THINGS ARE ABOUT TO GET REAL – and there’s no better way to end this blog entry about Wonder Woman music…
Remember La-La Land’s one-sheet advertising their Comic-Con releases? Well, when they posted the sheet to Facebook and other online discussion forums, you can imagine the fan reaction. One Facebooker exclaimed:
wahooooo!!!! I wish so much for a “Wonder Woman TV Series” soundtrack then!!!
To which La-La Land replied:
And you shall have your wish later this year.
That sound you just heard was me… squealing.
My mind is now reeling with the possibilities of an official Wonder Woman soundtrack! There were 58 episodes and two movies – and while that may constitute a lot of music, to my ear, more than half was tracked. Still, there’s enough original material for several soundtrack albums. Charles Fox’s pilot score alone would qualify for an album – and it would be a logical first step. It’s also significant because his music permeated every season that followed. Each new composer brought their own distinctiveness to the series, but they all honored Fox and his primary Wonder Woman theme. As a result, it is as indelibly linked to the character as Lynda Carter herself.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to start compiling my Wonder Woman soundtrack wish list! I’ll share my favorite tracks and cues on an upcoming blog entry.
UPDATE: Album producer, Neil S. Bulk has confirmed that the remastered season 3 stereo mix WILL be on La-La Land’s 75th Anniversary picture disc! BUT WAIT! He has also revealed that the classic season one theme will ALSO be in stereo! Says Bulk:
“The season 1 theme is also a new stereo mix using the original 3-track band, vocal and chorus tracks and piano overlay. It rocks! Both themes on the Wonder Woman single are entirely new mixes from the original tapes.”
Wow! This will be the first time EVER that the original 40-year old season one television theme will be available to us, remastered in stereo. Mind blown. Thanks, Neil!