Tech Talk From The Producer…
The original album Jerry Goldsmith prepared for The Secret of NIMH
in 1982 featured 12 tracks and ran a generous 48 minutes. This covered almost all of the score’s major sequences, including the haunting lullaby version of “Flying Dreams” that was written by Goldsmith with Paul Williams and sung by Sally Stevens in a touching early scene. The one fairly substantial cue missing from the record was “At Your Service,” which accompanies Mrs. Brisby as she journeys into the lair of the intelligent rats, encountering the kindly but irascible Mr. Ages and the friendly rat master-of-arms Justin. (The cue was called “The Descent” prior to the recording sessions, when Goldsmith himself re-titled it.) The other important cue missing from the first album was the film version of the end-title vocal, sung again by Sally Stevens, but on the record sung by lyricist Paul Williams. His version was recorded in a separate session and then synched to the already-recorded and fully mixed orchestral tracks.
For some three decades, the complete session elements have been lost—and sadly many of them remain lost. However, a search deep within 20th Century Fox’s vaults by film producer Nick Redman yielded the first-generation, DBX-encoded 1982 album master assembled by Goldsmith and engineer Len Engel, as well as three rolls of 1′′ 8-channel and ½′′ 3-channel tape.
While these still didn’t reveal every sequence of Goldsmith’s magnificent score, they did yield at last the missing cue “At Your Service” as well as a complete “demo” version of the end-credit song performed by Sally Stevens and the orchestra. The latter is identical to the film recording with the exception of the temporary orchestra mix and levels, which largely yielded to the vocal for later balancing purposes.
In the film, “At Your Service” plays between “The Sentry Reel” and “The Story Of NIMH,” but Goldsmith connected the latter two cues for his album. Rather than separate them and destroy his musical continuity, we have simply placed the new cue after his assembly. The “Flying Dreams – End Title Demo (Vocal: Sally Stevens)” appears in “the extras” section of the CD as track 14.
Finally, two other demo recordings were present on the 1′′ roll. These included a piano duet version of the “Flying Dreams” theme and the original demo recorded by Paul Williams, accompanied by piano. These were both recorded by Len Engel, engineer for the original album, courtesy his Contempo Recording Co.
Perhaps one day the remaining material from this musical masterpiece will surface. But until that happens, savor the beloved 1982 album with the addition of one important previously unreleased cue and some interesting demos.