The Wing Commander Discography Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Update ID

A stately conductor stands before an orchestra three rows deep. The planet Venice, the Kilrathi capital of the Vega Sector, looms overhead. He raises his baton…

From the very first visual of the very first game, the deep connection between music and Wing Commander was clear… even to PC speaker users! Over the years, the Wing Commander franchise repeatedly pushed forward the public's expectation for what is now called 'VGM' and considered its own respected genre of music. The series would eventually come to host a rogues gallery of top composers and other musicians: George "The Fat Man" Sanger, Nenad Vugrinec, George Oldziey, Alexander van Bubenheim, Cobalt 60, David Arnold and Kevin Kiner… and a dozen others.

Today, Supercade is trying to bring George Oldziey's Wing Commander Orchestral Music Recording Project out as a deluxe vinyl record. You can learn more and back that project on IndieGoGo. The project will be Wing Commander's first vinyl record ever released… but it's not the first album! Over the years, Wing Commander's varied music (and music inspired by Wing Commander) has contributed to nearly thirty different commercially released albums!

In honor of the crowdfunding campaign, we've put together a brief history of Wing Commander albums from 1991 to 2023. From true rarities like the original ORIGIN Soundtrack to obscure compilations including the Prophecy theme it's all here! Consider this one part collector's guide and one part fascinating history of our favorite series. We hope the next time this is updated that it's because we've added Supercade's project to our record shelves!

ORIGIN Soundtrack

ORIGIN Soundtrack was the very first album with Wing Commander music ever released [but not the first album of Origin music! See appendix. - ed]. It contains two tracks of Wing Commander music, a total of seven pieces from the original game and eleven from Wing Commander II. The tracks are recorded from an MT-32, providing a quality far above what most players were familiar with at the time. The record was created by Origin's audio guru Martin Galway in 1991 as a marketing giveaway and sold to the public (but never advertised!) via phone orders. Roughly 500 copies were printed and they appear for sale only rarely today, always commanding hundreds of dollars.

Whether the album existed at all was an open question for many years. By the late 1990s, ORIGIN Soundtrack (typically referred to as Origin Audio CD Vol. 1) was thought to be a myth on the order of Bigfoot. While it was listed in Ultima collecting-related resources there was no evidence anywhere truly confirming its existence beyond the fact that Origin had numbered other albums two and three. That all changed in 2003 when Joe Garrity of the Origin Museum acquired the first confirmed example from a used computer equipment store in Virginia. Since then, a small amount of unsold stock has surfaced on eBay and several ex-Origin employees have sold copies to the public. (For collectors seeking to authenticate, there was never a back insert.)

Signature Sounds

In 1993, Electronic Arts was eager to show off the impressive library of intellectual property they had acquired purchasing Origin Systems. Signature Sounds, a 1993 album featuring thirty one pieces from different Electronic Arts titles, includes tracks representing a number of different Origin games including a montage of combat music from Privateer (Nenad Vugrinec) and the Super Wing Commander opening theme (Joe Basquez). Like ORIGIN Soundtrack, Signature Sounds was primarily given away at trade shows and other marketing events. Unlike its cousin, it was produced in sufficient numbers so as to be relatively easy to locate today.

ORIGIN Audio CD Volume 3

ORIGIN Audio CD Volume 3 was Origin Systems' second in-house record featuring music from Wing Commander and other properties [see Appendix for information about Volume 2 - ed]. The compilation was put together for a very important part of gaming and Wing Commander history: the 'Premiere Edition' of Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger. Available only through Electronic Arts directly, the $100 Premiere Edition includes a copy of Fleet Action, a making of VHS, a calendar, a metal film canister-shaped package, a t-shirt and more. It was the direct ancestor of the modern "collectors edition" and the inclusion of the soundtrack CD is something many companies have replicated over the years. The record includes music from Wing Commander III, Super Wing Commander and Privateer, as well as other Origin titles like Wings of Glory. Collectors take note: there were two separate pressings of the album, one for the United States and one for Europe. Other than minor differences to the stock numbers on the disc the releases are identical.

Pressing comparison

Wing Commander Prophecy Original Soundtrack

In 1997, things got a little weird! Hoping to reinvent the series, Electronic Arts encouraged the team developing Wing Commander V (later Wing Commander Prophecy) to kill their darlings and go against established elements of the series wherever possible. One of these creative choices was to hire a music act named Cobalt 60 to develop music for the game's gameplay sequences. Instead of the traditional Star Wars-inspired orchestral music, Cobalt 60, fresh off contributing music to Command and Conquer, would produce an electronic-industrial tracks that would heat the blood during the game's intense combat sequences. The band members, Jean-Luc de Meyer and Dominique Lallement (both better known for their main project, Front 242), traveled to Austin to record the music using only vintage computer equipment. As part of the deal, the band's German record label, Edel, would put out a Wing Commander Prophecy soundtrack CD.

Then, the creatives got cold feet. Wing Commander III and IV composer George Oldziey was brought back to score the game's cutscenes and then to develop interactive music for the flight sequences that would ultimately replace the Cobalt 60 track. In the end, Cobalt 60's music appeared only as implied-to-be diegetic music in the game's simulator pod… something many players never even touched! It would go on to be reused as the main score for the next game released, 1998s Wing Commander Secret Ops. None of this dismayed Edel's marketing machine. The company was a fervent believer in compilation releases that would promote their entire catalog together and the desire to continue to do that with cool Wing Commander Prophecy artwork proved to be very, very strong: at least eleven albums have connections back to their Prophecy OST!

In the late 1990s, "Original Soundtracks" for films were increasingly not even related to movies themselves. Rather than symphonic scores, popular releases like the Mortal Kombat soundtrack instead featured one or two singles plus thematically linked music from a variety of popular acts… each of whom would happily sell you a CD of their own! Edel's flagship Wing Commander Prophecy Original Soundtrack took this model exactly, including just two Cobalt 60 songs from the game ('s simulator mode) and filling the rest of the list with songs from other industrial acts Edel represented such as Rammstein and Fear Factory. Three of the songs from other groups were said to be 'inspired by Wing Commander Prophecy' while the rest were simply licensed from other releases. Remember this, as it will be important shortly! Three official versions of the soundtrack are known to exist from different local labels in the United States, Canada and Germany. The biggest difference between these is that the US and Canadian covers put KMFDM first while Germany chose Rammstein as they were more popular in the region. The album was also released on cassette in Poland (and in bootleg form elsewhere including Romania, Russia and Thailand).

Label comparison & Polish casette release

Spinoffs - Cobalt 60

But the compilation grind cuts both ways: from there, Edel published Cobalt 60's Wing Commander Prophecy music on a grand total of five other releases! The most interesting of these is Wing Commander Prophecy Theme The Clubmixes, a 1997 release given away to German industrial club DJs. The disc contains multiple unique remixes of the Wing Commander Prophecy theme which are available nowhere else. The artwork is truly spectacular as well, with a neat transparent disc effect that makes it look like an irregularly-sized Lamprey shield killer is spinning in your CD player!

Transparent CD scan

A second 'single', Wing Commander Prophecy Theme (TerminalMix), was released as a pack-in with the American Wing Commander Prophecy Special Edition. Released in a nearly identical package to the main SKU and available only in Sam's Club stores, the Special Edition was something of a hidden treasure (though it comes up not infrequently for sale today). While the disc lacks the cool transparent effect, the art is an awesome rendering of the Kraken cap-ship killer.

The year also saw the title track included on the May issue of Edel's monthly sampler, Edelstück.

In 1998, Cobalt 60 released their next (and to date final) studio album, Twelve. Edel released a special version of the album with a bonus disc that contained three Prophecy tracks (and one other song). In addition to Prophecy (TerminalMix) and Darwin Was Right, the Twelve bonus CD is the only physical release of "Galactic Hives". It can be hard to determine from online listings, so make sure the copy you buy has a second disc. Sealed copies should have a blue sticker on the cover.

Finally, in 1999, another Edel series, The Gothic Compilation, released the ninth in their series which included Cobalt 60's "Darwin Was Right". The cover art is horrifying but there's something extremely satisfying imagining nineties Goths listening to a Wing Commander song.

Spinoffs - Music Inspired by Wing Commander Prophecy

But that's not all! Recall that the Wing Commander Prophecy Original Soundtrack included music said to be inspired by the game. Those tracks went on to reappear in several other places as well (and in one case years later with a significant update!). Grouped by group:

German electronic group Das Ich provided a track on the WCP OST called "The Awakening". The Awakening was originally a song called Krieger with new lyrics in English instead of German… lyrics, we assume, inspired by the intense single player combat of Wing Commander Prophecy. For many years it was believed that The Awakening had never been released on another album… until we discovered that it had been renamed 'The Warrior' (a literal translation of Krieger). The song appeared on the group's 2003 compilation album Relikt and then again on a 2011 re-release of their 1998 Egodram which added it on a second disc of rarities.

Project Pitchfork, unrelated to the Star Citizen effort, provided a song called Gravitation Zero to the WCP OST. Gravitation Zero was re-released in 1998 on an EP called Carnival (regular and expanded versions exist) and then again in 2003 on the compilation release Collector: Fireworks & Colorchange.

Die Krupps, the third group, provided The Vampire Strikes Back which… is pretty fun if you're imagining flying around in an F-109 Vampire while you listen. The band did not release the song again in the 1990s and instead held off until 2015 to include an updated version on an album release, V - Metal Machine Music. A second disc of bonus music included with album also republishes the original version… and there's even a box set version that comes with a pair of fingerless black gloves! The group actually spoke about the song's video game origins during press for the record which was frankly extremely cool.

The... special... edition of Metal Machine Music V

Spinoffs - Music NOT Inspired by Wing Commander Prophecy

Last and strangest of these connected albums is the case of Bravo ScreenFun Hits, a compilation of game music released in 1999 as a pack-in with Germany's Bravo ScreenFun magazine. The case promises music from Wing Commander Prophecy, the booklet features art of ships from the game… and the track listing tells us that's because it includes Brooklyn Bounce's The Theme (Of Progressive Attack). A popular song, to be sure, but not one that has anything to do with Wing Commander Prophecy… except legally, since it was included on the Wing Commander Prophecy Original Soundtrack and then sublicensed for this release. A second volume in the Bravo ScreenFun Hits series was released in 2000 but it did not include any Wing Commander music (but then of course neither did the first!).

The Movie

There's plenty of criticism of the Wing Commander movie to go around… but whenever geeks get together and mention the film, there IS one thing they agree on: the music was perfect. And it should've been! David Arnold, the mind behind the theme, was a veteran of top film scores and Kevin Kiner, his then-protege who composed the rest of the album, has since shot to the top of the industry. Sonic Images Records released the Wing Commander - Original Soundtrack on CD in 1999 to plenty of acclaim. It remains a favorite today but there's more music in the movie that has not been released; we remain hopeful for a longer version of the score someday!

Since the release of the movie, David Arnold's spectacular theme has appeared in a number of other places. The first of these was a 2006 five-disc collection called Top Shelf Library from FOX Music. In addition to being a wonderful collection of movie music, Top Shelf Library is a collection of production music: pieces that can be licensed (then from FOX) for use in other productions. Production licensing is done digitally now but copies of Top Shelf Library remain readily available.

But that's not all! In recent years, the Wing Commander theme has become a favorite of none other than The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines! That's right, the United Kingdom's military has performed the Wing Commander theme on multiple occasions… including in front of royalty at the Mountbatten Festival of Music in 2017! They have released two albums that contain performances: The Mountbatten Festival of Music 2017 and Beating Retreat 2018. The former was also available on DVD.

The Fatman & Team Fat

Since the closure of Origin Systems, two of the series' original composers have released tracks from the game on their own. George "The Fatman" Sanger and his group of collaborators, Team Fat, maintain ownership of some of their music for Wing Commander I (Wing Commander II was contracted differently) and have been able to make several releases. In 2000, The Fatman provided a live track of Team Fat performing a surf theme version of Wing Commander's main fanfare. The track was recorded at a trade show but it first appeared in print in a pretty appropriate place: on the album Water Logged, a promotional effort by Austin radio station KFJC. The fourth in an annual series of surf albums, Water Logged is one of the rarest and most unusual albums with a Wing Commander piece!

Mr. Sanger also provided the same track to a group of Amiga enthusiasts in 2011 who put out a double album called Immortal 4 which is full of songs from different games that appeared on the Amiga. Don't tell them that Mark Knight actually redid the Wing Commander score for that version of the game!

Most exciting but sadly only digitally, The Fat Man has published two albums of the complete Wing Commander score. Wing One appeared in 2007 and an updated version, Wing Commander I Complete Original Soundtrack - MT-32 Archival Edition, released in 2022.

George Oldziey

Wing Commander III, IV and Prophecy composer George Oldziey has released three Wing Commander albums of his own over the years, including the Orchestral Music Recording Project now being crowd funded for release on vinyl. His first is one of the most obscure and challenging to find: Music from the Wing Commander Universe was published in 1998 as a promotional release for Daylight Productions, a company made up of former Origin employees who would be doing work tied to the company (including the DVD conversions of two Wing Commander games).

In 2015, Mr. Oldziey successfully crowdfunded an opportunity to re-record music from Wing Commander III using a live orchestra. The result was The Wing Commander Orchestral Music Recording Project, a wonderful collection of reorchestrated Wing Commander III, IV and Prophecy music.

A second crowdfund resulted in 2019's Wing Commander: The Jazz Album, an EP of sorts which recorded the various jazz pieces that he had written for the TCS Victory's lounge in Wing Commander III. Once you think about them you'll be humming all day!

The Heck?

And we will end this catalog with a really weird one: the 2000 Velvet Acid Christ album Twisted Thought Generator includes a hidden second album called Dimension 8. Dimension 8 was recorded years earlier and never released and the odd connection is that it samples, of all things, Super Wing Commander.

Appendix - Related Albums

Origin Audio CD Volume 2

While the story behind ORIGIN Soundtrack was unknown to the fandom for many years, the story of Origin Audio CD Volume 2, formally Origin Soundtrack Series The Music of Ultima VII and Strike Commander, is a familiar one. Origin's 1992 release, Ultima VII: The Black Gate, included a series of jokes at the end of its credit scroll. The general idea was that it had all the same disclaimers as a big movie production: no animals were harmed in the making of this picture, the producers would like to thank so-and-so and so on. And one of these was "Soundtrack CD available from Origin". The team intended it as a joke but after the game was released the company's customer service found they were getting lots of calls asking to buy the made up soundtrack! For the release of Ultima VII, Part 2: Serpent Isle, marketing made the joke a reality with a commercial CD of Ultima and Strike Commander music. It's a wonderful record that just doesn't have any Wing Commander on it!

Other Origin Systems-related albums

Yes! Music from several non-Wing Commander IPs has appeared over the years. The very first was 1987's Ultima Mix, a Japanese release containing remixes of Tsugutoshi Goto's Ultima Exodus NES score. This was also the first vinyl record ever to include Origin music! It was also available on CD and cassette. In 1999, Origin included an Ultima IX-only soundtrack with the Dragon Edition of Ultima Ascension. An updated version with additional tracks was published commercially as Original Music from Ultima IX: Ascension - The Enhanced CD. In 2020, Limited Run Games released a stunning double vinyl of the System Shock soundtrack.

Wing Commander games with Red Book audio

Old school gamers may recall that sometimes CD-ROM games could play their music in a regular CD player. This was because those games used what was called Red Book audio, essentially storing their music as CD tracks and triggering them to play off the disc when needed. Origin was not a frequent user of Red Book audio as it often made interactive music game design ineffective. One exception to this was that the FM Towns versions of Wing Commander, The Secret Missions 1 & 2 and Wing Commander II all include their music as Red Book tracks. The Wing Commander and Secret Missions releases both use high quality recordings of MT-32 tracks (both are identical) while the Wing Commander II recordings are somewhat off.

The main theme and several pieces of endgame dialogue over music in the Sega CD (and Mega CD) versions of Wing Commander are also Red Book.

Licensed Music

The Wing Commander movie credits four pieces of licensed music including three pop songs which play in the background during the mess hall scenes. These are "Cross the Line" and "Foxy's Den" by Cuba and "The Sleeper Car" by Thievery Corporation. The fourth piece of licensed music is the Mozart opera which plays while Blair visits Paladin to discuss his Pilgrim heritage. It is credited as "Trio from 'Cosi Fan Tutte" arranged by Lee Ashley for Ole George Music. This, like Top Shelf Music listed above, is an example of production music. The track was sourced from OGM Premium 27 Classical.

Digital & Streaming Albums

The following albums listed above are available digitally through services such as Amazon, Spotify and iTunes:

  • Cobalt 60 - Prophecy - Wing Commander Prophecy Theme The Clubmixes (1997) (listed as "Prophecy - EP")
  • Cobalt 60 - Twelve (1998)
  • Das Ich - Egodram (1998)
  • David Arnold & Kevin Kiner - Wing Commander - Original Soundtrack (1999)
  • The Fat Man and Team Fat - Wing One - Music from Wing Commander I (2007) (digital)
  • Die Krupps - V - Metal Machine Music (2015)
  • The Massed Bands of Her Majesty's Royal Marines -The Mountbatten Festival of Music 2017 (2017)
  • The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines - Beating Retreat 2018 (2018)
  • The Fat Man and The Team Fat - Wing Commander I Complete Original Soundtrack - MT-32 Archival Edition (2022) (digital)

Updated digital cover for the Wing Commander film score

A company called Buysoundtrax (run by the former owner of Sonic Images) has just this month released a new digital version of the Wing Commander movie theme. It's a special release because it is available as a lossless FLAC file for the first time.

Albums by George Oldziey are available for purchase digitally directly from the composer:

  • George Oldziey - The Wing Commander Orchestral Music Recording Project (2015)
  • George Oldziey - Wing Commander: The Jazz Album (2019)

There are also several digital-only compilation albums available through digital streaming services which include Wing Commander music:

  • 8BitAllstars - I Play 1990 - (includes Wing Commander Theme (From "Wing Commander") [Entertainment System Mix]) (2014)
  • 8BitAllstars - I Play 1993 (includes Space Flight (From "Wing Commander" [Entertainment System Mix]) (2014)
  • 101 Game Themes 3.0 by 8-Bit Arcade (2014) (includes Wing Commander (Main Theme) and Wing Commander III (Game Theme)).
  • 100 Videogames Themes - Video Games Theme Orchestra (2015) - (includes Theme from Wing Commander)

Complete Discography

  • Various Artists - ORIGIN Soundtrack (1991)
  • Various Artists - Electronic Arts Music Sampler - Signature Sounds (1993)
  • Various Artists - ORIGIN Audio CD Volume 3 (1994, US)
  • Various Artists - ORIGIN Audio CD Volume 3 (1994, EU)
  • Various Artists - Wing Commander Prophecy Original Soundtrack (1997, US)
  • Various Artists - Wing Commander Prophecy Original Soundtrack (1997, Germany)
  • Various Artists - Wing Commander Prophecy Original Soundtrack (1997, Canada)
  • Cobalt 60 - Prophecy - Wing Commander Prophecy Theme The Clubmixes (1997)
  • Cobalt 60 - Prophecy - Wing Commander Prophecy Theme (TerminalMix) (1997)
  • Various Artists - Edelstück > 5 - 1997 (1997)
  • Das Ich - Egodram (1998)
  • Cobalt 60 - Twelve (1998)
  • Project Pitchfork – Carnival (1998)
  • Project Pitchfork – Carnival (1998, Limited Edition)
  • George Oldziey - Music from the Wing Commander Universe (1998)
  • Various Artists - The Gothic Compilation Part IX (1999)
  • Various Artists - Bravo ScreenFun Hits (1999)
  • David Arnold & Kevin Kiner - Wing Commander - Original Soundtrack (1999)
  • Various Artists - KFJC - Water Logged (2000)
  • Velvet Acid Christ – Twisted Thought Generator (2000)
  • Das Ich - Relikt (2003)
  • Project Pitchfork – Collector: Fireworks & Colorchange (2003)
  • Various Artists - FOX Music - Top Shelf Library (2006)
  • The Fat Man and Team Fat - Wing One - Music from Wing Commander I (2007) (digital)
  • Various Artists - Immortal 4 (2011)
  • 8BitAllstars - I Play 1990 (2014) (digital)
  • 8BitAllstars - I Play 1993 (2014) (digital)
  • 101 Game Themes 3.0 by 8-Bit Arcade (2014) (digital)
  • 100 Videogames Themes - Video Games Theme Orchestra (2015) (digital)
  • Die Krupps - V - Metal Machine Music (2015)
  • George Oldziey - The Wing Commander Orchestral Music Recording Project (2015)
  • The Massed Bands of Her Majesty's Royal Marines -The Mountbatten Festival of Music 2017 (2017)
  • The Band of Her Majesty's Royal Marines - Beating Retreat 2018 (2018)
  • George Oldziey - Wing Commander: The Jazz Album (2019)
  • The Fat Man and The Team Fat - Wing Commander I Complete Original Soundtrack - MT-32 Archival Edition (2022) (digital)
  • Deep Impact: Classic Science Fiction Film Themes (1995-1999) (2023) (digital)

We hope you've enjoyed this walk through Wing Commander album history! And you can make that history continue by backing George Oldziey's Wing Commander vinyl album crowdfund. Learn more here.

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