Meco – Star Wars Party

Meco - Star Wars PartyTwenty-seven years after his first Star Wars-themed album, Music Inspired By Star Wars And Other Galactic Funk, Meco Monardo returns in time for the release of the final Star Wars film, Revenge of the Sith. This album of (mostly) new material, Star Wars Party, has a very different feel to Meco’s Star Wars work of old.

Rather than go the direct disco route, the covers on Star Wars Party see Meco stretching into wildly differing directions. “I Am Your Father” is a trance-like dance track. “Star Wars Love Themes” melds cues from both trilogies into an odd march-like affair. “New Star Wars” is basically Meco’s modern take on a dance version of the main Star Wars theme, with lots of samples. “The Empire Strikes Back” is not really a new track, but a remix of the 1980 original that basically adds new sound effects to the mix. (I question the wisdom of including this track, since it basically outclasses the new covers completely.) “You Are Reckless” is a rambling hodge-podge of Star Wars music overdubbed with Yoda dialogue. “Lapti Nek” is certainly the best of the new crop; a decent rendition of the now redundant Max Rebo track, with solid use of dialogue sampling that doesn’t distract from the song.

The original tracks “Star Wars Party”, “Jedi Knight” and “Live Your Life” are lightweight fluff pieces that can’t stand up alongside even the questionable quality of the covers. The lyrics are absolutely atrocious (and not in a good way) and while the music is not horrible, neither is it memorable.

But the biggest problem with Star Wars Party isn’t Meco’s unusual musical choices or his lousy lyrics and simplistic original music, it’s his reliance on dialogue clips. While his choice of dialogue is fine and how he chooses to use it within a song is usually spot on, the problem is that only about a third of the clips are authentic (or at least close enough not to matter). It’s jarring hearing unknown voices speaking such classic lines (and then to hear them sampled over and over again). The worst are the people speaking Han and Leia’s lines in “Star Wars Love Themes” and the grating fake Yoda sprinkled throughout the CD. To make matters worse, there will often be authentic dialogue right next to these poor imitations, making the failure more glaring than it otherwise might be. If Meco wanted all these voice samples, he should have gotten clearance to use only original dialogue or given up on the idea.

But just when it seems that Star Wars Party will inevitably wind up filed somewhere between useless and unnecessary, we come to the final track on the disc, “Boogie Wookie”. Silly as its title may sound, it’s a lush disco dance track that is as close to the perfection Meco achieved on the original Galactic Funk album as Star Wars Party gets. With a generous sprinkling of Wookie dialogue throughout and no real lyrics to speak of, Meco falls into none of the traps that damage the other tracks. I won’t go so far as to say that “Boogie Wookie” is good enough to make me recommend this disc, but I found it good enough to justify the purchase to myself, at least.

Star Wars Party doesn’t live up to the legacy of Meco’s classic work from the golden age of Star Wars, but it isn’t a complete disaster. The remix of “Empire” is pretty good (but expendable) and “Boogie Wookie” and the “Lapti Nek” cover deserve attention. The other tracks have little value (and what value they have is mostly destroyed by the awful voice sampling). Ultimately, your enjoyment of Star Wars Party will likely be determined by how far three good tracks can take you.

rating: 2 out of 4

Note: Star Wars Party was simultaneously released under the alternate title Music Inspired By Star Wars. Both are available for purchase, but Star Wars Party is only available from Amazon.com and CDbaby.com. All other online retailers and brick and mortar stores sell only Music Inspired by Star Wars.

Order this CD

  1. I Am Your Father (3:07)
  2. Star Wars Party (3:10)
  3. Star Wars Love Themes (4:00)
  4. New Star Wars (3:07)
  5. The Empire Strikes Back (3:30)
  6. You Are Reckless (3:05)
  7. Jedi Knight (4:03)
  8. Lapti Nek (3:23)
  9. Live Your Life (3:18)
  10. Boogie Wookie (6:24)

Released by: Mecoman Productions
Release date: 2005
Total running time: 37:43

Meco – The Complete Star Wars Collection

Meco - The Complete Star Wars CollectionRoughly a year ago, I waxed rhapsodic about how much I loved the CD re-release of the original Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk album by Meco. Well, here we are with a brand-new release by Meco, remixing and compiling his discofied slices of John Williams from all the original trilogy movies, and adding new material inspired by Episode I.

I know some fans have been clamoring for Meco’s tunes from The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, but if this CD proved anything to me, it was that maybe I would’ve been better off stopping at that original 1977 release.

A major caveat for fans of original material here: these are not the original recordings. These are digital re-recordings which vastly change the structure of the original songs. In some places – and I’m particularly singling out the new version of the original Star Wars music here – this isn’t a bad thing. It’s interesting to hear Meco’s take on this stuff some 23 years later. In other places…God help us all. I never heard Meco’s original Empire and Jedi recordings, so I have no idea if they were ever better than this. It sounds like the discomeister should’ve called it quits with the first movie.

And if Meco’s Empire and Jedi-inspired tunes aren’t enough to make me draw that conclusion, the godawful trio of Episode I songs are enough to make me wonder if the man’s lost his touch completely. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Meco’s original Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk album. I listened to it incessantly when I was a kid. But his take on “Duel Of The Fates” and “Augie’s Municipal Band” is a bore – he was beaten to the “Duel Of The Fates” punch by the far superior house dance mixes by the Wasabees a year ago.

And it gets worse. Far, far worse. “Cousin Jar Jar” is a bizarre rap in which Jar Jar wanders into a bar and burbles on endlessly about his adventures (and his inability to dance, because yousa might say meesa…clumsy?) over a disco beat, with occasional background vocal contributions. Again, I 1 out of 4even liked Jar Jar Binks in Episode I…but this song almost seems to be specifically engineered to make even the most adoring Jar Jar fans rethink their loyalties to the goofy Gungan.

Proceed with caution. Keep in mind, I loved Meco’s original Star Wars album. But this thing is one long digitally-recorded trip to the Dark Side.

Order this CD

  1. Star Wars (A New Hope)
    Main Title Theme / The Land of the Sand People /
    Princess Leia’s Theme / Cantina Band / The Last Battle / End Title
    (8:22)
    The Empire Stikes Back
  2. Darth Vader’s Theme / Yoda’s Theme (3:36)
  3. The Battle In The Snow (3:24)
  4. The Force Theme (3:13)
  5. Finale (2:30)
    Return Of The Jedi
  6. Lapti Nek (4:54)
  7. Ewok Celebration (3:09)
    The Phantom Menace
  8. Duel Of The Fates / Augie’s Municipal Band (3:23)
  9. Cousin Jar Jar (3:33)
  10. A Jedi Knight (vocals by Yamira) (5:25)

Released by: Mecoman Records
Release date: 2000
Total running time: 41:33

Meco – Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk

Meco - Star Wars and Other Galactic FunkI was both amazed and not at all surprised to see this gem of shameless disco cash-in appear on CD in the wake of the release of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. Amazed because I never expected to see Meco Menardo’s amusing 1978 disco tribute to John Williams’ Star Wars score in CD form, but not at all surprised, because if it was indeed going to happen, it would happen now as every licensee attempts to carve out its own slice of the Star Wars pie (and fans’ dollars). Complete with the giggle-inducing original cover artwork and credits, this CD re-issue, not unlike the movie, takes me back to my youth. My older brother got me this album on 8-track tape when it was brand new, and I remember listening to it incessantly. And I have to admit, I’ve probably listened to the entirety of the album two or three times within half a week of buying it! As goofy as the idea of a fifteen minute long disco distillation of the entire Star Wars score may be, it’s actually done with some measure of a class. The string and brass sections, though they sound more like the brass section of the Sound of Philadelphia than the London Symphony, are quite impressive. And truthfully, the score is given a very faithful reading by Meco’s large ensemble. New interstitial material was created to jump as gracefully as possible from one theme to the next, and some of that is rather interesting, especially the bits expanding on the Cantina Band’s tune. The only thing that keeps me from declaring the whole Star Wars track an exercise in somewhat dated class is the frequent recurrence of goofy laser, lightsaber and R2-D2 sound-alike effects. But I do respect their presence in the mix – this is what Meco’s Star Wars tribute sounded like way back when. Even more impressive than the Star Wars suite is the equally-long original track, “Other Galactic Funk”, which merely filled out space on the original album but has always been my favorite. Though clearly grounded in disco, “Other Galactic Funk” takes a heavy dose of marching band drum soloing – outstanding drum soloing at that.

3 out of 4 starsIn closing, some very young collectors of all things Star Wars may pick this oddity up, listen to it, and think, “Oh, dude, this sucks!” But, not unlike Star Wars itself, Meco’s Star Wars and Other Galactic Funk album is a page right out of my childhood. Guilty pleasure or not, outdated or not, I have to admit I like it!

    Order this CD in the Store

  1. Star Wars (15:49)
  2. Other Galactic Funk (12:31)
  3. Star Wars / Cantina Band – 7″ edit (3:32)
  4. Star Wars / Cantina Band – 12″ disco promotional mix (7:35)

Released by: Hip-O Records
Release date: 1978 (re-released 1999)
Total running time: 39:30