I 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.
In 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 Guilty pleasure or not, outdated or not, I have to admit I like it!