Star Wars: The Last Jedi – music by John Williams

Star Wars: The Last JediStar Wars fandom may never be a cohesive whole again once the post-original-trilogy trilogy wraps up. The Force Awakens was knowingly derivative – on purpose, so we’re told in hindsight – to bring a new, younger audience into the familiar story beats of a Star Wars movie, while The Last Jedi‘s iconoclastic approach to the story’s remaining original trilogy characters seemed to split Star Wars fandom down the middle. The one unchanging constant in this whirlwind, however, has been John Williams, the architect of the orchestral Star Wars sound.

The soundtrack from The Last Jedi, appropriately for the middle chapter of a trilogy, leans heavily on themes already established. Themes for Rey, Kylo Ren/the First Order, and Poe/the Resistance are holdovers from The Force Awakens, with Rey’s theme given a great deal of development here. From the original trilogy, the Force theme (also frequently associated with Obi-Wan Kenobi) gets plenty of play here, as does a theme for another Jedi Master long past. The TIE Fighter battle theme is back as the Millennium Falcon shakes off its pursuers on Crait, with maybe two seconds of whimsy dropped in for Chewie’s new Porg sidekick. (Not heard on the album: the re-use of the Emperor’s theme for Snoke – perhaps a tacitly tuneful admission that the two were nearly interchangeable?) Luke and Leia’s reunion gets a somber, low-key treatment of their theme from Return Of The Jedi, tagged out by a short reference to Han and Leia’s love theme before Luke strides into battle against Kylo Ren.

Virtually the only truly new theme here is reserved for Finn’s winsome new partner, Rose (though that description should, perhaps, be the other way around). This leaves the movie’s major action setpieces for the majority of “new” material – percussive, raging battle music for Rey and Ren’s fight against Snoke’s guards, Finn’s final fight with Phasma, and naturally Luke’s climcactic duel with Kylo Ren. “The Battle Of Crait” rolls out a low, threatening motif for the oncoming First Order forces, as well as a choral interlude for Finn’s futile attempt to sacrifice himself for the Rebel cause.

The introduction to Canto Bight has an opulent opening (hearkening back to some of the “Coruscant” music from the prequel trilogy, which then segues into a boisterous jazz tune that sounds like it’s played by the same ensemble as the original Star Wars‘ Cantina Band music. It’s not a callback to that specific tune, but very much a delightful callback to its style. “The Fathiers”, accompanying the scenes of Finn and Rose lowering Canto Bight’s property value with large, four-legged help, is a callback of another kind – it sounds like a theme from an Indiana Jones movie slipped into the Star Wars universe.

I can handle a soundtrack falling back on old favorites more gracefully than I can handle the entire script of a movie doing so, and – spoiler alert – John Williams gives Luke Skywalker and Leia a truly epic sendoff, the 5 out of 4former with a mythic choral treatment, and the latter with her theme from Star Wars arranged for piano during the end credit tribute to the late Carrie Fisher.

With J.J. Abrams back in the driver’s seat for Episode IX, the question isn’t whether John Williams’ final Star Wars outing is worthy of the franchise. The question now becomes whether or not the movie itself will be worthy of Williams’ grand finale.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title and Escape (7:26)
  2. Ahch-To Island (4:23)
  3. Revisiting Snoke (3:29)
  4. The Supremacy (4:01)
  5. Fun with Finn and Rose (2:34)
  6. Old Friends (4:29)
  7. The Rebellion is Reborn (4:00)
  8. Lesson One (2:10)
  9. Canto Bight (2:38)
  10. Who Are You? (3:04)
  11. The Fathiers (2:42)
  12. The Cave (3:00)
  13. The Sacred Jedi Texts (3:33)
  14. A New Alliance (3:13)
  15. Chrome Dome (2:03)
  16. The Battle of Crait (6:48)
  17. The Spark (3:36)
  18. The Last Jedi (3:04)
  19. Peace and Purpose (3:08)
  20. Finale (8:28)

Released by: Walt Disney Records
Release date: December 15, 2017
Total running time: 77:49

Star Wars: The Force Awakens – music by John Williams

Star Wars: The Force AwakensJ.J. Abrams had no shortage of composers who he could’ve called into action for this project; indeed, during press junkets for Star Trek: Into Darkness, not long after Abrams was announced as the first non-Lucas director of a Star Wars feature film, he was being asked if he was going to bring longtime collaborator Michael Giacchino to the Star Wars franchise, or if he would try to rouse John Williams out of semi-retirement. As much of a Star Wars fanboy as Abrams is, it didn’t seem terribly surprising that he fully expected to work with Williams. Ultimately, you bring Williams back to Star Wars for the same reason that you pull Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher back into it: to create a point of audience identification and to make this new, outside-the-original-trilogy entry authentic.

There, at least, Williams – now 81 years old – succeeds, because he set the bar for what to expect. But The Force Awakens isn’t really Star Wars from the past: it’s Star Wars for the future. For lack of a better way to put it, the “texture” of the soundtrack is very different, as it deals with a movie that takes place in settings unimagined in the six prior films, populated largely by character we’ve never met before. Williams gives Jakku a different flavor of desolation than Tatooine, and Kylo Ren’s musical signature is very different from Darth Vader’s. It’s an almost entirely new universe scored with almost entirely new music.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t some familiar tunes; outside of the main titles, the Star Wars theme makes itself heard first in “The Falcon”, an otherwise new track whose rapid-fire strings echo the past exploits of Han’s ship. It may not be “Hyperspace” or “The Asteroid Field”, but it’s still a pulse-raising piece of music. The Star Wars theme shows up as a motif elsewhere, including “Scherzo For X-Wings”. “Han And Leia” revives both the Princess Leia theme from Star Wars, and “Han Solo And The Princess” from The Empire Strikes Back, and both themes show up elsewhere as well.

It’s probably no surprise to anyone that the Force theme, whose perfect Platonic ideal performance-wise remains “Binary Sunset” from Star Wars, also reappears (what with the Force awakening and all). But what’s more surprising is to hear it coupled, in “The Jedi Steps and Finale”, with a musical callback to the prequel trilogy, referencing music from the scene showing Anakin’s final transformation into Vader. A surprising and ominous choice for a refrain.

It all adds up to a nice musical package. Some fans demand completion in their soundtracks; in some cases, I’m one of them. But Williams has always sequenced and sorted his soundtrack albums so they make cohesive musical sense as a listening experience. He picks out his favorite bits, and even though the three original trilogy movies have each received more-or-less-complete score releases, I still find myself going back to the original albums. The Force Awakens soundtrack is a lot like that: there’s over an hour of music here (something of a minor miracle given that it was recorded in Los Angeles by union musicians, a factor that many labels cite when issuing irritatingly short soundtrack releases), and Williams’ favorite material 4 out of 4is good enough for me. As much as the shiny new action figures of Rey and Finn and Poe Dameron and Kylo Ren (and, yes, BB-8) sitting on my shelf, a new CD of new Star Wars music by John Williams himself is the thing that says “It’s back!” more than anything else. (Now I’ll just be waiting for Meco’s take on the whole thing.)

With the next franchise movie (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) set to be scored by Alexandre Desplat, it’s clear that the learners weaned on Williams’ soundtracks will soon become the masters. But if this is the last Star Wars movie Williams scores, he’s left a parting shot to show the next generation of Star Wars soundtrack composers how it’s done.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title and the Attack on the Jakku Village (6:25)
  2. The Scavenger (3:39)
  3. I Can Fly Anything (3:11)
  4. Rey Meets BB-8 (1:31)
  5. Follow Me (2:54)
  6. Rey’s Theme (3:11)
  7. The Falcon (3:32)
  8. That Girl With The Staff (1:58)
  9. The Rathtars! (4:05)
  10. Finn’s Confession (2:08)
  11. Maz’s Counsel (3:07)
  12. The Starkiller (1:51)
  13. Kylo Ren Arrives At The Battle (2:01)
  14. The Abduction (2:25)
  15. Han And Leia (4:41)
  16. March Of The Resistance (2:35)
  17. Snoke (2:03)
  18. On the Inside (2:05)
  19. Torn Apart (4:19)
  20. The Ways Of The Force (3:14)
  21. Scherzo For X-wings (2:32)
  22. Farewell And The Trip (4:55)
  23. The Jedi Steps and Finale (8:51)

Released by: Disney Music
Release date: December 18, 2015
Total running time: 77:28

SpaceCamp – music by John Williams

SpaceCamp - music by John WilliamsSpaceCamp is one of those movies that had a serious handicap going into the theater. And its handicap wasn’t even the inherent (but earnest) goofiness of its plotline – a bunch of kids attending the U.S. Space Camp actually winding up in space because of a shuttle malfunction caused by a robot befriended by one of the “crew” – but by the worst kind of bad timing imaginable. There was no way that the makers of SpaceCamp could’ve known that somewhere between wrapping final photography and getting the movie into theaters, the space shuttle Challenger and her crew would die a fiery death in front of millions. Furthermore, some of the actual space shuttle footage filmed for the movie included Challenger’s previous mission. The release date was continually bumped further and further into 1986, until the film was finally unleashed on a public that had been treated to endless replays of Challenger exploding for the better part of a year.

It shocked absolutely no one that the movie didn’t do very well, but film music fans were mesmerized by John Williams‘ latest score. In the years following the end of the original Star Wars trilogy (and the years between Indiana Jones’ second and third cinematic adventures), Williams seemed to be staying out of orbit and being more choosy with his assignments. For fans of Williams’ classic adventure scores, SpaceCamp was a return to form. An LP pressing of the soundtrack from SpaceCamp was in print for what seemed like the blink of an eye, and aside from a Japanese-market-only CD pressing that went for prices that would’ve paid for another space shuttle, that was it.

Intrada’s long-awaited re-release – which, again, sold out in a heartbeat – is essentially a new pressing of the Japanese CD, this time with Intrada’s trademark extensive liner notes booklet (in English, thankfully) detailing the film’s production, its rough theatrical landing, and of course the history of its elusive soundtrack. For those who had never been able to afford a copy before, Intrada’s SpaceCamp soundtrack was a gift from the heavens… at least while it was available.

The music itself is classic Williams, especially once events in the movie move into space. A more contemporary sound is evident in earthbound scenes such as “Training Montage”, but still bearing the heroic touch that Williams was no doubt tapped to add to the film’s sound. There’s even an almost-obligatory nod to the composer’s existing body of work, if a slightly predictable one (the youngest of the film’s stars, scared out of his wits, has to be stirred into action by one of the other kids urging him to “use the Force” over the radio – surely you don’t need to think too hard to imagine what music Williams quotes there).

3 out of 4As goofy and ill-timed as the film itself was, however, SpaceCamp got the kind of full-blooded adventure movie music that seems to be in short supply these days, as more modern composers lean more heavily toward the exotic. The reason Williams’ fans loved this score is that it brought back the kind of unapologetically straightforward sound he was best known for. Whatever the movie itself failed to achieve, the SpaceCamp soundtrack delivers in spades.

Order this CD

  1. Main Title (3:12)
  2. Training Montage (2:03)
  3. The Shuttle (5:06)
  4. The Computer Room (1:58)
  5. Friends Forever (2:24)
  6. In Orbit (3:16)
  7. White Sands (6:56)
  8. SpaceCamp (4:11)
  9. Viewing Daedalus (2:48)
  10. Max Breaks Loose (2:25)
  11. Andie Is Stranded (4:12)
  12. Max Finds Courage (2:23)
  13. Re-Entry (3:59)
  14. Home Again (3:30)

Released by: Intrada
Release date: 2010
Total running time: 48:23

Black Sunday – music by John Williams

Black SundayLet’s say it’s the 1970s, and you’re doing a movie about a plot to kill a lot of people at the Super Bowl – a movie that won’t wind up on MST3K. A disaster movie, a well-worn and dying breed at the time, one that requires a big, dramatic orchestral score. Who do you call? You’ve probably got one John Williams – the man best known at the time as the maestro behind Jaws – on speed dial. (This is really more of a figure of speech than anything – you probably call the switchboard operator downstairs from your posh office on the studio lot and have her call Williams for you, because speed dial hasn’t been invented yet. Damned inconvenient.) That seems to have been the case for Black Sunday, which has just been released by Film Score Monthly.

Black Sunday is an oddity in Williams’ repertoire – aside from diehard Williams fans, not a lot of people know it’s even there. The movie was released early in 1977 by Paramount, and as is well known by now, another movie hit theaters in May 1977 which all but erased Black Sunday from the public film-going consciousness, a movie that also had a John Williams score. As such, Black Sunday has the odd distinction of being the only post-Jaws Williams soundtrack that has never been released – not even on vinyl or any other medium – until now.

And it was definitely worth the wait: there’s little in the Black Sunday soundtrack that sounds dated; only one distinctively ’70s-style source cue and the end credit suite, played over a gentle, mid-tempo ’70s-style soft rock beat, give the game away (and in any case, the typically extensive Film Score Monthly liner notes reveal that this version wasn’t used in the final edit of the film; another mix, minus the pop elements, is presented here but also went unused). The vast majority of the music sits nicely between Jaws and Star Wars, with menacing, brooding themes for the building suspense, and Williams’ signature style of action music, though it takes on a more worried tone than his often 4 out of 4celebratory style.

The Black Sunday soundtrack is a lost gem from the Williams repertoire, and fans of his music from this era won’t be let down – even if the music comes from a movie that isn’t usually mentioned in the same breath as Williams’ more, ahem, super efforts.

Order this CD

  1. Beirut (0:37)
  2. Commandos Arrive (1:14)
  3. Commandos Raid (5:30)
  4. It Was Good / Dahlia Arrives / The Unloading (3:12)
  5. Speed Boat Chase (1:51)
  6. The Telephone Man / The Captain Returns (2:13)
  7. Nurse Dahlia / Kabakov’s Card / The Hypodermic (3:30)
  8. Moshevsky’s Dead (1:56)
  9. The Test (1:56)
  10. Building The Bomb (1:53)
  11. Miami / Dahlia’s Call (2:26)
  12. The Last Night (1:28)
  13. Preparations (2:43)
  14. Passed (0:31)
  15. The Flight Check (1:50)
  16. Airborne / Bomb Passes Stadium (1:45)
  17. Farley’s Dead (1:33)
  18. The Blimp and the Bomb (3:12)
  19. The Take Off (1:43)
  20. Underway (0:39)
  21. Air Chase, Part 1 (1:12)
  22. Air Chase, Parts 2 & 3 – The Blimp Hits (7:19)
  23. The Explosion (2:36)
  24. The End (2:19)
  25. Hotel Lobby (source) (1:47)
  26. Fight Song #1 (0:50)
  27. Fight Song #2 (1:48)
  28. The End (Alternate) (2:17)
  29. The Explosion (Revised Ending) (2:11)

Released by: Film Score Monthly
Release date: 2010
Total running time: 64:01

Star Wars: The Clone Wars – music by Kevin Kiner

Having reviewed the music from nearly the entire prequel trilogy “sight unseen” (i.e. without seeing the movie first), I thought I could get away with it again here, with the soundtrack to the CG-animated movie The Clone Wars. It may turn out that this wasn’t a good idea, because the soundtrack is as much a departure from everything that has gone before it as the film itself.

What sets The Clone Wars apart from the prequel and original trilogies is that it was done entirely in the computer. One could argue that no camera ever rolled on large chunks of Episode II and Episode III as well, but with Clone Wars there’s not even a pretense of photorealism – the characters are now seen in a stylized, animé-inspired light, and the only actors involved are voice actors. It would seem that the entirely-computer-generated scenes of the prequel trilogy were just a stepping stone.

The music marks a significant departure from the rest of the saga as well. For one of the very few times in the Star Wars franchise’s history, it has been decided to go with a composer other than John Williams, although of course the new maestro may make use of Williams’ themes from time to time. In this case, the new musical voice of Star Wars is provided by Kevin Kiner, who has scored several films and TV shows on his own (such as the Leprechaun movies and Stargate SG-1), and served a vital role in the final season of Star Trek: Enterprise when the show’s budget cuts forced its composers to fall back on synths and samples instead of real orchestral instruments; Kiner teamed up with longtime Trek composer Dennis McCarthy and fleshed out McCarthy’s music into synth-orchestral life. The best example of this available on record may be on McCarthy’s privately-released Star Trek: Borg soundtrack, whose last three tracks are explosive, memorable stuff that you’d swear was performed by a huge ensemble. Kiner is, in fact, that good.

But from the first moments of music on the Clone Wars soundtrack, it’s clear that the musical vocabulary of Star Wars is changing along with the visual vocabulary. The music is a complete departure from the traditional opening of a Star Wars film, and though Williams’ immortal theme tune is quoted, it’s quoted in an unfamiliar context. For those of us who are rushing toward (or past) the age of 40 like the Millennium Falcon making the Kessel Run, it could be seen as a sign that this isn’t our Star Wars anymore – this is Star Wars for our kids.

Nowhere is that more evident than in the early track “Obi-Wan To The Rescue”, which breaks right out of the romantic-orchestral mode into a staccato barrage of electric guitar. To be fair, screaming guitars could be heard woven into the orchestral textures of Episode II‘s wild chase through the “streets” of Coruscant, but here, it’s front and center, and instead of being an exotic flavoring, it’s rock ‘n’ roll. Similarly, tracks such as “Ziro’s Nightclub Band” and “Seedy City Swing” don’t attempt to view earthly music through a somewhat alien prism (a la Williams’ “Cantina Band” cues) – they’re on-the-nose earthly music with no pretensions of being anything but. Given that this installment of the franchise – and it subsequent TV incarnation, which will also be scored by Kiner – seems to be aimed at a younger audience, I’m not saying that these more traditional, not-so-otherworldly treatments are bad. They server their purpose as a kind musical shorthand for the action they accompany.

And yet, with cues like “Destroying The Shield”, you’d swear Williams was at the conductor’s podium – Kiner’s original pieces, for the most part, do not sound out of place next to the rest of the saga. This is partly why I listened to the soundtrack before seeing the movie: I wanted to see if the music would work just fine if there were real actors on the screen in costume. It’s not like this is John Williams meets Carl Stalling. There’s nothing I can think of that stands out as “cartoon music.” Slightly cliched bits of source music? Sure. Maybe all of a couple of minutes’ worth. This is why we have “next track” buttons.

Those expecting wholesale use of Williams’ themes all over the place, however, may be surprised – Kiner develops his own themes across the board, and while there are occasionally hints of the musical signatures originated by Williams, you don’t get big, obvious quotations of the original Star Wars themes until the very end, when some really neat variations on “The Imperial March” and the Ben Kenobi/Force theme roll out. By this time, you’ve grown so accustomed to not hearing a lot of the Williams material that their appearance comes as a shock, which is a neat effect.

Fans of Star Wars music will probably square off along a love/hate battle line to which no skirmish between clones and battle droids can compare when it comes to this album. With its orchestral-plus-occasional-rock-and-techno-beats style, this is post-Matrix Star Wars music. Oddly enough, fans who have already had their palates cleansed in advance by some of the better Star Wars game music of the past 10 years, from Force Commander’s rockin’ remixes to Empire At War’s stew of original material and Williams quotations, will be primed for this approach; those who have stuck to nothing but the original six film scores may be shocked.

4 out of 4The story of Star Wars, and its music, are under new management (though with George Lucas standing over everyone’s shoulder, clearly with the approval of the old guard), making new Star Wars stories for a new audience. And going by this first installment, there really isn’t anything necessarily wrong with that. It’s cracking good adventure movie music with a few nods back to some old favorites. Star Wars was such a boon to my generation when we were in our single digits – it single-handedly got me fascinated with the visual medium, orchestral music, and the concept of space as a whole, all of which have stayed with me my entire life. So even if this is the sound of Star Wars for our kids…that’s cool. They should be so lucky to have that same kind of inspiration.

Order this CD

  1. A Galaxy Divided (1:13)
  2. Admiral Yularen (0:56)
  3. Battle Of Christophsis (3:19)
  4. Meet Ahsoka (2:44)
  5. Obi-Wan To The Rescue (1:24)
  6. Sneaking Under The Shield (4:24)
  7. Jabba’s Palace (0:46)
  8. Anakin Vs. Dooku (2:18)
  9. Landing On Teth (1:43)
  10. Destroying The Shield (3:08)
  11. B’omarr Monastery (3:10)
  12. Battle Strategy (3:07)
  13. The Shield (1:36)
  14. Battle Of Teth (2:45)
  15. Jedi Don’t Run! (1:22)
  16. Obi-Wan’s Negotiation (2:07)
  17. The Jedi Council (2:04)
  18. Ahsoka (3:39)
  19. Jabba’s Chamber Dance (0:42)
  20. Ziro Surrounded (2:20)
  21. Scaling The Cliff (0:46)
  22. Ziro’s Nightclub Band (0:53)
  23. Seedy City Swing (0:34)
  24. Escape From The Monastery (3:12)
  25. Infiltrating Ziro’s Lair (2:21)
  26. Courtyard Fight (2:41)
  27. Dunes Of Tatooine (2:00)
  28. Rough Landing (3:03)
  29. Padme Imprisoned (0:50)
  30. Dooku Speaks With Jabba (1:28)
  31. Fight To The End (3:59)
  32. End Credits (0:51)

Released by: Sony Classical
Release date: 2008
Total running time: 67:23

Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade – music by John Williams

Indiana Jones And The Last CrusadeIn Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade, John Williams composes the music for the last film in this famous series (or at least, we thought back then). In my review of Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, I said that the album had an overall majestic feel. In this album, Williams decides to go for a more orchestral feel, with heavy usage of stringed instruments. It almost feels ambient in certain places, with very quiet sustained notes and light dynamics in the piece, like in “The Penitent Man Will Pass”.

The album starts with “Indy’s Very First Adventure”, a calm track that soon breaks into strings and flutes and then later on picks up in excitement and dynamics. “X Marks The Spot” builds up the usage of horns, but soon falls into the aforementioned ambience.

In “Scherzo For Motorcycle And Orchestra”, John Williams shows off his classical chops. “Scherzo” is an Italian word for “joke”, and usually used as a term for a single movement in a larger symphony. Williams lives up to the title by giving the song a playful feel, with a return of the Indiana Jones theme throughout the song. Unfortunately, there seems to be no motorcycle included in the piece.

“Ah, Rats!!!” returns to Williams’ use of dissonance, using it to punctuate deep dark tones and create a sense of anxiety (most likely to Indiana Jones’ loathing of the aforementioned rodents). “The Keeper Of The Grail” starts with sustained notes and again, a sense of ambience, but soon breaks into a slow emotional piece. On the other hand, “Keeping Up With The Joneses” is an up-tempo track, brassy and dramatic.

3 out of 4Williams again upholds a fine standard for film music, and give The Last Crusade a worthy send-off. It will be interesting to hear what he has up his sleeve for Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, but one can almost be assured that it will fall neatly with the rest of the music from this series.

Order this CD

  1. Indy’s Very First Adventure (8:13)
  2. X Marks The Spot (3:11)
  3. Scherzo For Motorcycle And Orchestra (3:52)
  4. Ah, Rats!!! (3:40)
  5. Escape From Venice (4:23)
  6. No Ticket (2:44)
  7. The Keeper Of The Grail (3:23)
  8. Keeping Up With The Joneses (3:36)
  9. Brother Of The Cruciform Sword (1:55)
  10. Belly Of The Steel Beast (5:28)
  11. The Canyon Of The Crescent Moon (4:16)
  12. The Penitent Man Will Pass (3:22)
  13. End Credits (Raiders March) (10:37)

Released by: Warner Bros.
Release date: 1989
Total running time: 58:40

Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom – music by John Williams

Indiana Jones And The Temple Of DoomJohn Williams. Steven Spielberg. Two great tastes that taste great together. Ever since Williams worked on Spielberg’s first theatrical film, The Sugarland Express, the two have been nearly inseparable. So, again they pair up for Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom, Spielberg’s 8th film (and Williams’ 47th).

This soundtrack album starts off, interestingly enough, with a Mandarin rendition of the famous Cole Porter song, “Anything Goes” sung by the Kate Capshaw, the female lead of the film. This is from an early part of the film where our hero sees her for the first time. Later on, in “Fast Streets Of Shanghai”, Williams employs Oriental influences (as the name suggests) and a dramatic flair that Williams is well known of. Bits of the Indiana Jones theme carry throughout the piece.

On the track “The Temple Of Doom”, chanting is used to give the song a dark, ominous feel as we come across the temple for the first time. “Bug Tunnel And Death Trap” has brief moments of dissonance, underlining the horror of the place. Melodies reach higher and higher, creating a sense of anxiety and confusion. On the other hand, the track “Slave Children’s Crusade” is loud and majestic, with booming cymbals and a strong string section serving as the anchor of the piece.

An interesting thing to note is that John Williams often employs leitmotif in his scores. That is to say, he composes and assigns themes to certain characters or ideas in the films. For example, in the Star Wars series, he composed separate themes for the characters Princess Leia, Yoda and Darth Vader as well as others (although it is Darth Vader’s theme that everyone usually thinks of). On this album, Williams downplays that aspect a bit. Even though the character Short Round has a theme, most of the music is incidental music and not specifically tied to a character. Even Indiana Jones’ own recognizable theme doesn’t make a full appearance until the finale. In my opinion, not having a “stand-out” piece detracts from the work as a whole.

3 out of 4The soundtrack carries a dramatic feel. One of the recognizable strengths of John Williams is that he very much as a unique styling in his music. You can listen to a piece by Williams and immediately sense that, even if you don’t know explicitly that it is Williams’ work, you know at least it’s meant for a film or a similar endeavor. Overall, a fine score that stands up well on its own apart from the movie.

Order this CD

  1. Anything Goes (2:51)
  2. Fast Streets Of Shanghai (3:44)
  3. Nocturnal Activities (6:01)
  4. Short Round’s Theme (2:32)
  5. Children In Chains (2:44)
  6. Slalom On Mt. Humol (2:26)
  7. The Temple Of Doom (3:00)
  8. Bug Tunnel And Death Trap (3:33)
  9. Slave Children’s Crusade (3:29)
  10. The Mine Car Chase (3:42)
  11. Finale And End Credits (6:27)

Released by: Polydor
Release date: 1984
Total running time: 40:29