The Star Wars Anthology box setThis was the one that got me hooked on movie soundtracks, on science fiction, on space, on a general fixation with futuristic concepts that later led to my lifelong romance with computers…blame it all on Star Wars, or thank Star Wars for it, whichever you prefer. Some of the cognoscenti have accused Williams of stealing – or at least borrowing liberally – from Holst, Mendelssohn, Korngold, and just about everyone else. But to come to Williams’ defense, it’s possible that many relatively young music enthusiasts such as myself never would have come into the fold of film music or classical music had Williams not artfully borrowed some of those stylistic maneuvers for Star Wars. The original LP program of this album means a lot to me, and I can’t recommend enough that you give it a listen. Forget what you’ve heard about Williams’ originality or lack thereof, and perhaps even make an effort not to associate the sounds with their accompanying celluloid imagery. I think you’ll like it.

What can I say about The Empire Strikes Back, other than the fact that it’s my favorite film score of all time? No one has even come close to matching the sheer power of this double-sized chunk of symphonic music in the decade-and-a-half since its release. From the brutal mechanical sound that accompanied the advent of the deadly snow walkers to the rapid-fire precision of a last-ditch maneuver into a storm of asteroids, the virtuosity of composer and performer are assured. But many of the more mellow movements, whether they speak of romance or awesome wonder, differentiate this film’s music; equally, the uncertain and less-than-happy ending of The Empire Strikes Back forces John Williams out of his typically celebratory, heroic style into minor keys. This movie, and its music, were the peak of the Star Wars experience for me. A word to discriminating listeners everywhere: do not get the PolyGram single-CD pressing of this soundtrack. That disc represents possibly one-third of the entire double album as it was originally released. Save some money and get the complete Star Wars soundtrack anthology box set, and you can at last have the entirety of Empire soundtrack on CD, and then some (including cuts that weren’t even on the LP). I implore you not to limit the range of wonders this soundtrack offers just for your own mere economic comfort!

Even way back when I was just listening to the shamefully truncated single-disc LP of Return Of The Jedi, it somehow seemed to be something less than its predecessors. The expanded version of Jedi that appeared in the 1993 four-CD anthology box set redressed the balance by restoring such great unheard gems as “Fight In The Dungeon,” “Final Duel/Into The Death Star” and “Darth Vader’s Death,” but even then the score seems to be slightly lacking. To give it some credit, however, the score carried the entire movie in some places, so it’s not as if it’s a less-than-good score. 4 out of 4 starsThe childlike rowdiness of many of the Ewok cues grates on me at times, and the rehashing of the previous movies’ action cues in the track titled “Return Of The Jedi” – which accompanied Luke and his cohorts swashbuckling into action to escape from Jabba the Hutt and his scummy pals – only makes the entirely original alternate version on the box set’s fourth CD seem all the more brilliant.

    This CD is out of printDisc One (Star Wars):

  1. 20th Century Fox Fanfare with Cinemascope Extension (0:22)
  2. Main Title (5:23)
  3. Imperial Attack (6:41)
  4. The Desert / Robot Auction (2:51)
  5. The Little People Work (4:08)
  6. The Princess Appears (4:06)
  7. The Land of the Sand People (2:55)
  8. The Return Home (2:48)
  9. Inner City (4:44)
  10. Mouse Robot / Blasting Off (4:03)
  11. Rescue of the Princess (4:48)
  12. The Walls Converge (4:33)
  13. Ben’s Death / TIE Fighter Attack (3:51)
  14. Princess Leia’s Theme (4:23)
  15. The Last Battle (12:13)
  16. The Throne Room / End Titles (5:32)
    Disc Two (The Empire Strikes Back):

  1. 20th Century Fox Fanfare with Cinemascope Extension (0:22)
  2. Main Title / The Imperial Probe (7:58)
  3. Luke’s Escape (3:34)
  4. Luke’s Rescue (1:45)
  5. The Imperial March – Darth Vader’s Theme (2:59)
  6. The Battle in the Snow (3:45)
  7. Luke’s First Crash (4:12)
  8. The Rebels Escape Again (2:59)
  9. The Asteroid Field (2:59)
  10. Yoda’s Theme (3:26)
  11. Han Solo and the Princess (3:26)
  12. The Training of a Jedi Knight (3:13)
  13. The Magic Tree (3:32)
  14. Yoda and the Force (4:02)
  15. City in the Clouds (6:50)
  16. Lando’s Palace (3:52)
  17. The Duel (4:14)
  18. Hyperspace (4:03)
  19. Finale / End Credits (6:18)
    Disc Three (Return Of The Jedi):

  1. 20th Century Fox Fanfare with Cinemascope Extension (0:22)
  2. Main Title / Approaching the Death Star (5:18)
  3. Han Solo Returns at the Court of Jabba the Hutt (4:06)
  4. Fight in the Dungeon (3:38)
  5. The Return of the Jedi (4:59)
  6. The Emperor Arrives (2:05)
  7. The Death of Yoda (6:03)
  8. Parade of the Ewoks (3:25)
  9. Luke and Leia (4:43)
  10. The Emperor Confronts Luke (3:26)
  11. Into the Trap (2:36)
  12. First Ewok Battle / Fight with the Fighters (7:18)
  13. The Forest Battle (4:01)
  14. Final Duel / Into the Death Star (3:37)
  15. The Emperor’s Death (2:41)
  16. Darth Vader’s Death (2:31)
  17. Through the Flames (1:36)
  18. Leia Breaks the News / Funeral Pyre for a Jedi (2:19)
  19. Ewok Celebration / Finale (7:58)
    Disc Four:

  1. 20th Century Fox Fanfare with Cinemascope Extension (0:22)
  2. Main Title – alternate (2:16)
  3. Heroic Ewok / The Fleet Goes Into Hyperspace (3:05)
  4. A Hive of Villainy (2:12)
  5. Destruction of Alderaan (1:31)
  6. Drawing the Battle Lines / Leia’s Instructions (4:02)
  7. The Ewok Battle (2:48)
  8. Attack Position (3:04)
  9. Crash Landing (3:35)
  10. Cantina Band (2:46)
  11. Lapti Nek (2:48)
  12. Cantina Band #2 (3:44)
  13. Faking the Code (4:10)
  14. Brother and Sister (3:08)
  15. Standing By (1:14)
  16. Leia is Wounded / Luke and Vader Duel (2:57)
  17. Carbon Freeze / Luke Pursues Captives / Depature of Boba Fett (11:08)
  18. Losing a Hand (5:20)
  19. The Return of the Jedi – alternate (5:03)
  20. Leia Breaks the News – alternate / Funeral Pyre for a Jedi (2:27)
  21. Ewok Celebration – film version / End Credits (6:22)

Released by: Arista / 20th Century Fox Film Scores
Release date: 1993
Disc one total running time: 73:21
Disc two total running time: 73:29
Disc three total running time: 72:42
Disc four total running time: 74:02