Jump to content

Shadows Of The Empire: Best Prequel Score!


Recommended Posts

I've been listening to this all week and overall it's superiour to the prequel scores Williams churned out.

Many people disliked this CD from the start, since it was Star Wars music not composed by John Williams. But Joel McNeely's work is thematically strong, varied and doesn't make the mistake of trying to sound to much like John Williams did in 77- 83.

It thankfully also isn't a Best Of Star Wars Themes cut and paste job (ala Superman 2 or Jurassic Park 3, for their particular franchises)

Howver the few times that McNeely does use Williams material, in Night Skies and Destruction Of Xizor's Palace he does a great job in intergrating it into his own music. and actually leaves you wanting more. (The Imperial March is weaved brilliantly into the action music in Destruction Of Xizor's Palace, it reminds me of the way Williams employed it in the Battle Of Hoth)

Even though SOTE is not a Williams carbon copy by any means it does feel closer to the music of the Original Trilogy then most of the Williams Prequel music did.

Beggar's Canyon Chase recalls the excitement of The Asteroid Field or "Here They Come!"

Imperial City is a hugely satisfying and bombastic treatment of Coruscant, and none of Williams many transition fanfares depicting this planet in the Presquels has bettered it. (and no not even Coruscant Chase is better)

Big action cues like The Battle Of Gall have a far more developed narrative trust then stuff like Jango's Escape which just makes my ears hurt. Action themes are taken to their logical conclusion, instead of just being repeated over and over again, there is a though-line here that I'm missing with the bulk of Williams Prequel action music.

Xizor's theme is the big new Star Wars theme in this score and it's appropritatly exotic, serpent like, and yet seductive.

My least favorite track is The Seduction Of Leia, but that has more to do with my dislike of Waltzes in general then with the actual cue.

The performance by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and Chorus is spectacular and the soundquality is far better then AOTC and ROTS and not far behind TPM.

Overall I'd give this a 3 1/2 out of 4, while TPM gets a 3 out of 4, AOTC gets a 2 out of 4 and ROTS gets a 2 1/2 out of 4.

And yes since this was a score for a story that was a prequel to Return Of The Jedi, It qualifies as a Prequel score.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 92
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

The chorus in the final battle is wrong.

Williams never uses it that way. It is more LOTRshy sounding or similar.

And excuse me, being between ESB and ROTJ, it could have used a little bit more of Lukes theme, the force theme and Han and Leia. And in the final battle, one big statement of the imperial march is needed, as when the Executor enters the battle.

Xizor's theme is great though.

And yes, it feels short, i wanted more...

TPM is the prequel score hands down...

Link to post
Share on other sites
The chorus in the final battle is wrong.

Williams never uses it that way. It is more LOTRshy sounding or similar.

LOTR was not composed untill a few years later bu you are essentially correct.

John Williams did not use a choir in that way in the OT, but I'm gflad that did not stop McNeely from using it.

And excuse me, being between ESB and ROTJ, it could have used a little bit more of Lukes theme, the force theme and Han and Leia. And in the final battle, one big statement of the imperial march is needed, as when the Executor enters the battle.

I'm not familiar with the SOTE story, but I do know Night Skies has 2 big statements of the Imperial March, which is 2 more then ROTS had.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm just listening to this after a long time (yes, inspired by this thread...), and have to agree that it's a damn enjoyable score with many highlights. But it doesn't sound very "Star Wars" to me except in a few places. But like I said, that doesn't stop it from being a great score.

-Chris, who thinks that McNeely can imitate Goldsmith much better than Williams.

Link to post
Share on other sites

And excuse me, being between ESB and ROTJ, it could have used a little bit more of Lukes theme, the force theme and Han and Leia. And in the final battle, one big statement of the imperial march is needed, as when the Executor enters the battle.

I'm not familiar with the SOTE story, but I do know Night Skies has 2 big statements of the Imperial March, which is 2 more then ROTS had.

Night skies isnt part of the final battle, nigth skies is scored greatly (possibly my favorite Cue from the CD), specially since the ending is similar to Darth Vader's death from Williams, and the two scenes deal with the Anakin (not darth Vader) persona.

And well, thank god ROTS didnt have so much imperial march on it...

If you like the score, try reading the book, some say its bad written, but i did find it enjoyable. Then you can nothing but moan for more music since some cool scenes are unscored :(....

Link to post
Share on other sites
overall it's superiour to the prequel scores Williams churned out.

Not to TPM it's not.

And best Star Wars music by someone other than John Williams is from Star Wars TIE Fighter.

And it has the best versions (technically...not [being midi], but in every other respect) of the Imperial March, out of any composer. What I would pay for a fully orchestral version of this gem. :(

Link to post
Share on other sites

I remember when this first came out, I was quite impressed. It is of course nowhere near the quality of Williams' writing, but Joel McNeely used to be my candidate for "most talented young composer currently working in Hollywood"...

He is a serious musician, with a much better technique than most of his colleagues, and a better ear.

Link to post
Share on other sites

SOTE is definitely one of my favorite scores. It is fantastic! Night Skies has one of the greatest statements of the Force Theme EVER.

There is definitely Star Wars in there, but, yes, there is somewhat of a more classical sound to it--and I actually like that; it's got a really nice feel to it.

Stef, I don't share your feelings for the PT scores, but I definitely share your enthusiasm for this magnificent score! I would love to see him record more music for SOTE--or a project like it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Art can't be judged like a fact or something. Art is relative. One person's irritating garbage is another person's masterpuece and vice-versa. Just look at radio top ten lists for one example.

Shadows never gripped me and I've only listened to it a few times. Nothing stuck out in my mind, though KM has told me to give it more of a chance. But, IMO, the SW prequel scores are the best Williams has churned out in the last eight or nine years. I love TPM, I like AotC, and Sith is currently my favorite score.

I hate it when people put blanket statements of personal opinions like they were facts. Art is relative. To me, the prequel scores are top-notch, especially TPM and RotS.

-Chris

Link to post
Share on other sites

It's a nice score (incorrectly marketed as a soundtrack), with one pretty cool track. That's pretty much it, the orchestrations, as far as I remember, are somewhat shallow and unimaginative.

And yes, Goldsmith-type McNeely can be quite cool. The Avengers has some great moments.

And best Star Wars music by someone other than John Williams is from Star Wars TIE Fighter.

You may just be right about that. Though some of Hülsbeck's stuff from the Rogue Squadron series is a strong contender.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a big fan of Shadows. It's got some fantastic music in it, a lot of music that's so-so, and a little music that annoys me. The good far outweighs the bad, though.

Highlights:

The Battle of Gall. Opens with the little dreamy-jingle (which strikes me as very Star Wars-y, McNeely gets a point for that) and builds into a wonderful action piece. If I tried to go over every bit of music that I love in these 8 minutes this post would be about 900 lines long, so I'll leave it at this: Great Rebel stuff, great Imperial stuff, great action. It sounds like Star Wars, and it's the best track of the album.

Xizor's Theme. I can't praise it enough. Wonderfully weird and completely creepy. A worthy addition to the collection of Star Wars themes.

Imperial City (rather, the first half of Imperial City). Good into, but the best parts are the powerful brass and chroral work that suit an Imperial Coruscant magnificently. After 4:20 or so, however, it changes tone and drops in quality.

Night Skies. Good from start to finish. Great uses of both Williams' and McNeely's themes. I love the original work in Shadows, but it's also great to hear the good old stuff. A+ for McNeely's treatment of the Imperial March and the Force Theme.

The Southern Underground. Creepy, fun, and quick. Almost seems like it belongs more in Harry Potter than in Star Wars.

Not-so-bright spots:

Leia's Nightmare. Sorry, but this just doesn't work. An inferior performance of one of the best moments Williams has ever composed. I tend to skip over the entire opening track.

The Destruction of Xizor's Palace. There's some good music in here, but damn. These 11 minutes feel like an hour. It's about twice as long as it needed to be.

Imperial City (second half). I don't know why it annoys me so much, but I just don't like it.

As for the assertion made by the thread's title, no. Shadows is good, but its occasional greatness doesn't hold a candle to the sustained quality of a Williams score. TPM, AotC, and RotS all blow it out of the water.

Link to post
Share on other sites
There is definitely Star Wars in there, but, yes, there is somewhat of a more classical sound to it ...

That's probably why I like it. Star Wars also sounds more classical than the prequels. In fact, Star Wars sounds more classical than TESB and ROTJ. Star Wars is unique.

Alex

Link to post
Share on other sites
As long as its new music and not tracked :roll:

Anything is better than heartless wallpaper written in automatic mode. And certainly when that anything happens to be one of the great classic soundtracks of the previous century.

Alex

Link to post
Share on other sites

You may just be right about that. Though some of Hülsbeck's stuff from the Rogue Squadron series is a strong contender.

I liked the music from the first Rogue Squadron game (I've never played the other two, no thanks to me lacking a GameCube) a lot. Too bad its synth.

Link to post
Share on other sites

The opening titles and "Leia's Nightmare" are poorly arranged and performed.

"Beggar's Canyon Chase" is fine until that silly non-star wars heroic statement at the end that is so out of place.

Like I said there are some good moments mixed with some not so good moments.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I always liked this score, at least the last half, but to say it's better than the prequels is ridiculous. In Shadows you have one good theme (Xizors), in the Prequels you have Anakin's Theme, Duel of the Fates, the Love Theme, Battle of the Heroes, along with countless motifs for bad guys.

Clones wasn't so great, but the other two were very strong entries, right up there with the originals.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Of course, the only composer who could possibly write "Star Wars" music that rivals Williams, would be Williams himself.

Mark, your point on certain weaknesses here and there in McNeely's orchestrations is one that I do agree with, which might seem strange, as I have elsewhere praised McNeely's technique. The thing is, he tries to emulate an early 20th century sonic world, much along the lines of Respighi, and more peripherally, early Ravel, which is to say a late romantic/ impressionistic orchestral style,- usually colorful, and mostlly quite light and bright. Williams orchestrational style is more modern, and more technically "updated"; his orchestrations are clearer, more sonorous, and more effective (yes, Williams is a far better orchestrator than Respighi, and, outside a chamber musical environment, easily as skillful and Ravel). Also, Williams comes out of an anglo-american tradition, and is perhaps more closely related to Walton and even Elgar.

McNeely's score does sound rather small, and much less spacious, than would anything penned by Williams. Still, McNeely's effort is a good one, and he deserves recognition for it. Where is he now? What happened to him?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I find that the prequels have a lot of "immature" music. Remember, before the release of Revenge of the Sith, when a short clip of a buzz droid was released on some news station, complete with music? At the time, most of us thought the little six-note trumpet motif was a synthesized temp track, but then it turned out to actually be part of the score. RotS has some powerful moments, but the action music can be ridiculous. Some of the quiet underscore ("Be Careful of Your Friend," for example, if you're familiar with the complete score) borders on campy.

Lots of campy moments in Attack of the Clones, mostly the unreleased fanfares and such, but the action music was generally well-done if... boring.

I can't really fault TPM, which is why I think it's as good as Shadows. But the latter has a fascinating sound, such as in "Imperial City," that I've never heard from Williams.

Link to post
Share on other sites
I liked the music from the first Rogue Squadron game (I've never played the other two, no thanks to me lacking a GameCube) a lot. Too bad its synth.

I only had the demo for the first one, and I now have #3 on the GC, but it's a damn hard game. Anyway, the soundtracks were available for download at the Scumm site for a while (obviously recorded directly from a GameCube with a poorly shielded cable).

The first one is nice, has some cool bits, but both the writing and the synths are still somewhat simple, overall. The other two are much better, with mostly very convincing samples, and improved writing. Some cues contain parts of Williams pieces from the series - it nearly seems like Hülsbeck had access to the printed scores and learned a lot from them.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't really fault TPM, which is why I think it's as good as Shadows. But the latter has a fascinating sound, such as in "Imperial City," that I've never heard from Williams.

A rather slow cue, and very long for a supposed introduction of a planet and imperial palace.

And half of it is too gentle to decipt the place where the Emperor, Darth Vader and Xizor live.

Some emperor theme could have helped to make the imperial connection there... (not a full blown statement , since ROTJ was the premier of that theme and McNeelly couldnt have know it would be used in the prequels...)

Im revisiting this score right now and up to track 5 im hearing more Indy action cues references than SW ones.

Link to post
Share on other sites
A rather slow cue, and very long for a supposed introduction of a planet and imperial palace.

And half of it is too gentle to decipt the place where the Emperor, Darth Vader and Xizor live.

True, "Imperial City" doesn't really do what it's supposed to - but imagine it scoring Tales of the Jedi.

Then again, I don't even think of SotE as a score... more of a dreamy, otherworldly concert.

Link to post
Share on other sites
It's a score to a book, and a video game ;)

Perhaps people here would like it more if Giachino scored it? :)

I never said I didnt like this score, and neither would put a Giacchino SW score over any Williams' one.

By the way, i finished the CD.

And i found some cool things that made me like this work even more:

Seduction of Princess Leia: 2:45 to end. Is this par of Han Solo and the Princess (or may Princess Leia's Theme)? If it is, very clever writing, as since i think Leia broke the seduction thiking of Han (and becasue Chewie's door bashing too)

Destruction of Xizor's Palace: 6:05 to 6:25 Plenty of Booom-ttzzs!!! :) Most Williams sequel writers forget this (and i think that well used it makes the music more Williamsy)

And one part I already knew but i want to mention it here is in this last track from 4:08 to 4:26 this reminds me of escaping the Space slug and i think it fist the scene very well since it supposed to be everybody running up the stairs in a 'LETS GET OUR BUTTS OUTTA HERE' to the Falcon or their respective vehicles for the badguys after lando drops an activated thermal detonator inside a ventilation shaft.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...