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Making sense of all the Star Wars soundtrack releases


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There seem to be about a million different releases for ANH, ESB, and ROTJ. Which ones are the original releases? Which ones are the most complete releases? Which ones have the best sound quality? What about the different recordings?

Can anyone attempt to summarize all the differences here?

(It is entirely possible that this has been discussed before, but finding a specific topic on "Star Wars" is near impossible around here. I apologize in advance if that is the case, and feel free to just link me.)

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I recommend you take a look here :

http://www.soundtrackcollector.com/catalog/soundtrackdetail.php?movieid=6033

Anyway, the 97 RCA 2-disc sets, which are the same ones released now under Sony Classical, are the most complete, 100% complete for Star Wars as far as I know, 99% complete for ESB and like 95% complete for ROTJ. Most people think that the sound quality for Empire and Jedi is better on the 1993 Anthology boxset, and there have been lenghthy discussions about that in this board, but the boxset has less music.

I'd say you go for the Sony Classical 2-disc sets.

If you want re-recordings I'd love both ESB and ROTJ by Charles Gerhardt. The Utah Trilogy CD is also good although most of it are concert pieces. Zubin Mehta did a good recording of the SW suite, but it's all concert pieces.

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If you're looking for the most complete official releases, even if the sound quality suffers a bit, you'll want either the 1997 RCA release or the 2004 Sony release - they have the exact same music in different packaging. (The 1997 packaging is better, for what it's worth.) The Anthology set is said to have better sound quality for ESB and ROTJ, if I remember correctly, but it's less complete.

I can't be of any assistance with other recordings...I think the originals are more than sufficient. :)

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There seem to be about a million different released for ANH, ESB, and ROTJ. Which ones are the original releases? Which ones are the most complete releases? Which ones have the best sound quality? What about the different recordings?

Can anyone attempt to summarize all the differences here?

(It is entirely possible that this has been discussed before, but finding a specific topic on "Star Wars" is near impossible around here. I apologize in advance if that is the case, and feel free to just link me.)

There is a thread somewhere, which is huge and features several arguments on what the best is, and why. People seem to have different opinions, so I'll throw mine in.

The original releases on CD I believe were released by Polydor. On vinyl, SW was by 20th Century Records, while ESB and ROTJ were on RSO Rhino.

The best for me is:

STAR WARS - The 1997 RCA SE

THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK - The 1997 RCA SE

RETURN OF THE JEDI - A mix of the 1997 RCA SE and the 1993 Anthology

The SE releases are the most complete, but ROTJ's sound quality is worse than the Anthology's, but it has some cues that set doesn't have, however the Anthology has some cues the SE doesn't have, namely Lapti Nek, the Ewok Celebration and an alternate of Leia Breaks The News.

So for safety's sake, buy the three 97 SEs and the Anthology. The 2004 SE rereleases (Sony) are the same IIRC, but they don't have the excellent liner notes.

Remember this is all subjective, as someone is bound to come in and say they hate Bruce Risner.

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Not to mention the fact that the Anthology and SE feature different arrangements of music based on album structure, and sometimes even tracks that differ by an instrument here or there.

Particularly of note is the difference between "Faking the Code" on the Anthology, d4, and "Shuttle Tyderium" on the ROTJ SE, d2. The SE features a wailing brass solo not present on the Anthology.

Yet the Anthology features an extended tuba solo playing Jabba's Theme to close out "Han Solo Returns", while the same track on the SE has already moved on to the next cue.

The Anthology got me hooked on soundtracks, so while it is incomplete and jumbled, it will always have a fond place in my collection, even though the SE albums are more complete and in line with the films. You can find all affordably on eBay.

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Not to mention the fact that the Anthology and SE feature different arrangements of music based on album structure, and sometimes even tracks that differ by an instrument here or there.

Particularly of note is the difference between "Faking the Code" on the Anthology, d4, and "Shuttle Tyderium" on the ROTJ SE, d2. The SE features a wailing brass solo not present on the Anthology.

Yet the Anthology features an extended tuba solo playing Jabba's Theme to close out "Han Solo Returns", while the same track on the SE has already moved on to the next cue.

The Anthology got me hooked on soundtracks, so while it is incomplete and jumbled, it will always have a fond place in my collection, even though the SE albums are more complete and in line with the films. You can find all affordably on eBay.

The Anthology has some weird decisions. Namely, the weird semi-film version of the ESB finale that segues to the credits totally awkwardly, and the film version of Ewok Celebration tacked onto the ESB end credits.

Still, any of it's better than Jedi Rocks.

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The Anthology discs as far as I know are expanded/re-mixed versions of the old soundtrack albums with some new track titles and track arrangements. There may also be some alternates used, such as "Rescue of the Princess" and "The Throne Room" from Star Wars? Some tracks have reversed stereo channels. Empire Strikes Back has some film mixes, including "Carbon Freeze", which has what I believe is an alternate passage presented on the Special Edition. I prefer the Anthology version. The Anthology has many tracks that are edited together on the SE's presented separately, notably the snow battle from Empire and the finale of ROTJ. It's nice having "Final Duel" as a separate track as opposed to being in the middle of a gigantic "Battle of Endor" track with way too many subtitles.

There are original album arrangements of music that I enjoy, such as "Inner City", aforementioned "Rescue of the Princess" and "The Training of a Jedi Knight". If you prefer the music in chronological order, these tracks may annoy you however. The SE's have incredibly long tracks, geeky and occasionally overlong track titles ("The Desert" became "The Dune Sea of Tatooine" for instance). The Anthology has music you still can't find on the SE's so it's still necessary if you're a completist. The packaging of the Anthology is wonderful, although I know some people hate the jewel case cover art (very dark/black with faint titles of the movies). It comes in a classic long box that I believe have unfortunately been phased out of production for years (I recently saw Aerosmith's Pandora's Box in this el cheapo modern booklet-type digi packaging, or something) with the wonderful Tom Jung Star Wars poster art. It's also got a nice booklet with liner notes. The movie discs have Ralph McQuarrie artwork and disc 4 actually has a photo of John Williams on it from the era of the original films. Awesome!

You need both the Anthology and the SE's in my opinion.

*awaiting the posts pointing out all the differences between versions, flaws and the necessity/superiority of Gerhardt's recordings*

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You need both the Anthology and the SE's in my opinion.

I agree. I have both and they're worth it.

I actually took the time to re-edit both Empire and Jedi, using the Anthology mixes where ever I could for both scores as they were more natural on the Anthology. Risner should never have been allowed to remix anything in Empire...just pisses me off.

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I don't think many Star Wars fans around here would argue with that, assuming you've got the money to do that. I personally just have the RCA soundtracks, but I'm hoping to buy the Anthology set...eventually...

It's periodically in my local FYE for $20. I've considered buying it and sending it to someone who wants it, but it would have hefty S&H, and it's on eBay.

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And is this box set just the combination of the above?

http://www.amazon.com/Star-Wars-Trilogy-John-Williams/dp/B0002YCVLU/

I believe the images on Amazon are misleading, that boxset contains the Sony re-issues, not the original RCA CDs, while the CD are the same, as has been mentioned the RCA have great liner notes, so this boxset wouldn't have the liner notes.

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That box set in the silver DVD-style packaging on Amazon doesn't contain the 1997 SE CD sets as the listing would lead you to believe from the photos. While the discs are technically the same, the packaging is totally different and there are no liner notes like the original 1997 pressings. I bought that stupid box when it came out since people were claiming the sound quality was improved. They sound exactly the same to me. I have them in my truck to listen to.

Edit: never mind.

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My box is one of the oldest things I own. From that era, I still have my original Last Crusade CD (my first JW) but have replaced Jurassic Park. My SW Anthology is in great shape despite moving from many homes and being young when I first got it. I have no idea how.

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Somewhere or another, I have an 8-track that used to belong to my grandmother, of Star Wars played by the "Moog Orchestra." I'm assuming that means it was done on a Theremin? Anywho, I don't have an 8-track player, so I've never listened to it.

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If you want re-recordings I'd love both ESB and ROTJ by Charles Gerhardt. The Utah Trilogy CD is also good although most of it are concert pieces. Zubin Mehta did a good recording of the SW suite, but it's all concert pieces.

Gerhardt's recording of the Star Wars suite is the best of his SW recordings (and contains an outstanding 20 minute suite from CE3K as a bonus). His ESB is much loved here but in my opinion crap.

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Bastard - mine cost me £10 with a disc missing!

Hmmm, I sold one a few years ago with disc 4 missing. Was that you? If you're wondering where your disc 4 is, look to the left.

Fear not - my set clearly did not come from you colgate.gif

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