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IS John Williams is getting WORSE at editing his albums???


AOTC CD. Does it work better in CD order or film order?  

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Back in the 1977-1982 era, John Williams created some of the best original soundtrack albums.

Granted most of them were woefully short (30 minute LPs or up to a max of around 77 minutes or so with a dual LP), that make today's 74-77 minute releases look generous.

Still, I loved Star Wars, Superman: The Movie, The Empire Strikes Back dual albums. I also loved the short but sweet Raiders Of The Lost Ark and E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial regular albums.

Then, something went horribly wrong. Williams still composed great music, but most of the original soundtracks have all been sorely lacking in content and poorly arranged.

We all love those dual CD sets. Nothing can beat the completeness of the three Star Wars Special Edition 2 CD sets and Rhino's Superman: The Movie 2 CD set. That's a blueprint on how every classic, epic soundtrack is supposed to be.

Granted, they are aimed for us... the hardcore collectors. I know that the average joe doesn't care for film music outside of the score, and most people are happy with a 70/78 minute CD release. Granted the expanded releases are treasures and we love them, but don't get nearly as many as we want. But that isn't the point here...

Just today while I was working, I listened to a CDR that I made from the Attack Of The Clones CD that I re-sequenced in chronological order per the instructions on the main page.

WOW!

Williams did a very poor job in arranging this album. Without any additional unreleased music... just hearing it in chronological order made for a MUCH more interesting and pleasurable listening experience. Of course, I am now biased because I have since seen the movie and know the tale better than I did from spoilers alone... but the music just doesn't tell a story the way that Williams arranged it. It builds very nicely in chronological order, where on the OST it sort of jumps around between quiet and loud. It's built to keep the beginning listener's interest, but it is NOT very fluid in comparison.

Some dislike the less thematic approach that Williams used in AOTC, much like they did when trying to compare The Lost World to Jurassic Park. I don't agree. In the same manner that I loved The Lost World (even more than it's predecessor in that case), I think the same way with this score. Sure, it's slightly different than the previous Star Wars scores and it surprises you a bit at first because it doesn't contain as many "new" themes as past Star Wars scores. But does Star Wars need that many more themes by now? In my view, it isn't any less interesting or powerful, and it's very unique in this regard. Especially in context with the film. And it's complexities give it more re-listen value than past Star Wars scores. I'm still learning it months after those advance promos leaked out.

Now, Williams never stops making great music. His style changes and evolves with his tastes and maturity. But there is one thing where he HAS "lost it".

The way he arranges those original soundtrack releases.

Since Return Of The Jedi in 1983, those albums have been poorly arranged, woefully short and wimpy in comparison to the fuller scores as heard in the films (minus the edits made IN the films themselves).

But Williams has all the power because he is the composer, conductor, and producer of almost all his soundtrack albums. And I still say that this is the biggest and possibly only weakness in Williams' abilities. His scores are so good that he robs them of their power when he only releases a re-arranged and significantly condensed 74-78 minutes worth of music.

If only we could consistently get full releases, arranged chronologically, (with maybe a few artistic liberties taken in getting smaller cues to flow together better)...

-Chris, So tired that he doesn't know how he wrote all this... :)

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I disagree. Compared to the editing of the music in the movie, the album is brilliant. I've heard it many more times than I'll ever actually see the movie for which it was written.

Neil

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I'm not talking about those nasty and teeth-grinding edits within the movie. That was dispicable. The music was raped in this film, seemingly more than it was in The Phantom Menace.

I'm talking about the music as in the album composed for the film by Williams, and untoched by the sloppy butter-finger film editors. In my opinion, it works far better when re-sequenced in movie order.

-Chris

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His music is amazing, as is he. I try not to annoy myself by thinking "what could've been". Instead, I appreciate what I have the opportunity to listen to and love every second of it.

I wonder if he'll ever release a massive (I mean, MASSIVE) anthology on CD, featuring every single score and concert work he ever composed.

Dan - who would pay hundreds (maybe thousands) for such an incredible collection

:music: "Lord, Why Do You Want The Wee Children?" from Angela's Ashes

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I still am a fan of having a shorter release the way Williams wants it to sound, and then getting a 2-disc set later with all the music the way it should be.

~Harry

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I think that the AOTC CD works better in film order.

However - I think the AOTC OST was sequenced FAR BETTER than the TPM OST!!

Out of the 5 moments I would consider the BEST part of that score - (fighting the droids at the beginning, Anakin leaving his mother, Qui-Gon vs Maul in the desert, Anakin blows up the reactor, and "its working") - NONE of them made it to the OST!

Add to the fact that almost every track has music from multiple parts of the film (Track #14 had SIX different segments!), tons of music is mislabled, and everything is completely out of order. Thats what makes TPM, for me anyway, easily his worst-arranged album ever.

The AOTC CD is only really annoying in that, when you put everything in chronological order, the Main Title cue and the Kamino Storm cue just kinda halt mid-music.

I mean really, the AOTC OST is really only out of order until track10, when you then get the last 25+ minutes in order (not counting the bonus track).

But yes, the film order is still better. I just think he arranged it better than TPM's.

With the TPM OST, he chose not to inclue a lot of music that used themes from or was reminiscient of the original trilogy music, in favor ot lots of music underscoring people talking. With AOTC, it seems he tried to include all the action music, and most of the love theme peices.

I do wish we got stuff like Anakins confession to Padme, the Lake Retreat/First Kiss scene, and Yoda vs Dooku instead of stuff like the second half of track #8 (anakins nightmare), both parts that made up track#9 (bounty hunter pursuit), the second half of track#10 (obi-wan spies on dooku & nute), or departing coruscant.

But at least with AOTC, we got more of the "important" music the first time around.

I'm sure a 2disc set will come out eventually.

(At least, I can hope :) )

-Jason

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Harry Potter was a glorious recording. Granted there is tons of music we didn't get, but what we got is wonderful. I have no complaints at all about the edits.

Joe, who loves the chess music. And the last 2 minutes of HP is arguable some of the maestro's greatest.

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Yes, Joe! Agreed!

When you say "last two minutes" -- do you mean "Leaving Hogwarts" or the end of "Hedwig's Theme"?

Either way -- I'm lovin' it all the way

Dan - who is dying to see Johnny conduct a cue or two (or 3) from HP

:) "End Credits" from The Others (AmenĂ bar)

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Dan, The very last 2 min. of the HP cd. I don't have it at home, it is at my office so I don't remember the track title, all I know is it is the very last track(endtitle).

JOE

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The very last 2 min. of the HP cd.

"Hedwig's Theme".

Neil - who just finished reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

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I, personally, have always loved the more musical approach to JW's arrangements. I have no complaints about any of his OST's (except of course the obvious length issue). In many cases I will buy John's cds without seeing a single frame of the film because I know I am going to enjoy this work. John Williams and Jerry Goldsmith are the only composers who I do this for. No offense to you Chris (by the way Happy B'Day But I think that saying that you think you know better how John Williams should arrange his music is the height of hubris. How can you (or I) possibly know what the man who wrote the music was thinking? Can you presume to know what he was thinking at the time of composition? Maybe the way he arranged it on the OST is the way he envisioned it originally?

Even composers like still have to kowtow to the record labels. If they are fortunate enough to get a cd release of the score, they are still controlled by the studios which own the music (in this case, the REAL Phantom Menace "George Lucas") who can do with them as they see fit. Only musicians who are at the top of the charts and generate BILLIONS of dollars in revenue (Madonna, Celine Dion, Alanis Morrisette et al) have the kind of clout to demand the studios release the music they perform exactly the way they want... And even at that, some artists opt to form their own label to release the music they want their way. (Again Madonna comes to mind). Maybe this is something that JW should consider, but even then, the studios still control the music, so there are a lot of legal logistics that we mere mortals cannot even imagine.

I will still continue to buy OST cds, because some is better than nothing at all... and that is the inevitable outcome of bootlegging (not that I'm accusing anyone) so called "complete cds". I love the full scores of the SE Star Wars and Superman cds, but frankly, I was quite happy with the original releases. So I trust John Williams to do what is best for the music. And in the end, that is really what matters... the Music

Big Ken: :( Across the Stars: AOTC cd (thanks again Figo)

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Goldsmith? What? Anyway...

But I think that saying that you think you know better how John Williams should arrange his music is the height of hubris.

Chrusher knows what is right for Chrusher. :mad:

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But I think that saying that you think you know better how John Williams should arrange his music is the height of hubris.

Chrusher knows what is right for Chrusher. :mad:

No need to get huffy big guy... Crusher knows what works for him and that is fine, but to blatantly state that "John Williams is getting WORSE at editing his albums" is hubris... look it up, you'll see I am right. I'm not looking to start a battle here, but I think it is absurd to say that we know better than the man that wrote the music, how it should be released. The man is a five time Academy Award winner. A veteran conductor, the leader in his craft, considered by many to be the finest film composer EVER, and also 42 years Chrusher's senior... How the HELL does Chrusher (or any of us) know what works for John Williams' music. If Chris wrote a score and it got butchered, then I would say let him speak volumes... but if you didn't write it, if you weren't there at the moment, don't assume that it is'nt exactly what John Williams intended. If Chrusher's chronological CD works for him, so much the better, I envy him the time and enthusiasm to do it...

Big Ken:who loves heated debate :music:

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Yes, Joe. That's the "waltz-like" ending of "Hedwig's Theme" -- it's awesome.

I would love to see him conduct that one and thrust his entire body to one side while throwing his arms up carelessly with a growing concerned look on his face.

Dan - who loves the way Johnny conducts.........especially the E.T. score :cry: 8O

:) "Sleepover" from Pay It Forward (T. Newman)

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Being the best at conducting and writing scores doesn't make you the best at producing soundtrack cd's. Very different things. And anyway, John Williams said the point of the album arrangement was so the music could still tell the story while the music is not in complete, so that makes me think Williams was thinking more about a flow of narrative rather than how the music flows.

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Yes, Morn. But I think it's a little of both.

I think he keeps the "narrative" in mind sometimes, but doesn't necessarily like a hugely hacked up edit. There were some in A.I, but they weren't noticeable until we heard the film version of the cues on the promo.

Dan - who thinks "The Moon Rising" on the promo is super-better

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But, my point is he is not only focusing on the musical side, which is why it might not flow best in the order that he puts it.

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Yeah, I know what you mean. I'm sure that in his mind, the music needs to be edited so that the story can be better told.

Remember, he has a reputation to live up to, thanks to Steve: "He is the greatest musical storyteller of all time".

Dan - who believes this

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The thing is, back in the day, Williams probably had a bigger input in how he wanted to have his scores represented as an album. And when he did that, he did it with the LP format in mind. And those are the albums that tended to have a wonderful flow in terms of how different cues beautifully segued into one and another.

Nowadays, it seems that either Ken Wannberg or Shawn Murphy are doing it for him. That's my guess, anyway. I wish for instance, there was less reliance on having a "reprise" track added on, which is usually nothing more than the first track repeated (i.e., Saving Private Ryan.)

Not every score was meant to be heard in its entirety and chronologically, with a few exceptions. I like AOTC as an album, but won't mind seeing a more complete representation down the road. (I didn't bother getting the Ultimate Edition of TPM because that was nothing more than an "isolated score," hack job and all).

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I collect every Williams score, bootleg or official.

I enjoy BOTH condensed/arranged versions and expanded/complete versions, and when I get one, I never get rid of the other. I've said many times that I occasionally track down the shorter release AFTER I already have the expanded one... mainly for collector value, and also the fact that some "concert" or "album" versions are left off expanded albums (E.T.'s expanded versions effectiveness are GREATLY reduced by leaving off "E.T. & Me", which is, IMO, Williams most beautiful and moving track ever).

But with his long, action packed scores (like Star Wars), they really cry to be complete and chronological. They tell the story SO closely, and SO well.

His more subtle scores don't need this complete and chronological cue by cue breakdown, although I'd certainly buy them if they get released.

Granted, I love the original dual LP arrangements on Star Wars (ANH) and Empire Strikes Back, but the arrangements for the single LP of Return Of The Jedi (the WORST original Star Wars release EVER!!!), the single CD of The Phantom Menace, and the single CD of Attack Of The Clones all "could be better".

In comparing the movie order of what we have, the music builds quite nicely in the film order, while the album seems to skip from bombast to subtle too much. I personally lose interest in the subtle portions when this happens. The mystery is of the film completely disrupted in album order as well. I like hearing the progression and develpoment of the themes as in context of the film. Plus, Conveyor Belt's placement after the end credits is terrible. It NEEDS to go anywhere but there (chronologically before the Arena track, where it works much better). And I ould prefer tp either place Across The Stars as track 2 or not listen to it at all because it is covered in the end titles.

Also, OOPS! :oops: The title of this thread SHOULD have been phrased in the form of a question (I sound like Alex Trebek, LOL), but I don't think I can edit in now, can I? If I can, I will.

UPDATE: I did (Edit it). :baaa:

-Chris

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