There are 14 tracks on this album drawn from John
Williams' scores for the Lucas/Spielberg Indiana Jones movies, together with
two versions of the Cole Porter song 'Anything Goes', featured in the second
film of the trilogy. All are re-recordings, with five pieces following the original
Williams/Herbert Spencer arrangements and orchestrations, the remainder being
arranged by conductor Nic Raine or Christopher Tin. The versions of 'Anything
Goes', one in Chinese, one in English, are orchestrated by Mike Townend based
on Williams' arrangement of the Cole Porter song, and feature the sound of tap
dancing by the Janet Cliff School of Music and Drama. The point of noting all
this is to emphasis that these are not original soundtracks and should not be
judged as such nor criticised for failing to sound like the originals in every
detail. Anyone who objects to re-recordings because they inevitably sound different
to the first recording should stick with the original soundtrack albums.
The appeal of this disc is to provide on one easily
accessible selection of highlights from a very popular series of films. As such
it is inevitably of more appeal to the mainstream film fan with a casual interest
in film music, than it is to the completist collector. That aside, this album
is tremendous fun and demonstrates a sense of style and flair which shows just
how far the City of Prague Philharmonic have come in the last decade or so.
This is truly, rousing, thrilling stuff which can not fail but to put a smile
on the face of all but the most dour and nit-picking of listeners.
Williams' 'Raiders March' has a real swagger and
heroic spring in its step, though if the album has a fault it is that by including
the end title suites from all three films (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana
Jones and the Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade) one does
get to hear it in so many variations that it does begin to outstay its welcome
just a little. Some of the other action music from the series might have proved
a better choice. There is of course still a great deal of fine action writing
here, from 'The Basket Game' to 'The Mine Car Chase' to 'Escape from Venice',
not to mention the glorious romance of 'Marion's Theme' from the first of the
The cues which vary from the original film arrangements
are still firmly within the sweeping, lavishly orchestrated Williams' tradition,
and really leave no room for complaint considered the whole is delivered with
such style and aplomb. The versions of 'Anything Goes', complete with tap dancing,
are exhilarating, with Helen Hobson capturing the joy of the occasion. The sound
too is very good, and certainly preferable to the rather dry, harsh sound of
the Last Crusade soundtrack CD. However, the album does sound better
in stereo than Dolby Surround, which tends to lack focus. A full SACD / DTS
/ Dolby Digital 5.1 issue would doubtless prove far superior.
A big, bold, hugely enjoyable album filled with some
of John Williams' most popular music. Those who prefer originals should stick
with the soundtracks, but everyone else should have a great time with this disc.
Mark Hockley adds:-
Some examples of film music seem to define a certain
genre or even era in cinematic terms and with John Williams' iconic work on
the Indiana Jones trilogy he has created something which will live in our hearts
and minds for a very long time indeed. The man is a genius, there is no questioning
that, he understands the human soul and can evoke every emotional response imaginable
through his music.
While the interpretation of the instantly recognisable
'Raiders March' lacks some of the vitality of the original, the outstanding
track of the first film's score (and the two that followed for that matter)
is undoubtedly 'The Map Room: Dawn' and here it gets a very strong reading,
retaining all of the mystery and awe that Williams intended. But recapturing
the finely balanced magic of the original performances is a very challenging
prospect and a number of times the brass section in particular ('The Basket
Game' for instance) fails to quite capture the spirit required. But this is
nit-picking really because all of the important moments are present and correct
and there to be enjoyed and few would expect these new versions to be quite
as good as Williams' own I'm sure. Certainly in terms of pure musical value
for money it's hard to criticise.
I suppose it would be fair to point out that most
John Williams admirers are likely the already own copies of the soundtracks
to each of the films represented here, so this collection must be aimed at the
more casual fan or those on a tight budget (something which I can relate to!).
With this in mind, I have no hesitation in recommending this CD with the proviso
that it would be well worth upgrading to the real thing at the earliest opportunity.