Music From the Films of Steven Spielberg

Composers: Various
Silva Screen
RRP £14.79
SILCD 1182
Available 08 May 2005

Music From the Films of Steven Spielberg
is a 2-disc, 28 track collection highlighting the career, as director and producer, of Steven Spielberg, whose films are inexorably linked with the symphonic beauty of John Williams's scores.

While there are other composers included in this collection, namely Quincy Jones, Jerry Goldsmith and Billy Goldenberg, this is in reality a John Williams collection. So, you'll be forgiven for having that feeling that you've heard all this before. You have, only much grander in Silva Screen's 2003 The Music of John Williams 40 Years of Film Music release.

As a teenager I was a huge soundtrack collector and own the original recordings to the majority of tracks reproduced in this collection. While most of these reworked recordings will be almost indistinguishable from the originals for those who are not overly familiar with them, there are some major problems with timings on some of the tracks. The theme to Jurassic Park was a little too quick in places and The Basket Game from Raiders of the Lost Ark alternates between being too fast and then too slow when compared with the original.

There was also an issue of off key instruments and singers. While this is not all that common, and probably won't be that noticeable to most listeners, I winced when I heard the choral singers for Poltergeist - they just don't seem to sing in the same key as the music in places. Also there seems to be a few too many trumpeters and flutists who can't hold their notes with out squawking out of tune (check out the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom Finale for examples of this).

I realise that I'm nit-pick for the sake of it, and that 99% of purchasers of this collection will not notice anything wrong, it's just that when you know the original material inside out, you are likely to be hyper critical of any follow up releases. In truth, you will find it hard not to notice when instruments play a note slightly different, or that the mix has been engineered to concentrate on a different segment of the orchestra.

As this is a themed movie collection we are mainly treated to the main themes, or most popular tracks from the movies - ones that have appeared in countless compilations. That is to be expected, but there are a number of exceptions here. There are a few Indiana Jones tracks - not just the familiar Raiders March - as well as an additional track from Hook. This compilation also brings us bang up to date with tracks from The Terminal and Catch Me if You Can as well as Spielberg's early movies Duel and the Sugarland Express.

Another problem that I had was that not all of the tracks are labelled as they are on the original soundtrack albums. One track taken from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is listed as Mine Car Chase, but it also incorporates the track Nocturnal Activities from the original soundtrack album. This was something that I mentioned in my review of The Music of John Williams 40 Years of Film Music. Actually, if you already own that collection there is very little point in purchasing this too, as it contains most of the tracks on this album plus a whole lot more. Not only that, but you got four disc for under £17.49, whereas with this new collection Silva Screen want you to part with £14.79 for just two discs.

While this is a good all-round compilation album, why should you pay £2 less for something that has (practically) already been released at least once before? The answer is you shouldn't. You'd be better off trying to find a copy of that earlier release. But, failing that, this is still a pretty good value for money collection.

Darren Rea

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