Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Review: Vinyl Reissue of 'Raiders of the Lost Ark: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack'


John Williams has a reputation for creating unforgettable, rousing, and well, bombastic tunes, such as the themes to Star Wars, Superman, and E.T. However, he did not become Hollywood’s biggest soundtrack composer with bombast alone. Williams could also conjure pieces of elliptical beauty, such as the haunting five-note theme from Close Encounters of the Third Kind and the rippling “End Credits” music from E.T. that recalls Saint-SaĆ«ns’s “Aquarium”.

The Raiders of the Lost Ark soundtrack recorded with the London Symphony Orchestra features some of Williams’s most famous big numbers, such as its adventure-drenched “Raiders March” and “The Desert Chase”, but subtler themes such as “In the Jungle” and “The Map Room”, as well as more mischievous ones such as “The Basket Game”, are what make it compelling listening even without images of Harrison Ford being dragged behind a truck. “The Miracle of the Ark”, which swells from the ghostly “Map Room” theme to a Bernard Hermann-esque nightmare of slashing notes, ranks with E.T.’s “End Credits” and “The Asteroid Field” from The Empire Strikes Back as one of Williams’s greatest artistic statements.

Concord Music is now reissuing the Raiders of the Lost Ark Original Motion Picture Soundtrack on a 180 gram vinyl double disc. This is the expanded edition released on CD in 2008 as opposed to the skimpy, 9-track single-LP from 1981 (though “The Desert Chase” appears in an edit one-minute shorter than that of the original release). Patricia Sullivan’s remaster is apparently the same digital one heard on the CD, but this new vinyl release still has the kind of clarity, depth, and detail you’d want from a soundtrack intended to rumble your theater seat during a whip-cracking matinee.
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