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Sunday, 25 October 2015

The Star Wars double LP is coming back: Sony Classical to release Star Wars: The Ultimate Vinyl Collection

Star Wars: The Ultimate Vinyl Collection, to be
released by Sony Classical in January

The Star Wars original soundtrack album sold four million copies and probably turned a lot of young people on to orchestral music as they sat listening in their rooms, replaying the film's action in their heads.

The music has never gone away, but now the original double LP set is about to come back. Sony has announced the January 8th 2016 release of Star Wars: The Ultimate Vinyl Collection.

The track listing at confirms the content of the Star Wars LPs in the set will be that of the 1977 release, before that original album was augmented by extra tracks in subsequent CD releases.

The collection will also include The Empire Strikes Back (two LPs) and Return of the Jedi (which, disappointingly, was only ever a single record). The prequel trilogy will also form part of the set, in double-LP editions whose content mirrors that of their original CD releases.

There are much more complete versions of the original Star Wars score, and I looked at the various releases here and here. So why would you want to buy this set?

A large part of its appeal will be that it's sure to look magnificent. The descriptions at both and promise a faithful replica of the original artwork, and Amazon says the set comes in ”a black, soft-touch laminated slipcase with an embossed, hot silver foil Star Wars logo”.

The descriptions don’t say whether the Star Wars album will include the sleeve notes, and the colour poster, which came with the original 1977 edition.

But all these years on, I think the original Star Wars album is worth cherishing for other reasons than its attractiveness as an object.

In 1977, the release of 74 minutes of orchestral soundtrack music was pretty unusual. These days, that quantity of music can be accommodated on a CD, but back then, it meant an expensive double-LP. Williams shaped his score astutely for the format.

At the start of the album, he had the opening Star Wars march segue into the end titles to give us an overture. (The end titles are also in their correct place at the close of the album, of course.) He composed a gorgeous concert arrangement of Princess Leia’s Theme as one of the highlights of the album. And with some tracks, he stitched together music from different parts of the film to make an entertaining listening experience. The track Inner City, for example, contains music from three different scenes, while most of side four is taken up by The Last Battle, which starts with some of the action music from the scenes in the Death Star prison block before moving on to the material from the climactic assault on the battle station.

Even at 74 minutes, some great material was excluded from the LPs. For years, fans yearned for the sad combination of clarinet and French horn that accompanied Luke’s return to Ben after finding his home torched; or the ominous music that accompanied the destruction of Alderaan; or the second piece played by the cantina band. But you have to admire the inspired way Williams selected and arranged his music for album. Whether or not you can spring for this expensive boxed set, it's well worth getting your hands on those four sides of vinyl.

One other bonus with this release: The Ultimate Vinyl Collection includes a digital download card for all the soundtracks, so for the first time it will be possible to enjoy Williams’ Star Wars album, as he assembled it, in digital format.

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