Listening to: Solo Original Soundtrack

soloIn some ways this is a tricky one, as I haven’t seen the film yet, so I’m reviewing the soundtrack album not knowing what happens in the film or how well the music fits in it. As a totally seperate listening experience, it sounds pretty fine and seems to be one of the better scores of the Disney Star Wars era.

This is no doubt helped by original Star Wars composer John  Williams being involved, even though the score itself is written by John Powell. John Williams wrote a main theme for the Han Solo character  and discussed with Powell the score that he would compose around it. Also, Powell made use of several Star Wars themes for the Original Trilogy composed by Williams which sounds like the wrong approach but actually works rather well. How it works in the film itself of course I cannot say, but as a musical experience on its own its surprising and at moments even exhilarating. There is one track in particular – Reminiscence Theory – which had me grinning like a Cheshire cat and caused me to buy the album. I have no idea at all what is going on during the movie but I would imagine it has Original Trilogy fans whooping for joy- its pure Star Wars. There’s sections from the A New Hope score -like TIE Fighter Attack– with moments from The Empire Strikes BackThe Asteroid Field– that has me wondering if I should have seen this film at the cinema after all. I know, it sounds ridiculous buying a score album for just one six-minute track but its like some kind of Star Wars greatest hits medley and is so joyous and brimming with energy, its great.

Fortunately the rest of this fairly generous 77-minute album is of a high standard. It is decidedly old-school symphonic writing with a serious nod towards Williams original trilogy scores in style and approach- which helps with those old themes being weaved through it. It must have been a tricky thing to pull off, but while it has a sound all its own it also shares so many traits of the old scores that it sounds like a Star Wars score in ways that perhaps the last few Disney-era scores haven’t (even those two composed by Williams). Some may think this is not a good thing and in fact a step backwards, and they might be right, but when a film score is as much fun as this its hard to complain, surely.

5 thoughts on “Listening to: Solo Original Soundtrack

  1. Matthew McKinnon

    Hmmm. I saw the film so I know which bit that track accompanied. And I have to say, it pulled me out of things a bit.

    I couldn’t help thinking it would be better if someone had actually written a fun and memorable original theme for the scene instead of doing yet another couple of callbacks to the OT.

    This is also true of TLJ. The moment where Chewie pilots the Falcon into that red crystal mineshaft and suddenly things go all ‘Tie Fighter Attack’ for no good reason. It was clever in 1983, but now…?

    1. To be honest, I even hated that re-use of music back in 1983! The Empire Strikes Back soundtrack was possibly the best score I had ever heard, So imaginative and complex and varied. I replayed it constantly, and then Jedi came out with a single-album and that bloody Ewok music and it all seemed so half-hearted, almost as if Williams had lost interest, particularly with it re-using music from the earlier films. Didn’t care for it in The Last Jedi either so yeah, I can imagine its use in Solo might be grating. Then again, if Solo is as poor as you say, the use of that old music might be the least of my worries…

      1. Matthew McKinnon

        I thought ROTJ had some good new material… the Emperor’s theme, Luke & Leia, the duel in the throne room. And the battle music is good, no?

        Did you have the double album of ESB, then? You must have got more pocket money than me.

      2. No, pocket money-wise I didn’t have a pot to piss in, ha ha. A mate bought the single-disc TESB soundtrack and I listened to it before I even saw the movie. I’ll never forget hearing The Imperial March for the first time, that Saturday afternoon. I copied the album onto cassette I think, but my parents bought me the double-album for Christmas that year. I remember everyone else was partying downstairs on Boxing Night and I sat upstairs listening to the album on my headphones in my room. Absolutely transported into another realm by the Williams music (The City in the Clouds, wow, how I loved that music). I was strange even then, I guess. I do love that TESB album so.

        Regards Jedi, yeah there was good stuff in there but not much on that original album (how on earth could they leave that duel in the throne room off? That pissed me off no end). The Star Wars Anthology box saved the day, years later, but man, that original Jedi album was so disappointing. Coming so soon after Vangelis’ Blade Runner no-show it was like the world was coming to an end. The Superman: The Movie, Star Wars and TESB albums… little did I know that those days were already over.

  2. Matthew McKinnon

    Ha! My friend had it first too. We used to listen to it on his parents’ stereo before the film came out as well. I couldn’t afford albums on my pocket money, I had to wait until generous relatives would occasionally buy me something substantial as a gift. But not the double – I’ve never even seen a copy in the flesh.

    Did you buy the fake-Blade Runner album in 1982? I did, with my WHSmiths vouchers I got for Christmas. It wasn’t too bad, to be honest, but still…

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