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10,000 BC – Original Music By Harald Kloser And Thomas Wander (Soundtrack Review)

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10,000 BC – Original Music By Harald Kloser And Thomas Wander (Soundtrack Review)

Allow me to paint a picture for you. A book inspires a film and the film inspires a soundtrack. Yes, dear reader, I am one of those people that explores every element surrounding something that interests me. 

10,000 BC, despite receiving mediocre reviews, remains one of my most beloved films. Sure, I could talk about the technical and historical inaccuracies along with the quizzical hypothesis, but I’d much prefer to be drawn into the mystique, a mystique which opens my mind and allows me to explore other possibilities than those expressed in the mainstream history books. Yes, you could probably call me a little gullible, but to be honest no one really knows exactly what happened all those millennia ago and subsequently there are a lot of educated guesses. Hence, I like to remain broad-minded and after watching 10,000 BC, I wanted to know more. 

Thanks to the ever-accurate Wikipedia, I found out that director extraordinaire Roland Emmerich based the film partially off Graham Hancock’s exceptional Fingerprints Of The Gods. So, I had to read the book. The film captivated me and I needed to know more. It’s a stellar read and one that I highly recommend if you are interested in Pseudoarchaeology. No, dear reader, I’m not a crackpot, I just like to keep an open mind. Plus, it makes for great dinner conversation!

Anyway, I have a tendency to listen to music as I read. While reading a music biography will have me going through the entire works of a particular artist, other non-music related non-fiction or fiction books are generally accompanied by whatever I feel in the mood to listen to. Well, in this case, I thought I’d try the soundtrack to 10,000 BC and while it’s logically disconnected from the book, it kept the interest in the book and the subject paramount in my mind. That said, the book is a page-turner, but it doesn’t hurt to have a little encouragement along the way.

The problem is, when I finished reading Fingerprints Of The Gods, I also stopped listening to the soundtrack and while I have watched the film numerous times since, I can’t recall if I actually liked the soundtrack on its own, or if it was the connectivity of media that compelled my interest so many years ago. Therefore, I’d like you, dear reader, to join me on a journey of re-exploration as I take a look at the soundtrack and decide whether or not it can be appreciated on its own, outside of the influence of the film and Fingerprints Of The Gods.

Opening is, for lack of a better term, cinematic. It is the kind of audible introduction that ensures the filmgoer knows they are about to experience something special, something captivating, and something that will encapsulate them in sound and transport their senses to another world. I love it!

Mountain Of The Gods started out bold but the vocal incorporation that is included in the film detracts from the musicality. A shame in one way, but as a soundtrack it is somewhat understandable. 

Speech is simply stunning. It is one of my favourite tracks on the soundtrack and is glorious when presented in the film. Yes, I hear a little influence from the Transformers soundtrack and while that is not necessarily a bad thing, it shifts my focus. 

Evolet is a beautifully relaxing and uplifting composition. If only all music could be this good!

Mannak Hunt radically shifts the styling of the soundtrack, but it is, of course, in line with the film’s chronology. Mannak Hunt isn’t inherently bad, but I feel it was somewhat unsuitable for the film’s scene as I felt it didn’t accurately capture the hunting aspect of early man. Of course, I’d recommend you check out the film and ascertain this for yourself as it is highly subjective. 

Celebration simply exists. Nothing to write home about and while applicable to the film does little for allowing the soundtrack to be experienced independently. 

I Was Not Brave returns the soundtrack to a more relaxing, perhaps sombre, tone. It is this style that I thoroughly enjoy.

Night Of The Tiger is a fantastic score for the associated scene. While the random listener may not be able to appreciate it, the scene in the film, with the musical accompaniment, is edge-of-your-seat entertainment. 

Lead Them is a lovely composition and one that is inspirational. Although, I feel it could have been even bolder than it is as I feel it was being held back a little. 

Terror Birds has a terrifying entrance. This soundtrack really is a collection of sonic elements that are complementary when viewing the film, but are seriously disjointed when listening to the soundtrack in the film’s running order. Yes, that is how soundtracks are generally made, but it would be nice to see a soundtrack go down a less linear route, thereby allowing it to be appreciated as a piece of standalone musical art. 

Wounded Hunter is a sombre, but uplifting, piece of music that is simply beautiful. 

Food has a very nice vocal element that will appeal to individuals who appreciate World Music. Musically, however, it is limited and likely won’t appeal to the classical-minded listener. 

Goodbyes was another sonic element that worked perfectly in the film but doesn’t sit well on its own here.  

Sea Of Sand is epic! 

Wise Man is elegant but sombre. Perfect for the film.

He Was My Father is another composition that merely exists and is nothing to write home about. 

Mark Of The Hunter is a perfect score for the film but does nothing to evoke emotion within the listener. 

Free The Mannaks was a great scene in the film, but the epic nature of it fails to reach the listener of this soundtrack. Nevertheless, perhaps that is what a good score is all about, enhancing the film and not standing alone as a composition on its own. It would be nice if it could be both though.

Not A God portrays the same thought as Free The Mannaks.  

You Came For Me is stunning and connects with Evolet in tonality and purpose. I love this composition. 

The End follows on beautifully from You Came For Me. It is compositions like this that make this soundtrack so appealing, if only it had been presented in a non-linear manner. 

10,000 BC/End Credits closes the soundtrack out nicely, reminding me just how much I enjoy the film and encouraging me to go and watch it. While I don’t necessarily feel captivated to listen to the soundtrack again, there are some compositions here that are simply out of this world and perhaps the best approach for me moving forward would be to create a playlist of the songs I wish to hear, in the order that I wish to hear them. 

Overall, the 10,000 BC soundtrack is very much a soundtrack and unlike Dances With Wolves is not likely to be appreciated as a piece of classical-inspired music on its own. However, fans of the film or the works of Kloser and Wander will undoubtedly be captivated. There are certainly high and low points to be found throughout, but the music is captured so elegantly that you’d be hard pressed to be disappointed as it is sonically beautiful. While I’ll likely always keep this soundtrack in my digital library, never seeking out a physical copy, it will be appreciated whenever I simply want to audibly reflect on the film or read the follow up to Fingerprints Of The Gods; Magicians Of The Gods: The Forgotten Wisdom Of Earth’s Lost Civilisation

The soundtrack for 10,000 BC is available on CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes.

If you prefer streaming, 10,000 BC is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Apple Music.

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The Transformers: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (RSD15 – 30th Anniversary Edition Vinyl)

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The Transformers: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (RSD15 – 30th Anniversary Edition Vinyl)

Last month I reviewed the Music on Vinyl (MOV) release of the 1985 Transformers Movie soundtrack and mentioned at the time that I was attempting to get hold of the 30th Anniversary, Record Store Day 2015 (RSD15), edition. Well, it has arrived and I couldn’t be happier.

The tracking of both albums are identical, but the mastering is slightly different as the MOV release is superior in fidelity when compared against this Sony/Legacy release. They were simply mastered by two different individuals and subsequently they were mastered for personal tastes. I should note that the MOV edition, that I prefer, was mastered by industry legend Bernie Grundman. That isn’t to say that the Maria Triana mastering at Battery Studios is a bad. In-fact, if I had not heard the MOV mastering, I would have have given this RSD15 release an excellent review based on sonic performance. The basic truth is when it comes to mastering, the individual mastering engineer is extremely important. If you look through the albums you like most, and even those you don’t, you will often see the same mastering engineers appear. I know I have come across this variant. 

From an artwork perspective, this edition is simply exquisite. This is certainly a record sleeve that you will need the floor or a table to view it on as it is a quad-panel release. My son was captivated as he kept opening and closing it to see the artwork because one mode presented the ‘good’ Autobots, while the other highlighted the evil ‘Decepticons’. It is simply an amazing design and layout and the etched vinyl really takes it to another level. It made for another wonderful father/son moment that will never be forgotten. This is why I choose vinyl, or any physical format in general, as it connects people in a way that can never be replicated by sharing a playlist.

I ordered my copy from Goldmine Records and I believe Ben has a few more copies of this release, so you may be in luck with securing a copy. 

Don’t forget, you can also read my detailed review of the album and songs by clicking here

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The Transformers: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

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The Transformers: The Movie – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

As a child of the 80s, The Transformers was one of the most amazing franchises that a young boy could be exposed to. In a classic good versus evil story arc, The Transformers transformed our minds and defined what was possible with animation techniques in the early to mid 80s.

I remember as a child receiving an Optimus Prime action figure, complete with his transforming trailer. I was in heaven and despite the toy being primitive by today’s standards, it was truly revolutionary at the time.

Also during that time, the original television series of The Transformers began to air and a couple of years later, Transformers The Movie would be released. I remember being captivated by the film, although I wouldn’t see it until it received commercial television rights in Australia some years later. Interestingly, I don’t recall the soundtrack from the film, but when I saw that Music on Vinyl was getting set to re-issue a limited edition pressing on vinyl, I ordered the soundtrack without being aware of the track listing. It was the collector in me. The artwork is exquisite and being a numbered collectable, well I just had to have that for my collection. Music on Vinyl pressed 1000 numbered editions on transparent blue vinyl. I have number 899 and I believe the other numbered editions are now sold out, although you can still get the re-issue on standard black vinyl.

Streamers will be happy to know the soundtrack is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi. It also contains four additional tracks, although one is not currently licensed for streaming. The licensing is such a major problem for soundtracks when they are added to streaming services. The music industry really needs to work on a solution to this problem. All you have to do is look how many songs are missing from Pulp Fiction, to see what the problem is. Seriously, if you can’t put all the tracks on, then perhaps it is best to not release the album on streaming services until agreements are made. Interestingly, in the case of Pulp Fiction, all songs are still permitted for vinyl and CD replication worldwide. Similarly, all tracks are available for sale on iTunes. As a music fan, it is simply frustrating. I wonder if the music executives know that you can stream all the songs, from the soundtrack, on YouTube for free. That’s an argument for another day, but at least in the case of The Transformers soundtrack, all of the songs bar one are included in the streaming option.

I must admit that I love writing these posts, but it is costing me an arm and a leg. In doing some background research I just found that the soundtrack was also re-released for Black Friday – Record Store Day 2015 on a new coloured, and etched, vinyl release that is limited to 5,000 pressings. If I wasn’t such a huge Transformers fan, I might overlook this release, but I must have it. Yes, I’ve already emailed Ben at Goldmine Records to see if he can get it for me. He is ordering a few copies, so get in touch with him If you want a copy.

Over the last couple of years my son has become equally engrossed in The Transformers. Perhaps this is a result of my influence, but it could also be attributed to the release of new films and the exceptional Transformers Prime animated series. It is wonderful to be able to share this passion with him and when the record arrived he was as blown away as I was. As much as I enjoy the album, I think he enjoys it more. We will often sit down in front of the stereo and build Lego together while the album is spinning. It is a father/son moment to be cherished.

The vinyl pressing is exceptional, as are all Music on Vinyl releases. I’ve yet to acquire one that I’m disappointed in. From the outer sleeve to the record itself, it is truly representative of quality and the sonic aspect of the album is exceptional. Similarly, TIDAL Hi-Fi’s edition sounds full and complete while matching the mastering found on the vinyl release. Hence, you simply can’t go wrong with this album. That is unless you’re not an 80s hair metal fan.

Yes, the soundtrack is primarily infused with hairspray and gel, but there is a small part of my heart that loves the 80s hair metal scene. Many of you will likely feel it is corny, and perhaps it is, but the power ballad is a sing-a-long marvel that permits usage of the air guitar. How can that be a bad thing?

Now you may recall, before my ramblings got out of control, that when I ordered the album I had no idea what type of music was on it. I purchased it for the franchise and for the cover artwork. I know many collectors who do the same thing. The artwork looks cool, so I’ll buy it. I must admit I haven’t done that for a while, but surprisingly you tend to become interested in the music if you like the artwork.

The first song The Touch is performed by Stan Bush. It isn’t a bad rock song, but it is just a little too ‘campy’ for my liking.

Instruments Of Destruction is grungy, without being grunge in style. It has a magnificent beat and the guitar elements are exceptionally controlled despite being the type of song where the guitar solo could easily become paramount. However, I love N.R.G.’s vocalist, Les Brown, and the range he has on his voice. He reminds me of Ronnie James Dio.

Death Of Optimus Prime is a somber and classically infused instrumental track that is simply beautiful. While remaining classical, it doesn’t feel out of place on the album. There are certainly symphonic elements that reflect the overall feel of the album thereby encouraging flow.

Dare is another song by Stan Bush. It is thoroughly enjoyable, with a fast beat, but I think Stan Bush has to be the king of ‘campy’ songs.

Nothing’s Gonna Stand In Our Way by Spectre General is an enjoyable song throughout the versus, but the chorus is just too repetitive. That said, it suits the film and franchise perfectly.

The Transformers Theme ROCKS!

Escape is another instrumental track, by Vince DiCola, that despite starting slowly picks up pace with the rest of the album and is the musical equivalent of watching the action depicted in the film.

Hunger is another track from Spectre General and has some killer guitar riffs and guttural vocal tones.

Autobot/Decepticon Battle is self explanatory. It is of course instrumental and works exceptionally well with the album tracking and the film.

The final track on the album is by Weird Al Yankovic and is titled Dare To Be Stupid. I must admit that it took me a few listens to get used to, and enjoy, this track. Nevertheless, if you hear a song often enough, it has the ability to grow on you. This one certainly has! It is a fun track, albeit a little different to the other songs on the album, but not so different that it detracts from the album experience.

While that is the entire track listing on the vinyl re-issue, the TIDAL Hi-Fi version has three additional instrumental tracks. All are relevant to the film, but I am glad they weren’t included on the vinyl re-issue as they would have been out of place with the selection chosen. That said, they are enjoyable to listen to via streaming.

I’d recommend this soundtrack to anyone who enjoys the transformers franchise, or the 80s hair metal rock and roll era. As a compilation it works surprisingly well, with no track that is so lacklustre it prevents enjoyment. 

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The Never Ending Story – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Composers: Klaus Doldinger And Giorgio Moroder)

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The Never Ending Story – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Composers: Klaus Doldinger And Giorgio Moroder)

The Never Ending Story is one feature film from my childhood that has stood the test of time. I have thoroughly enjoyed introducing it to my children as it has such a positive message about reading and the subsequent fantasy worlds that can be created by that very act.

Not only do I have the film, and of course the associated soundtrack, but I have the book and have read it a number of times. It simply captivates me and I strongly suggest sourcing a copy if you’re an avid reader.

Despite my appreciation of the franchise, I never thought to purchase the soundtrack. This is a strange omission as I thoroughly enjoy the music from the film and generally gravitate to soundtracks of films I like. It was actually my son who asked, upon seeing the film for the first time, if we could get the soundtrack.

While I definitely wanted to pick up the soundtrack on CD, I also wanted my children to be able to experience the soundtrack immediately, in order to secure their excitement in the franchise. Subsequently, I turned to iTunes/Apple Music and noted that they had the soundtrack available. However, when I began streaming the album, it lacked significantly in dynamic range and was certainly inferior to the average dynamic range of 11 that is found on the CD. It was just flat and lifeless. However, streamers will find that the TIDAL Hi-Fi version sonically matches the CD. That said, it is the same mastering across all variants, so there should be no difference. Perhaps this difference in tonality is due to the use of an inferior codec from when the album was first encoded and released for sale on iTunes. I should note that this iTunes/Apple Music edition is not a Mastered for iTunes release.

Also of note, as a general observation, is the superior audio quality of the film’s Blu-Ray DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track when compared to the CD. Yes, I acknowledge the variation between the formats, but it is significant enough to mention. While the CD is superb, I’d love to get my hands on the soundtrack used in the film.

One of the disappointments I have with the soundtrack is the track listing. The songs are presented out-of-order, in comparison to when they appeared in the film. I’ve no idea why this tracking was chosen, but it certainly requires me to program the CD player, or TIDAL Hi-Fi playlist, to ensure the tracks are presented in the order that best mimics the film. If you have never seen the film, then this is of little concern.

Another concern I have is the naming convention of the soundtrack. The CD soundtrack is presented as The Never Ending Story, but the film is presented, depending on region, as either The Neverending Story with the alternative being The NeverEnding Story. Yet, the book that started it all is simply The Neverending Story. Yes, it confuses me as well. Personally, I don’t have an issue or preference with any of these titling methods, but I would love to see consistency across the franchise. I specifically mention this deviation as it took me a while to find the soundtrack on TIDAL Hi-Fi because they have it listed as The Never Ending Story. TIDAL’s search engine likely needs an overhaul, as iTunes easily found the variant, but it wouldn’t have been an issue if all related elements had the same naming convention.

Despite these small frustrations, the soundtrack offers an enchanting series of instrumental songs that are inspirational and moving. The one vocal track on the album is the Never Ending Story that is sung by Limahl, best known as lead singer of the band Kajagoogoo. The song at its core is pop-synth, truly resonating with the 80s sound of the time. Yes, it is clichéd, but it is still thoroughly enjoyable to listen to. Interestingly, the song really doesn’t sound as dated as many other pop-synth recordings. Although, perhaps it is just nostalgia that keeps this song fresh in my mind.

Proceeding through the track listing and Swamps Of Sadness certainly lives up to its title as the song is demure but bold and uplifting at the same time. Without a doubt it is one of my most favourite tracks, from the soundtrack, as it is moving and the corresponding scenes in the film amplify my connection with the song.

The Ivory Tower is an epic song, but there is a major problem with the edition that is available on the soundtrack. It is not the same edition as the one found in the film. The film showcases the song in a beautiful symphonic presentation that could be appreciated by any classical music fan. Yet, the soundtrack has swapped out this performance for a lacklustre pop-synth edition of the song. Disappointing to say the least! Below are the two different renditions. The first is the original that was presented in the film, while the second video is representative of the edition found on the soundtrack. 

Ruined Landscape is a delightfully sombre piece of music that not only applies to the film, but could be viewed in reflection of many beautiful landscapes that have been destroyed by man’s incessant need for natural resources.

Sleepy Dragon is much more uplifting and the guitar work in this song is exceptionally refined and not overpowering. That said, it is one of the weaker songs on the album and I think it is mainly due to its repetitious style.

Bastian’s Happy Flight is an instrumental song that is simply fun. It truly draws me back into the film, but without that connection I’m not sure the song is strong enough to stand on its own as a classical piece of music.

Fantasia is short but rather atmospheric. While it links in with the film, I would love to have seen an expanded rendition on the album.

Atreju’s Quest is elegant and and strong throughout and is beautifully performed. It is a slow climb and then builds to the ultimate climax, making it one of those songs that could easily be added to any classical movie theme collection.

Theme Of Sadness isn’t so much sad as it is thought provoking. The flute (I believe) is just stunning in its subtleness throughout this song.

Atreju Meets Falkor is a lovely song that gives you the impression of flying, although, that is likely symbolic of the film scene that accompanies it. I could also see this song being perfect for a country drive as the landscape is passing by and you are looking forward to what life holds ahead of you.

Mirrorgate – Southern Oracle is eerie, but captivating. It certainly links well with the associated film scenes, but it doesn’t feel out of place as an instrumental track on its own. Actually, it somewhat reminds me of the style of music that Jean Michel Jarre performs.

Gmork truly could have been left off the album. With a runtime of less than 30 seconds, it is merely present because it applies to a single dramatic scene in the film. If you haven’t seen the movie, you won’t enjoy it.

Moonchild is probably another one that I would say doesn’t add much to the soundtrack, although it is pivotal in the film.  

The Auryn is simply magical. While it isn’t lyrically based, the backing harmonic choir performs the tonal range of the song exceptionally well.

Happy Flight is really a shorter version of Bastian’s Happy Flight. There is certainly nothing wrong with this repetition and I feel it closes the album out nicely.

There is really no reason to omit this album from your collection, but it will likely appeal to those of you who enjoy the film, or are primarily interested in classical and instrumental scores. That said, if you can’t stand continuous shifts in instrumental music styles, then this album may not be for you. However, there are certainly a number of standout tracks that simply must be heard. 

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Dances With Wolves – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Composer: John Barry)

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Dances With Wolves – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Composer: John Barry)

Despite being an epic film, the soundtrack from Dances With Wolves just happens to be my favourite soundtrack of all time. I’ve lost track of how many times I have played it, but over the past couple of decades it would have to be well into the thousands.

Seriously, this is one album that I am proud to say works perfectly as foreground and background music. As such I listen to it when I’m writing, reading, and relaxing.

I am so enamoured by this soundtrack that I even own multiple copies. The standard cd, first released in 1990, is my go to version. It is the edition that I listened to when studying at high school, and one that I would even time my study breaks with, as 54 minute segments seemed to match my level of peak concentration.

As I have spoken about before, I sold all my CDs as I moved into the MP3 era. This original edition was one of them and for years I had to be satisfied with a lossy version in my iTunes Music Library. For years I missed having that original CD and when I started to collect CDs again, I decided that Dances With Wolves should be one of the first to add to the new collection. I recall being worried that it would no longer be in-print, as many soundtracks receive an initial print run and are then no longer available. That was certainly the way it happened in the physical media realm, of course the iTunes Store et al. has drastically changed that practice.

When I went searching at my local music store, I was elated to find that they had a single copy left; it was as if it was just waiting for me. I remember looking lovingly at the cover on the journey home, with a grin from ear-to-ear, as I recalled the intricate elements presented in the artwork and typography.

Despite having a CD player in the car, I wanted to wait until I was home for the full stereo experience. I can assure you, I wasn’t disappointed. It sounded as magnificent and as expansive as the film that accompanied it. It was just how I remembered it, although significantly better as my stereo equipment has improved over the years.

Yes, I had a lossy copy in iTunes, but there is really no comparison when listening to symphonic-styled music. You truly need a non-lossy source for scores such as this. Anything less is a compromise that I’m not willing to make.

Towards the end of 2014 I heard that Original Recordings Group (ORG) were to release a limited edition, numbered, pressing of the soundtrack. I have number 156 of 2500. I love my numbered pressings as it adds a unique element that makes that album special and unique to my own collection.

The repressing would also be the first time the soundtrack would be re-issued on vinyl, since the original 1990 debut. For the audiophiles out there, an edition was released on Super Audio Compact Disc (SACD) in 2002, but to be honest the mastering is so perfect that I don’t know how much of a benefit the SACD would have been over the standard CD release. I should also note that a Super Bit Mastering (SBM), 24-Karat Gold Disc, edition was also released in 1995.

That said, the ORG 2014 vinyl re-issue is pressed at the superior 45rpm speed and as record collectors would note, ORG is renowned for their sonic quality. The pressings are always very clean and quiet with a great deal of care taken in the production process. However, despite this I must say that the CD still blows me away and the sonic advantage I thought may be possible with the ORG release was not as prominent as I was hoping for. That isn’t to say that I am disappointed, but merely to point out that if the mastering and recording process is done well from the beginning, then ‘remastering’ is not needed.

While I, and many other record collectors, will praise the ORG releases, they are ludicrously expensive. Although these pressings do retain their value and increase in value over time. The other thing that needs to be acknowledged is that while you are going to get a beautiful analogue sound from this ORG release, it is still susceptible to pops and clicks that are simply a by-product of the vinyl playback process. Even though I have a very stringent cleaning and maintenance strategy, when it comes to vinyl, classical music or low volume passages are where these elements are heard most. Hence, if you can tolerate a few minor sonic blemishes, for the advantage that is offered with the analogue sound, then I would suggest sourcing a copy of the ORG release.

However, there is one major disappoint with the ORG release. It is presented in a double-vinyl gatefold as the 54-minute runtime at 45rpm extends well beyond the capabilities of a single 12-inch record. I certainly don’t mind having the change the record more often, in-fact I prefer the 45rpm sonic quality, but there is nothing printed on the inner gatefold. It is black and empty. You will be able to see this in the photographs, but I was really hoping they would have included the beautiful purple-hazed buffalo graphic that is present in the CD version. Other than that, I am happy with the art presentation and I'm glad to see a mimicking of the original vinyl artwork. Most likely as the original vinyl release wasn’t a gatefold, that is the reason why the ORG release is void of additional artwork.

Both the standard CD release and ORG vinyl re-issue have the original 18 tracks that was present on the initial release. Upon signing up for TIDAL Hi-Fi earlier this year, I noticed a new re-issue with bonus tracks was available. I’ve yet to purchase this new version on CD, but I’m sure by now you know that it is in my wish-list. However, the question remains, do I like the bonus tracks?

Yes, and no. One of the problems with bonus tracks, especially when an album is re-tracked, is you are so used to the way it sounds, that the new edition feels foreign. For the most part, the new tracks work well with the existing soundtrack, although the track Fire Dance is quite different in tone and therefore separates your mind from the relaxing state it was in. The track clearly worked well for the film, but not so much when presented in chronological order on the soundtrack.

By now, you must be wondering how many different editions of the film I have in my collection. The answer is none. Not one. I truly enjoy the film, but I have no idea why I don’t actually own a copy yet. After all, it has only been 25 years since it was released!

It is amazing to think that this one soundtrack has been a favourite of mine for two and a half decades. If this obsession proceeds until the time of my demise, then I better make sure my family plays the track Farewell and End Title on the day they put me to rest. Although, I did always want to go out with AC/DC’s Highway To Hell.

So, we have established my love for the soundtrack and my inability to own the film itself, but now as I have been doing some additional research for this post, I have found that a new edition was released in December 2015 to mark the 25th Anniversary. It is a double CD and limited to 5,000 copies. It is important to note that this is a different expanded edition from the 2004 release I have on TIDAL Hi-Fi. The runtime of this new release is now well over 2 hours and includes radio promos and a 35 second segment of Kevin Costner in the studio.

If the limited, numbered edition, didn’t have my undivided attention, then the 35 second segment did. I honestly love collecting music, but I’m the first to acknowledge that it is an addiction. Nevertheless, I will try and track down a copy and I should note that this 2015 edition is not available via any digital download or streaming service. That said, I also want to do some additional research into this release as I’ve never heard of the record label, La-La Land Records, that is releasing this edition. All other editions have been released by Epic/Sony records and even the ORG release is officially sanctioned by Epic/Sony.

There really isn’t much more that I can say about the Dances With Wolves soundtrack, except it is exceptional and worthy of inclusion in everyone’s music collection. As mentioned earlier the soundtrack is still available on the standard 1990 edition CD, expanded 2004 edition CD, ORG vinyl re-issue, TIDAL Hi-Fi, Apple Music, and the iTunes Music Store. You will notice that I haven’t provided links for the two streaming options and the iTunes Store. That is because the streaming services and iTunes Store have three different versions of the album. Hence, I will let you explore the catalogue and you can let me know which edition you prefer in the comments. 

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Bee Gees – Extended (RSD 2015 Edition)

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Bee Gees – Extended (RSD 2015 Edition)

Since I was a child, I have been a fan of the Bee Gees. I recall listening to the Bee Gees Greatest and Best Of Bee Gees for countless hours on cassette, pondering why their sound was so unique. I think it’s fair to say that Barry Gibb’s often lead vocals, mixed with Robin Gibb and Maurice Gibb’s vocal harmonies was a match made in heaven.

I often wonder how many people purchased a vinyl recording of the Bee Gees and wondered if they had flipped the 45rpm switch on a 33.3rpm record as Barry’s falsetto vocals were incredibly unique, especially on songs like Stayin’ Alive, as the band headed into their newfound 70s sound. Interestingly, I would find when listening to the Bee Gees on cassette, that the natural wow and flutter of tape, along with tape stretching, would seriously compromise the Bee Gees sounds and Barry’s falsetto vocals, more so than other artists.

While their music expanded into genres such as rock, pop, R&B, and associated ballads, the Bee Gees will always be known for their fast paced disco sound that arguably marked the most successful years of their career. Certainly the predominantly Bee Gees recorded 1977 soundtrack, Saturday Night Fever, is a testament to this with songs like Stayin’ Alive, Night Fever, More Than A Woman, and You Should Be Dancing.

Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to receive a re-press of the Saturday Night Fever record as gift, but coincidentally when Record Store Day 2015 (RSD15) came around, the Bee Gees released the Extended EP. This unique release included all the before mentioned tracks from Saturday Night Fever, but they were the extended editions of the songs that we all know and love.

The EP is presented in a die-cut sleeve with foil stamping that simply looks exquisite. Presented on black vinyl, the 45rpm pressing has a lovey multi-coloured label that is amazingly hypnotic when in motion. Although, as I use the Audio Technica - AT-618 LP Stabiliser, I rarely see the effect in action.  

Now this is one collection of songs that you will not be able to get via digital delivery methods, such as TIDAL Hi-Fi, Apple Music, or iTunes. These songs, and the Extended EP, are exclusive to this limited edition RSD15 vinyl release, so even a CD release is out of the question. You can of course get the original mixes, on all popular services and formats, but subjectively which ones do I prefer?

Stayin’ Alive is expanded by additional horn licks and chorus repeats that add to the vibe of the original song. In this case I prefer the extended mix as the additional, although repeated, aspects only improve an already iconic song.

By comparison, I feel that Night Fever is too repetitive and I am always looking for a new sonic element to amplify the song when listening. In this case, the extended edition is great, but I feel it is on par with the original and therefore doesn’t surpass it.

More Than A Woman is similarly extended by chorus repetition and isn’t drastically different to the original either.

You Should Be Dancing has an additional, and slightly longer, instrumental aspect towards the end of the song that I prefer over the original. It simply makes you want to keep dancing, and when it comes to the Bee Gees, this is a good thing.

The most interesting aspect of this comparison was how sonically superior the 45rpm Extended EP was to the digital copies, of the original mixes, on TIDAL Hi-Fi and Apple Music. Now, 45rpm pressed vinyl generally has a sonic improvement over 33.3rpm, and I feel 33.3rpm vinyl is generally smoother and more appealing than the digital counterpart when played on an audiophile-grade turntable. That said, the difference was significant enough for me to be disappointed in the lossless TIDAL Hi-Fi editions. However, they are from different masters and that likely has played a significant role in the tonal differences. Although, my vinyl copy of Saturday Night Fever also sounds much better than the digital counterpart. Yes, these songs were mastered originally for vinyl, but the differences shouldn’t be this significant.

This difference is why I truly believe that music lovers should not limit themselves to a single music format, or service, as music rarely sounds the same across all possible formats, despite logic suggesting it should. One of my key goals as a music collector is to source the mastering edition that I subjectively feel delivers the best sound quality. In this case, it is the Extended EP on vinyl, but I concede that a true comparison is difficult as the extended versions are not available on competing platforms.

If you're interested, a couple of vinyl editions are still available and I can assure you that you would not be disappointed in the re-issue of Saturday Night Fever.

Now let’s put on our boogie shoes, because we should be dancing!

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Composer: John Williams)

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Star Wars: The Force Awakens – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Composer: John Williams)

Star Wars is a cultural icon and so is the music that John Williams has written for not only this edition of the franchise, but all previous major Star Wars films. I dare say that there wouldn’t be many people who have not heard a chord that John Williams has written. He is synonymous with the motion picture industry and is one of the most accomplished composers of our time.

For as long as I can remember, I have always enjoyed music in films. I strongly believe that a good soundtrack can make or break a movie. For me, it certainly is 50% of the film experience. Perhaps that is why I can’t understand film loving individuals purchasing incredibly large and expensive televisions, but refusing to place the same investment into the accompanying audio system.

Yes, some companies have tried to improve the sound from their television sets, Bose entered the market a couple of years ago with their Bose VideoWave. They were certainly impressive units, but the price was just too steep for many people, including myself. Hence, they no longer manufacture this range and have instead focused on their independent speaker systems.

If all you listen to movies through is your television speakers, then please consider at least adding a decent quality sound bar to your television. I can personally recommend the Bose Solo range as good starting point.

Back to the soundtrack and one of the reasons why I chose to listen to the latest Star Wars soundtrack was that I was going to see the film. I thought it would be interesting to listen to the soundtrack, watch the film, and then re-listen to the soundtrack as a post film experience.

The first listen, prior to watching the film, was met with familiar Star Wars sounds. It certainly wasn’t a replica of past soundtracks, but it paid homage to them. The first thing I noticed as I was listening is, even if you’re not a Star Wars fan, you could enjoy this soundtrack. The orchestration is beautifully relaxing and I’ve no doubt those of you with classical tastes will enjoy the experience.

One problem that I have is the lack of recognition for the orchestra. It is certainly not unique to this album as I noted this same concern when I took a look at the 007 SPECTRE soundtrack. Now unless Thomas Newman, or in this case John Williams, is playing every instrument, then I want to know which orchestra undertook the recording. This acknowledgement should be on the album cover and while I respect these composers, it is the orchestra that makes them sound good. Therefore, they deserve recognition.

What I do know for certain is The Force Awakens was the first Star Wars soundtrack to not be recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra in Abbey Road Studios. That information was in the official press release, but when it came to naming the orchestra that was used, the press release merely mentions “Williams worked with members of the highly regarded freelance orchestra with which he's recorded numerous film scores over the years”.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised but it bothers me as every single person involved in the film making process is listed in the end credits. Yet, the masterful musicians are omitted on the associated soundtrack. Perhaps the orchestra used was named correctly in the film credits, but I didn’t take note at the time.

I should also add that they are not mentioned in the liner notes that appear with the album on TIDAL Hi-Fi, or Apple Music. Perhaps they are named in the CD liner notes, but after performing a 15-minute Google search, I couldn’t find any detail regarding the name of the orchestra or even who the principal musicians were. If anyone has this information, please let me know in the comments.

The non-classical music listeners may be wondering what the big deal is, but classical fans will likely agree that we search for principal musicians, conductors, orchestras, and composers. I can honestly say that compositions by the likes of Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Chopin, and Tchaikovsky, sound different depending on the chosen orchestra and their interpretation. Hence, the importance of knowing specific details, especially when a score is as well recorded as The Force Awakens.

Despite the beautiful recording, there is one track that I just didn’t like. That song is called Snoke. It is akin to a Gregorian chant and is simply out of place with the rest of the score. 

This is probably a good time to talk about the soundtrack integration in the film. Certainly Snoke, while disruptive to the soundtrack, did appeal to the scene it was attached to in the film. That said, it would have been nice if the song was left off this album, or at least be presented out of chronological order as the album’s final track.

Regardless, I enjoyed the sonic familiarity with the film, as a result of listening to the soundtrack prior to seeing it. It didn’t detract from the film experience and I feel that I was able to further appreciate the intricate nature of the soundtrack and how it was applied to specific scenes.

Based on this experience, I think I will listen to classically scored soundtracks before seeing films in the future. It was a wonderful experiment and one that I would recommend to anyone.

Listening to the soundtrack, post film experience, now refreshes my memory of the film. I have a terrible memory when it comes to experiences and I think that is one reason why I gravitate to music. I seem to be able to remember elements of my life and experiences based on the music that I associate with that moment in time.

For example, last night I was vividly taken back to my teenage years, an era I don’t think of often, when I was listening to Metallica’s Load album from 1996. I don’t know how it works, but music has the ability to unlock memories so vividly that it is akin to actually re-living the experience.

Listening to Star Wars: The Force Awakens certainly reminds me of experiencing the film with my family and as it was my son’s first experience of seeing a Star Wars movie at the cinema, it was a father/son memory that I never want to forget.

With that said, I will likely purchase the vinyl edition of the soundtrack when it is released in 2016. Until then I will listen to the album via TIDAL Hi-Fi. The soundtrack is also available on CD, iTunes, and Apple Music. Although, after a cursory comparison with Apple Music, I would strongly recommend you try and source the CD or TIDAL Hi-Fi edition as this is an incredibly atmospheric album that is truly worth listening to in a non-lossy format. 

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Diana Krall – Wallflower (The Complete Sessions)

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Diana Krall – Wallflower (The Complete Sessions)

Diana Krall in synonymous with jazz, but in this latest endeavour she takes that elegantly smooth, but rustic, voice and applies it to some of the most iconic classic rock and pop songs in the music history. The renditions are absolutely beautiful and definitely rival those of the original performers.

Despite being a fan of the jazz genre, I was oblivious to Krall until a couple of years ago when her album, The Look Of Love, was re-issued on the High Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-Ray format. To say that album is a masterpiece, is a gross understatement. In my opinion, it is the epitome of jazz in the modern era. Despite having this high-resolution version, of the album, I have just noticed that Original Recordings Group (ORG) has just re-issued the album in a limited, numbered, edition 45RPM pressing that I will have to order.

ORG releases, such as the Dances With Wolves soundtrack, are incredibly well mastered and pressed. While they are expensive, they are highly sought-after by record collectors and their value increases significantly when out of print. While I don’t intend on ever selling my records, I look upon the hobby as an investment that can be passed onto my children. Yes, they are continually told how valuable these records are.

Wallflower is spectacular and Krall manages to apply her own unique style, while remaining true to the originals that are so loved, and appreciated, by millions of listeners throughout the world. It is always difficult to listen to songs that have been re-interpreted when you know the original so well, but this album is not one to fear as you will be blown away by renditions that are, in many cases, superior to the originals. Yes, that is a bold statement, but despite being a massive fan of the Eagles, I have never heard Desperado and I Can’t Tell You Why, performed so magnificently.

Truth be told, I could say the very same thing about every song on the album. All songs that is except for a Paul McCartney written, but never recorded, song called If I Take You Home Tonight. Honestly, the song is incredible. McCartney is a song writing prodigy, but with Krall’s vocal talent, the song goes to places that I don’t think McCartney could have even dreamt of.  

I’ve yet to pick up my own copy of this album, although I have added the vinyl release to my wish list. I have also added the CD of Wallflower: The Complete Sessions to the wish list as the live performances, and selections that didn’t make it to the 12-track vinyl release, are exceptional in their own right and deserve to be owned. Knowing my luck, the Verve Music Group will release an expanded vinyl edition just after I purchase the standard edition.

For now, I will be content listening to Wallflower on TIDAL Hi-Fi. The mastering is exceptional and truly shows off not only how good the album is, but how good a non-lossy streaming service can be. Yes, there is a Mastered for iTunes version available via Apple Music and iTunes, but I haven’t felt compelled to listen via these methods, as the beforementioned service fulfills my needs for this album.

It is also interesting to note that a SACD edition is available for those of you with compatible equipment. While I’m definitely a proponent of high-resolution audio formats, the mastering of this release is so perfect that I don’t feel a great improvement will be heard over the standard CD release. That said, most of Krall’s catalogue has been released on SACD over the years and recently there seems to have been a resurgence of the format. It won’t become mainstream, but I really appreciate that consumers have the ability to choose a format that best suits their requirements.

Working with producer extraordinaire, David Foster, Krall has delivered an album that not only brings her musical direction to a mainstream audience, but showcases how very talented she is as a musician.

You have to hear this album; it really is that good!

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SPECTRE – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Composer: Thomas Newman)

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SPECTRE – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Composer: Thomas Newman)

The name’s Bond, James Bond!

Finally, I found an excuse to use perhaps the most memorable one-liner from any film franchise. No, I’m not taking a look at a James Bond film, despite my appreciation of the series. I did however want to talk about the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack for the latest Bond film, SPECTRE.

I came across the soundtrack in my local record store and having owned the Bond films, books, audiobooks, and video games, I realised that I had never once owned one of the Bond soundtracks.

I also recently noticed some of the classic 007 series soundtracks had started to be re-issued on vinyl by Universal Music. Goldmine Records has them in stock, for those interested. I’ve promised myself that I will take a listen to these classics on TIDAL, prior to hopefully liking and purchasing on vinyl, but I’m not sure when I will get around to it as my ‘to listen to’ list is extensive.

The newly released SPECTRE original soundtrack unfortunately only comes on CD, but it is such a beautiful sonic experience that I didn’t hesitate to add it to my purchase wish list. However, the cover art is incredible and really deserves to be presented on a vinyl canvas.

Unlike most other Bond soundtracks, this one lacks the vocal song, Writing’s On The Wall, by Sam Smith, that introduces the Bond film. Although there is an instrumental version on the album. This omission doesn’t bother me, but it would have been a nice addition to have the song as the final track.

That said, as a CD release, the instrumental elements already max out the storage capacity offered by the Redbook CD format. If you are interested in the Sam Smith song, you can pick that up with the instrumental version of the track, on a 7-inch vinyl, CD single, or of course via iTunes, Apple Music, or TIDAL.

While I must admit to not having seen the SPECTRE film yet, the soundtrack will certainly appeal to those of you who are interested in classical scores, with elements of traditional Bond themes thrown in for familiarity. Even if you have never seen a Bond film, you will be able to appreciate the artistry that Thomas Newman and the (uncredited) Orchestra bring to this album.

The soundtrack is atmospheric, dynamic, and emotive. At the most basic level you will feel the music and become enveloped in an 80-minute epic that fails to disappoint on a single track. I have listened to the soundtrack on both headphones and speakers and the music was so captivating that neither time did I long for an alternative listening option.

I’d strongly recommend you listen to this album via a non-lossy source, as the experience is profound. That said, if you don’t have access to the CD or TIDAL version, then the Mastered for iTunes version is available on Apple Music and the iTunes Store.

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