- Audio CD (July 11 2000)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Format: Soundtrack
- Label: Decca - Universal Special Imports
- ASIN: B00004TR2G
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Audio Cassette
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,114 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Jaws Anniversary Collector's Edition (John Williams) Soundtrack
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Score by John Williams ("Star Wars") to the 1975 shark thriller from director Steven Spielberg.
Peter Benchley's bestselling novel about the sobering impact of shark attacks on a New England beach town's tourist season gave director Steven Spielberg the perfect opportunity to craft a suspenseful action-drama. An immediate blockbuster upon release in 1975, the movie is being hailed as a classic 25 years later. The 20 minutes of additional score and interviews with Spielberg and composer John Williams may be the strongest enticements for anyone who already owns the original soundtrack, but anyone who's put off purchasing this most identifiable score now has the temptation of improved sonic clarity to contend with as well. Since so much of Williams's score--at the time, his second for Spielberg, before going on to E.T. and Schindler's List, among others--depends on the nearly silent tension buttressed by deep, probing notes, this wide-screen audio mapping only heightens the drama. "Shark Attack," "The Great Shark Chase," and "The Shark Approaches," along with the main theme, represent what empathic movie scoring is all about. --Rob O'Connor
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What a fond memory I have of this music. And the movie. Imagine a small boy of about eight or nine - scared to death of "gritty" movies - watching Steven Spielberg's "Jaws". You are reading the words of a kid who absolutely loved Indiana Jones and The Temple Of Doom, but ran away at the sequence where the poor soul's heart is ripped out. The first time I saw that part must have been at the age of fifteen. On the other hand, I could bear watching the big henchman being mashed on the stone crusher. Why? In retrospect, I believe I could because in this scene you actually see nothing at all. The only thing you see is a trail of blood. How gross the rest of it is depends solely on your imagination and the amount of it you wish to use up on it. That is the power of Jaws as well, of that I am convinced. The first time we really see the shark we are well into the second hour of the film. Quite a few people have died atrocious deaths before that time, but we never see more than a distant outline - a fin - or a set of jaws deep in troubled water.
In terms of moviemusic, the film presents us two themes: one for the hunters ON the water, and one for the hunter IN the water. Both have common mathematics, but that could just as well be imagination, discerning that the shark's theme is basically two repetitive notes, backed up with some flourishes and instrumental tints. This is the famous theme - the one you can listen to on your Walkman chasing old people down the street, a funny predatorily feeling coming over you (- and perhaps the old people are listening to the same theme, chasing young people - you never know).
The second theme is a wordless sailor's ditty for the three protagonists: slightly humorous, yet moreover the adventurous and sensitive element. Both pieces intertwine; evolve around each other throughout the album - strikingly here, contemplative there. In between and through this is bodiless atmospheric music: plucking harp, humming cellos and brass, and whirling violin. At some times, special moments arise, such as the playful introspective "Father And Son", and deep momentum "Between Attacks". The short piece called "Montage" was called "The Menu" on the original release - a short baroqueske work underscoring the arrival of the hordes of dull big-town tourists on the island. Not an action piece in terms of violence, but of preparation, "The Shark Cage Fugue" is foreboding and driving. A broke-down version of the heroes' theme.
This is an earlier John Williams score, and yet one of his best. Could one compare it with Star Wars or Raiders Of The Lost Ark? I think one would better compare with The Sugarland Express and The Cowboys. Despite all its minimalism and moody tones, it beats both excellent scores easily. The greater part of the soundtrack is swallowed up by shark-music, which is potentially boring. However, Williams plays around with them, so that one gets the same theme with the same purpose, but ever slightly different in construction, thus maintaining the interest of the listener.
My favourite part of the score? Undoubtedly the small part where Williams subtly phrases Quint's sailor song, to mark the captain's inner resolution. Quint blew up the Orca's engines, when he panicked and wanted to get the hell back to mainland. He has grown calmer now though, but it is too late. The Orca is irrevocably going under, the shark is waiting, following like a jackal. Brody's out of spirit and Hooper is not doing any better. Quint retreats into the cabin. The camera outside shows us Brody, frightened. Then Hooper, breathing hastily, sweat is on his face. Then into the ship, to captain Quint, with his back to us. He slowly turns to the camera and reveals his face. Jaw set, lower teeth showing, eyes distant yet determined. You can see he is scared to death but pushing it aside. Overruling it. What is he thinking? What is he deciding? What goes on inside old Ahab's mind?
Williams gives the answer, by playing the little seaman's ditty Quint sings several times throughout the film. The one he sings when he is in a good mood, or when he needs to recall them. The one he undoubtedly learned when he was in the Navy, at the end of the Second World War. When he was stationed on the Indianapolis, when it sank and delivered her crew to the tigersharks. 'Farewell and a-do to you fair Spanish ladies, farewell and a-do to you ladies in Spain.' He descends into the flooding hold and retrieves lifejackets. Two. No more than two.
This scene does not appear on the original album release. Neither do "Father And Son" and many others. Did you like Jaws, and do you like film-music? This collector's edition is an absolute must-have. The music is remastered to crystal clarity, the booklet contains background info with pictures (including one of Spielberg being eaten by Jaws!) and well... and and and. Good buy all around, in short.
This one gets four stars for the music (remastering and new tracks inclusive), and one for the packaging. Haunting.
Bram Janssen, The Netherlands.
By the way, the posters who noted the lack of the "concert arrangements" which appeared on the (very short) 1975 soundtrack re-recording are correct. But you know what? I for one don't miss those concert arrangements--I consider them a waste of CD space if they squeeze out playing time that could be more usefully filled. However, there **are** a few tracks on this CD in which shorter cues have been strung together, suite-like.
I do have a few quibbles. While it's nice to have the unused (and mostly never-before-heard) music available--about 10 minutes' worth--it would have been even nicer if the liner notes provided a clue as to where the unused music would have been... well, used. (Moreover, I have to say that whoever decided to delete this music made the right decision: More is not always better, and especially in some of the later sequences, the suspense was increased by letting the orchestra take a breather and allowing the lapping waves and creaking boat to provide the "music".) There are a few cues in which the orchestrations differ slightly from the versions used in the finished film. Some of the surface noise in these archival recordings is bothersome (I was gonna say "archival tapes," but I'm wondering if this score was actually recorded on 35mm film as used to be common practice in Tinseltown). And if you wanna be really nit-picky, this "complete" album actually fades out one or two cues early rather than letting them play to the end as in the movie.
Even with all that, it's good to see one of Hollywood's classic film scores get the deluxe, completist treatment it deserves.
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