From the fanfare of the opening crawl to the abrupt cutaway zing of the closing credits, John Williams' soundtrack to The Force Awakens does not disappoint. Williams has always been an integral part of the Star Wars experience, as familiar as the movies themselves, comforting and nostalgic. The fan anticipation and legacy baggage that came with the seventh film in this iconic series was overwhelming, being the first new film since 2005's Revenge of the Sith and the direct sequel to 1983's Return of the Jedi, yet the results are not crushed by outlandish pressure. For The Force Awakens, Williams began work in late 2014, before recording began in Los Angeles in June 2015 (the first time a Star Wars film score was not recorded at Abbey Road). He enlisted a freelance orchestra and, with the help of William Ross and Los Angeles Philharmonic conductor Gustavo Dudamel, produced a 23-song journey connecting the past and the future of the Star Wars universe. Here, Williams combines the old and the new with expert subtlety, creating a lush experience that rewards repeat listens. Those familiar with his work on other big-budget sagas (Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones) will instantly recognize the blaring horns that propel the action, the stirring strings that intensify the tension, and the bombast that contribute to the excitement as much as the scenes portrayed on the screen.
Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 rounds up the handful of singles that weren't included on Elton John's first Greatest Hits collection ("Levon," "Tiny Dancer") and adds the highlights from Caribou, Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, and Rock of the Westies ("The Bitch Is Back," "Someone Saved My Life Tonight," "Island Girl," "Grow Some Funk of Your Own," "I Feel Like a Bullet [In the Gun of Robert Ford]"), plus two non-LP hit singles ("Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," "Philadelphia Freedom") and John's version of "Pinball Wizard," taken from the soundtrack to Tommy…
One of the greatest recordings ever made by John Coltrane in his late years – a spare set of duets with drummer Rashied Ali, recorded in 1967, but never issued until after his death! Trane and Ali play in a free spiritualist mode, with no other accompaniment – making for a very unique album, especially for the time, and setting the tone for years of New York improvisation in the 70s. Titles include "Mars", "Venus", "Jupiter", and "Saturn".
Brilliant work from Coltrane – recorded in the 60s, but not issued until the late 70s, and only then, not properly in print until the release of this great package! The material is classic Coltrane Quartet sessions – with McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, and Elvin Jones working with Trane to craft some long tracks that show the expanding genius of the group at the time. The spirit of the work is in the "new thing" mode of the 60s – more adventurous than even Coltrane's work from a few years before – and titles include "Living Space", "Dusk-Dawn", "The Last Blues", and "Untitled 90314".
The St. John Passion was long regarded as an early work by Handel, written in Hamburg in 1704. It had to be early, as there are few really Handelian fingerprints in the music. In the late 1960s though, musicologists started allocating it to Georg Böhm (1661-1733), a Thuringian-born composer who worked in Hamburg and Luneburg. He is remembered chiefly for his fine organ music and his influence on Bach. But the record booklet makes an interesting case for Handel's authorship, particularly as Handel's friend Mattheson was an advocate of the work.