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Amazing Stories (Soundtrack) by John Williams and Georges Delerue (conducted by Joel McNeeley)

Tracksounds Rating = 9/10

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Composed by John Williams and George Delerue
Conducted by Joel McNeeley
Performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra
Released by Varese Sarabande November 1999

Track Title Time Rating How Could it Fail?
by Christopher Coleman

With a line up of Spielberg and John Williams alone, one would think instant success for this television adventure series.  Add to that, the likes of Clint Eastwood, Martin Scorcese, Danny DeVito, Robert Zemeckis as directors and James Horner, Danny Elfman, Bruce Broughton, Michael Kamen, Georges, Delerue and many others as composers, and one would guess that this series which started in 1985 would still be running strong.

Unfortunately, the series only lasted two years, but crammed into those two years are some great television moments, not too mention the music!

Amazing Stories released by Varese Sarabande contains music from the pilot episode, The Mission which was directed by Steven Spielberg and scored by John Williams.  This was probably the most memorable episode of the series.  This disc also contains music from an episode, Dorothy and Ben, scored by the late Georges Delerue.  The two selections here provide great contrast and make for a great overall listen!  The Mission provides a significant dose of the adventurous while, as to be expected, Delerue’s Dorothy and Ben is romantic and sentimental.

Joel McNeeley and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra do a superb job in performing this splendid music.  McNeeley and company demonstrates a knack for nailing down the spirit of the score as intended by the music’s composer and certainly added to their already stellar reputation for quality performances.

The first portion of this CD is relegated to the most significant cues from the pilot series The Mission, but only after the Silvestri-like fanfare Main Titles also composed by John Williams.  This main theme for the series is reprised in the final track as well.  The majority of music from The Mission is not experimental or surprising in any way and for the John Williams purist, it might even be a little dull.  However, for most of us, this is yet another great example of the high quality stuff to be expected from the maestro.  What is pleasing is that Williams didn't drop in quality simply because this was "only" for television.  What one does hear are some famous musical elements from other Williams works such as E.T., Indiana Jones, and even a bit of foreshadowing of Star Wars:  The Phantom Menace- not too shabby.

Switching some major emotional gears, the last portion of this release is given to another episode, Dorothy and Ben which was composed by the late George Delerue.  In stark contrast to Williams score, Delerue, as expected is soft, sentimental, and even flirts with the dark side.  Of course what stands out from Delerue's work is his compositions that magnify the lushest of strings.  As far as writing break-your-heart sort of themes, Delerue may be the master unchallenged.

Varese certainly did many film music fans a favor by releasing this disc and there is a collective hope that this only marked the first release of the music from this TV series.

1 Main Title (Williams) 1:08 ****
The Mission by John Williams  
2 The Mission 0:32 ****
3 The Jinxed One  1:14 ****
4 Broken Landing Gear 2:05 ***
5 The Captain's Frustration 2:52 ***
6 The Parachute 3:02 **
7 The Control Tower 1:11 **
8 I'm Father McKay 1:25 ***
9 Good-byes 2:22 ***
10 Jonathan Begins to Draw 6:02 ***
11 The Landing 5:12 ****
Dorothy and Ben by Georges Delerue  
12 Twenty Three Thousand Dollars 0:53 ***
13 Wrinkles 0:46 ***
14 Be Quiet 2:36 ****
15 Ben Leaves 0:27 **
16 Face Changes 1:16 ****
17 Dorothy 6:26 *****
18 End Title (Williams) 0:31 ****
  Total Playing Time 41:20    



  Film Continuity 10  
  Themes/ Composition 10  
  Originality 9  
  CD Length 9  
  Track Order 8  
  Performance 10  
  Final Score 9  

Other reviews:

The score is typical John Williams - adventureous, bold and rousing, with a very militaristic sound, complete with snare drums and heroic brass. It's a quite dark and dramatic score, dominated by tense suspense cues, such as "Broken Landing Gear" and "The Captain's Frustration" - lots of dark brass and uneasy strings. The score isn't especially thematic. There is a main theme - quite lyrical - but unfortunately Williams never allows it too bloom. It is used in many of the cues, but still it is rather anonymous and unremarkable. ****

Andreas Lindahl - Score!

Conducted by  
Joel McNeely

Amazing Stories (Soundtrack) by John Williams and Georges Delerue (conducted by Joel McNeeley)
It's about time, considering that no record company had ever released John Williams' main and end titles. Also unreleased is the material scored by such gifted composers as Jerry Goldsmith, James Horner, Danny Elfman, Alan Silvestri, and Thomas Newman. The first in a series of Amazing Stories albums has finally arrived, but unlike the show's premier episode, this album debuts to much more satisfaction. The music has a sort of "wine effect": having been unreleased for over a decade, Amazing Stories is now more exhilarating to listen to than ever before! ****

Mike Dougherty -  Filmtracks Guest Review


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All artwork from Amazing Stories is exclusive property of Varese Sarabande (c) 1999.  Its appearance is for imformational purposes only.