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Jaws: Anniversary Collector's Edition (Soundtrack) by John Williams


The Fathom Menace 
Review by Christopher Coleman

Composed, Conducted and Produced by John Williams
Collectors Edition Exec. Producer: Laurent Bouzereau
Collector's Edition Engineered by Shawn Murphy
Released by Decca Records- July 2000

Jaws: Anniversary Collector's Edition

Jaws: Anniversary Collector's Edition (Soundtrack) by John Williams


Originality 10
Music Selection 9
Composition 8
CD Length 8
Track Order 8
Performance 8
Final Score 8/10


It is hard to believe that it has been 25 years since Peter Benchley, Steven Spielberg and John Williams scared half of the earth's population out of the water.  It is also hard to believe the continued level of shark-phobia since the launch of  Spielberg's film about the rogue man-eater.  Just when society was recovering from their aqua phobia, Jaws 2 was unleashed on them; however, the third and fourth chapters of the Jaws saga had people chuckling as they waded back into the oceans again.  Now, as the next millennium dawns, a new generation has taken to the depths and, just as a friendly reminder of the dangers of the deep, John Williams' main course masterpiece has been remastered and reissued by Decca Records.

To properly celebrate the silver anniversary of the greatest foe from the deep, Decca has fashioned one heck-of-a-piece.  In edition to the twelve tracks of unreleased music, Decca provides yet another top-notch insert booklet.  This booklet concisely chronicles the evolution of the film, Jaws, and its score.  There are menacing images all over the soft sided case and insert, but of course the most menacing of all is the music contained therein.

The main theme from Jaws may be one of the most recognized themes ever.  There aren't too many themes that a two year old can easily recognize and gleefully play on the piano or that, if hummed as loudly as possible during the late 1970's, could completely clear a thoroughly populated beach.  This is credit to the artistry of the composer and the psychological insights of the film's director.  The main theme from Jaws fills the mind with inescapable images of the relaxed and recreating souls becoming the latest prey each time the music makes an appearance.  This it does often and with the sort of vim and vigor that all great themes do.  Because of this simple brilliance, this theme has permanently entrenched itself into the psyches of all who have heard it in the context of the film 

Leaving this true phantom-menace theme aside for a moment, there are a number of other noteworthy cues from this score- many of which have been expanded upon in this latest release.  The Shark Cage Fugue (4) features some of Williams most determined music- style which is later found in greater abundance in his following works such as Close Encounters and Superman.  Montage (7) further features a lively and lighthearted contrast to the villainous main theme, while Father and Son (8) offer a more melancholy atmosphere.

The music for Jaws coagulates into a froth of panic, pursuit, and, at times,  playfulness, in Man Against Beast (11) and The Great Shark Chase (15).  Here, all the best of the music from Jaws comes together as waves of victory are quickly followed by waves of uncertainty and then defeat.  It is an inspiringly violent ride that provides a mere glimpse of a wealth of talent that would baptize moviegoers for the next two decades.  The majority of the previously unreleased music have been pulled from the abundant, suspenseful and intense portions of film.   If one is looking for more of the heart-pounding, white-knuckled, essences that have been left of the previous releases of Jaws, then this Decca release makes up for the lost time quite easily.

Ironically, author, Peter Benchley is now on somewhat of a crusade to tweak the reputation of the Great White shark and make them seem like non-aggressive fishies, but for many, like me, the damage is irreversible.  This is due, in no small way, to the fact that  John Williams' two-note, terror is heard whenever people venture into any deep body of water at all!  Now, that is powerful music! 

From the Liner Notes

Jaws was certainly a landmark in my career.  I had won an Academy Award for Fiddler on the Root, for which I did all the arrangements, underscoring and conducting.  But Jaws was the first Oscar I received for my own music, and that was a significant moment for me.

Composer John Williams

Track Listing and Ratings

 Track  Title  Time


1 Main Title and First Victim ** 3:30  ****
2 The Empty Raft * 1:23  ****
3 The Pier Incident* 2:22  ***
4 The Shark Cage Fugue 2:00  ****
5 Shark Attack *+ 1:18  ***
6 Ben Gardner's Boat 3:31  ****
7 Montage 1:31  ****
8 Father and Son *+ 3:43  ****
9 Into the Estuary 2:51  ***
10 Out to Sea 2:58  ****
11 Man Against Beast 5:34  ****
12 Quint's Tale 2:41  ***
13 Brody Panics * 1:10  ***
14 Barrel Off Starboard 1:31  ***
15 The Great Shark Chase **+ 3:28  ****
16 Three Barrels Under *+ 2:05  ***
17 Between Attacks *+ 2:06  ***
18 The Shark Approaches ** 2:41  ***
19 Blown to Bits  3:03  ***
20 End Titles 1:52  ****

Total Running Time


* previously unreleased ** Includes Unreleased Music + includes music not used in the film
Referenced Reviews:  


Quick Quotes

This expanded release does for this score what the expanded ET did for that score. ET was very different as an album and the re-release was the same but different; music you recall from the first album, but things didn't always play as you recall, plus of course the extra music. It takes a little bit of getting used to, since few cues are exactly the same as the first album, but once you do it is well worth it. Jaws was Williams' first original score Oscar and few are better deserved than this and on disc the experience is no less exciting and this is a seminal score that everyone should unfailingly possess. *****

Tom Daish - Soundtrack Express

John Williams
John Williams


Jaws: Anniversary Edition

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Jaws:  Anniversay Edition (Soundtrack) by John Williams

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