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Superman:  The Movie (Soundtrack) by John Williams

Tracksounds Rating = 10/10

Superman:  The Movie (Soundtrack) by John Williams

Composed and Conducted by John Williams
Performed by the London Symphony Orchestra
Released by Rhino Records 2000

Rhino Serves Up Superman on a Silver Platter
Review by Christopher Coleman

Superman:  The Movie (Soundtrack) by John WilliamsAt the turn of the century, a revival of one of the 20th century's most popular mythic heroes,  Superman, seems to be well underway.  At the writing of this review, more and more points become solidified about yet another installment of the Superman feature films.  Only a handful of months ago, Varese Sarabande released a new performance of John William's classic score to Superman:  The Movie, including a host of cues not released in MCA’s original soundtrack LP way back in 1978.  The double CD from Varese certainly helped to curb the film music community’s appetite for this bright and shiny music, but there was even more music still unreleased.  The performance of Debney and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra was more than decent, but only the original music as conducted by the composer and, of course, as performed by the London Symphony Orchestra was going to bring true satisfaction.  Enter Rhino Records.

Over the decades much has been said about the unreleased portions of this score.  Discussions, petitions, and Lord knows what else, finally got the “rest” of the original music released.  This release by Rhino Records gave a natural birth to the question, “Was it worth it?”  Let's see...

Those that have already reviewed the double CD set and those who plopped the CDs into their little carousel players seem to agree that it was, most certainly, worth all the work and maybe even the wait.   Even a casual experience with this latest release shows that Rhino has done a first class job for a first class score.

There are few phrases as satisfying to a film music fan as “previously unreleased.”  This double disc set boasts some twenty seven tracks dawning those beloved asterisks.  All told those asterisks bring the listener 40 minutes of additional original Williams' compositions for the film.   This is certainly as complete a release as one could ask for.  The producers even went so far as to include multiple versions of Can You Read My Mind, which I haven't really enjoyed since 1978, but we said we wanted it "all."  Rhino has given us more than all.

The insert for Rhino’s release is so full of informative goodness that it is an insult to call them "notes."  It is really a good sized booklet.  A plethora of intriguing notes and pictures fill every page.  The character’s history, the film’s production, a virtual track by track description, and classy opening comments from the hero, himself, Christopher Reeves, produce some THIRTY pages!  The timing of this release, in one sense, could not be better.  The liner notes show a young, strong, heroic Superman on their cover and begin with a recent quote from actor Christopher Reeves regarding his initial reaction to Williams’ score for SupermanThis is a fitting tribute to the superhero-like valiance and courage demonstrated by the currently paralyzed actor and serves as a very classy touch. The only knock I have on these notes, as well as the back insert, is that there are no track times.  Considering the quality of this release from top to bottom, the omission of track times is very puzzling and almost forgivable.

John Williams’ music for this film has been technically dissected and re-dissected countless times.  I would be remiss in not adding my own to the review-stew.  My technical dissection commences now:  The music is fantastic: start to finish, with the minor exception of the previously mentioned Margot Kidder poetic overload and Luthor's Luau.  Now, that I’m finished with that exhaustive breakdown, I’ll continue to laud the accolades of Rhino’s release of Williams’, let me reiterate, “fantastic” music. 

What Rhino has supplied to the film music community are a number of cues that are instantly “praiseable.”  Maybe the most notable inclusion is the Prelude and Main Title March that starts this heroic music fest off on CD 1.  This music was used at the beginning film as it was released in theatres in 1978.  Having heard the Superman theme at the start of first soundtrack release, countless compilations and aftermarket performance, and even in edited versions of the film, hearing this piece truly changes one’s initial emotional impressions of the film and the score.  Instead of the triumphant fanfare we are used to hearing right at the onset, we have a minute or so of much more subtle, inviting piece of music as woodwinds and brass speak back and forth of hints of the main theme grandeur to follow.  Rhino has included three additional cues of the famous Superman theme, sandwiching the both disc 1 and disc 2- and a satisfying sandwich it makes.

Following this is the most thrilling portion of the score and has always been my personal favorite:  the once short and sweet track, “The Planet Krypton.”  Rhino has actually added some five minutes to this cue!  If this were not enough,, the producers also "threw in" an alternate take of this piece, but the original version has a much deeper feel to it.

This score has earned Tracksounds highest rating (10/10) and garnered more four star and five star track ratings than any other single release reviewed here to date.  You will find some very high marks for a number of previously unreleased tracks such as:  Star Ship Escapes, The Death of Jonathan Kent, The Terrace, Lois and Clark.

If there has ever been a score that needed a more complete release, Superman by John Williams, may be the supreme representation.  Rhino Records has finally brought to film score lovers around the world all that has been asked for…and a little more!  This double CD release has truly been given “super” treatment.  From its superb packaging and liner notes to the wealth of Williams’s music contained on the two CDs, this release is top rate and a must for every film music fan's library.

Disc 1   Disc 2
Track Title Time Rating

Track

Title Time Rating
1 Prelude And Main Title March ** 5:29 ***** 1 Superman March (Alternate)** 3:48 *****
2 The Planet Krypton** 6:40 ***** 2 The March of the Villains 3:36 ****
3 Destruction of Krypton** 7:52 **** 3 The Terrace* 1:34 ****
4 Star Ship Escapes * 2:21 **** 4 The Flying Sequence 8:13 *****
5 The Tip to Earth 2:28 **** 5 Lois and Clark* 0:50 ****
6 Growing Up** 2:34 *** 6 Crime of the Century* 3:23 ****
7 Death of Jonathon Kent* 3:24 **** 7 Sonic Greeting* 2:21 ****
8 Leaving Home 4:51 ***** 8 Misguided Missiles and Kryptonite* 3:26 ***
9 The Fortress of Solitude 9:17 ***** 9 Chasing Rockets** 4:55 ***
10 Welcome to Metropolis** 2:11 *** 10 Superfeats** 4:52 ***
11 Lex Luthor's Lair** 4:47 **** 11 Super Dam and Finding Lois** 5:11 ****
12 The Big Rescue* 5:55 **** 12 Turning Back the World 2:06 ****
13 Super Crime Fighter** 3:20 *** 13 Finale and End Title March ** 5:42 *****
14 Super Rescues** 2:13 *** 14 Love Theme and Superman 5:05 *****
15 Luthor's Luau (Source)* 2:47 ** 15 Can You Read My Mind (Alternate)* 2:58 *
16 The Planet Krypton (Alternate) ** 4:24 **** 16 The Flying Sequence/Can You Read My Mind 8:10 ****
17 Main Title March (Alternate) 4:36 ***** 17 Can You Read My Mind (alternate instrumental) 2:56 **
        18 Theme From Superman (concert version) 4:24 ****
  Total Playing Time

75:09

      Total Playing Time

73:30

 
 

Category

Score

   Grand Total Time  2:29:39

Music Selection

9  

Themes/ Composition

10   * = Previously Unreleased Music

CD Length

10   ** = Contains Previously unreleased material

Track Order

9  

Performance

10  

Final Score

10  
         
Post your thoughts about Superman: The Movie or this review at  
Other reviews:

Rhino's very much anticipated complete 2-CD release of the original score was finally made available in February, 2000. With over forty minutes of additional material, the Rhino release represents the final and comprehensive musical experience from Superman. With so many of Williams' previous hits from this period receiving much of the same treatment, it was only a matter of time before Superman, which has more music to begin with than many of Williams' other scores, was offered as a 2-CD set. *****

Christian Clemmensen - Filmtracks


Composer
John Williams

Superman:  The Movie (Soundtrack) by John Williams

When Williams is really on the ball, his scores are uplifting and evocative. They lock you down and make you listen. His score for Superman is as iconic as the figure of a man standing tall, a billowing cape behind him and a red "S" emblazoned on his chest. The Main Title March is instantly recognizable and rousing as hell. And it’s stuck with me ever since I was a boy. That’s good music, and that’s what’s captured – in all it’s re-mastered glory – on Rhino’s new expanded two disc set.

Kenneth Plume - Filmforce.net

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Superman:  The Movie (Soundtrack) by John Williams

All artwork from Superman:  The Movie is exclusive property of Rhino Records (c) 2000.  Its appearance is for informational purposes only.

 

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