John Williams / Boston Pops Orchestra

Aisle Seat: Great Film Music

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When the Boston Pops appointed film composer John Williams to replace Arthur Fiedler as their conductor in 1980, they must have known that they would be able to use his cache with moviegoers to sell enormous quantities of records and concert tickets centered around his music. Aisle Seat is one of the orchestra's first efforts to cash in on Williams' name. It was released in 1982, just before the composer won his fourth Academy Award for E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial, and the compilation opens with a stirring rendition of the now-classic "Flying Theme" from that film. The record also features the theme from Williams' score for Raiders of the Lost Ark. The Boston Pops renditions of the Williams scores vary little from the original soundtrack recordings. But consumers hoping that Aisle Seat will give them ten film soundtracks for the price of one are liable to be disappointed. Half of the selections are instrumental orchestral arrangements of famous movie songs: "Over the Rainbow," "Singin' in the Rain," "New York, New York," "The Trolley Song," and "If We Were in Love." And most of the remaining tracks are performed so differently from the soundtrack versions that some listeners might not recognize them. In fact, every piece -- from Vangelis' originally synthesized theme for Chariots of Fire to Max Steiner's melodramatic "Tara Theme" from Gone With the Wind -- is made to sound like a Williams score. Aisle Seat is probably best avoided. It shouldn't be hard for movie fans to find a compilation that uses the original soundtrack recordings.

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