Silva America Records shadows the opening of Star Wars: Episode 2 -- Attack of the Clones nine days later by releasing this two-CD set of film music drawn from previous science-fiction movies. Typically, the label plays down the actual musical performer, which is as usual the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, not crediting the group on either the front or back cover, as if the album consisted of original soundtrack recordings instead of the new versions it does contain. The selection serves to emphasize the influence of composer John Williams, who scored Star Wars: Episode 2: Attack of the Clones as well as the previous four Star Wars films, and many others besides, especially those directed by George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. In fact, Williams' work is heard in 11 of the 34 tracks here, far more than that of any other composer, and you can hear his influence on other scores as well. Listen to Bruce Broughton's end titles from Lost in Space and David Arnold's for Independence Day, which use similar big themes and flourishes. (The liner notes rightly point out that Williams himself owes much of his approach to Holst's The Planets and predecessors like Erich Wolfgang Korngold.) There are performances here of music that was not actually heard in the films for which it was written. Jerry Goldsmith's end titles for Alien were replaced, and the version of the main title from the comic Mars Attacks on the disc is actually an early draft. Some composers are better than others at the genre. Henry Mancini sounds like he could be scoring a swashbuckler in his music for Lifeforce, and John Barry's overture for The Black Hole is attractive but doesn't sound like space music. Much of what is here does, though, and it serves to remind listeners of how thrilling space operas can be.
The Science Fiction Album, Vol. 1 Review
by William Ruhlmann