Welcome to For The Record, the new column where I’ll review a vinyl record, from its packaging to its sound. Old or new, a Record Store Day release or bargain-bin pickup, these should have a home on your turntable. To start, let’s look a limited edition picture disc of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (OST).
Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (OST) is one of those scores that is as legendary as the movie. It’s impossible to hear the songs without thinking of the specific scenes from the film, and vice versa. If listening to the score is almost superfluous, should you bother with this new limited-edition picture disc? Let’s dive in.
Simply put, this is a gorgeous release. The two records display various iconic imagery that look fantastic spinning on a turntable. The first record features the Empire, with the Death Star taking up Side A and Darth Vader on Side B. The second disc is all Rebellion, with X-Wing Combat on Side C and Han & Chewie on Side D. While all four sides are striking, the Death Star particularly stands out, fitting the dimensions of the record perfectly. It’s an image that makes you want to buy this.
You may be thrown off that the artwork on the records is the only thing on the records (no tracklist, speed instruction or side listing). But the order fits the way it’s displayed.
The records come in a blank sleeve, with only tracklisting and credits on the side. There’s no need for extra covers, as they would just mask the excellent record art. The only downside is that the sleeve isn’t the sturdiest material. The day I received it, I noticed that the records already pulled apart the sleeves a bit at the seams. Not great craftsmanship there, but they can be replaced if necessary.
The music for this release is restored from the original master tapes and it’s noticeable. The record sound great, with minimal pop and hiss. As for the songs themselves, how do you review something that’s already so well-known? The London Symphony Orchestra, with Williams conducting, is an undeniable powerhouse. There’s a reason that the American Film Institute named it the most memorable score of all time for a U.S. film. I love the way Williams keeps touching on the “Main Theme” throughout the score. The throwbacks are comforting additions to other tracks, thrilling every time you hear them.
The best part of the score are the little touches that differ it from the music you hear in the film. The “Main Title” theme is longer than the opening crawl. “Cantina Band” also goes on for a bit, adding in a full jazz trip before swinging back to the part we all know and love.
Just like the original release from the 70s, the tracklisting doesn’t follow the order of the film. Songs like “Ben’s Death and TIE Fighter Attack” come before “The Land of the Sandpeople.” Only the first and last records match the opening and final scenes of the film. But it works, providing more musical variety than would exist with a straightforward tracklisting. You know the story of Star Wars. You don’t need a soundtrack to do it for you.
If you’re a Star Wars fan, a soundtrack fan or someone who just likes cool records, this is worth picking up. The score is monumental and the artwork is equally cool. The entire experience will bring you back to the days when you first saw the film. Who knows? You may even fall in love with it all over again.