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"To have so much ideas of a book is amazing, to do it in Star Wars style just thrilling"

Review by Thomas Glorieux:

"If one can repeat the majesty of Star Wars, even if its for a book would you ignore it?" This was probably the main question to Joel McNeely, ultimately becoming the composer of Shadows of the Empire. Joel McNeely received orchestra and choir and simply he could do one thing that every one else dreamed of, write the score for space battles between good and evil if it wasn't scored by John Williams. Unfortunately Joel could not compose everything exactly the way he would probably have done it, in movie music you must use the themes when they have to represent the story and Star Wars is a shade of memory without the illustrious well known fanfare and its themes for Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo and Princess Leia. So McNeely does use them and everything else is the dark side of imagination working, it makes Shadows of the Empire an interesting listen for fans of all genres.
This story takes some known elements and twists them further in an unknown world, the new enemy is Xizor, the dark prince of the Black Sun. Obvious from the spectrum of film music, Joel McNeely can compose the own bad villain motif and indeed he comes up with a striking yet slightly less sparkling one then the Williams' composition for Darth Vader. The pride of the theme is witnessed in 'Xizor's Theme' and together with Darth Vader and Luke's theme in 'Night Skies'.

To return to track 6, McNeely does put hints that would later return in Virus. The begin of course starts with the world known main theme of John Williams and the love theme for Han Solo and Leia, it is the second track that brings more originality to the fore with 'The Battle of Gall', introducing some excellent scherzo's. One of the impressive choral orchestral pallets of majesty is 'Imperial City' with a powerful orchestral fanfare in the middle and an overwhelming choral one at the end, the highlight of the soundtrack. Scherzo's abound in 'Beggar's Canyon Chase' and Williams well known underscore for 'The Southern Underground' and 'Into the Sewers'. The last 10 minute track brings choral and orchestral ravage together into an impressive delight of color and rage. While no one could deny that Williams' entries into the genre will maintain the ultimate winners, McNeely's own style is equally impressive, simply through his own voice of musical material, I truly adore the extensive use of the chorus, adding that spectacular edge to Star Wars scores. The amazing insert notes and detailed paintings only improve the purchase for true movie music fans. McNeely may as any composer have a certain style towards another classic movie composer, but don't see it as simply a way to be noticed into the Hollywood branch. You would do Joel McNeely and his impressive score for Shadows of the Empire injustice. Fans of all ages and times will rank it below the Williams' classics but will on the other hand see McNeely's effort as a true deserving score of a talented and capable movie composer. Soundtracks for books don't get any better then this.


Tracks Single Disc

1. Main Theme From Star Wars * / Leia's Nightmare (3.46)    Excellent Track

2. The Battle Of Gall (8.01)

3. Imperial City (8.04)    Excellent Track

4. Beggar's Canyon (2.58)    Excellent Track

5. The Southern Underground (1.50)

6. Xizor's Theme (4.36)    Excellent Track

7. The Seduction Of Princess Leia (3.40)

8. Night Skies ** (4.19)

9. Into The Sewers (2.57)

10. The Destruction Of Xizor's Palace (10.46)    Excellent Track

* Composed by John Williams

** Includes The Imperial March by John Williams

Total Length: 51.30


The use of artwork or photos is posted for non profitable reasons

=== Link to Composer Site: Joel McNeely ===

Original Soundtrack by Joel McNeelj

Produced by by Robert Townson

Orchestrations by David Slonaker, John Bell & Joel McNeely

Performed by The Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Recorded at City Halls; Glasgow

Also See:

The Empire Strikes Back

Return of the Jedi

Star Wars