Welcome back to our dedicated Gift Guides, designed by me to give you inspiration whilst being reviewed fairly (and excitedly) at this seasonal time of year but also… gifts for any time in the coming seasons. After some easy tech reviewed here, a selection of special coffee table books, Star Trek classics and all-new Scalextric sets, we’re heading off to something I truly admire – film scores!
Today, the truly epic art I’ve been listening to is in the shape of superb compositions from a selection of iconic film-score composers, all available now from Mondo!
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Expanded Edition 4XLP
Over the years, I’ve listened and reviewed a wide range of soundtracks, but this particular Mondo release really is an exceptional one. In partnership with Walt Disney Records and Lucasfilm, this takes the score for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story to celebrate and expand Michael Giacchino’s base work to reveal this 4 x LP expanded edition of the full film score for the 2016 film.
As well as the soundtrack and scene accompaniments themselves, Giacchino has put together another hour of previously unreleased music, recordings and other versions of pieces from the film. Put all together, alongside liner notes from the composer himself, there’s terrific original artwork from John Powell (and I wouldn’t expect anything less from Mondo and their creative outlet), which is all pressed on 180g black vinyl. I’ll put it simply: there’s no doubt you want this if you’re a Star Wars fan of any era, but especially of Rogue One.
It also feels like the perfect time as we reflect on the astonishing work achieved in Andor, this is a timely reminder over how good Star Wars: Rogue One is, and what better than the full extended suite of Giacchino’s – with elements of John Williams – outstanding score. The intensity. The extras on here and alternate takes, you could reel them up into time and hit play together (well, place the needle) but it’s so cinematic that it deserves this 4-record pack.
While the box it comes in is a tight fit, if you’re careful (like any vinyl collector) when sliding those records and sleeves back in, you should be grand to not damage the goodness. If you spread out the artwork as well, as we all do these things right (in an Insta-age), you get a full look at John Powell’s monochrome artwork which is dramatic and fresh with the peril of the scenes he’s representing. There’s also a sleeve note from Michael Giacchino, in which he notes his childhood inspiration from the original 1977 movie and the (only) 5-week writing and recording process that created this – which makes it even more remarkable with that turnaround.
Mondo’s expanded edition is an epic reminder of the grandeur of his compositions, fully embracing the essence of Star Wars and never underestimating the reinvention of the era in which we find ourselves. It’s dark, brooding, with a dash of hope, and never ever anything less than extraordinary.
Batman Returns – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 2XLP
Welcomingly, the shadowy duo Tim Burton and Danny Elfman return after the success of 1989’s Batman with 1992’s Batman Returns, which might be one of the most under appreciated sequels in recent years, especially considering the mass market it would have hit. The film is dark, dirty, vicious, funny, smart and brutally atmospheric and with key Batman characters and first-class performances from the likes of Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer and even that Christopher Walken chap.
Elfman’s compositions undoubtedly creates so much of the vibe for this film, they go together like Keaton’s head in a cowl, like DeVito’s penguin gnawing fish, and kitty into litter (I’ll stop now) because every element of Elfman’s compositions brings back a memory of a big moment for this special 2XLP 30th Anniversary Edition, with perfectly murky and silhouettes artwork from Kilian Eng.
The real crux of the character in the compositions is revealed within Selina Kyle and especially in Elfman’s pieces related to her scenes. She’s the lifeblood of the film, who along with a spectacular Penguin from DeVito and obviously Keaton in full comfortable and compelling Batman/Bruce Wayne situations, makes this score an absolute winner.
The records come in blue and pink, representing Gotham Winter Blue, and pink for the neon, which feel exactly right for each side of the spectrum. Hell here? More like hello there…!
Order it now: mondoshop.com/batman-returns
Wonder Woman 1984 – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack 3XLP
A delectable release as Hans Zimmer takes on the world of Diana Prince, for Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman 1984. Zimmer’s score is iconic, full of scope and vision, and eager to dive right into the heart of trouble – in the greatest possible way. My version comes with 3LPs, 180-gram firework-like vinyl, and genuinely outstanding art from the mighty La Boca, trust me, this is an exceptional team-up.
While, by the marketing, I thought more 80s music would be involved, Zimmer is in control with this approach. Instantly pulled into Diana’s world from the opening arrangement, Themyscira, the name of their home city, it’s a string-fuelled power anthem with that enduring WW motif lingering around the exciting construction of the composition.
Then that wonderful Games moment, with young Diana taking part in the heart of their challenges. You can sense the moment and while we know she tries to cheat; the music is as raucous as the sequence itself. Black Gold is atmospheric beyond belief and a standout, truly bleeding the scenes into memory, followed by the emotive Wish We Had More Time, that initial mystery and time-chimes of The Stone, and then Cheetah with her prowling motifs and individual pulsing ambiance.
WW84 original score is extremely optimistic, if you compared to the darkness of his The Dark Knight work (which I also adore), this takes the character of Wonder Woman and continues to lift her up, even in the most desperate of times. La Boca’s art is exemplary, iconic and vivid, and inside the record you’ve got an epic fold-out central solar system-like journey, with the inscription ‘Anulo imposito magnum desideri es um invoca’ at its centre, and that’s connected to the ring Diana uses to wish Trevor back into reality.
The triple-centrefold art represents something akin to our solar system, and the sleeve notes feature Patty Jenkins, with her comments on the making of the score and how each track and character theme was approached. Overall, it’s a powerhouse, another must-have from Mondo.