John Carpenter

Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998

Sacred Bones

Oct 17, 2017 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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Funny how a guy can put out a decades-spanning greatest hits record just two years after releasing his debut album. Of course, we're speaking only on technicality herethe filmmaker-turned-rocker has been composing scores for his movies since 1974's Dark Star. This anthology record comprises the themes from 13 of his films, re-recorded with the family band who collaborated with him on his two Lost Themes LPs.

At first, it's sensible to question the need to record new versions of these tracks, but if you compare old and new side-by-side the differences are obvious. The 2017 versions sound bigger, bolderwith better mixing and, no doubt, more advanced studio equipment. This is especially true on the themes from his earlier films, such as Assault on Precinct 13 and Halloween, where you have to assume Carpenter had no budget to spare for recording the first time around. The results are considerably more pleasing on modern audio equipment.

Taken separately, each track easily conjures the imagery and tone of its parent film. It can be jarring to hear, say, the chilling theme from the horror classic "The Thing" (an Ennio Morricone cover) fade into the rousing, sensitive score for the sci-fi romance "Starman," but sequencing oddities will abound on any compilation. As far as a John Carpenter "Greatest Hits" album goes, it's not going to get better than this. (www.theofficialjohncarpenter.com)

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