THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK score

Composer / Conductor: John Williams

Performer: the London Symphony Orchestra

Project: multiple sources remixing, restoration and remastering.

Sources: RSO/PolyGram (LP & CD), Arista Anthology, RCA Special Edition.

Format: Lossless Flac audio

 

 

The first aim of the unofficial Audiophile Edition is to bring back the orchestral depth and the sense of detail the original soundtrack used to show in the past, which was terribly missing since the first CD issue of the Empire score in 1985.

A careful comparison and selection of the tracks from each recording after equalization tests have led to give preference to the unappreciated but potentially rich RSO/PolyGram first CD release, John Neal's remixes for the original album remaining still today the most lavish and powerful rendition of the London Symphony Orchestra's performance. The well preserved and superior dynamic range hidden in this release awaited only a few to come back to life.

Still, the digital transfers from the Anthology were to be largely sourced. These somehow crude sounding downmixed versions of the sessions tapes as prepared by Eric Tomlinson offer the basic material for remixing and arrangements with the RSO tracks, as for being restored with their counterparts from the Special Edition. For completion, almost all the tracks sourced from the latter fortunately provide the Tomlinson mixes too rather than new remixes. They likely belong to the same series of transfers Bill Wolford made in 1993 for the box set, and it is assumed most of these were featured on the never issued 5th disc. In the end, only 1 or 2 minutes from the 1997 remixes have found a place here, either to restore missing parts or exceptionally by choice.

By chance and for final improvement, high quality transfers from the LP's have been made especially available. Not to be used in their pure form excepted occasionally because of cracklings and the too deep vinyl sound, they found to be used through a special overdubbing as layers, allowing to imprint the incredible dynamic range of the RSO LP's to the sessions mixes, to borrow the many missing instruments developed in the first, such as percussions or flutes for instances to complete the latter, as to increase their potential for equalization.

 

- Observations and operating ways

The overall restoration of the Empire recordings involved first to manage the background noise  hearable along the score. The noticeable edited segments of each track were then to be reequalized and rebalanced in order to give their matching sound to the reconstructed cues. This means no special digital processings of any kind were to be used.

The digital transfers featured by the Anthology or the SE are more or less distorted with over-modulation and some have been spotted for having huge clippings located on one channel (often the right), wrongly and abusively compensated with loud volume. "Darth Vader's Trap" is one of the best examples of that. Such cues won a lot to have the balance restored, so to say as if no clipping occured, leaving a ghost where some frequencies are missing while allowing to retrieve the least corrupted channel that was unfairly lower before. Sensitivity prevailed over power for these tracks that have already lost a lot of their sharpness in the process. Many tracks from the original album equally deserved special care and for most important restoration,"The Rebel Fleet / End Title" revisits all the wrong cuts, balance and EQ's on more than a dozen of sessions takes to restitute the whole cue in an integrity unmatched before.

The SE has been used to restore the Anthology (dropouts and buzzes) and vice versa (for clean endings of the tracks notably) depending on the selection, also some of the RSO tracks from the original album being incomplete, both the SE and Anthology were welcome to supply the missing parts. Another particularity has been watched on the 1993 Anthology release to synchronize the sources with success: the audio waveform of almost every tracks was inverted compared to the two other releases, and also, two tracks had their stereo channels swapped.

Next to that, the LP's use has generated the most creative part of the remixing, demanding to find a perfect synchronization with the sessions mixes: the LP's play faster, and at different proportions for each track, or even between the different segments of a track. Only "Hyperspace" running about 4 minutes has been layered in one piece, when "The Magic Tree" for instance has been reedited in five or six parts of slightly different speeds, exceptionally featuring one alternate time placed instrument in its beginning. Pitch and speed restorations on rare SE parts, on a few RSO (CD) and on all the LP's tracks, used the Anthology as main reference... The rich complementarity of the various releases has been entirely explored.

To achieve the project, the whole remastering of the score has been approached with the constant care and thought to give back the touch, the breath and the dynamic of the London Symphony Orchestra's performance, such as we remember and still expect from such recordings.

Though not a perfect restoration of the Empire Strikes Back score, I believe the virtual Audiophile Edition may remain the most authentic rendition of it until hopefully LucasFilm or the 20th Century Fox meets the audience's demand for quality.

In order to make a correct edit of The Empire Strikes Back’s score from all the available editions, one must take into consideration some specific particularities on each of those:

1. The SE’s have a lot of tracks with a narrow or spoiled stereo + a bunch of mixes that differ from the originals ones and are to be avoided.

2. The Anthology has two tracks (segments more precisely)  with the stereo channels inverted.

3. The Anthology is almost entirely inverted (the frequencies have their head down, which can be an issue once you have to edit a track with the SE or the RSO. That's easy to fix).

4. The RSO 1st CD edition, behind the lack of care about the mixing for the album, is awesome.

5. General: to notice the score is re-composed from many recording sessions wich edited together may sound different.

On this edit, all have been remixed separately (originally edited segments from a same cue), to obtain the most accurate volumes and equalizations settings before editing. Only equalization has been used; no compression, bass-boosters, noise reductor, or wide stereo filters (except for a 15 second passage from the Main Titles on the Special Edition).

All the RSO LP layers have been speed and pitch corrected according to the Anthology and (rarely) SE sources, sometimes as a whole track, sometimes in multiple parts depending on the source track and of course of the new edits.

CD1 (72:46):

1. Main Titles / The Ice Planet

· 0’00” - 1’31” | RSO CD (speed/pitch corrected)

· 1’31” - 2’29” | RSO CD

· 2’29” - 2’45” | SE

· 2’45” - 2’54” | Anthology

· 2’54” - 3’15” | RSO CD

· 3’15” - 3’31” | RSO CD

· 3’31” -  3’45” | RSO CD

· 3’45” -  8’12” | Anthology

 

2. The Wampa’s Lair

· SE + Anthology clean fade out

·RSO LP Layers:

(Sections)

· 0’00” - 0’10”

· 1’21” - 1’40”

· 1’48” - 1’53”

· 2’59” - 3’24”

(Percussions & Trumpets/Horns)

At 0'47"; 0'56"; 1'01"; 1'14"; 1'17"; 1'20"; 1'21"; 1'55"; 1'57"; 2'02"

3. Vision of Obi-Wan

· SE (Fade in beginning)

4. Snowspeeders

· Anthology

· RSO LP Layer for better depth and percussions details.

5. Aboard The Executor

· SE

6. Drawing The Battle Lines

· 0’00” – 2’01” | SE + Anthology layer (for general sonority only)

· 2’01” – 2’40” | SE

· 2’40” – 4’04” | Anthology

· Stereo recentered on each part

· "Special EQ's"

7. The Battle In The Snow

· RSO CD

· restored lack of volume from 1’43” to 1’50” (RSO only)

· rearranged the clumsy original cut (a repetition)  at 2’28”

8. Luke’s First Crash

· 0’00” - 0’58” | Anthology + LP layer (fade in) from 0'05" to 0'31"

· 0’58” - 4’00” | RSO LP at Anthology speed/pitch

· 4'00” - 4'12” | Anthology fade out

9. The Rebels Escape

· Anthology

· RSO LP transfer from 2'05 to 2'07 (missing bit) at corrected speed/pitch

· "Special EQ's"

· Resynchronization of the Anthology track

· RSO LP Layer (light, for general sonority)

10. The Asteroid Field

· RSO CD

11. Crash Landing On Dagobah

· Anthology

· Corrected volume and cut at 2'40" (end fanfare)

· "Special EQ's"

12. A Familiar Place

· SE

13. Luke’s Nocturnal Visitor

· 0’00” – 1’37” | RSO CD

· 1’37” – 1’47” | Anthology (missing bit)

· 1’47” – end | RSO CD

14. Han And Leia / Vader And The Emperor

· 0’00” – 1’31” | RSO CD, restored hiss on 1 or 2sec at 1’19” with the SE

· 1’31” – End | RSO CD

Two “big” hisses remain, but this version is irreplaceable.

15. Jedi Master Revealed / Mynock Cave

· 0’00” – 2’06” | SE (Jedi Master Revealed) + RSO LP Layer

· 2'06” – 2'23” | SE (Mynock Cave missing intro)

· 2'23” – 3'01" | RSO CD

· 3’01” – 3’09” | SE (missing bit)

· 3'09” – 4'22” | RSO CD + "click" restoration at 3'15" with the SE

· 4'22” – 4'26" | SE (missing bit)

· 4'22” – 4'40” | RSO CD (fade in)

· Resonance correction with layered inverted channels on the two last SE missing bits.

(The SE on this track has the resonance of the music of each channel totally isolated from the other, at least on those parts)

... Track fully reedited. The end of “Jedi Master Revealed” has been composed to match the beginning of "Mynock Cave".

The repetition of the thrilling part on the later one has been removed here as in the film version, and probably for the same reason: it broke the surprise.

See for the complete cue in the additional tracks.

16. The Magic Tree

· Anthology

· RSO LP Layer

17. Attack Position

· Anthology

· Three electrical noises/dropouts restored with the SE

· Stereo recentered

18. Yoda And The Force

· RSO CD, unrestored weird synth noise on the end fanfare, but it’s the only version available with the original ending untouched releasing its full power. They’ve only cut it on later releases as no other recording allows a restoration.

19. Imperial Starfleet Deployed

· SE

20. City In The Clouds

· 0’00” – 0’09” | Anthology + light RSO LP Layer (fade in)

· 0’09” – 0’35” | RSO LP transfer

· 0’35” – 1’26” | Anthology

· 0’34” – 2’06” | RSO LP Layers (multi parts) for better depth and sonority

· 1’26” – 2’29” | SE

· 2’29” – 3’40” | RSO LP transfer

· 3’40” – End | Anthology

 

 

____________________________________________________

 

CD2 (68:56):

1. Lando's Palace / Luke's Promise

· 0’00” - 1’21” | Anthology + RSO LP layer

· 1’21” - 2’24” | Anthology + RSO LP layer

· 2’24” - 3’51” | Anthology + RSO LP layer

· Stereo recentered

2. Leia's Worries

· 0’00” - 0'14” | SE

· 0’14” - 1'00” | SE

3. Lando And Han

· SE

4. Betrayal At Bespin

· SE

5. Captives

· SE

6. Deal With The Dark Lord

· 0’00” – 0'48” | SE

· 0'48” – 2’34” | SE

7. Carbon Freeze

· 0’00” - 0'23” | Anthology

· 0'23” - 1'16” | Anthology

· 1'16” - 1'34” | Anthology

· 1'34” - 2'38” | Anthology

· 2'38” - 3'20” | SE missing end

· Stereo recentered

8. Darth Vader's Trap

· 0'00” - 0'55” | Anthology

· 0'55” - 1'30” | Anthology

· 1'30” - 2'06” | Anthology

· 2'06” - 3'30” | Anthology

· 3'30” - 3'49” | Anthology

· 3'49” - 4'51” | Anthology + electrical noise restoration on 1 sec.

· Stereo recentered

9. Departure Of Boba Fett

· 0'00” - 0'06” | SE

· 0'06” - 3'36" | Anthology

RSO LP layers:

· 0’15” - 1’00”

· 1’16” - 3’36” + double cut restoration with both Anthology and SE from 2'36” - 2'40”.

· Stereo recentered

Note: this version presents the alternate LP end (with thrilling violins fading out) melted with the film mix end.

10. The Duel

· 0’00” - 0'27” | Anthology

· 0'27” - 1'33” | RSO CD

· 1'33” - 2'49” | RSO CD

· 2'49” - 4'06” | RSO CD

· speed/pitch corrected.

· Recentered stereo on the two last segments

 

11. The Revelation / Escape From Bespin

· Anthology

· Stereo recentered

12. Hyperspace

· Anthology

· Stereo recentered

· RSO LP layer

13. The Rebel Fleet / Finale

                  (The Rebel Fleet)

· 0’00” - 1'47” | RSO CD (base remix)

· 1'47” - 1'57” | RSO CD (distortion correction through EQ's)

+ The first harp notes added from the Anthology

                  (Finale)

· 1'57” - 2'06” | RSO CD (distortion correction through EQ's)

· 2'06” - 3'42” | RSO CD (base remix) + "tape crash" restoration at 3'08" with Anthology

· 3'42” - 3'51” | RSO CD (re-EQ)

· 3'51” - 4'28” | RSO CD - from the "Imperial March" track

· 4'28” - 4'37” | Anthology - from the "Film Version" bonus track (distortion correction through EQ's)

· 4'37” - 5'47” | RSO CD (distortion correction through EQ's)

· 4'47” - 6'25” | RSO CD (base remix)

14. The Imperial March

· RSO CD

· Stereo recentered

15. Yoda's Theme

· RSO CD

16. Training Of A Jedi Knight (Unused)

· 0'00” - 0'44” | RSO CD

· 0'44” - 1'38” | SE

ALTERNATE MATERIAL

17. Fox Fanfare

· Anthology

Note: re-recorded in 1980 during the ESB sessions.

18. Main Title / Probe Droid Overture (Original film version)

· 0’00” - 1’31” | RSO CD (speed/pitch corrected)

· 1’31” - 1’43” | RSO CD

· 1'43” - 2’24” | SE - "Probe Droid"

· 2'24” - 2’35” | SE - "Patroling On Tautaun"

· 2’35” - 2’43” | Anthology (first 3sec from SE for junction)

· 2’43” - 3’46” | RSO CD (multi parts)

· 3’15” - 3’31” | SE - "Rebel Base" insert

Note: this track is the overture as originaly scored for the final film cut. The last part has been replaced in the film with the end of "Crash Landing".

19. Snowspeeders (film version)

· Anthology + RSO LP layers

Multi-segment edit from "Hyperspace" and "Snowspeeders"

20. Mynock Cave (complete)

· SE

· Exceptional use of stereo widening filter to narrow the abusive setting from the SE.

From the "March" fanfare to the end of "Mynock Cave", here's the full tracks as rehearsed and recorded during the sessions according to the special 1980 BBC documentary on J. Williams.

21. Departure Of Boba Fett (film version)

· Anthology + RSO LP layers

Multi-segment edit from this cue

22. The Rebel Fleet / Finale (Film Version)

· Same as track 13, expended with intro from "Yoda And The Force", the "Imperial March" is replaced here with its alternate from the film version End Titles (Anthology bonus track).

+ Stereo recentered

 

 

_____________________________________________________

 

CD3 (78:10): The RSO album reconstructed & completed.

Note: Compilation of the highest dynamic range tracks from CD1 & 2. Many tracks have been slightly reequalized for the set (*).

1. Main Title/Luke on Patrol /The Wampa's Lair

2. Snowspeeders

3. The Imperial March*

4. The Battle In The Snow

5. Luke First Crash*

6. The Rebel Escape* (alternate mix)

7. The Asteroid Field*

8. Nocturnal Visitor

9. Han And The Princess / Vader And The Emperor

10. Jedi Master Revealed / Mynock Cave

11. The Training of A Jedi Knight

12. The Magic Tree*

13. Yoda And The Force

14. The City In The Clouds*

15. Lando's Palace/Luke's Promise*

16. Departure Of Boba Fett*

17. The Duel

18. Hyperspace*

19. The Rebel Fleet/End Title* (Album Version)

20. Yoda's Theme

-----

 

...What's new since:

EQ's: mostly 1993 sessions mixes tracks, using a 20Khz parametric equalizer to manage the 20Khz tone that is particular to these. Overall, the CD3 from the AE has been the main reference for new EQs. A lot of tracks from it then replace the previous CD1 & 2 ones.

Pitch corrections: 5M4/6M1; 6M3; 7M3; 9M4 + 1M2 Alt this one checked against the 1980 film mix)

Balance adjustment on a few tracks

New source occasionnaly used for enhancement: the NPR Radio Drama for 6M3; 10M1

Redone tracks: 6M2 (uses the film mix instead of the SE remix); 9M4, 1M2 Alt.

Editing: checked and corrected when needed against John Williams' piano sketches manuscript (scoring sheets).

Other improvements: notably 8M2, bringing back the background details (xylophone(?) harmonics) from the sessions mix during Luke's vision passage.

 

+ A few other details.

 

 

 Disc 1

01. 1M1-1M2 Main Title - The Imperial Probe (original)

02. 1M3/2M1 Luke's Escape

03. 2M2 Ben's Instructions

04. 2M3 Luke's Rescue

05. 2M4 The Probe Scanner

06. 3M1 Drawing The Battle Lines

      3M2 Leia's Instructions

07. 3M3 The Snow Battle

08. 3M4/4M1 Luke's First Crash

09. 4M2 The Rebels Escape Again

10. 4M3 The Asteroid Field

11. 5M1 Crash Landing

12. 5M2 Yoda Appears

13. 5M3 Yoda's Entrance

14. 5M4/6M1 Solo And The Princess

15. 6M2 Yoda's Teaching

16. 6M3 This Is Not A Cave

17. 6M4 Training A Jedi

18. 6M5/7M1 The Magic Tree

19. 7M2 Attack Position

20. 7M3 Yoda Raises The Ship

21. 7M4/8M1 Vader's Command

Disc 2

01. 8M2 City In The Clouds

02. 8M3 Lando's Palace

03. 9M1 Luke To The Rescue

04. 9M2 Vader Shows Up

05. 9M3 Putting ThreePio Together

06. 9M4 Trouble In Prison

07. 9M6/10M1 Carbon Freeze (original)

08. 10M2 Luke Pursues The Captives

09. 10M3 Chewie Chokes Lando

10. 11M1 Through The Window

11. 12M1 Losing A Hand

12. 12M2 To Hyper-Space

13. 12M3 Finale

    12M4 End Credits

CONCERT VERSIONS:

 

14. Darth Vader's Theme

15. Yoda's Theme

BONUS MATERIAL:

16. Fox Fanfare (Empire sessions recording)

17. 1M1-1M2 Main Title / The Imperial Probe (Alt inserts)

18. 12M2+2M3 Snowspeeder (film edit)

19. 4M3 The Asteroid Field (film cut)

20. 9M6/10M1 Carbon Freeze (Alt insert version)

21. 7M3+12M3 Finale (film edit)

      12M4 End Credits (Alt March Insert film version)

         

         

There have been several sources used for the Empire recordings:

1980 - Album (LPs)

1985 - Album (half. CD) Both have a mix from 24-track tapes prepared by J. Williams and J. Neal

1993 - Anthology: mostly 4-track tapes session mixes + a couple of film mixes. All this known as untouched (not remastered). These are known to be corrupted, notably with overmodulation, and then clipping.

1997 - Special Edition: half are session mixes (1993 transfers, so for unreleased material, but remastered), the other half being new mixing of the 24-track tapes, concerning mostly the old album content, completely messed up, having instrument completely centered or inverted, wrong pitches & speed, etc... Remember each instrument has a place in the orchestra: violins on the left, cellos on the right, for instances. DON'T BLAME BRYAN RISNER who was in charge of the new mixes. You don't know how much time he had to make it. Fox and Lucasfilm may have had some responsibility.

This new set has managed to avoid ALL the 1997 remixes, excepted for about 1 mintute in all. All the original album has been used "pure", or remixed, with the session mixes, mostly from the Anthology.

Accurate EQs & balance corrections, pitch speed corrections, editing + astonnishing overdubbing were applied to bring this score back to life, and to a forgotten level of detail...