The second instalment of I Am Shark’s vinyl releases for the Star Wars prequels looks amazing. Whereas The Phantom Menace came in a wide array of vinyl colours -- ranging from Qui-Gon green and brown marble to hyperdrive black with white splatter and everything in between -- this first pressing comes in one variant, and that’s Jango Fett silver and royal blue. The vinyl looks astonishingly good, and the gatefold sleeve in which it’s packaged comes with Drew Struzan’s poster art on the cover, and an amazing gatefold spread of the clone army inside.
But as beauty is only skin deep, the real question is: how does it sound? The short answer is “great,” with a slightly longer one being, “better than The Phantom Menace.” I Am Shark’s initial Star Wars release sounded just a touch muddy, but never in any way to which one could specifically point. Attack of the Clones, however, sounds bright, vibrant and dynamic in a way that leaps out of your speakers.
While the cues in Attack of the Clones might not be as well-known as those in the rest of John Williams’ Star Wars oeuvre -- there’s no “Duel of the Fates” or “Imperial March” to be found within these 13 tracks -- this score works best as a complete album. There’s a real sense of unity to the music of Attack of the Clones that lets these pieces flow from one to the other, and while that means that there’s less of the loud-quiet-loud dynamic that so infuses Williams’ compositions for the rest of the franchise, it really works for the better.
Additionally, when listening to this score, one gets the very adventurous (for John Williams, at least) addition of electric guitars in “Zam the Assassin and the Chase Through Coruscant." It’s the sort of track which would be de rigueur for any other sci-fi action film, but in the hands of John Williams, it seems positively left-field. Context is everything, evidently, and in this case, it can make the standard seem novel.
If you’re a Star Wars or John Williams fan, this is obviously a necessity for your collection, and the presentation certainly makes it worth owning, both in terms of sound and vision. Additionally, the fine folks at I Am Shark weren’t satisfied with recreating the compact disc release, choosing instead to offer up a bonus.
When you pay attention to side B of the second LP, you’ll notice that your turntable’s arm doesn’t return when it reaches the end of "Confrontation with Count Dooku and Finale,” and that there appears to be a second track. If you want to hear the track for yourself, you’ll have to lift the tone arm to get past the locked groove that hides it.
I Am Shark has put together a solid release of an overlooked instalment in John Williams’ Star Wars scores. Even if it’s not 100% one of your favourite films in the franchise, the music -- divorced from the petulant sneering face of Hayden Christensen -- is well worth taking another listen to, and what better way to do so than this gorgeously packaged release?
STAR WARS: EPISODE II - ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002) / COMPOSER: JOHN WILLIAMS / LABEL: I AM SHARK / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW