15 January 2016

Star Wars: Ewok Celebration!

I listen to a lot of soundtrack music; indeed, it constitutes the majority of the music on my iPod. I don't like reading or writing to music with lyrics, so it gets a lot of play as I work. You might not be surprised to learn that much of the music comes from Star Trek, Star Wars, and Doctor Who; I'm an assiduous collector of soundtracks for all three franchises.

Thus it's been a perennial source of aggravation to listen to my 2004 "Collector's Edition" of the soundtrack for Star Wars, Episode VI: Return of the Jedi and have to hear "Victory Celebration." As you know, one of the alterations of George Lucas's 1997 "Special Editions" was to augment the ending of Return of the Jedi cutting away from the celebrations on Endor to show celebrations on Coruscant, Bespin, and Tatooine. (In 2004, Naboo would be added, as well.) To match the new sequences, John Williams recorded a new musical cue, "Victory Celebration," replacing the original "Ewok Celebration," which you might know better as the "Yub Nub" song.

I love the "Yub Nub" song.

Seriously, it's just fun. Even if it wasn't, "Victory Celebration" is a pretty uninspired piece of music on its own merits.

What really grates is that the editions of the original trilogy soundtracks are the two-disc Collector's Editions, supposedly complete! Yet "Ewok Celebration" is nowhere to be heard, not even as an alternate track thrown on the end. Every time I listen to the Return of the Jedi soundtrack, or "Victory Celebration" comes up in shuffle, I just get mad that George Lucas's historical revisionism has to extend to the soundtracks of the films, pretending that music composed by John Williams doesn't even exist. I've considered buying the original 1983 CD release of the Episode VI used off Amazon soundtrack just so I could rip off that precious, precious final track. (Oh, and get ahold of "Lapti Nek," the song performed in Jabba's Palace that in the Special Edition was replaced with the awful, awful "Jedi Rocks.") Don't get me wrong, the Collector's Editions are otherwise fabulous, containing every minute of music from the original trilogy, but this omission has grated at me for years.

Until now.

Last week, Star Wars: The Ultimate Soundtrack Collection was released in three formats: CD, vinyl, and digital, containing the soundtracks to the first six Star Wars films. The CD versions of the original trilogy were sourced from the Collector's Editions, but the vinyl versions were the original 1970s/80s vinyl releases-- and, for some reason, the digital versions were sourced from the vinyl. From before Lucas's revisionism took hold. I have no idea why, but score!

You can now download "Ewok Celebration and Finale" for 99 cents! You can bet that I did it the same morning it was released, added it my iTunes Star Wars playlist in the place of "Victory Celebration," and listened to it straight away. Of course, it sounds amazing in its proper position. (And I'm happy to have "Lapti Nek" too.) Unsurprisingly, the little popularity bars on Amazon indicate "Ewok Celebration" is by far the album's most downloaded track.

Now that's a victory worth celebrating.

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