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Massive Vangelis

from The Guardian UK

Massive Attack, Vangelis and other replicants

Massive Attack’s memorable rendering of Vangelis’ Blade Runner soundtrack with the Heritage Orchestra helps the movie legend live on

A still from Ridley Scott's Blade Runner
A still from Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner. Photograph: The Kobal Collection

On Tuesday, as part of the Meltdown festival they’re curating, Massive Attack mixed Vangelis’ original score of Blade Runner with the 45 piece Heritage Orchestra. The triumphant event marked yet another appearance of the infamous score in the pop culture zeitgeist.

The mythology surrounding Blade Runner is well known: the movie being re-cut at least seven times; Scott being fired by the producers of the film but continuing to work on it regardless; the notorious original release, which featured a Harrison Ford voiceover dubbed in pre-production and with unused scenes from Kubrick’s The Shining spliced into the closing scenes. Yet the soundtrack, too, is the subject of legend. Like the movie, it has been released and re-released with more and more extras added but, unlike the movie (a seven DVD box set was released last year), it remains far from complete.

Though trailed on the credits of the original theatrical release, the full soundtrack was never released. Instead, the producers got the New American Orchestra to arrange Vangelis’ original score. However, the last 25 years have seen the emergence of a cottage industry of bootleggers releasing the Vangelis version. Over 25 known versions exist in some form or other (some even more complete than the recently released three CD box set) and there is a blog where you can hear them.

The reason why Vangelis withheld the score has never been adequately explained, beyond his vague remarks upon the re-release in 1994 score about “finding myself unable to release these recordings at the time”. Some point to Scott’s use of other source music beyond Vangelis’ score. Others say that Vangelis never signed his contract to allow commercial use of the recordings. It’s rumoured that a rift between Scott and Vangelis was subsequently healed, upon which Vangelis ceded the commercial rights.



The constant stream of bootlegs was the official reason why Vangelis decided to release his 1994 version of the score. Even though his was the official version, many fanatics still regarded it as incomplete. It appeared to have been embellished by Vangelis after the fact. It was, however, to be the final word on the subject from Vangelis until last year when he released the three CD set of music to accompany the movie.

So why all the fuss? 

[ click to continue reading article at Guardian UK ]

Posted on June 21, 2008 by Editor

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