As an old movie poster once said: “If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones.” Well, if adventure has a soundtrack, it’s John Williams’ unforgettable score to the first Indiana Jones film, 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, which will bow on vinyl next June in an expanded pressing.
Williams was, of course, the perfect man to provide the music of the 1930s globetrotting, fedora-clad archaeologist/adventurer played to perfection by Harrison Ford. After all, Indy’s creators were director Steven Spielberg (who’d hired Williams for every one of his theatrical releases up to that point, including The Sugarland Express (1973), the Oscar-winning JAWS (1975), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and 1941 (1979)) and co-writer/producer George Lucas (who’d taken Spielberg’s recommendation and hired Williams for the score to 1977’s Star Wars, leading to a third Oscar for the composer). The high adventure of the “Raiders March,” with two exhilarating thematic ideas that Williams wrote as separate theme possibilities before taking Spielberg’s suggestion and using both, have since become shorthand for blockbuster adventure music. Additional gorgeous themes, including a romantic motif for Indy’s partner and love interest Marion Ravenwood (played with brio by Karen Allen) and a mysterious tune for the film’s central plot point, The Ark of The Covenant, make this one of the best in Williams’ canon–another Oscar nominee (losing to Vangelis’ Chariots of Fire soundtrack). Williams returned along with Spielberg, Lucas and Ford for three additional Indy films in 1984, 1989 and 2008–with a fifth film planned, believe it or not, for 2020.
The Raiders soundtrack (which, like Williams’ scores for Star Wars, Superman: The Movie and The Empire Strikes Back, were recorded by The London Symphony Orchestra), has a long release history in its 35-plus years of availability. A short single LP was released by CBS Records alongside the film and belatedly released on CD by the end of the decade. In 1995, the DCC Compact Classics label greatly expanded the score from its original running time, offering nearly the complete score remastered by Steve Hoffman and pressed both on CD and an extremely limited audiophile 2LP pressing. (That pressing, in fact, offered an additional passage that was not on the CD.) In 2008, when Concord Records released the soundtrack to Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull, they secured the rights from Lucasfilm to the first three soundtracks, releasing a box set for the holiday season. This release was met with controversy across the board: while Raiders was the most complete presentation, offering three additional cues (plus, on a hastily-added fifth bonus disc, the music that had been exclusive to the DCC LP), this presentation also went back to album length on the “Desert Chase” set piece, offering less music than what had been offered on CD 13 years prior.
The first disc of that Concord box set is ported as a double-vinyl set, as mastered in 2008 by Bernie Grundman, pressed on heavyweight vinyl and featuring a gatefold sleeve with original film stills and artwork. So while it’s not the complete score on vinyl, it’s the first time much of this music has been available on the format in more than two decades. Raiders whips into record stores June 2, and a full track breakdown is below!
Raiders of the Lost Ark: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Concord, 2017)
- In the Jungle
- The Idol Temple
- Escape From the Temple
- Flight From Peru
- Washington Men/Indy’s Home
- A Thought For Marion/To Nepal
- The Medallion
- Flight to Cairo
- The Basket Game
- Bad Dates
- The Map Room: Dawn
- Reunion in the Tent/Searching for the Well
- The Well of the Souls
- Indy Rides the Statue
- The Fist Fight/The Flying Wing
- Desert Chase
- Marion’s Theme/The Crate
- The German Sub
- Ride to the Nazi Hideout
- Indy Follows The Ark
- The Miracle of The Ark
- Washington Ending/Raiders March
Portions of LP1, Tracks 4, 6, 9, 11 and 13 and LP2, Tracks 3-4 and 8-9 released as CBS Records JS 37373, 1981
LP1, Tracks 1-4, 6-9, 11-13 and all of LP 2 (including full version of “Desert Chase”) released as DCC Compact Classics CD DZS-090, 1995
LP1, Tracks 5 and 10 and LP2, Track 1 first released on Concord Records CD box set CRE-31000, 2008. Previously unreleased on LP.