This weekend, iconic filmmaker Steven Spielberg finally achieved his dream of directing a musical, with a stunning new version of the Leonard Bernstein/Stephen Sondheim classic West Side Story. Longtime observers of Spielberg's filmography know that musicals have been a hidden passion of sorts: not only is his work so intrinsically tied to song (notably the scores of John Williams, who's done one for nearly all of his films), but he's flirted with musical numbers in films before, from the opening adaptation of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" in Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom to even the animated film he produced a few years later, 1986's An American Tail (whose song score by James Horner predated the Disney Renaissance by three years).
But three decades ago, he came closer than many realized: Hook, his 1991 spiritual sequel to Peter Pan, was at one point conceived as a musical with songs by Williams and Leslie Bricusse (another legendary composer-lyricist we lost this year). While few of the songs ended up in the finished picture (most notably the Oscar-nominated "When You're Alone"), the thematic ideas became the backbone of one of Williams' most lyrical and magical scores, anticipating his fantastical musical groundwork for the Harry Potter series a decade later. Three decades after it was released to mixed reviews but received by a generation that loved its sentimental charms as they went from child to adult, Williams' score to Hook will receive its first-ever vinyl reissue from the film music geeks at Mondo.
This 180-gram, 2LP release (available in both colored splatter and black vinyl variants and limited to 1,991 copies) replicates the original hour-plus soundtrack originally released alongside the film at Christmas 1991. It offers a musical souvenir of the journey of Peter Banning (Robin Williams), a workaholic lawyer with little time for his children - until they're kidnapped on a family outing to London by someone claiming to be "Jas. Hook, Captain." Peter's adopted grandmother Wendy (Maggie Smith) reveals that he is the grown-up boy whom James Barrie's acclaimed stories are based upon, and before long Tinkerbell (Julia Roberts) whisks Banning away to Neverland to reclaim his past and stop the cunning Hook (Dustin Hoffman). Williams' themes are bountiful: swashbuckling action ("Prologue"), wistful yearning ("When You're Alone"), heartbreaking memory ("Remembering Childhood"), jaunty laughs ("The Neverfeast") and even light jazz ("Banning Back Home"), with part of an epic, minutes-length climactic suite ("The Ultimate War") kicking off the fourth side of the album.
For this reissue, Williams' longtime restorer Mike Matessino has produced and edited this newly-mastered presentation. It's worth noting that La-La Land Records and Sony Music released a 2CD expanded edition of Hook in 2012; while nearly complete, this edition - produced not by Matessino but soundtrack great Didier C. Deutsch - did suffer from less-than-stellar audio quality, owing to several cues sourced from the final film mix instead of the original master reels. (Fans continue to hold out hope that a more complete and definitive CD presentation, perhaps under Matessino's careful vision, will make its way into print.) Devin Elle Kurtz has designed striking new sleeve and gatefold artwork, along with a brilliant replica of the ransom note Hook leaves for Peter. Score authority John Takis has penned new liner notes for the set, as well. (For hardcore fans, Takis confirmed on the JWFan forums that a longtime issue with the original soundtrack has been corrected: pitch and speed issues with the opening prologue.)
Hook will claw its way on sale this Wednesday, December 15 at 12 p.m. CT (that's 1 p.m. ET and 10 a.m. PT) on Mondo's official record shop. For lovers of Spielberg, Williams and their sweet, sentimental work together, this release will provide an awfully big adventure. Check out the full track list below.
John Williams, Hook: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Mondo, 2021 - originally released Epic Soundtrax EK 48888, 1991)
- We Don't Wanna Grow Up *
- Banning Back Home
- Granny Wendy
- The Arrival of Tink and The Flight to Neverland
- Presenting the Hook
- From Mermaids to Lost Boys
- The Lost Boy Chase
- The Banquet
- The Never-feast
- Remembering Childhood
- You Are the Pan
- When You're Alone *
- The Ultimate War
- Farewell Neverland
* lyrics by Leslie Bricusse