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Section Header
1984 Album

1997/2001 Albums

Composed and Produced by:

"Prophecy Theme" Composed and Performed by:
Brian Eno

Orchestral Sequences Performed by:
The Vienna Symphony Orchestra

The Vienna Volksoper Choir

Additional Music and Co-Conducted by:
Marty Paich

Co-Conducted by:
Allyn Ferguson

Produced by:
David Paich
Ford A. Thaxton

Labels and Dates:
P.E.G. Recordings/Polygram (PEG001)

P.E.G. Recordings/Polygram (PEG015)

P.E.G. Recordings (PEG015), SuperCollector

Also See:
Alien Invasion: Space and Beyond II

Audio Clips:
1984 Album:

2. Main Title (1:07):
WMA (460K)  MP3 (588K)
Real Audio (367K)

1997/2001 Album:

1. Main Title (0:42):
WMA (270K)  MP3 (338K)
Real Audio (210K)

21. Reunion With Gurney (0:32):
WMA (209K)  MP3 (258K)
Real Audio (160K)

30. Take My Hand (0:35):
WMA (229K)  MP3 (284K)
Real Audio (176K)

The 1984 and 1997 albums were regular U.S. releases. The German and other European imports that were released in between those two regular releases have the same contents as the 1984 P.E.G. release. The 1997 album has fallen out of print because P.E.G. went out of business.

The 2001 release was available only through online soundtrack specialty retailers, but it is also now out of print.


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Buy it... on the 1984 and 2001 albums if you seek a somewhat satisfyingly comprehensive experience of the music from Dune, which, like the film, remains a guilty pleasure for many science fiction fans.

Avoid it... if you can't tolerate orchestral/rock hybrid scores from an era otherwise dominated by massive John Williams-inspired space operas.

Dune: (Toto) While many film and music collectors hold the 1984 production of Frank Herbert's Dune close to their hearts, it remains one of the most noteworthy science-fiction disasters in the history of Hollywood. Despite the assembly of an all-star cast of past and future stars, enthralling special effects for the time, and a aggressively expansive score, director David Lynch was disgusted with the final product (who wouldn't be after turning down an opportunity to direct Return of the Jedi?) and painstakingly rearranged the film several times before finally turning his back on both Dune and the sequel he was already half finished with. The script was in shambles, the acting was consequently forced to be ridiculous, and news articles were comparing the giant sandworms to subliminal phallic references. Could it get any more bizarre? Indeed, it did. While the industry's concept of space opera soundtracks had been defined by John Williams during the era, there was an emerging (and largely unsuccessful) trend of using rock-styled scores in the sci-fi genre, and Lynch hired the popular rock band Toto, led by David Paich, to score Dune. Unfortunately, the production turned out to be a difficult one for the Toto members as well. It was the group's first scoring attempt, and as they tried to combine their native electronic sounds with those of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra in Austria, they were quickly overwhelmed. A multitude of different themes and genres of music were thrown together to form a crazed mess of grandiose, electronically-hip, orchestral nonsense, complicated by a seemingly conflicted set of expectations from Lynch. Strangely, however, regardless of all of these circumstances, the resulting union of music and movie is a perfect match. The mess of a movie and mess of a score went remarkably well together, and it's hard not to have an affinity for both. They reside on the edges of majesty and camp, allowing a listener to the score to appreciate the grandiose attempts at the former while writing off the latter. The only problem with the scenario is that the album situation for Dune has had an equally messy history, diminishing the potential that many can appreciate Toto's contributions at all.

Anyone familiar with Herbert's series of stories involving the desert planet of Arrakis knows that there is an extremely convoluted array of characters, symbols, and general ideas, making the score for Dune an inevitably complicated one. A valiant attempt was made by Toto to address most of these concepts, but Lynch asked Toto to keep the score "slow and low" (and refused any audible presence of a harp... a strange hang-up on his part), causing a resulting score that spends much of its time churning below the surface of the film's soundscape. The epic scenes in the film still required bursts of magnificence, so these smooth light rock elements and minimalistic orchestral material were accompanied by occasional bursts of strong electronic rhythms or orchestral themes. The awkward combination of themes and genres of music, usually alternating from cue to cue, causes the overall work to be disjointed on album. The actual constructs of the themes, however, should be highly commended. The title theme for Dune is an extremely catchy series of four-note progressions that lends itself well to integration throughout the film. It was used extensively in the film's full-length trailers, and is featured prominently over the title sequence and two or three important scenes in the film. Lynch unfortunately edited the theme into places in the film that Toto had not intended, so it does come across as forced in parts. In the history of sci-fi movie themes, however, this idea from Dune ranks very highly. A theme for the concept of Paul Atreides' destiny is heard throughout the film, usually augmented by choir. It's an understandably religious theme that accompanies many of his visions (and realizations of them). Its most prominent performances come in "The Duke's Death," "Paul Meets Chani," and "Final Dream" (all scenes that carry out parts of the prophecy). The people of Arrakis, the Fremen, are given a descending figure that is alluded to at the start of "The Fremen" and explodes with rock-aided power in "Riding the Sandworm" and other later cues. This idea eventually mutates into a desert theme that accompanies the species' success in rebelling to take back their planet, highlighting "Reunion With Gurney," "Prelude," the suite-like "Dune (Desert Theme)," and "Take My Hand" (which is heard over the end credits of the film).

A separate and distinct "Prophecy Theme" by composer Brian Eno makes a dreary, boring, and minimal contribution to the film. A theme for Leto and the house of Atreides in general is a noble piece heard in "Leto's Theme" and is largely short-changed in the film (usually yielding to the title theme). It becomes a love theme for Leto and the Queen in "Departure," an elegant exploration of the idea. The evil Baron interestingly receives a demented organ and harpsichord version of the desert theme, representing his maniacal habits in "The Floating Fat Man." A theme for the concept of folding space (a universe theme of sorts) is introduced in "Prologue" and explored further in "The Trip to Arrakis." It also represents the sandworms that protect the spice, appearing in "Sandworm Attack" and more extensively in the underwhelming "Sandworm Chase." A battle motif accompanies hand to hand combat or larger scenes of destruction; the percussive idea is used in "Robot Fight," "First Attack" and "Paul Kills Feyd." Other minor motifs weave in and out of the score, and Toto tends to bleed them together during many cues (and particularly the ones of Paul's dreams and hallucinations in the film). Most of the themes are still effective, though at times they lack the power that they could have exerted with a fuller orchestral presence (minus electronics). The score does feature several pieces that are largely unlistenable, including the aforementioned track for the Baron's hideous scene of introduction, as well as the obnoxious simplicity of the percussive "Robot Fight" and the dissonant crescendo on strings at the end of "The Box" (a cue that foreshadows many of the later scenes). The "Big Battle" cue is somewhat of a disappointment in its use piano and sparse percussion to establish a rhythm that really could have used a strong electronic pulsing or bass string presence. The concluding major-key pronouncement of victory in "Big Battle" is a strong balance of choir, orchestra, and electric guitars; along with "Final Dream," these cues allow the score a prominent role in the last minutes of the film. Another singular highlight is the "Reunion With Gurney" cue, perfectly summarizing the hip aspect of the Fremen while transforming into a heartbreaking orchestral performance as Paul reunites with one of the few surviving members of his house (the singing Patrick Stewart!).

On the whole, though, the score's thematic outbursts and otherwise absent-minded wanderings work very well with Lynch's convoluted film. As for the CD releases of Dune, there is no word to sum up the frustration that consumers feel towards the three existing albums produced (for the most part) by P.E.G. Recordings. The original release of 1984 is frustratingly lacking in material. The 1997 expanded release has badly warped sound in parts, accidental voices, and more missing music. The imports released in between were simply re-pressings of the regular 1984 release. All of them eventually fell out of print. A remastered version of the 1997 release was distributed through non-commercial channels in 2001 after the label had officially ceased to exist. So what should you buy if you want the best and fullest film score experience from Dune? Sadly, more than one of them. This prospect alone has understandably caused much consternation for fans of the film and score. For a long time, only various versions of the original 1984 album were floating around as "imports" in America. People sought the expanded 1997 product for the strictly orchestral and choral performance of the "Main Title," and although it is indeed included on that re-release, nothing else on the 1997 album is worth a hefty price. The Eno theme is absent from the expanded re-releases, which is, in reality, no big loss. Additionally, the dialogue over the "Prologue" cannot be heard on the newer releases, which is something of a shame, because it's easy to grow fond of the introductory speech given by the Emperor's daughter before the opening credits (the music behind this dialogue is largely intact in the "Leto's Theme" cue). The 1997 re-release did finally offer a few other very good tracks of music (especially choral) that did not appear on the 1984 release. The demo version of the title theme at the end is not the same electronically enhanced performance as that on the 1984 release. The film version is not as strong, unfortunately, with weak bass and a shallower orchestral rendering. The cue from the scene of the Duke's death is excellent, as is the tandem of "Riding the Sandworm" and "Reunion With Gurney." Also of importance is the end of "The Betrayal/Shields Down," though more on that particular cue will come later.

The biggest disappointment of the 1997 re-release was the horrible distortion that can be heard in about half of its tracks. This distortion sounds like a wobbling record, causing the pitch to lower or rise in random places. It is extremely annoying and, given digital remastering technologies already available at the time, completely unacceptable. In the second track, for instance, as the Guild Navigator warns the "Emperor of the Known Universe" that spice production on Arrakis must go on, there's a distinct wobble at the 0:20 mark. The most embarrassing wobbles come during several parts of "The Betrayal/Shields Down," with awe-inspiring distortion that nearly ruins the track. The "Prelude (Take My Hand)" cue that appeared without a problem on the 1984 release suffers from a wobble at about the one-minute mark into its presentation on the 1997 product. There are about 10 to 12 other tracks that have noticeable wobbles or defects in quality. It's not pleasurable to have to come down so hard on P.E.G. for these circumstances, for getting the expanded version out at all was a difficult task, but these problems almost ruin the listening experience. Another concern that fans of the film have with the 1997 product is that it exposes Lynch's (or another editor's) rearrangement of the score in the final edit of the film. One of the best uses of music in the film is the scene in which the Harkonnens attack the Atreides with their shields down and take control of Arrakis. The main orchestral theme begins when an Atreides officer screams, "Shields! Shields!" and ends when Gurney (Patrick Stewart) yells "Long Live Duke Leto!" This is among the most impressive uses of music in the film, even if it's inserted somewhat artificially, and the mix of the orchestral version of the title theme heard here is not the same as what is presented over the opening credits. Thus, it remained unreleased. Additionally, the music that can be heard under the title "Shields Down" on the 1997 release does not appear completely in the film. Another peculiarity about the 1997 pressing is "Riding the Sandworm," which not only features horrific distortion at its outset, but also ends with someone's voice distractingly speaking a word or two over the music. Despite some fans' claims that it is a "vomiting sound," it's more likely a spoken stage direction.

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The sound quality was not improved on the 1997 release, and the wobbles and voices make it a generally poorer-sounding CD. On the other hand, it had almost twice the amount of music of the original, thus making it, at the time, a slightly better buy. Many still awaited the day, though, when the Dune score that many love and have longed for was released in its entirety and with superior sound. When news of another remastering in 2001 hit the scene, there was finally hope. The exact contents of the 1997 album experienced a limited distribution to soundtrack specialty outlets, and this product was edited so that the wobbles and voices are minimized to near extinction (and the overall sound quality of the whole album is improved). Only at the end of the "Prelude" track (at 0:49) does a new distortion take place, though this is insignificant because that track has appeared without problem on both the other releases. In short, the 2001 album is what the 1997 one should have been, but even this 2001 album has its negatives. First, the 2001 album, of course, does not comfort those who purchased the problematic 1997 product. Because of the constraining agreement between distributor SuperCollector and the now defunct P.E.G. Recordings, no exchanges of the faulty 1997 product could be accepted. In turn, this means that those who want the correct edit of the music have to pay for the album twice, another completely unacceptable prospect. The same agreement dictated that even the errors in packaging could not be corrected, meaning that there is no way to tell from the outside packaging whether you are purchasing the 1997 or 2001 release (not to mention that the URL on the insert is still mistyped). So good luck in your pursuit! Another negative is the fact that the 2001 album failed to appear in stores, where most of the unhappy customers purchased the distorted 1997 product. Therefore, many will never know about the second remastering. Album producer Ford A. Thaxton insisted at the time that "it was either this or nothing," but that still doesn't solve the problem. All together, Dune is a great guilty pleasure that has been poorly presented on CD numerous times. The die-hard enthusiast of this score is best served by taking the 1984 and 2001 albums and producing their own edited compilation, a sad circumstance necessitated by years of frustration. Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Score as Written for Film: *****
    1984 Album: **
    1997 Album: *
    2001 Album: ***
    Overall: ***

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 Track Listings (1984 Album): Total Time: 40:59

• 1. Prologue** (1:47)
• 2. Main Title* (1:15)
• 3. Robot Fight (1:18)
• 4. Leto's Theme (1:43)
• 5. The Box (2:37)
• 6. The Floating Fat Man (The Baron)** (1:24)
• 7. Trip to Arrakis (2:35)
• 8. First Attack (2:43)
• 9. Prophecy Theme* (4:19)
• 10. Dune (Desert Theme) (5:30)
• 11. Paul Meets Chani (3:04)
• 12. Prelude (Take My Hand) (0:59)
• 13. Paul Takes the Water of Life (2:48)
• 14. Big Battle (3:06)
• 15. Paul Kills Feyd (1:51)
• 16. Final Dream (1:25)
• 17. Take My Hand (2:35)

* not heard on 1997/2001 albums
** contains dialogue

 Track Listings (1997/2001 Albums): Total Time: 72:51

• 1. Prologue**/Main Title# (3:20)
• 2. Guild Report* (0:55)
• 3. House Atreides* (1:44)
• 4. Paul Atreides* (2:22)
• 5. Robot Fight (1:23)
• 6. Leto's Theme (1:47)
• 7. The Box (2:41)
• 8. The Floating Fat Man (The Baron)** (1:16)
• 9. Departure* (1:14)
• 10. The Trip to Arrakis (2:40)
• 11. Sandworm Attack* (2:52)
• 12. The Betrayal/Shields Down*** (4:31)
• 13. First Attack (2:49)
• 14. The Duke's Death* (2:06)
• 15. Sandworm Chase* (2:39)
• 16. The Fremen* (3:08)
• 17. Secrets of Freman* (2:25)
• 18. Paul Meets Chani (3:08)
• 19. Destiny* (2:57)
• 20. Riding the Sandworm* (1:27)
• 21. Reunion With Gurney* (1:42)
• 22. Prelude (Take My Hand) (1:02)
• 23. Paul Takes the Water of Life (2:52)
• 24. The Sleeper Has Awakened!* (3:24)
• 25. Big Battle (3:09)
• 26. Paul Kills Feyd (1:55)
• 27. Final Dream (1:25)
• 28. Dune (Desert Theme) (5:34)
• 29. Dune Main Title - Demo Version* (1:25)
• 30. Take My Hand (2:43)

* previously unreleased tracks
** does not contain dialogue
*** contains previously unreleased music, but not the main theme as heard in film
# contains recording of the main theme not heard on 1984 release

 Notes and Quotes:  

The 1984 album's insert includes no extra information about the score or film. The 1997 and 2001 albums feature identical packaging, with a note from David Paich about the scoring process. The expanded albums are dedicated to writer Frank Herbert and the deceased members of the score's crew (Marty Paich and Jeff Porcaro). On those albums, the web address listed for art direction kudos in the insert is incorrect (although the site is now defunct anyway). Toto members included David Paich, Jeff Porcaro, Steve Porcaro, Mike Porcaro, and Steve Lukather.

  All artwork and sound clips from Dune are Copyright © 1984, 1997, 2001, P.E.G. Recordings/Polygram (PEG001), P.E.G. Recordings/Polygram (PEG015), P.E.G. Recordings (PEG015), SuperCollector. The reviews and other textual content contained on the site may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Filmtracks Publications. Audio clips can be heard using RealPlayer but cannot be redistributed without the label's expressed written consent. Page created 12/16/97 and last updated 9/6/08. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2015, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved.