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Section Header
Titanic
(1997)
1997 Original CD

1998 "Back to Titanic" CD

1998 DVD Audio Album

2012 Anniversary Edition

2012 Collector's Anniversary Edition

Composed, Co-Orchestrated, Conducted, and Produced by:
James Horner

Co-Orchestrated by:
Don Davis

Vocal Solos by:
Sissel Kyrkjebø

"My Heart Will Go On" Performed by:
Celine Dion

"My Heart Will Go On" Lyrics by:
Will Jennings

"Back to Titanic" Suites Performed by:
The London Symphony Orchestra and the Choristers of King's College, Cambridge

Labels and Dates:
Sony Music Soundtrax
(Original)
(November 18th, 1997)

Sony Music Soundtrax
(Back to Titanic)
(August 25th, 1998)

Sony Music Soundtrax
(DVD Audio)
(September 30, 1998)

Sony Masterworks/Sony Classical
(Anniversary Sets)
(March 26th, 2012)

Also See:
Courage Under Fire
The New World
Apollo 13
Braveheart
The Spitfire Grill
A Perfect Storm
The Mask of Zorro
Avatar

Audio Clips:
1997 Original Album:

4. Rose (0:34):
WMA (222K)  MP3 (275K)
Real Audio (171K)

6. "Take Her to Sea, Mr. Murdoch" (0:30):
WMA (195K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

8. Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave (0:30):
WMA (197K)  MP3 (242K)
Real Audio (150K)

13. An Ocean of Memories (0:31):
WMA (204K)  MP3 (251K)
Real Audio (156K)


1998 Back to Titanic Album:

1. Titanic Suite (0:33):
WMA (213K)  MP3 (263K)
Real Audio (164K)

4. The Portrait (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (250K)
Real Audio (155K)

6. A Building Panic (0:33):
WMA (215K)  MP3 (266K)
Real Audio (165K)

11. My Heart Will Go On (0:31):
WMA (202K)  MP3 (249K)
Real Audio (155K)

Availability:
All albums are regular U.S. releases. The first two releases of 1997 and 1998 can be found for extremely low prices on the used-CD market, though the 1998 DVD Audio album reached a value of at least $35. The prices of the 2012 albums originally ranged from $12 for the 2-CD version to $22 for the 4-CD set. The cover art of all the releases' international pressings will vary. No promotional release was ever issued and no bootleg has entered circulation.

Awards:
  The song "My Heart Will Go On" and the score both won Academy Awards and Golden Globes. That song also won a Grammy Award. The score was nominated for a BAFTA Award.









Titanic

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Buy it... if you somehow missed the engrossing phenomenon when it debuted in 1997 and you have an open mind about what is commonly considered (and ridiculed) as the most famous and romantic film score of the digital era.

Avoid it... if even the price of $0.01 for the first Titanic album on the used-CD market cannot entice you to explore the James Horner new age triumph that resulted in the best-selling film score album in history.



Horner
Titanic: (James Horner) From the perspective of an average, unbiased moviegoer, it may be difficult to recall exactly why the 1997 mega-blockbuster Titanic was so outrageously popular. The production had its successes and failures, but beyond the impressive technicalities of James Cameron's film, there was an intangible sense of hysteria that floated the doomed ship for a whole new generation of hopeless romantics upon the spectacle's release. Sweeping through box office records and collecting more Academy Awards than any other film in the modern era (at the time), Titanic was a genuine phenomenon, and to adequately explain the reasons for its immeasurable allure now would inevitably fail to address the countless reasons for its success. In general, however, the three-hour epic managed to merge two typically incongruent genres in film: the historical tragedy with immense displays of special effects and the compelling story of two unlikely young lovers. Cameron's obsession with the sunken ship has since sent him on a journey to the farthest depths of the ocean and, in the meantime, to a 3D version of Titanic that earned countless more millions of dollars during its early 2012 theatrical release (to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the ship's demise). Of equal hoopla was, once again, the soundtrack for Titanic, a pivotal part of the film's success. Only once in a rare moon do the stars of the universe align so that a film score bursts into the consciousness of the mainstream with such overwhelming appeal as Titanic had in early 1998. The same seemingly disparate elements of disaster and romance (along with period authenticity) that occupied the film demanded an atypical soundtrack from the start, for the narrative of the doomed ship's maiden voyage required a larger-than-life musical identity completely separate from the love story involving the two primary characters. The exact circumstances by which Cameron searched out and settled upon a distinctive style of music to merge these two halves of the story into one fluid musical identity have remained elusive, though several facts are known. The score that Cameron sought for Titanic was radically unconventional, bypassing the usual orchestral weight that would be expected for a period drama of this magnitude. Massive brass fanfares with sweeping string interludes were exactly what he did not want.

Instead, when approaching the music for Titanic, Cameron concentrated on accentuating the love story and Irish undertones of both the Jack Dawson character and the ship's origins by choosing the new age, Celtic sounds popularized by Enya, Clannad, and several other artists popular of the 1990's. The resulting temp track for several portions of Titanic would feature the music of Enya and, most specifically, the song "Book of Days" that had not only been released on her album, "Shepherd Moons," but had been featured successfully in Ron Howard's 1992 film Far and Away. There has always been speculation about the method by which composer James Horner came to receive a seven-figure salary for the composition and recording of the score. There were unconfirmed reports that Cameron had approached Enya directly to provide vocals for the score, though the same reports indicate that she withdrew from the process after learning that Horner would be writing the material (rather than Enya being allowed to write her own score). The more interesting aspect of Titanic for film score fans was the apparent reconciliation between Horner and Cameron, who had not parted on good terms after the testy post-production disagreements of Aliens a decade before. Their shared success with this project encouraged them to reunite with impressive results for the arguably underrated Avatar more than a decade later. Horner's track record of writing scores saturated with the tones of both Ireland and Scotland in the 1990's was well known, with an apparent obsession on the cultural influence forcing the tones of uillean pipes and whistles, among other instruments, into scores that didn't really require their contributions. While this somewhat tiresome habit by Horner severely bothered many of the composer's detractors, Cameron must have seen a perfect fit with his intended Celtic, new age sound and instructed Horner (who reportedly agreed with Cameron on the unconventional direction of the music) to follow the guidelines of the temp track. Horner was also skilled in the adaptation of existing music into films with just enough variation to avoid legal troubles, though he does remain one of the few major composers ever to be sued for plagiarism. He succeeds at this task with better efficiency in some projects than others, with perhaps the most laughable adaptation coming over the credits of Red Heat.

Horner's score for Titanic would sound very much in parts like Enya's music, and despite significant talk at the time about a possible lawsuit and settlement between Enya and Horner, no such event has been officially confirmed. There remains much speculation about whether Eithne Patricia Ni Bhraonain (not quite as marketable a name as "Enya") could have received damages from Horner for copyright infringement in Titanic. Enough mainstream viewers were duped into thinking that they were listening to Enya during the film that a case might have been merited. The chart-topping new age artist was referred to by agents at the time as "the plaintiff," and while she would not receive the public recognition for inspiring the soundtrack for Titanic that she deserved, she would eventually be nominated for an Academy Award herself for the song in the first The Lord of the Rings installment (though she would, in an act of sad but appropriate justice, lose to the long overdue Randy Newman). For Horner, Titanic would net him the only two Oscar wins in the first three decades of his career (for both the score and accompanying song), and backstage after his win, he answered a media question about Enya by stating that he was simply inspired by the same genre of music rather than by Enya herself. With that comment, he brushed aside the controversy and has been estimated to personally profit to the sum of $30 million from the immense popularity of the initial two albums for the soundtrack. The first album accompanied the film's late 1997 release, and, naturally, a sequel album was assembled to accompany the video release of the film in August of 1998. The first album hit #1 on Billboard's "Top 200 Chart" for the weeks of 1/24/98 and 1/31/98, staying on pace with the film's continued earnings records for the same weeks. Sony Music Distribution reported that they shipped more than 969,000 units in the first nine weeks of the album's release, making it the fastest-selling score soundtrack and classical album of all time. Sony then reported that an astounding 665,000 additional copies were sold in the tenth week (ending 1/25/98) alone. It also set Sony records for the most orders in a single day (January 20, 1998). By remaining at the #1 position with Billboard during the week of 2/7/98, Titanic passed Vangelis' strangely endearing 1981 score for Chariots of Fire as the top score soundtrack of all time in cumulative sales.

During the initial weeks of stunning popularity for Titanic, the Horner song for the film, "My Heart Will Go On," performed by Celine Dion, was ranked as "the most popular radio song" according to national broadcasting summaries, receiving more airtime than any other song of any genre of music. The first Titanic album remained at the top of the Billboard charts all the way through Oscar time in late March, weathering competition that included new mainstream releases by Celine Dion and Madonna. Sony eventually sold 26 million copies of the first album overall (and an additional 3 million copies of "Back to Titanic"). Such performance from a film score album has not been seen since, not even from Gladiator or Pirates of the Caribbean, the two most popular film score CDs in the following decade. For Horner personally, the cumulative sales of the first Titanic album, as well as the popular 1995 duo of Braveheart and Apollo 13 CDs, would make him the highest selling contemporary composer, surpassing John Williams. When you factor in the more substantive score for The Mask of Zorro the following year, Horner distinguished himself as the most dominant composer in Hollywood during the middle to late 1990's, defining the decade of film music as being led by his efforts. But did he deserve it? The scores for Braveheart, Apollo 13, and The Mask of Zorro, among several others, were far more embraced by the film score community than Titanic, which was seen as a pandering to screaming young girls rather than a gesture towards the seasoned film score collector. For the mainstream, there seems to be a lingering soft spot for Titanic, not anywhere near as positive as it once was, but avoiding the extreme discontent that a large section of the film score community still extends towards Titanic. For these listeners, the score was a necessary evil, bringing attention to the usually neglected genre of film music, but at an artistic price. For the remainder of film score fans, the score went through three distinct phases during its history. First, the hysteria that captured the mainstream in December of 1997 was mirrored by many soundtrack collectors. Then, for almost the entirety of 1998, a substantial backlash against the score and Horner followed. In the years since, the score still receives its share of disdainful criticism, though there is a begrudging recognition that it was an understandable product (and triumph) of its time.

The merits of the score itself are often overlooked because of all of the above factors. The most interesting technical aspect of the music for Titanic is the fact that it is frightfully simple in construct and execution. Horner can often infuse substantial intelligence into his epic scores, but Titanic seems to have been built specifically with the intent of toning itself back to coincide with the somewhat flat characters (and their often poorly-worded conversations) and the primordial nature of the horror that accompanies the ship's demise. In short, it's a harmonically simplistic score for a thematically simplistic film. And while the film score collector looking for creativity in the remote corners of the work will find less than he or she will discover in a score like The Rocketeer or Legends of the Fall (or even The Spitfire Grill, for that matter), the straight forward techniques by Horner are exactly what the film needed. For a movie with so much narrative, including an excess of characters, it may be surprising to note that Titanic only features two major themes. One of the greatest strengths of Horner's conceptual endeavors for the score is the memorability of both themes. They build off of each other with outstanding development throughout the score and the attractive statements of both themes likely contributed to the success of the score's two albums. The first theme is for the ship itself, offering smoothly gliding progressions and vocal effects that would be the cause of concern for Enya. The connections between this theme and the melody of "Book of Days" are unmistakable, though Horner does distinguish its performances with a forceful level of power never really evident in Enya's work. Also to consider is the fact that there is a secondary theme for the ship, a whimsical, more traditional Horner-style interlude (dating in style back to his outstanding music for the animated children's film The Land Before Time) that breaks up the primary statements of the theme with more flighty, optimistic hope. This secondary sequence within the major performances of the ship's themes would be adapted far more often in the second half of the score by Horner, seemingly representing the ship during the scenes taking place in the present day. The other theme in Titanic is, obviously, the love theme that follows the character of Rose through the story and serves as the melody for the Dion-performed song. Within this theme are two adjoined melodies that often exist separately when adapted into the score.

Sissel Kyrkjebø
For a score of this magnitude, a track-by-track analysis is warranted, and so the following portions of the review will first discuss the 1997 album before diving into the supplemental material released the next year on "Back to Titanic." The first album mostly presents its music in chronological order, though Cameron liberally moved parts of cues around in the film and it is thus impossible to match the album to the film in some sequences. Like the film, the first album can be divided into three sections: the early ship and romance scenes, the lengthy sinking sequence in the middle, and the scenes with the older Rose character at the end. The first cue of the album is "Never an Absolution," which opens immediately with solo pipes performing the second phrase of the ship's theme. After a minute, solo horn and woodwind (a recorder, perhaps?) are joined by the voice of Norwegian performer Sissel Kyrkjebø to introduce the love theme in slowly deliberate and eerie fashion. Sissel's voice would serve as Rose's musical identity throughout the film, and the only part of her performances more remarkable than her singing resemblance to Enya is the physical similarities between them as well. The first track concludes with continued exploration of the second phrase of the ship's theme by a synthetically altered boy's choir. At the outset of "Distant Memories," Horner provides a motif that would follow the older Rose's character as she remembers the ship. This light, floating motif tingles effortlessly as it does in The Spitfire Grill and The New World, leading here to a minor dramatic motif on strings for the same character. This material would be expanded upon in "An Ocean of Memories." The interlude of the ship's theme is fleeting on horn before the traveling scene to the modern exploration and discovery ship offers a restrained, but buoyant version of the same theme. The following "Southampton" cue is preceded by the sounds of someone giving stage directions during the recording (it's actually contained at the end of "Distant Memories"), possibly Horner himself. It's barely audible, but for those with larger sound systems, it could be an annoyance. It's difficult to imagine that it made the album by accident. The pivotal "Southampton" opens with a phrase directly lifted from the launch sequence of Apollo 13, building to the famous statement of the ship's primary theme during its introduction. This cue is a surprising, immediate tip of the hat to Enya's "Book of Days," with the same pulsating bass rhythm and chord progressions very similar to the popular Enya song.

The voices used in "Southampton" and subsequent cues are electronically altered to give them an element of fantasy, a controversial technique for Horner fans but one that would prove to create a timeless atmosphere in which the ship and the love story could intertwine. This cue alternates between these blatant pulls of "Book of Days" and the secondary phrase of ship's theme for more traditionally dramatic string layers. The following track, "Rose," would actually receive its most prominent placement in the last scene of the film. A short concert suite of sorts for the love theme, this cue was chopped into two pieces by Cameron and combined with "Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave" and placed over the finale of the film (in which Rose dies and her spirit rejoins those aboard the sunken ship). The solo voice of Sissel is joined by piano, electric bass, and various solo woodwinds during the course of this easy, romantic, and sentimental cue. The unexpected truncation of the theme at the end of the cue is an interesting acknowledgement of a love affair cut short. The following two cues are the actual accompaniment to the beautiful scene in which the ship departs. One of Horner's more intelligent motifs in Titanic is the use of an electronic pulsation effect, almost akin to the dull tapping of a piano wire, for the purpose of imitating a telegraph signal. This effect opens "Leaving Port" and would play a prominent role in "Hard to Starboard." In "Leaving Port," however, the percussion section (and namely the chimes and some large cymbal rolls) would lead an extended treatment of the ship's primary, Enya-like theme. Deep male voices, similar in ethnicity to the kinds you might hear in The Lion King, offer creative puffing, exhaled accents to the pulsating electric bass in this cue. Once again, the secondary phrase of the ship's theme exists on strings in interludes. The same format from "Leaving Port" continues into "Take Her to Sea, Mr. Murdock," though Horner collectors will enjoy (or be plagued by) the standard Horner crescendo of chord progressions at 1:05 into the cue. In a score that has relatively few blatant self-references, instances such as this one stand out even more than a listener might expect. The very dry synthetic effects in this cue, however, are better aided by the orchestra, which exuberantly accompanies the new age rhythms with more colorful brass solos. The album then fast forwards to the action; in "Hard to Starboard," the soft, synthetic tones of the love theme are overtaken at the minute mark with the resumption of the tapping telegraph effect, signaling the problem dead ahead.

The rhythm of Horner's telegraph effect in "Hard to Starboard" leads to a frightful ensemble blast assisted by a single groan from an electric guitar, much the same way Horner had accomplished a sense of panic in Courage Under Fire. The following minute of frantic action by the crew is accompanied by some of Horner's best action material for the film, adding the clanging of an anvil to the standard suspense rhythms transferred directly from Apollo 13's "Master Alarm" cue. A minor motif for the concept of death is performed on brass at 2:45 in "Hard to Starboard," and this idea would occur several times through the sinking sequence. The percussion section's movement in these cues, including both the drums and piano, resembles Jerry Goldsmith's much earlier score for Capricorn One, with a very obvious reference to the Goldsmith score in the bass region at 3:05 in "Hard to Starboard." After a few moments of quiet string and brass movements that sound like a precursor to similar ideas in orchestrator Don Davis' own The Matrix, Horner revisits familiar ensemble strikes from Courage Under Fire. A solemn brass statement of the death motif closes the cue under a distant trumpet call for help. The rhythmically compelling "Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave" cue is brief relief from the panic, existing for the compelling scene when the two lovers refuse to separate via lifeboat. The pretty, synthetic rhythm leads the love theme to a duet for recorder and Sissel's voice that is downright gorgeous. The explosive rendition of this theme at 1:40 into the cue adds pipes and a synthetic effect that raises memories of Vangelis' echoing Chariots of Fire rhythm-setter for the emotional highlight of the score. This is the piece that would be re-used for the descent during the finale of the film. After the love theme's full burst in "Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave," the cue quickly lets reality sink in. A strong segue into Courage Under Fire action territory finishes the cue and prepares the listener for even more violent passages in the thirteen minutes of "The Sinking" (as the ship is still upright at an angle) and "Death of Titanic" (after the ship breaks in two and its stern starts to descend). While these cues represent the weakest parts of the Titanic score, they are interesting in that they offer the best merging of the orchestra with the synthetics. Horner lets the two elements engage in open warfare in "The Sinking," with the chime-banging, snare-ripping orchestral suspense often presented at dissonant odds with the softer synthetic effects that had previously defined the ship's identity.

The fragmented synthetic elements attempt valiantly to maintain their harmonious structures in "The Sinking," though they jump chaotically from their intended thematic base, an intelligent move by Horner to musically signal the death of the ship. As the panic turns to obvious tragedy in the eyes of the survivors in the lifeboats, Horner begins a swaying movement of ocean waves that represents the frigid swells quite well. Not only does this technique resemble the rescue sequence of Basil Poledouris' The Hunt for Red October, but the same general idea would reappear in A Perfect Storm and Joel McNeely's typhoon cue in Virus a few years later. Pounding piano crashes recall The Pelican Brief and Apollo 13. In the other action cue, "Death of Titanic," Horner continues the battle between synthetic and orchestral elements, with the higher-pitched electronics almost seeming to cry for help. At 3:45 into the cue, Horner returns to the original panic rhythms of "Hard to Starboard," but with a frenzied and rising pitch to each bar of music that accompanies the ultimate sinking of the ship's stern. Dissonant fragments of the love theme under meandering brass and constant snare are appropriate. A horrific crescendo of synthesized voice provides the ship's last gasp of air, twisting the once elegant new age vocal effect into the kind of dissonant horror that inhabited the final action scenes in Willow. The total disintegration of those vocal effects, now only one mass of cries at the conclusion of "Death of Titanic," is a fitting end for the famed ship. A melancholy and barely audible series of thematic fragments exists in the stunned aftermath in "A Promise Kept." Horner understates himself in this cue, only eventually allowing faint reminders of Sissel's beautiful tones to echo in the latter half of the cue. Her voice would serve as a mournful tribute in "A Life So Changed," returning to the eerie atmosphere and instrumentation of the opening track. Most of this cue is, unfortunately, redundant with "Never an Absolution." In "An Ocean of Memories," Horner once again treats Rose's older self with the fluttering ambience of "Distant Memories," but this time with an attractive mix of both Sissel's voice and, eventually, the orchestra. The last moments of this cue would be one of the few times when Sissel's voice would mingle with the ensemble. The last two minutes of "An Ocean of Memories" are an emotional powerhouse without much volume, and it's obvious that the synthetic voices, piano, and tingling metallic percussion in this cue were Horner's inspiration for A New World. A satisfyingly harmonic conclusion to the track is an outstanding close to the score.

The song performance of the love theme follows on the first album for Titanic, and Celine Dion's voice is thankfully not as harsh in the upper regions as it can be at times. Little needs to be said about the song; its popularity was testimony to the public's craving for its sappy pop style in that era. It's by no means offensive, though some fans may not be able to appreciate its beauty due to that distinct 1990's style. At least Horner finally got the opportunity to write a song for Dion, for whom he had written the song in American Tail 2: Fievel Goes West, only to have the producers of the film reject her because her name was too obscure at the time. There has been some speculation about why Sissel herself wasn't asked to perform the song. Her operatic grace was quite evident in the concurrent The Adventures of Pinocchio, in which she offered several fantastic (and funny) performances in songs with robust orchestral arrangement by Lee Holdridge. The choice of Dion obviously worked, but there's still some lingering curiosity about how well Sissel could have done with the song. Her lyrical singing voice is stunningly beautiful, and it may have especially functioned well in regards to connecting the song to the general sound of the score. The final cue on the first album, "Hymn to the Sea," is heard during the second half of the end credits for the film. Its tempo is significantly slower as it progresses through performances of the love theme by Sissel and then pipes. The interlude for the ship's theme on electronics yields to the typical, drawn out conclusion that plagues some Horner scores. Better than anyone, he can manage to accomplish practically nothing (musically) in the last minutes of an end credits cue. For listeners concerned with what they actually hear in the film's finale and end credits, the descent cue opens with "Rose" and inserts the middle of "Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave" into the famous transition to the spirit world before returning to "Rose" for Cameron's own credit. Dion's song follows, with the remainder of the credits switching between portions of "Take Her to Sea, Mr. Murdoch" and "Southampton" before finishing with "Hymn to the Sea." The album, while over 70 minutes in length, did leave out a couple of noteworthy score cues, and both would be offered on the sequel album, "Back to Titanic," debuting in August of 1998 to coincide with the highly-anticipated video release of the film. Much like the "More Music from Braveheart" album released two years prior, this second album for Titanic covers all the bases that the original album missed, including traditional pieces and more of Horner's original score.

Making the "Back to Titanic" album different from the equivalent follow-up for Braveheart, however, is the fact that Horner spent early 1998 writing and orchestrating new arrangements of his ideas from Titanic for performance by the London Symphony Orchestra. Thus, the compilation is a combination of additional original score from the film, traditional pieces, and the newly recorded suites by Horner's preferred ensemble in London. The most interesting aspect of this album is just how different the recordings in Los Angeles and London sound. Horner recorded many of his best scores with the LSO and the Choristers of King's College in Cambridge, and to hear their versions of Titanic compared to the original Los Angeles musicians' work is enlightening. The performances themselves may be adequate in both cases, but the recordings in London are so much fuller, even when combined with the synthetic and vocal elements, that you can't help but wish that Horner had recorded the original film's score (along with all others) with the LSO. It's good fodder for the ongoing debate inside and outside the film music recording industry about the merits of London over Los Angeles, regardless of the union issues that usually guide such discussions. Aside from the robust quality of the London recordings' sound, including the vibrant, real-life chorus rather than the synthetic one for most of its time, there are some disappointments within their three tracks on the album. First, Horner's arrangements aren't the best, with lengthy sequences of dull, meandering material (often for solo brass) given too much airtime. Sissel's voice is mixed behind the ensemble so that her role is marginalized. The tempo in the LSO's performances is significantly slower than the original recording as well, which occasionally gives it the awesome resonance of Legends of the Fall, but sometimes defeats the personality of the composition. The performance of the love theme by the full ensemble, including the chorus, at the end of "Titanic Suite" is the highlight of the album. The "Epilogue" replacement cue for the final track on the first album features an interesting twist on the watery motif representing Rose's older self. The "A Shore Never Reached" hymn is largely unrelated to the rest of the score, and features extended pipe solos. Overall, these concert suites are impressive in their resounding sound, but are surprisingly lazy and subdued. Given that the score and film were so popular at the time, there exist several renditions of music from Titanic on the market from 1998 and 1999 from some of the world's most veteran film music-recording ensembles, and some of those are on par with the LSO performances here.

For the biggest die-hard fans of the film, the "Back to Titanic" album provides practically all of the secondary source music heard on screen. The Irish party dance music and the performances of the small ensemble on the decks are included, as well as the song that Rose mutters as she realizes that she has lost Jack. For Horner collectors, this material may not be particularly interesting, though Irish performer Maire Brennan's version of "Come Josephine" melds very well with the score. The two versions of "Nearer my God to Thee" are equally unexciting. Both "Jack Dawson's Luck" and "Lament" include more in the way of traditional adaptations rather than actual new material from Horner, leaving just two cues prominently featured in the film that appear on this album for the first time. The highlight of the album for most casual fans was the inclusion of a lengthier, suite-arranged version of "The Portrait," the famous cue featuring a solo piano version of the love theme. This much coveted, five-minute piano performance by Horner himself is the only recognizably important piece of score to be added, though "A Building Panic" may be more intriguing for Horner's devotees. This later cue, heard in between the cues "Hard to Starboard" and "Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave" on the first album, accompanies the earlier portions of the sinking sequences (during the mad rush to the lifeboats). This 8-minute cue expands upon some of Horner's better ideas for the other action cues for Titanic, including the continuation of the telegraph tapping motif at the outset. During this opening rhythm, it's somewhat amusing to hear the puffs of the Japanese sakauhachi flute, proving that Horner will indeed try to insert either that or his bagpipes into any score he possibly can. Sharp series of medium drum hits later in "A Building Panic," along with an excess of metallic tapping, easily connects the music to Apollo 13. The highlight of this cue is a singular motif that Horner uses between 4:00 and 5:20; it's a sensationalistic choral interlude of surprising harmony in the middle of the chaos. Appearing twice during that time, one of these choral performances, almost playing like a final tribute to the majesty of the ship before it succumbs, would appear over the latter half of the trailers for the film (along with Braveheart and James Newton Howard's Waterworld). After these somewhat incongruous performances, Horner unleashes a series of piano rhythms of menacing character under entertainingly dark renditions of the love theme. The final minute of this cue offers tragic layers of bittersweet harmony until one final thud at about 7:30 marks the fate the ship's remaining inhabitants.

On the whole, the "A Building Panic" cue debuting on "Back to Titanic" is the most interesting sequence of any action material on either album, especially with its percussive connections to early 1980's Horner material (listen for subtle references to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in several places), but it's not particularly enjoyable apart from the visuals. One of the surprisingly positive aspects of "Back to Titanic" is the fact that its material doesn't overlap with the original album's offerings. It may be rather short on original score material, but like the second Gladiator soundtrack product released in 2001, the sequel album isn't simply redundant. Even the mix of the Celine Dion song is different. Her vocals are given a wetter ambient mix and varied overdubbing, and this radio-aimed version of the song features dialogue from the film in between its statements (which is a tad obnoxious given that the voices from the film aren't afforded the same echoing mix that Dion's voice is given). Overall, "Back to Titanic" is an album that original Titanic fans have lovingly embraced, sending it to sales levels in the millions of units that, like its predecessor, eclipse the performance of most film score albums. A few weeks after "Back to Titanic" hit the market, Sony offered a DTS DVD audio version of the original album at a higher cost for enthusiasts with high end stereo systems. When the Titanic 3D event hit theatres in early 2012, Sony jumped at the opportunity to release not just one new album for the soundtrack, but two. The first, regular "Anniversary Edition" includes a remastered edition of the original 1997 album and a full second CD of music recorded by the quintet, I Salonisti, to provide the authentic source music for the movie. Only the second CD contains previously unreleased tracks. On a "Collector's Anniversary Edition" set released concurrently and priced not significantly higher, Sony presents these same two CDs but also a third CD with the remastered contents of the "Back to Titanic" album and a fourth CD of music that was popular at the time of the ship's short life. The remastering of the score does actually make a difference, especially in the presentation of Sissel's vocals, though Horner collectors will be required to purchase the 4-CD "Collector's Anniversary Edition" set to assemble all of the relevant score material in the better sound quality for their own purposes. The additional original I Salonisti and vintage period tracks will not be of any interest to most Horner enthusiasts, and there is some lamentation to result from Sony's choice not to arrange the popular and historically important score into one cohesive, chronological presentation given this opportunity.

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Unless you're a sentimental type with an attachment to Titanic, it's difficult to recommend the 2012 albums for the millions of people who already own the 1997 and 1998 offerings. Sales gimmicks like the four vintage luggage stickers contained in the 2012 products can't compensate for the lack of a truly comprehensive written analysis of the music itself in their inserts, a common standard of contemporary soundtrack re-releases absent in this case. For audiophiles, the 1998 DVD audio product still obviously remains superior to the remastered stereo contents on the 2012 albums. The fact remains that there isn't really a tremendous amount of score material in Titanic that has not been released, especially when considering Cameron's rearrangement of the cues within the context of the film. Devoted Horner collectors could think of half a dozen scores by the composer that better deserve expanded treatment, but Titanic has really been the only widely marketable Horner score outside of Braveheart (since Apollo 13 didn't actually have much additional score not featured on its commercial album) on which the labels could count on sales in any decent volume. For Horner himself, Titanic obviously gave him a retirement account that most would dream of, and outside of his two Zorro-related scores in 1998 and 2005, which were really only praised within the film music collecting crowd, he has failed to maintain the same level of consistent quality and mainstream popularity since. Even Avatar, despite its multitudes of awards nominations, was derided by many for representing the worst of the composer's self-referencing habits. You often hear film music collectors (and even some in the larger populace) claiming that they never caught on to the Titanic fad, and some of these people are likely embarrassed to have jumped on the bandwagon at the time. And yet, despite the hundreds of thousands of copies of the first Titanic album floating about in used CD bins for as low as $0.01, the score was a phenomenon worth every piece of praise it could muster in 1997 and 1998. Whether you like it or not, Horner wrote one of those scores that only comes around every ten to twenty years, a piece of music for the cinema so effective in its film that it can attract people who don't own a single soundtrack. In the case of Titanic, women primarily constituted that overwhelming interest, a note of significance given that men represent the vast majority of orchestral soundtrack buyers. Without a doubt, Titanic could very well end up being the crowning achievement of Horner's entire career, and no sour aftertaste can change that fact.   Amazon.com Price Hunt: CD or Download

    Music as Written for the Film: *****
    Music as Heard on the 1998 "Back to Titanic" Album: ****
    Music as Heard on All Other Albums: *****
    Overall: *****

Bias Check:For James Horner reviews at Filmtracks, the average editorial rating is 3.13 (in 98 reviews)
and the average viewer rating is 3.18 (in 187,260 votes). The maximum rating is 5 stars.





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 Track Listings (1997 Original and 1998 DVD Albums): Total Time: 72:23


• 1. Never an Absolution (3:03)
• 2. Distant Memories (2:24)
• 3. Southampton (4:02)
• 4. Rose (2:52)
• 5. Leaving Port (3:26)
• 6. "Take Her to Sea, Mr. Murdoch" (4:31)
• 7. "Hard to Starboard" (6:52)
• 8. Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave (3:57)
• 9. The Sinking (5:05)
• 10. Death of Titanic (8:26)
• 11. A Promise Kept (6:03)
• 12. A Life So Changed (2:13)
• 13. An Ocean of Memories (7:58)
• 14. My Heart Will Go On - performed by Celine Dion (5:11)
• 15. Hymn to the Sea (6:26)




 Track Listings (1998 Back to Titanic Album): Total Time: 79:05


• 1. Titanic Suite - performed by Sissel/The London Symphony Orchestra (19:05)
• 2. An Irish Party in Third Class - performed by Gaelic Storm (3:49)
• 3. Alexander's Ragtime Band - performed by I Salonisti (2:30)
• 4. The Portrait - performed by James Horner (4:43)
• 5. Jack Dawson's Luck (traditional) (5:38)
• 6. A Building Panic (8:09)
• 7. Nearer My God to Thee - performed by I Salonisti (2:49)
• 8. Come, Josephine in My Flying Machine - performed by Maire Brennan (3:32)
• 9. Lament (traditional) (4:36)
• 10. A Shore Never Reached - performed by The London Symphony Orchestra (4:27)
• 11. My Heart Will Go On - performed by Celine Dion (4:43)
• 12. Nearer My God to Thee - performed by Eileen Ivers (2:22)
• 13. Epilogue - The Deep and Timeless Sea - performed by Sissel/The London Symphony Orchestra (12:37)




 Track Listings (2012 Anniversary Edition): Total Time: 130:32


CD1: Titanic Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Remastered): (72:28)
• 1. Never an Absolution (3:03)
• 2. Distant Memories (2:24)
• 3. Southampton (4:02)
• 4. Rose (2:52)
• 5. Leaving Port (3:26)
• 6. "Take Her to Sea, Mr. Murdoch" (4:31)
• 7. "Hard to Starboard" (6:52)
• 8. Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave (3:57)
• 9. The Sinking (5:05)
• 10. Death of Titanic (8:26)
• 11. A Promise Kept (6:03)
• 12. A Life So Changed (2:13)
• 13. An Ocean of Memories (7:58)
• 14. My Heart Will Go On - performed by Celine Dion (5:11)
• 15. Hymn to the Sea (6:26)

CD2: Gentlemen, It Has Been a Privilege Playing With You Tonight (I Salonisti): (58:04)
• 1. Valse Septembre (3:40)
• 2. Marguerite Waltz (2:34)
• 3. Wedding Dance (2:30)
• 4. Poet and Peasant (6:48)
• 5. Blue Danube (6:55)
• 6. Song Without Words (2:37)
• 7. Estudiantina (3:11)
• 8. Vision of Salome (2:42)
• 9. Titsy Bitsy Girl (1:35)
• 10. Alexander's Ragtime Band (2:28)
• 11. Sphinx (3:48)
• 12. Barcarole (3:32)
• 13. Orpheus (8:40)
• 14. Song of Autumn (3:52)
• 15. Nearer My God to Thee (3:10)




 Track Listings (2012 Collector's Anniversary Edition): Total Time: 247:35


CD1: Titanic Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Remastered): (72:28)
• 1. Never an Absolution (3:03)
• 2. Distant Memories (2:24)
• 3. Southampton (4:02)
• 4. Rose (2:52)
• 5. Leaving Port (3:26)
• 6. "Take Her to Sea, Mr. Murdoch" (4:31)
• 7. "Hard to Starboard" (6:52)
• 8. Unable to Stay, Unwilling to Leave (3:57)
• 9. The Sinking (5:05)
• 10. Death of Titanic (8:26)
• 11. A Promise Kept (6:03)
• 12. A Life So Changed (2:13)
• 13. An Ocean of Memories (7:58)
• 14. My Heart Will Go On - performed by Celine Dion (5:11)
• 15. Hymn to the Sea (6:26)

CD2: Gentlemen, It Has Been a Privilege Playing With You Tonight (I Salonisti): (58:04)
• 1. Valse Septembre (3:40)
• 2. Marguerite Waltz (2:34)
• 3. Wedding Dance (2:30)
• 4. Poet and Peasant (6:48)
• 5. Blue Danube (6:55)
• 6. Song Without Words (2:37)
• 7. Estudiantina (3:11)
• 8. Vision of Salome (2:42)
• 9. Titsy Bitsy Girl (1:35)
• 10. Alexander's Ragtime Band (2:28)
• 11. Sphinx (3:48)
• 12. Barcarole (3:32)
• 13. Orpheus (8:40)
• 14. Song of Autumn (3:52)
• 15. Nearer My God to Thee (3:10)

CD3: Back to Titanic (Remastered): (79:12)
• 1. Titanic Suite - performed by Sissel/The London Symphony Orchestra (19:05)
• 2. An Irish Party in Third Class - performed by Gaelic Storm (3:49)
• 3. Alexander's Ragtime Band - performed by I Salonisti (2:30)
• 4. The Portrait - performed by James Horner (4:43)
• 5. Jack Dawson's Luck (traditional) (5:38)
• 6. A Building Panic (8:09)
• 7. Nearer My God to Thee - performed by I Salonisti (2:49)
• 8. Come, Josephine in My Flying Machine - performed by Maire Brennan (3:32)
• 9. Lament (traditional) (4:36)
• 10. A Shore Never Reached - performed by The London Symphony Orchestra (4:27)
• 11. My Heart Will Go On - performed by Celine Dion (4:43)
• 12. Nearer My God to Thee - performed by Eileen Ivers (2:22)
• 13. Epilogue - The Deep and Timeless Sea - performed by Sissel/The London Symphony Orchestra (12:37)

CD4: Popular Music From the Titanic Era: (37:51)
• 1. It's a Long Way to Tipperary - performed by John McCormack (3:10)
• 2. Let Me Call You Sweetheart - performed by Halfway House Dance Orchestra (3:05)
• 3. Vilia - performed by Guy Lombardo & His Orchestra (2:44)
• 4. My Gal Sal - performed by Chick Bullock & His Levee Loungers (2:57)
• 5. Oh! You Beautiful Doll - performed by Chuck Foster & His Orchestra (2:53)
• 6. Martha - performed by Adrian Rollinoi Trio (2:58)
• 7. In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree - performed by Duke Ellington & His Orchestra (3:11)
• 8. Waiting at the Church - performed by Beatrice Kay (2:38)
• 9. Frasquita Serenade - performed by John Kirby & His Orchestra (2:40)
• 10. Shine On, Harvest Moon - performed by Hal Kemp (3:06)
• 11. From the Land of the Sky Blue Water - performed by Mildred Bailey & Her Orchestra (2:47)
• 12. Loch Lomond - performed by Maxine Sullivan & Her Orchestra (2:52)
• 13. A Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight - performed by Miff Mole's Molers (2:46)




 Notes and Quotes:  


Horner Conducting Titanic
James Horner, seen conducting Titanic in the Los Angeles Times article "They Shoot, They Score" published on July 28th, 1997.


Lyrics to "My Heart Will Go On:"

Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you,
That is how I know you go on.
Far across the distance
And spaces between us
You have come to show you go on.

Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on.
Once more you open the door
And you're here in my heart,
And my heart will go on and on.

Love can touch us one time
And last for a lifetime.
And never let go till we're gone.
Love was when I loved you,
One true time I hold to,
In my life we'll always go on.

Near, far, wherever you are,
I believe that the heart does go on.
Once more you open the door
And you're here in my heart.
And my heart will go on and on.

You're here, there's nothing I fear,
And I know that my heart will go on
We'll stay forever this way,
You are safe in my heart
And my heart will go on and on.

The inserts for all albums contain extensive credits, a pictorial from the film, and notes from director James Cameron. The first album contains a very brief note from James Horner, while the insert for the 1998 "Back to Titanic" unfolds into a mini-poster. The 2012 albums contain similar notation as well as additional production photos and four "luggage stickers." The featured soloists listed on both albums include Sissel Kyrkjebø, Simon Franglen, Ian Underwood, Eric Rigler, Randy Kerber, James Horner, and Tony Hinnigan.

The original 1997 album's note from Cameron reads as follows:

    "'Titanic' is first and above all a love story. The passion, the intimacy and the heart break one feels in watching a love story on film a created largely by the actors, but we help where we can with cinematography, set design and the other crafts. Of cource music is most important addition to the actors' work for increasing the emotional impact of the film.

    James Horner's score for 'Titanic' is all I had hoped and prayed it would be and much more. It deftly leaps from intimacy to grandeur, from joy to heart-wrenching sadness and across the full emotional spectrum of the film while maintaining a stylistic and thematic unity. The music spans time, making immediate the actions and feelings of people 85 years ago with full emotional resonance without falling into either of the two dreaded traps the sweeping conventional period picture score, or the inappropriately modern and anachronistic "counter program" score.

    James has walked the tightrope by using synthesizer, vocal and full orchestra to create a timeless sound which tells us that these people were not so very different from us. Their hope, their fears, their passions are like ours. In the film I have tried to accentuate the universalities of human behavior, rather than focus on the quaint differences between this other time and our own. James has done the same thing, bridging the gap of time and making these people seem so alive, so vibrant, so real that the dreaded event, when it finally comes is terrifying in the authenticity.

    And most importantly, he has made us one with Jack and Rose, feeling the beat of their hearts as they experience the kind of love we all dream about, but seldom find."


The 1998 "Back to Titanic" album's note from Cameron reads as follows:

    "Music was such an integral part of the dramatic and emotional impact of 'Titanic', and yet so much of the music created by James Horner and others couldn't be included in the first album that I felt compelled to encourage James to create a second album. And here it is.

    When James and I met to discuss 'Titanic' for the first time almost two years ago, we both searched for words to express the depth of feeling we had for the subject and how we should go about scoring the film. I felt strongly that the score should be unconventional and not the classic period score with its sweeping orchestral stings. I wanted the film to transport the audience back in time and to make that moment in history not history but life... a moment spent with living people like you and me. The music had to have emotional power and a life energy that could move an audience now , in the closing years of our jaded and revved-up century, without sounding gimmicky or anachronistic.

    James had anticipated me, and already was hearing in his mind's ear a kind of soaring and transcendent sound using human voice, perhaps accompanied by synthesized vocal textures, combined with Celtic instruments like uillean pipe and pennywhistle to create lyrical and haunting emotionalism. This would create a timeless quality, while avoiding the classic "period movie" sound. The orchestra of course, would be integrated with these sounds as needed, to create the grace and majesty the subject demanded.

    I was tremendously excited by that initial encounter and so we embarked on what proved to be, for both of us, the most grueling and demanding, yet ultimately the most rewarding, creative partnership of our careers. Early in '97, as filming ended, James invited me to his studio where he played some initial sketches and melodies on the piano. I will never forget the moment before James began to play... sitting there hoping and praying the themes would be good. And realizing minutes later that the themes were far beyond good. They were everything I had dreamed, perfectly capturing the aching, bittersweet heart of the film.

    James has created a new suite of music, comprising light and dark sections from the score, which represents the "soul" of his remarkable music for 'Titanic'. Sections of the score which were not included in the first soundtrack are integrated into this suite. In addition we have included several of the source numbers from the film. From the haunting and unforgettable "Nearer My God to Thee" to the raucous pipe and drum rhythms heard in the Irish folk music played in the lower decks, these selections recreate the most poignant moments in the life and death of the great ship.

    Let the music take you back to that moment in history, that more innocent and optimistic time before the Twentieth Century declared itself the mad juggernaut it became in later decades. "Alexander's Ragtime Band" was played on the deck by Wallace Hartley's small orchestra and lifted spirits as the ship settled, lights blazing, into black oblivion. And "Come Josephine in My Flying Machine", which Jack briefly sings for Rose, was a top hit song the year before the sinking. It is of course my favorite, since my daughter's name is Josephine."






   
  All artwork and sound clips from Titanic are Copyright © 1997, 1998, 2012, Sony Music Soundtrax (Original), Sony Music Soundtrax (Back to Titanic), Sony Music Soundtrax (DVD Audio), Sony Masterworks/Sony Classical (Anniversary Sets). The reviews and other textual content contained on the filmtracks.com 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 11/18/97 and last updated 4/16/12. Review Version 5.1 (PHP). Copyright © 1997-2013, Christian Clemmensen (Filmtracks Publications). All rights reserved. (There are some review pages at Filmtracks that drive the editor insane. Since 1997, this has been the worst of them all. Judging from Caelen's screaming during the 2008 re-write of the review, Titanic won't be popular with the hip 2020's crowd.)