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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Meco - Music Inspired By Star Wars

Artist: Meco
Album: Music Inspired By Star Wars
Year: 2005
Style: Disco, Electronic, Soundtrack
Similar Bands: there is nothing quite like this.
"One-Word" Review: Fanboy's-musical-diorama
Based Out Of: Johnsonburg, PA
Label: DM Records Group
Music Inspired By Star Wars - Cover, CD, Back
Music Inspired By Star Wars - Liner notes, CD Tray

Music Inspired By Star Wars (2005)
  1. I Am Your Father 3:09
  2. Star Wars Party 3:12
  3. Across the Stars / Princess Leia's Theme (Star Wars Love Themes) 4:03
  4. Star Wars Theme (New Star Wars) 3:08
  5. The Imperial March (Empire Strikes Back) 3:32
  6. Yoda's Theme (You Are Reckless) 3:22
  7. Jedi Knight 4:05
  8. Lapti Nek 3:25
  9. Live Your Life 3:19
  10. Boogie Wookiee 6:25

Album Rating (1-10): 3.0

Members & Other Bands:
Meco Mondardo - Producer, Arrangements, Programming, Recording, Mixing (Eastman School of Music Jazz Band, Tommy James, Diana Ross)
Peter Frank - Vox, Character Vocal Re-enactment, Guitar Solo
Jeff Jenkins - Character Vocal Re-enactment
Kim Weiss - Vox, Character Vocal Re-enactment
Yamira Santieli - Vox
Sal Vecchio - remix
David Watson - Executive Producer
Mark Watson - Executive Producer
Brian Fleniken - Mastering
Joe Corcoran - Licensing & Copyright Administration
Karl Braun Esq. - Legal Advisor
Herman Moskowitz CPA - Accounting

Unknown-ness: I have heard of Meco, sure. Being a fan of Star Wars, and growing up with the original 3 as my template to compare all other movies to, I was a fan of the Cantina Band version Meco produced. But that song is nowhere on this 2005 version, which professes to have music inspired by all 6 episodes of the dual trilogy. I doubt it is good, since Meco is generally a Disco-related producer/musician, and although 1977 music could lend itself to the genre, I don’t see how the newer three will translate. But it is worth a few minutes of time to find out.

Album Review: So more to the history of Meco…he went to school for music, even formed a band in school with friends Chuck Mangione and bassist Ron Carter. In the mid 70’s as disco was emerging, he was producer to a couple of Gloria Gaynor hits. But it was his love of sci-fi growing up that lead him to making dance versions of familiar soundtrack themes. All that aside, this is a horrendous album. It is incredibly embarrassing, almost more so than hearing the Mini-Pops sing about “making love.”

“I Am Your Father” starts with an echoing cymbal, Darth Vader’s famous breathing, and a sensuous light jazz backing melody. Vocal/quote samples are spoken/layered over the music. The song is not even dancey. It brings in Vader’s melody via synthesized string sections. Luke’s “that’s impossible” line is added in, and there are lots of washed quotes, and a guitar solo for no reason. The song is chaotic and is like a child’s magazine cut up collage for 3rd grade.
“Star Wars Party” is just an embarrassing attempt at rapping about how great a star wars party is. It’s general, never really explaining what exactly a star wars party is, except that it involves dancing Jedi and Wookies helping R2. There is a flat produced quality about the song: nothing sounds crisp or “real.” The melody for the chorus feels Christmassy. The chorus fades out in the end.
“Across the Stars / Princess Leia's Theme (Star Wars Love Themes)” uses more rattling cymbals. The familiar Leia’s Theme is played with fast tempo marching drums played to make it more dancey. The tone is solemn, and it sounds like an 80’s TV show.  There are more quotes layered over the music of Darth Vader, the Emperor, then Obi-Wan. The rest of the cast joins in with one off quotes, taken out of meaning or sequence. But the Han, Luke and Leia voices don’t sound very identifiable. Not a good song, or really, a song at all.
“Star Wars Theme (New Star Wars)” begins like it’s going to be a new age pop song, and features star fighters swooping by, and a loose representation of the star wars theme is synthesized behind more vocal samples. The song grows stagnant quickly, and tried to just carry a drum beat beneath more rearranged character dialogue. Rather than songs inspired by Star Wars, this is more like a bastardized version of your childhood memories.  
“The Imperial March (Empire Strikes Back)” has a dark, metallic quality beneath the familiar march. This feels closer to music, as it is more like a game show version of the theme. There are disco stings accenting certain measures, and the only movie sounds are lasers shots and light saber battles. Later R2 sounds are added as the song rises out of the dark, and moves to positive territory. It is definitely the most creative and musically interesting interpretation of the familiar themes.

“Yoda's Theme (You Are Reckless)” starts with mediocre-to-poor vocal impressions of Yoda over a floating dream like sequence complete with harp playing and a new age or medieval like melody. This again could be the actions of a 15 yr old making a tribute to Yoda with self-made audio clips. At the 2:10 mark, the familiar Star Wars themes are mashed together in disco fashion with sound effects added at random moments.
“Jedi Knight” is a sung song, it is a driving, yet light female sung number that is slightly disco, slightly Japanese, and pretty toe tapping. If it did not have the Weird Al like embarrassment of partial knowledge and selected information of a topic, it might be a generally ok song. The chorus reminds me of Village People, with the chorus of male “sailors” saying to fight behind the female vocals. It follows a good pop music template of music.
“Lapti Nek” reaches more funky disco territories, and is another actually sung song that harkens back more accurately to the disco era. There are creature samples of monsters from Jabba’s Palace. The synthesizer flourishes make this into an interesting audio song. The tempo is danceable and driving, and if the annoying Jabba sounds were removed, it might be a stand-alone tolerable song.
“Live Your Life” starts with a tinny drum beat and dialogue clips overlayed. The mellow melody is very thin, and cruises along for the first minute, until the chorus hits after about a minute, and the sung vocals are raise from the background. This song feels like a fleshed out version of one single thought.
“Boogie Wookiee” fades up with a jungle drum beat and a complex melody with overly synthesized effects and short singing Ooos and other bursts of lyric. The overall general is world music, and not nearly as funky as the rhyming title would suggest. About half way through the tempo and melody shifts up a notch and although it is still a world music beat, it is done in a video game (toe-jam and earl) spirit for a minute. After that, the music falls away leaving an angelic vibe and maraca percussion. It has dropped most of the boogie, and has become a floating cloud of mechanically created choir. 

Stand Out Track: Jedi Knight

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