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Don't be fooled by the track listing... you will LOVE this!
on June 5, 2003
I know that the following comment I use to start off my review regarding BACK TO TITANIC will sound confusing and pointless at first, but please bear with me... there's a reason why I mention it.
I remember once in 1989 or so flipping through an issue of ROLLING STONE magazine out of sheer boredom, and happened across a review of the Guns n' Roses recording "G N' R Lies" which was released at the height of that band's mania, and the opening lines of it stated the following: "Given that Guns N' Roses could probably release an album of Baptist hymns at this point and go platinum, it would be all too easy to dismiss 'G n' R Lies' as a sneaky attempt by the band to throw together some outtakes and cash in on the busy holiday buying season. After all, half of 'Lies' was released in 1986 (as the EP 'Live Like a Suicide'), and one of its four new studio tracks is simply an acoustic version of 'You're Crazy,' from 'Appetite for Destruction'. The arithmetic is simple: hungry fans plus ***any*** new product plus hordes of holiday shoppers equals one profitable little stocking stuffer. The good news is that 'Lies' is a lot more interesting than that."
That's the sort of comment that could very easily be made about BACK TO TITANIC, an album that I was heavily suspicious of upon its issuing. The movie had just been released on home video in a frenzy of highly-deserved popularity, and this CD was also unleashed on the world at the same moment in time for the holidays. Looking at the track listing, I was unimpressed: it looked like it was simply an excuse to release a new CD for raking in extra cash, and the fact that it also "boasted" not one, but *two* recordings of "Nearer My God To Thee" and "My Heart Will Go On" with movie dialogue added didn't exactly help boost my confidence. So as a result, I didn't bother checking it out until just now.
And now here it is, five years later, and out of sheer curiosity I decide to check it out at my local music store. The result? I bought it immediately.
If I wanted to be bland, I'd merely make another comment like that magazine remark I mentioned and say something like, "The good news is that BACK TO TITANIC is a lot more interesting than that." But in this case, that would grossly undermine the impact of this recording. Happily, James Horner has kept this album's focus on being a worthy successor designed to complete a fan's yearning for all of the film's musical moods instead of just being some "Oh, and by the way, here's the leftovers" collection, and in such a way that you realize that Horner must be every bit as much as a perfectionist as James Cameron.
If it's at all possible, BACK TO TITANIC is even more heartwrenchingly beautiful and haunting than the official soundtrack album, so much so that it leaves a soft, wistful mist hanging over the CD player. Track titles such as "Titanic Suite" and "Lament" are deceiving in that they can easily convince you that they are just brief collages of bits from the original soundtrack simply tossed in to remind you of what this album is supposed to be. Don't worry, you'll get more than your money's worth, especially since this disc is four minutes LONGER than a normal CD is supposed to be! "Titanic Suite" clocks in at just over nineteen minutes, and it isn't just portions from the original disc: instead, it is the *film's* versions of the famous themes and cues which were not present on the official soundtrack. And even better, it ends with the full, complete "heaven finale" recording from the original film in its entireity so we can *finally* hear it as a full composition (the original had its end lopped off so that "My Heart Will Go On" could immediately start once the credits began to roll), and it puts the first CD's heartstopper "An Ocean of Memories" to shame.
The piano piece from the "sketching" scene, "The Portrait", is included here as well as "A Building Panic", the tremendous "Lament" and the tear-inducing "A Shore Never Reached". In short, if you own both discs together you will have every scrap of music from the movie and more. I had at first thought that including "Come Josephine, In My Flying Machine" would be hokey and pretentiously desperate-for-padding sounding, but as it turns out it is performed in such a lovely and hypnotic way that you can easily imagine it being in the film.
I know it sounds hard to believe, but BACK TO TITANIC threatens to make the TITANIC disc sound like junk, and if you are a fan of the movie or its music at all then you absolutely **MUST** purchase this, no excuses. You will (quite literally, as in my case) love it to tears, especially the Epilogue track "The Deep and Timeless Sea" in which Horner goes well above and beyond the call of duty by giving us a very special ten-minute arrangement which leaves me at a complete loss for words: let me put it to you this way, if the entire film's soundtrack had consisted only of this piece alone (the way "Cast Away" had only one piece of music written for it) then it by itself would have earned Horner his much-deserved Oscar and praise. It had me in tears so badly that I couldn't stop playing it, and it left me with a haunting feeling of passing time that I just couldn't shake.
An immaculate masterpiece. Get it now to go with your other disc or miss out on an important work of art that will bring you endless musical pleasure forever.