[Review] Vangelis: Themes (1989)

The title’s a misnomer, since this isn’t just soundtrack music but sort of a Best of Vangelis: The Polydor Years.

Kronomyth 22.0: Theme bones.

This collects the best of Vangelis’ work from film and tv commercials to date. Although a good half of this had already appeared on earlier Vangelis albums, Themes did the kindness of collecting for the first time music from Bladerunner, The Bounty and Missing. What emerges here is a kind of companion disc to 1978’s Best of Vangelis compilation; in fact, in Spain they pitched this as The Best of Vangelis with an extra pair of tracks (“Eric’s Theme” from Chariots, “Mouettes” from Opera Sauvage).

Although the decision to open with the End Titles from Bladerunner is an odd choice, the rest of the record flows as smooth as digital honey. If you’re just discovering the music of Vangelis, Themes is a fine place to start. What’s missing here isn’t insubstantial (Heaven and Hell, Spiral, Albedo 0.39), but Themes picks up the story from there with smart choices from China, Opera Sauvage, See You Later, Antarctica and even dipping back in time for the beautiful “La Petite Fille de la Mer.” As for the unreleased soundtrack music, the selections from The Bounty are amazing and the “Love Theme” from Bladerunner is a personal favorite of mine.

Some years later, a great injustice was corrected when the original soundtrack to Bladerunner was released (the 1982 album featured only an orchestral treatment of the film’s score). Soon after, a second injustice was partially corrected when Vangelis’ soundtrack to The Bounty was released as a limited edition double-disc set in Europe. An official soundtrack to Missing is still MIA, but that seems about right.

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Original elpee version

A1. End Titles from “Bladerunner” (4:57)
A2. Main Theme from “Missing” (3:59)
A3. L’Enfant (5:00)
A4. Hymn (2:45)
A5. Chung Kuo (5:29)
A6. The Tao of Love (2:45)
A7. Theme from “Antarctica” (3:55)
B1. Love Theme from “Bladerunner” (4:55)
B2. Opening Titles from “The Bounty” (4:16)
B3. Closing Titles from “The Bounty” (4:58)
B4. Memories of Green (5:42)
B5. La Petite Fille de la Mer (5:51)
*B5b. Five Circles (5:18)
B6. Chariots of Fire (3:31)

All songs composed by Vangelis. * Included on compact disc only.

The Players

Vangelis (performer, arrangements). Produced by Vangelis.

The Pictures

Art direction and design by Shoot That Tiger! Front cover photography by Stathis Zalidis. Liner notes by Guy Protheroe.

The Plastic

Released on elpee, cassette and expanded compact disc in July 1989 in Brazil, Canada, Germany, Greece and the US (Polydor, 839 518-1/4/2), the UK (Polydor, VGTC/VGTVC-1) and Korea (Polydor, SEL-RG1480) with gatefold cover; reached #10 on the US New Age charts.

  1. Re-packaged as The Best of Vangelis on 2LP in 1992 in Spain (Polydor, 847 746-1) with 16 tracks.

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