Vangelis & The Soundtrack

Evangelos O. Papathanassiou "Vangelis"

Vangelis is the composer of the intense, electrifying soundtrack of Bladerunner. There can be no doubt that his compositions attributed greatly to the dark and brooding atmosphere of the film. Vangelis is an eccentric artist, and always has been since his first successes during his youth in Greece where it all started.
Born in Volos, Greece on March 29, 1943 he developed musical talents almost instantly. His parents saw him toying round with the piano and decided to give him piano lessons which he tried very shortly and furthermore refused ever since. He wanted to find his own ways, develop his own techniques, most fitting to his own goals.
Success came early in his live. While still a young student in the sixties he joined a pop music band called the “Forminx” which became so popular that they filled entire stadiums for concerts. Which was very remarkable in Greece around that time. Things however where turbulent in Greece and near the end of the eighties he went to Paris, joined by some other musicians including singer Demis Roussos, to form a band called “Aphrodite’s Child”. And successful it was again. With hits like “Rain and Tears” and “It’s Five O’Clock” they stormed the European charts and formed an appropriate answer to other sixties groups like the Beatles.
Vangelis however had different plans, and after a last controversial album called “666” the band broke up. Demis Roussos started a successful career as a solo singer and Vangelis started his experiments using electronic instruments for music like he had never heard before. To try and put his efforts in new things and experiments. It started the broad style for which he is still well known today in most of the world.
He quickly had success with albums like Heaven and Hell (partly due to its use in the TV series “Cosmos”), Spiral and China. He made music for nature series like Apocalypse des Animaux, nature films like Fete Sauvage and motion pictures like Chariots of Fire and Antarctica. He used influences from all he could get, including classical music, rock and pop music, jazz, Fusion and avant-garde. But always recognizable, by adding his own style in composition and expressive performances. Most of his work is mainly based on synthesizers. He used to play acoustic drums and use other traditional instruments but most prolific in his recordings are the synthesizer sounds, which he played and still plays like no one else: alive, breathing and irresistible.
Getting big recognition for his work, like being awarded an Oscar for Chariots of Fire, and selling huge numbers of albums of both his instrumental solo work and his collaborations with Yes singer Jon Anderson he gained enough status to be able to consider his options very well when he was asked by newly successful director Ridley Scott to write the original score for his upcoming futuristic philosophical thriller Blade Runner.
And accept it he did. Scott’s vision must have been overwhelming, and the first designs and results where magnifying. The film needed a big yet subtle score, and Scott was convinced Vangelis should do it. Vangelis was inspired by the visuals, design and peculiar viewpoints of the film. He had a broad experience to base his creations on and created a no less than unforgettable soundtrack which has become as legendary as the film itself.
The music sounds very coherent, with a noirish mood over every bit of musical cue. But when looked upon more clearly the style and form of the music varies greatly over the total of time. A jazzy piece with a saxophone, a symphonic overture which sounds grand and pompous, Arabic oriented ambient music and some simple floating notes here or there. Even more: a tragic piece of synthesizer blues appropriately ends a violent action sequence, a pumping pre-techno track supports the end titles suggesting that the story is still far from over yet and a choir dominated climax accompanies the key scene where a meeting of two most opposite yet alike characters ends destructively. Still, it all sounds very coherent when perceived within the film or the original soundtrack album.
Ironically this score was not instantly released as an album, like most other scores for films categorically are. For reasons still unclear the original recordings were not licensed and the record company released an album with partly orchestral re-recordings of the work. This album however displayed non of the passion, tense and downright beauty of the recordings everybody wanted, which became very soon an obsession for both admirers of the film and fans of Vangelis.
Almost instantly a bootleg tape was going rounds in film music communities but it became very rare and reached hardly any fan. It was not before 1992 that more parts of the music became obtainable via unofficial way by means of a bootleg CD known as the “OWM” bootleg. The quality was not very good but it was better than anything. Ironically this became a very expensive collectors item.
In 1994, after the release of the Directors cut of the film a big dream of many people came finally true. Quite unexpectedly Warner released the true and original soundtrack album of Bladerunner. Legally available all over the world in perfect quality. Because of the dated nature of the recordings Vangelis went back to his original tapes and recompiled it to form an up to date album. He reprocessed some tracks slightly, skipped some bits (regretted by many many people) and added dialogues from the film over certain pieces, creating an interesting concept album. Also he inserted a track which didn’t make the finished film (Rachel’s song) and pepped it up by re-recording some of its synthesizer parts. Finally he recorded a few completely new tracks, inspired by the film’s images (Blush Response and Wait for me). The result is album of almost an hour in length with an impeccable quality in sound.
After Bladerunner Vangelis’ career still progressed. He recorded film scores for Antarctica, Missing, the Bounty and Fransesco, released solo albums like “Private Collection”, “Soil Festivities” and “Direct”. Then, almost 10 years after Bladerunner he teamed up with Ridley Scott again to score his film “1492, Conquest of Paradise”, about the dreams and deeds of Christopher Columbus. Again it became one of his most pleasantly surprising film scores, effectively combining the strength of his contemporary style with the feelings inherent to the period in which the story takes place. Three years after the film the music became unexpectedly a huge success in Europe after it gained attention in Germany when a popular boxer used it as personal theme music. It broke many sales records and heightened and broadened the fame Vangelis already had in certain circles in Europe.
Vangelis has only continued to surprise people since with his music. It has become more quite, gentle and perhaps a bit less daring. But he still displays his professionalism and lonely height in quality within his own style. He moved to new territories as well, releasing a very limited and very special album as tribute to byzantine painter El Greco, and recorded opera works with famous diva Montserrat Caballe. Also he organized the spectacular opening to Athens’ world championship in athletics during the summer of 1997.
And no doubt there is plenty to wait for in the future. Vangelis has made music all his live. It’s his life. It’s what he does and what he has to do. All we have to do is listen and enjoy. And so we will.
Dennis Lodewijks. Veldhoven, May 1, 1998

The above text was written by Dennis Lodewijks, webmaster of the Vangelis site Elsewhere. A great site if you want to know more about Vangelis and his music.
I would like to take this opportunity to say thanks to Dennis for writing the above text on Vangelis and helping me out.

The Soundtracks

The New American Orchestra (1982)

The first “official” soundtrack was released in 1982 and was a reinterpretation on Vangelis music by “The New American Orchestra”. It’s official but it’s sadly not Vangelis, If I would say something about it, I’d compare it to Blade Runner Disco music (typical of the era) and in Wikipedia you can read that it consists of jazz-inspired, orchestrated renditions of the major tracks from the film, but not the original score tracks.

# Title Length
1 Love Theme 4:12
2 Main Title 5:01
3 One More Kiss, Dear 4:00
4 Memories Of Green 4:50
5 End Title 4:17
6 Blade Runner Blues 4:38
7 Farewell 3:10
8 End Title Reprise 3:08
33:16 Total

Vangelis Blade Runner (1994)

It’s still unknown why it took so long for Vangelis to release his soundtrack and if you look up the number of bootlegs that are “out there” you will find atleast 10, 15 or more versions. Vangelis recorded the music in 1982 and in 1989 the compilation album “Themes” (A great compilation of Vangelis music indeed) was released and it contained End Titles, The Love Theme which was now released for the very first time, it also had the track Memories Of Green which was first released on the Vangelis album See you later in 1980.
In 1994 the soundtrack was released, it’s still unknown why it took such a long time for it to be released, prehaps the theatrical release of Blade Runner: The Directors Cut had something to do with it. Anyway, the soundtrack is a wonderful release and it includes some tracks that where not included in the movie, it’s far from complete when you compare it to all of Vangelis masterpieces that’s included in the movie but it’s a wonderful soundtrack anyway. The tracks on the soundtrack that are not in the movie fits perfectly and the audio quality is far superior any of the bootlegs. One should be aware that some tracks include some dialog from the movie (Track 12 Tears In Rain includes the final words of Roy Batty for example)

# Title Length
1 Main Titles 3:42
2 Blush Response 5:47
3 Wait For Me 5:27
4 Rachel’s Song 4:46
5 Love Theme 4:56
6 One More Kiss Dear 3:58
7 Blade Runner Blues 8:53
8 Memories Of Green 5:05
9 Tales Of The Future 4:46
10 Damask Rose 2:32
11 Blade Runner (End Titles) 4:40
12 Tears In Rain 3:00
57:53 Total

Vangelis Blade Runner Trilogy, 25th Anniversary (2007)

2007 was the year of Blade Runner and in 2007 we finally got to see Blade Runner: The Final Cut released in Cinemas as well as we got a proper release on DVD, HD DVD and Blu Ray to enjoy in your home. There where three different releases which contained evertything from the 2007 Final Cut to the older 1982 and 1992 (and Workprint) edits of Blade Runner.
To celebrate the 25’th anniversary of original theatrical release of Blade Runner we also got a new expanded release of Vangelis soundtrack. Now on three CD’s where Disc 1 is the 1994 release (See Vangelis Blade Runner (1994) above), Disc 2 contains previously unreleased (and bonus material) and Disc 3 is filled with completely new material from Vangelis to celebrate Blade Runner’s 25’th anniversary where we also very subtly can hear spoken words by Sir Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone, Rutger Hauer, Edward James Olmos and Roman Polanski
This is the most complete (official) soundtrack of Blade Runner and it includes some all new material from Vangelis in high quality, both when it comes to audio quality and musically.
For information on Disc 1, please check the Vangelis Blade Runner (1994) information above.

Disc 2:
Previously Unreleased Material & Bonus Material
# Title Length
1 Longing 1:58
2 Unveiled Twinkling Space 1:59
3 Dr. Tyrell’s Owl 2:40
4 At Mr. Chew’s 4:27
5 Leo’s Room 2:21
6 One Alone (bonus) 2:23
7 Deckard And Roy’s Duel 6:16
8 Dr. Tyrell’s Death 3:11
9 Desolation Path (bonus) 5:45
10 Empty Streets 6:16
11 Mechanical Dolls 2:52
12 Fading Away 3:32
46:17 Total
Disc 3:
BR 25
# Title Length
1 Launch Approval 1:54
2 Up And Running 3:09
3 Mail From India 3:27
4 BR Downtown 2:27
5 Dimitri’s Bar 3:52
6 Sweet Solitude 6:56
7 No Expectation Boulevard 6:44
8 Vadavarot 4:14
9 Perfume Exatico 5:19
10 Spotkanie Z Matka 5:09
11 Piano In An Empty Room 3:57
12 Keep Asking 1:29
44:00 Total

Vangelis and his music, final words

One of the first thing that made me spellbound by Blade Runner was the soundtrack, to me it strengthen what I saw on the screen and I much later noticed that the music sometimes just flow out together with some of the other sounds in the movie. Blade Runner made me to the big Vangelis fan that I am today. Vangelis is truly a master when it comes to writing music and I believe that most people that have seen Blade Runner sometimes takes notice of the special feeling that the music adds to Blade Runner. If you like the music in Blade Runner then I’ll strongly advice you to listen to some of Vangelis other works
Even if you didn’t know it, You’ve surely heard more music that Vangelis has made, “Chariots Of Fire” is presumably one of the most familiar songs that people have heard but doesn’t have a clue where it’s from or whom made it.
Below here you have a couple of good links I recommend you to visit if you want to know more about Vangelis. Some of them even has audio files that you can download and listen to.
Now, enjoy these wonderful Vangelis Websites..
Regards, Nicklas Ingels – Los Angeles, 2019 Webmaster
A great source when it comes to Vangelis and his different released works (Official and un-official), also has a great Vangelis news section.
Vangelis Rarities
Info and samples from very hard to find Vangelis stuff
Vangelis America
Another good Vangelis information site, with trade section