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The Lord of the Rings, Volume 1

This is not the Howard Shore movie soundtrack but a re-release of jazz/film composer John Sangster's epic attempt to musically portray the events and characters of Tolkien's triology. Not only that, it pre-dates the current film by over 25 years and it's wholly Australian!

Two CDs for the price of one!

"If you want a musical autobiography, it's all there in the Lord of the Rings albums. A crazed montage of all the jazz (and other) idioms I've been involved with during my life. All the musics I love are in there; some plainly stated, some distorted and disguised a little bit the way memories sometimes go."
(John Sangster, 'Seeing the Rafters')

Not to be confused with Howard Shore's music to the award-winning films, this trilogy is wholly Australian and was released on three double-LP sets by EMI in the late 1970s and have been unavailable for many years. Sangster's complete Lord of the Rings trilogy, together with an equally rare fourth double-LP set, Landscapes of Middle Earth, has been carefully restored.

Written by the noted Australian jazz and film composer John Sangster, the series remains a highly ambitious and epic production. From trad jazz to film-like music, there's something on this special double CD for everyone. Plus there's extras galore for collectors including the original LP artwork (computer PDF files) and rare video footage of John Sangster in action.

So ... having read the book, visited the Ring website, and seen the film trilogy, you can now hear the jazz music: an essential album for any Australian jazz or indeed Tolkien fan.


John Sangster

John Sangster was one of the most talented Australian jazz musicians of all time, a technician and creator who embraced and understood more styles of music than any other.

Press quotes

“Long overdue is the reissue of the seminal 1974 recording from the free-thinking hellraiser of Australian jazz. The scope and production values in this reworking of Tolkien's epic are nothing less than ambitious ... [a] stellar line-up ... It bristles with humour and gorgeously layered orchestrations. Breathtaking solos, too.” ★★★★

— Leon Gettler, The Age - Green Guide

“Hats off to Move Records for giving us John Sangster's 1974 classic ... It is a tribute to the man as a composer, player, bandleader and conceptualist that he could pull off such an ambitious project ... Rambunctious trad, skating post-bop, innovative percussion, string quartets and even experimental studio remixes all happily cohabit Middle Earth. What brings them together is the warm heart of Sangster, and a strong sense of joy in the making of the music ... Enchanting.”

— John Shand, ABC 24 Hours

“an exciting musical journey that swings from the chaotic to the celebratory and seduces with passages of extraordinary beauty and pathos.”

— Peter Dougherty, ArtStreams

“The whole piece intrigues, excites and entertains ... enhanced by film footage and artwork accessed on the two hybrid CD/CD-ROM discs”

— Michael Foster, Canberra Times

“Move Records is to be praised for its salutary efforts at making these important artifacts of musical history once again available to the public ... this CD (and its promised successors) is an essential item for any die-hard collector - Tolkienian and Sangsterite alike. These albums are legendary ... The newly released double CD set is a Cadillac with all the luxury features one expects from a special edition DVD”

Read full review

— Chris Seeman, The Tolkien Music List

“John Sangster music is highly ambitious and this epic production juxtaposes ragtime, big band and evocative soundtrack-like creations to portray the many characters and events that inhabit Middle Earth ... Essential listening”

New Classics, UK

“This is a jazz album, inspired by the Tolkien tale but interpreted in a jazz way, not as a soundtrack to a narrative. So much can be said of this blockbuster but a few essentials stand out: the scope of the writing, its constant authority and control, despite its litany of jokes, effects and general bonhomie. The quality of the musicians ... amount[s] to a roll-call of the best players of the day ... an amazingly detailed and rich recording.”

— Shane Nicolls, Australian Financial Review

“I was knocked out by the quality of the music ... Move Records have done a magnificent job”

— Mervyn Longley, Five O Plus FM

“Sangster gave his imagination free rein ... elves, hobbits, orcs ... were depicted variously by jauntily swinging jazz combos, elegant string quartets and more avant-garde combinations, evoking influences from Scott Joplin to Duke Ellington ...”

— Adrian Jackson, The Bulletin

“magical music most worthy of the subject matter ... Only the mind of Sango the Great, part Hobbit, part wizard, could have come up with such a wondrous musical phantasmagoria.”

— Ron Morey, Perth Jazz Society

“worth the listening ... the performances stand up well ... an Australian milestone.”

— Lew Smith, Jazz Fremantle Newsletter

“Do yourself a favour - listen to these CDs”

— Frank Chatterton, Jazz Bits - Hobart

“a real hit ... the quality is even better than the original vinyl releases.”

— Bob Toll, Eastern FM

“this impressive work is a milestone in Australian jazz history ... splendid”

— Joya Jenson, 2MBS FM

“Some of the most important music to come out of Australia as it shows the way out for the impasse modern classical music finds itself in, and it gives new direction to jazz”

— Roger Bell, Australian jazz legend

“... masterly jazzman John Sangster gets some fine moments together ... this is a superb album that gains appreciatively by use of talents like Bob Barnard, Graeme Kayla, Errol Buddle (and) many many more. Outstanding track 'Vale Theoden'.”

— Forester, The Age

Audio previews

Track Listing

  1. Off to Adventures John Sangster 4:39
  2. Legolas: Elf John Sangster 3:47
  3. Gandalf the White John Sangster 4:32
  4. Elvish Dance John Sangster 3:30
  5. Nazgul John Sangster 4:20
  6. Sam the Man John Sangster 4:03
  7. The Ride of the Rohirrim John Sangster 5:50
  8. Glad'riel John Sangster 4:47
  9. Elvish Tea-Party, with Dance John Sangster 4:15
  10. Orcs John Sangster 3:05
  11. Blues for Boromir John Sangster 7:25
  12. Uncle Gandalf Needs You! John Sangster 5:13
  13. Ents and Entwives John Sangster 4:45

Disc 2

  1. The Great Battle John Sangster 6:06
  2. Vale Theoden John Sangster 9:38
  3. Three Cheers for Smeagol John Sangster 12:03
  4. Bilbo's Birthday Party John Sangster 3:25
  5. The Grey Heavens John Sangster 7:46

Where to buy

The Lord of the Rings, Volume 1 is available for download from the iTunes Music Store.
It's available for streaming through Apple Music.

The Lord of the Rings, Volume 1 is available as as CD. It can be purchased online through Buywell Music or the Australian Music Centre which both offer secure online ordering.

Move CDs can be ordered through music retailers across Australia including Readings.

Product details

List price
$25.00 AUD
Total playing time
99 minutes 9 seconds
Release date
June 2002
© 1975 John Sangster
℗ 2002 Move Records
Australian, Jazz
Catalogue number
MD 3251
Alternate catalogue number
EAN 9314574325126