“Look under your bed—it’ll set you free.” With those enticingly enigmatic words, an empathetic, hip older sister bequeaths to her hyper-smart but nerdy 11-year-old brother her Rosetta Stone to life in the late-’60s: a prized trove of expertly curated rock, pop, and folk albums that set into chaotic motion young William Miller’s eye- ear- and mind-opening journey in director Cameron Crowe’s quasi-autobiographical 2000 ode to rock ‘n’ roll fandom, Almost Famous.
Two decades later, the Oscar/BAFTA/Golden Globe Award-winning film remains one of the sweetest love letters to the genre, one that deftly captured the look, the sound, the feel, the attitude of what rock ‘n’ roll meant to its creators, its most fervent adherents, its hangers-on and its worried parents during a golden era of pop music. The movie’s legacy is celebrated with the first-ever release of all the music that so powerfully fueled Crowe’s story, based on his own power chord-driven odyssey from wide-eyed music-loving kid to respected rock journalist to celebrated filmmaker.
UMe has compiled multiple iterations of the film’s Grammy Award-winning soundtrack, augmented comprehensively in the limited-edition Uber Box set that encompasses an expanded soundtrack with five CDs, seven 180-gram black vinyl discs, and a brand new 7-inch for Stillwater’s “Fever Dog.” The expanded soundtrack includes songs from The Beach Boys, Joni Mitchell, Led Zeppelin, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The Who, and Yes, plus all the songs created for the film’s fictional aspiring rock group Stillwater, most written for the movie by Cameron Crowe, Heart’s Nancy Wilson and Grammy Award-winning guitarist, Peter Frampton.
The Uber Box edition of Almost Famous includes bonus items such as a 40-page photo book and memoir housed in a film-prop-replica of William Miller’s high-school notebook complete with writings by Cameron Crowe, Nancy Wilson, along with cast and crew members; the first-ever complete William Miller cover story on Stillwater as a 1973 Rolling Stone newsprint; two replica ticket stubs from Stillwater’s San Diego and Cleveland concerts; and a Stillwater tour poster. Exclusively available only in the Uber Boxset is a Stillwater Cleveland concert poster and a backstage poster; six film-prop-replica backstage passes (some seen throughout the film); three film-prop-replica business cards for Dick Roswell (Stillwater road manager), Lester Bangs (Creem magazine), and Ben Fong-Torres (Rolling Stone magazine); and three photo prints of cast members.
Among the 103 audio tracks are numerous clips of dialogue released for the first time: including the promise from William’s sister Anita that “One day you’ll be cool,” and crackling exchanges between William and vaunted Creem magazine rock critic Lester Bangs, the real-life mentor who offered early encouragement to then-teenaged rock fan Crowe to pursue his desire to write about the music he loved.
The box set points out how exceptional the Almost Famous soundtrack was and remains. Crowe arranged for a dedicated remix & edit of the Who’s “Amazing Journey/Sparks” instrumental from their rock opera Tommy and live album Live at Leeds. For another scene, Crowe had grabbed a bootleg live recording out of his stash for Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” from a 1999 show, which Young recently unearthed from his extensive archive and newly mixed from the original multi-track analog tape for this release. The set is also highlighted with the inclusion of Elton John’s iconic “Tiny Dancer,” newly mixed with the cast members singing alongside the song as featured in the film.
Crowe found supremely qualified collaborators by drafting Wilson to compose the score and to team with Frampton to help write credible rock songs for Stillwater. For the new release of the soundtrack music, all of Wilson’s brilliant score music is included, along with 14 score outtakes that didn’t make the final film.
Along with the thirteen-disc Uber Deluxe box, Universal is issuing two six-LP editions—one on black vinyl, the other with colored vinyl discs; a five-CD Super Deluxe set including 102 tracks, 36 of them previously unreleased songs; a separate 12-inch vinyl EP with all 6 of Stillwater’s songs; a Record Store Day exclusive with the 7 original demos of the Stillwater songs, five performed by Wilson the other two by Frampton; a two-LP vinyl version of the original soundtrack album; a two-CD Deluxe Edition of the original soundtrack.
“We are extremely proud to revisit Almost Famous with a very special bounty of goodness,” said Cameron Crowe. “For the first time, we’ve created a Deluxe Soundtrack that features nearly every song from the film, along with Nancy Wilson’s wonderfully evocative score. We’re also thrilled to finally preserve both versions of the film, along with a collection of rare new bonus features, on these beautiful new 4K and Blu-ray releases as part of Paramount Presents. Long live physical media!”
To complement the expanded soundtrack, Paramount Home Entertainment will release the film for the first time on 4K Ultra HD, in a limited-edition Steelbook, as well as in a new limited-edition Blu-ray in the Paramount Presents line on July 13, 2021. Meticulously remastered from a new 4K film transfer under the supervision of Cameron Crowe, Almost Famous is presented in stunning 4K Ultra HD with Dolby Vision and HDR-10 for ultra-vivid picture quality.
The limited-edition 4K Ultra HD Steelbook includes both the original theatrical cut (plus access to a digital copy) and the beloved Bootleg cut (aka “Untitled”), along with new bonus content offering a backstage pass into the creative process through a new interview with Crowe, extended scenes, rock-school sessions, a look at the casting and costumes, and more. Almost Famous will also be available in a limited-edition Blu-ray Disc in the Paramount Presents line. With collectible packaging featuring a foldout image of the film’s theatrical poster and an interior spread with key movie moments, the release includes the remastered versions of the theatrical cut for the first time on Blu-ray (plus access to a digital copy) and the Bootleg cut, along with bonus content.
The film has become a touchstone not just for music lovers who came of age in the swaggering early 1970s rock era that Almost Famous celebrates, but subsequent generations of music fans who connect with its timeless portrait of how music can offer solace, insight, and joyous release from whatever challenges life throws.
Throughout this rock ‘n’ roll juggernaut, William Miller, Stillwater, and the film’s other players soak in the music of the day, all curated by Crowe using his knowledge of and connections to many of the biggest and most influential rock acts of the era. This manifests onscreen perhaps most memorably in the full-band bus singalong with Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s “Tiny Dancer,” the duo’s tribute to their own groupies—or as William is quickly corrected by Stillwater’s female fans when he uses the term, “We’re Band-Aids!”—emphasizing the distinction between those who crassly latch on to rock stars simply for their celebrity versus those who try to get closer because of their love for the music.
“In the late sixties, adventuresome and modern directors like Mike Nichols began moving away from traditional orchestral score in their movies,” Crowe writes in an essay accompanying the new project. “The Graduate, with its deft and emotional use of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Sounds of Silence,’ changed the landscape.”
It surely did in Almost Famous: Led Zeppelin approved the use of five songs for the film—unprecedented at the time. When Crowe showed the film to Zeppelin singer Robert Plant and guitarist Jimmy Page during his pitch to persuade them to grant use of the songs he wanted, Plant raised a question: “Was your mother really like that?” after taking in Frances McDormand’s endearingly taut performance as William’s over-anxious, over-protective college professor mom, Elaine. Cameron told him, “That and more.”
The original release of the film’s soundtrack included only Zeppelin’s “That’s the Way,” while the new set adds in “Misty Mountain Hop,” “The Rain Song,” “Bron-Yr-Aur” and “Tangerine,” the latter employed so effectively during the film’s finale as Stillwater’s tour bus trundles off into the sunset.
Actor Jason Lee, whose performance as Stillwater vocalist Jeff Bebe nailed a combination of bravado and underlying insecurity, says, “Every time I watch the movie…every time the bus is pulling away as Led Zeppelin’s ‘Tangerine’ plays at the end…it kind of crushes me a little bit. That song is a … killer. And with the dust kicking up as the bus is driving away…that moment for me, watching it as an audience member? Perfect. Watching it as a cast member and an audience member? It’s bittersweet.”
As Crowe puts it about finding the right music for each scene in a film, “Something magical happened when the actor and the scene and the music worked together. Often it’s a shotgun marriage, but every once in a while, everything clicks. That’s when a movie can sear your soul.”
He had experienced that power while directing his debut film, Say Anything…, and again in his 1992 romantic comedy Singles as well as in 1996’s Jerry Maguire. “By the time we got to the next one,” he said of approaching Almost Famous, “I was ready to put the music at the center of the movie.”
For any Almost Famous fan, this is the ultimate collection, a vibrant, reverberating reminder of the ways rock ‘n’ roll can break your heart and bust your chops- but also the music’s power to set you free.
Almost Famous: Uber Box set:
“The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late)” – Alvin & The Chipmunks
“The Oogum Boogum Song” – Brenton Wood
“America” – Simon & Garfunkel
“One Day You’ll Be Cool”
“Amazing Journey / Sparks” (Almost Famous Version) – The Who*
“Search And Destroy” – Iggy & The Stooges
“Rock N’ Roll It’s Over”
“It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference” – Todd Rundgren
“Don’t Take Drugs”
“Teacher (U.S. Version)” – Jethro Tull
“We Are Band Aids”
“Roundabout” – Yes
“I’ve Seen All Good People: a. Your Move, b. All Good People” – Yes
“Feel Flows” – The Beach Boys
“This Is Penny Lane”
“River” – Joni Mitchell
“Piggyback Ride (San Diego)”
“Fever Dog” – Stillwater
“Every Picture Tells A Story” – Rod Stewart
“Small Time Blues (Acoustic)” – The Hyatt Singers
“Something In The Air” – Stillwater*
“Easy To Slip” – Little Feat
“Rolling Stone Magazine”
“Go All The Way” – The Raspberries
“Mr. Farmer” – The Seeds
“One Way Out (Live)” – The Allman Brothers Band
“Don’t Forget The Rules”
“Albert Flasher (Live)” – The Guess Who
“Simple Man – Lynyrd Skynyrd
“Just Make Us Look Cool”
“Love Thing” – Stillwater
“That’s The Way” – Led Zeppelin
“Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” – Neil Young & Crazy Horse
“Future Games” – Fleetwood Mac
“Burn” – Deep Purple
“You Had To Be There” – Stillwater
“I Am A Golden God”
“Dear Jill” – Blodwyn Pig
“Tiny Dancer (Almost Famous Version)” – Elton John, Stillwater & Cast*
“Looking At You” – MC5
“Reeling In The Years (Live)” – Steely Dan*
“Lucky Trumble” – Nancy Wilson
“Untitled” – Jeff Bebe*
“I’m Waiting For The Man (Live)” – David Bowie
“Your Mom Kind Of Freaked Me Out”
“Please Welcome Stillwater!”
“Love Comes And Goes” – Stillwater
“You Gotta Take What You Can, When You Can”
“The Wind” – Cat Stevens
“Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
“Slip Away” – Clarence Carter
“Misty Mountain Hop” – Led Zeppelin
“Wishing Well” – Free
“Cover Of The Rolling Stone”
“Mona Lisas And Mad Hatters” – Elton John
“Colour My World” – Jefferson High School Band
“My Cherie Amour” – Stevie Wonder
“Cortez The Killer (Live)” – Neil Young*
“You Made Friends With Them”
“The Rain Song” – Led Zeppelin
“We All Know What You Did To Him”
“Bron-Yr-Aur” – Led Zeppelin
“What Do You Love About Music?”
“Tangerine” – Led Zeppelin
CD4 – STILLWATER:
“You Had To Be There”
“Hour Of Need”
“Chance Upon You”
“Love Comes And Goes”
“Love Comes And Goes (Early Version)”
“Chance Upon You”*
“Love Comes And Goes”*
“Hour Of Need”*
“You Had To Be There”*
STILLWATER BACKSTAGE JAMS:
“That’s The Way” (Acoustic) – Larry Fellows & Ed Valencourt*
“Down By The River” (Acoustic) – Larry Fellows & Ed Valencourt*
“Fever Dog” (Acoustic) – Stillwater*
CD5 ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SCORE:
“Cabin By The River”*
“Cabin In The Air”*
“Bye Bye Now”*
ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SCORE OUTTAKES*
“Cabin” (Outtake 1)
“Tiny Dancer Intro”
“Cabin” (Outtake 2)
“Aaron’s Real Room”