#493: SNDTRK

MOVIE SOUNDTRACK WEEK

GETTING MORE TALE #493: SNDTRK

The first big hit movie soundtrack LP in history was 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire.  That may seem like a long time ago, but it was only 26 years later (a small blink in terms of history) that John Williams composed one of the most popular scores of all time:  Star Wars.  That was the first soundtrack I owned.  Today, soundtracks are still an integral part of any record store.

In my own days as a Record Store Guy, movie soundtracks were a dicey product to stock.  Aside from some specific timeless examples, they seemed to have a limited shelf-life.

There was always a demand for certain classics:  Saturday Night Fever, Last of the Mohicans, Heavy Metal.  On the other hand, other discs were bargain bin perennials:  Titanic, More Music from Titanic, The Bodyguard, City of Angels, Phenomenon, Romeo + Juliet…my God there were so many.  Once a movie had run its course, often its soundtrack did too.

Classic.

Much of the time, people bought a soundtrack CD for one song.  Once that song was available elsewhere, the soundtrack sales usually dropped off completely.  When Goo Goo Dolls released “Iris” on their album Dizzy Up the Girl, nobody wanted the City of Angels soundtrack anymore.  Celine Dion put “My Heart Will Go On” on a bunch of different CDs, meaning almost everybody who bought Titanic on CD tried to sell it later.  Good luck – I’ve seen bargain bins with a dozen or more copies in it.  At one point we were so desperate to get rid of the soundtracks that we were bundling them up with the movie at a cut rate price.

There were certain soundtracks that were so unpopular that we weren’t even supposed to buy them used.  Operation Dumbo Drop comes to mind.  Now that was a CD that sat on my shelf for years and years.  When it finally sold, it was like a celebration. We had long “Do Not Buy – Ever!” lists.  I’m sure many of them were soundtracks.

There are always customers on the lookout for obscure soundtracks.  My buddy Rob Daniels, for example, has a radio show specialising in movie soundtracks.   He has an extensive library of soundtracks, carefully curated over the past 16 years or more.  Unfortunately for soundtrack fans, guys like Rob are in the minority.  Most people simply didn’t care.  They wanted the couple songs from the movie they liked and that was pretty much it.  People looking for obscure scores were few and far between.  Once a song is available on an artist’s album, the soundtrack can look forward to a long life in somebody’s bargain bin.


 

This week, we will be looking at different movie soundtracks every day!  I have a weird knack for remembering the first time I bought an album in great detail.  To lead into the first soundtrack review, I’ll set the scene.

The year was 1992.  I wasn’t working at the Record Store yet, but I was a customer.  The boss there used to have a saying (well he had many sayings but only one applies to this story):  “Do as I say, not as I do.”  He didn’t exactly set the best example on that one visit in ’92, which I liked to painfully rib him when I got hired on in July 1994.

I was looking for a specific soundtrack, a new release, and I wanted it on cassette.  Like the majority, I’m often buying a soundtrack only for a few songs.  I didn’t want to pay CD prices ($20 roughly) when the tape would be much cheaper.  So, I went to the local Record Store, the one at which I’d start working in two years, and looked.  They had to have it.  I made a special trip to the mall just to get that one tape.

When I walked in, the owner was chatting it up with some hot girl.  From the conversation it looked like they knew each other from highschool.  I looked for the tape, looked and looked, but couldn’t find it.  It wasn’t in the new releases and it wasn’t in the soundtracks.  But they had to have it!  I wanted to ask, but the owner and the girl were deep into whatever they were talking about.  I wanted to get his attention and ask about the tape, but I was a shy guy back then and didn’t want to interrupt.  I thought I could maybe jump into their conversation and say, “I went to that highschool too!  Include me!  Include me!”

I hovered nearby and waited for a break in their conversation to ask my question.  As I flipped tapes nearby, I thought I heard him ask if I needed help finding anything?  So I said the name of the soundtrack I was looking for.  He turned to me and said, “Pardon me?”  I answered, “Oh, sorry, I thought you were talking to me.  I’m looking for a soundtrack.”  He said, “Sorry, no I’m sold out of that one but I’ll have more in next week.”

I wanted it that day, so I skipped across the mall over to Zellers and bought the tape for $10.99.

“Do as I say!  Not as I do.”  Pay attention to customers!  When I told him that story a couple years later he didn’t believe me.   It’s true though; my friends will testify that 99% of the time I can tell them exactly when and where I first bought my albums.  Normally he was great at customer service, but that morning in ’92 was an epic fail!

Can you guess which soundtrack I was looking for?  Find out tomorrow.

Q

 

 

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55 comments

  1. I never knew about Last.of the Mohicans being popular. I would have never known.

    I liked action movie ones such as.Last Action Hero, music themed such as Almost Famous, and 60’s & 70’s movies with songs by Floyd, Led Zep, The Who etc.

    I have a ton. I too am interested.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I could never get into the movie too much. Fun, but not one I’d buy. The soundtrack had some amazing stuff — I know you like that Def Lep track. There was a great Queensryche song too, with Michael Kamen producing the strings.

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        1. Hmmmm. Possibly! What about the Music Bank box set? I have that but I don’t remember which mixes they used.

          First tracks with Mike Inez right there…blew me away. What the Hell Have I is awesome.

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        2. Yeah – like you I’ve never seen such a thing. Don’t reckon it exists … but yes, original mixes all the way. I think the remixes on Music Bank are Toby’s?

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Indeed there is!! What The Hell Have I? is listed on Discogs. So too is a 12″ ‘Last Action Hero Sampler’ (none for sale, unfortunately).

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        4. What The Hell Have I is a one track CD. The 12″ had 5 tracks from the film … which, without checking again, also includes Big Gun, Angry Again, Last Action Hero, and Cock The Hammer … I think.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Man I have a pile of soundtracks here, this week is gonna be FUN! Of course, we already know one of them from this week, don’t we… ;)

    Bring it on! INterested to see which ones you chose. I hope one is Forrest Gump. That set was a monster.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I am showing my age here but my first soundtrack albums were Doctor Zhivago and Sound of Music. I also have a copy of Last of the Mohicans. My favourite would be Forrest Gump, given to me by my son! That would be the extent of my soundtrack collection.
    Interesting to see what you pick. Of course we all know what one of them will be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mike, Thanks for the mention.

    Soundtracks for me have been a passion since at least 1986 when I first bought Labyrinth. Though that passion does goes back further to 1977 with, of course, the first Star Wars. Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek and many others soon followed.

    Gone are the days when I could hop in the car and drive to Toronto to Tower Records (Gone), Sam The Record Man (Gone) and HMV. Mainly due to gas prices and lack of disposable income.

    However, it was “the record store” where I have found my greatest finds, “The Last Starfighter” (Rare Southern Cross release), “Man Of Steel” (Steel Book), “Shaft In Africa” (Special Edition) are my most recent great finds. Now with online purchasing, iTunes and “The Record Store” I have been able to fill out my collection with some impressive titles that are too many to list. Suffice it to say it numbers in the thousands.

    Visions In Sound, my radio program, has also afforded me some rare releases and some great interviews with some of the industries best known composers. (Bear McCreary, Howard Shore, John Ottman and many, many others.)

    As for your soundtrack choice that day. I was going to say “Heavy Metal” but I can’t remember if they had sorted out their licensing issues by 1992. Also “Heavy Metal” featured more hard rock, in my opinion, than what I would consider metal . Actually 1992 was a great year for soundtracks but most of the soundtracks I’m thinking of have little or nothing to do with Heavy Metal. I was thinking “Last Action Hero” but that was 1993.

    Hmmm, Wayne’s World?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. HEY ROB!
      Shaft in Africa! Did I personally sell that one to you? I hope so. I would be proud of that!

      Heavy Metal, I think they sorted out their issues around 1995-1996. I think that is when the reissue came out, but I had the CD before that thanks to my job.

      As for your guess to tomorrow’s soundtrack: PARTY ON. EXCELLENT! You are correct.

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  5. Operation Dumbo Drop? What?

    Anyhoo, I don’t own too many soundtracks. My absolute favourite would be either Paris, Texas or, wait for it, Oliver. That’s right. Also mighty fond of Wizard of Oz and Tom Thumb, but never owned either of those.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s fantastic. Of those, Wizard is the only one I’ve heard!

      I mentioned to Bruce, I wanted to write up one of my favourites, 2001 A Space Odyssey. Just couldn’t meet my self-imposed deadline!

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      1. Paris, Texas is wonderful … and how could I forget The Good, The Bad & The Ugly!!? Those two get played a helluva lot here. Oliver occupies a very special place, though. The songs are marvellous!

        Liked by 1 person

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