Bee Gees

#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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#337: Oh Say Can You Scream

NOTE:  None of the information below should be taken as actual singing advice!

RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#337: Oh Say Can You Scream

In the 1980’s, screamers were king.  Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Brian Johnson, Udo Dirkschneider…all of them were able to scream the high notes, sending chills up and down your spine.  We all wanted to be screamers back then!  None of my friends were able to croon like Coverdale, so screaming seemed like a viable option.  We worked on our screaming voices with practice, practice, practice.

My buddy Bob came up with two ways to practice our scream techniques:

  • At home: Go to your bedroom and close the door. Put on AC/DC’s Who Made Who cassette, and grab a pillow.  Then, scream along with Johnson directly IN to your pillow.  Nobody should be able to hear you!  The pillow should muffle your wailing Johnson imitation.  You can belt it at top lung power without disturbing mom and dad’s TV shows.  Just remember to lift your head from the pillow for breathing!  (That part is really important.)
  • If out at dusk: Go to your local park. Make sure the coast is clear.  Then, just sing and let it out!  Bob and I did this one frequently, walking through our local Stanley Park.  We serenaded the neighbors with a selection of AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

There were a couple specific Maiden songs that Bob and I really enjoyed screaming along to.  One was a classic from Powerslave: “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.  Such an excellent, challenging choice.  We would focus on the line, “Then down in falls comes the raaaaaaaaaaain!”  We’d scream that section over and over again until we were satisfied that we had it right.

After a few years, I became quite good at hitting the high notes.  I moved on from my screaming by the time I was in University, and focused on the Bee Gees.  I knew that screaming Maiden tunes wasn’t a good way to attract female attention.  Singing “Stayin’ Alive” note for note though?  That may have had potential!  (Note: it didn’t.)

Although I can no longer perform the song as I used to, I am proud to say that I used to be able to hit every note in “Stayin’ Alive”.  Something to be proud of at Karaoke.

Part 192: Mix One

MIX ONE

RECORD STORE TALES Part 192:  Mix One

Blank discs are so cheap, and musical tastes so fleeting today, that I wonder if anybody but me still has the first mix CD they ever burned?

I’m hoping some of you have, and I’m hoping to hear it about from you too.  My first disc was made in early 2001 when we got our first burner.  It was made for a very specific purpose.

At the store, there was an informal rule that if you were closing one day and opening the next, it was “OK” to borrow a movie overnight, watch and return it.  So if that was true for movies, why not a CD?  Why not a dozen?  A few nights after having the CD burner installed, I borrowed a bag full of discs and burned this compilation on a Maxell CD-R 650.  74 minutes!  Up to 16x certified!

I returned the discs the next day, all albums that I wanted one or two songs from, but not the whole album.  Many were soundtracks and tribute albums.  I ended up buying The Strokes’ album a few weeks later, an ill-advised purchase that yielded only two or three listens.  I don’t have that one anymore.  But I still have my mix CD with “Last Nite”!

The Robbie Williams + Queen track is taken from the soundtrack to A Knight’s Tale.  I shall maintain the anonymity of the store employee who had the crush on Heath Ledger and inundated us with this soundtrack.  The same disc also yielded “I Want to Take You Higher” by Sly and the Family Stone.

Track 3 is an industrial-rock hybrid tune called “Violent New Breed”.  I later purchased the Violent New Breed album by Shotgun Messiah.  Industrial rock fans will know that Messiah’s original bassist/singer was Tim Tim, aka Tim Sköld of KMFDM, Marilyn Manson, and his eponymous band.  I liked the title track enough to later buy the album and the prior one too.  Both were keepers.

I’ve been a Goo Goo Dolls fan for a while so I thought I would grab their INXS cover “Don’t Change” from an Ace Ventura soundtrack.  Their cover of “Bitch” came from the 1993 No Alternative compilation album.

Apparently I was on a Warrior Soul kick at that time as well.  Shame that there isn’t a great Warrior Soul compilation album that suits all my needs.  I bought and sold their studio albums.  As for Michael Jackson, I later decided to add a single disc compilation to my collection, offsetting my burning of “Billie Jean”.

This being a real odds n’ ends disc, it’s not a spellbinding listen today.  It’s fun to remind myself of some oddball tracks that I liked enough to burn but not enough to buy.  I’m also amused by the title Mix One, the first of many!  And I was even doing cover art back then, too.  On the cover is myself dressed up as the alien from Part 148: Navigate the Seas of the Sun!

2/5 stars!

NEXT TIME ON RECORD STORE TALES…

The return of the Dandy!