What To Buy: Film Soundtracks

Chris Parkin uncovers recent gems in a particular genre. So grab your popcorn as he checks out some of the rarest and most desirable film soundtracks on record

It’s an expensive business being a record-collecting film fan. The number of essential soundtracks available gets more bewildering by the week. In fact, soundtrack releases are a real boon for the industry and there’s no shortage of people willing to feed collectors’ habits. Brighton’s The Record Album shop is – as it has been since 1948 – stocked with copies of hard-to-find film and TV soundtracks and more labels than ever are expending their energy releasing film scores.

The Death Waltz Recording Company and Mondo labels specialise in horror soundtracks; Andy Votel’s Finders Keepers imprint has carved out a niche releasing music from cult films such as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain and Werewolves On Wheels; and Geoff Barrow’s Invada is putting out great contemporary soundtracks, including Drive, Stranger Things and Free Fire.
JAWS OST cover
There’s a packed release schedule looming, too. The big catch is undoubtedly John Williams’ score to Jaws, by Mondo. Curiously, MCA’s 1975 release is actually a re-recording of the original composition. So this double-vinyl release, on ocean blue, is the first time the original recording has surfaced on vinyl. It’ll give you the heebie-jeebies before bath time.
Another important release for film nostalgists fond of foreboding orchestral soundtracks is Alan Silvestri’s nerve-jangling score to Predator. Dominated by brutal drums and eerie synth flourishes, it’s been released in all its gory glory on vinyl for the first time. You may even shell out twice, for the Real Gone label’s ‘forest camo’ and ‘infrared’ editions.


SanJunipero soundtrack cover

Bringing us back into the 21st century is Clint Mansell. The former Pop Will Eat Itself man has composed music for, among others, Moon and Black Swan. But his score for the San Junipero episode from the last-but-one season of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror TV series is something else. Mansell provided the episode with a hypnotic, sun- dappled soundscape of new-age synths and strings that’s essential listening for fans of Tangerine Dream and their ilk.

For some film-music fans, however, the most important release (ever!) is Geinoh Yamashirogumi’s score to Katsuhiro Otomo’s 1988 dystopian manga animation Akira. Written and recorded before the film was made, it recalls a more ominous and ambitious Midori Takada, and is held in such high regard that original copies of Symphonic Suite Akira sell for £300-plus on Discogs. Listen to the uneasy score and it’s easy to understand why.

AKIRA coverFinally, it’s advisable to pick up Bruce Langhorne’s score to Peter Fonda’s 1971 Western, The Hired Hand. It’s been out for a while now on Scissor Tail Records, but after Langhorne’s recent death, this gem of prairie-swept guitar-picking and dulcimer from the man who played the solo on Subterranean Homesick Blues is overdue a bigger audience.