Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s (my childhood and teenage years), I collected record album soundtracks for science fiction and horror movies like a crazy man. And, of course, I still have 'em all.
What's a record album?
Jeez! Come on, now!
Brief history lesson here: before Internet downloads, before CDs, there were these funny-looking discs called records that you would play on your Hi-fi stereo.
Go ask your father...I'll be here when you get back.
Anyway, I began my love of sci-fi/horror movie soundtracks in the late 1970s when my parents took me and my sister to a record store at Willowbrook Mall in New Jersey.
We were there to purchase an Olivia Newton John album, "Totally Hot," if memory serves, but deep in one of the racks I found...Star Wars, the soundtrack composed by John Williams.
Darth Vader's portrait was on the cover art (with outer space in the background) which at my age just seemed too cool for words. (And a little scary...). The album even included the famous "Cantina" song, which I really liked. It also had the music from the fight between Luke and the Sandpeople, which my friends and I liked to put on when we would wrestle with sticks and try to kill each other. Ah yes, memories...
My parents bought that album - and many more - for me, and well, the rest is John Kenneth Muir history. Soon thereafter, I was saving my allowance, scouring record shops, and even flea markets for genre finds.
A flea market in South Jersey called Englishtown had a vendor who was there each and every week, selling classic James Bond soundtracks, from the Sean Connery era. And his prices were cheap too (like five dollars a piece). This was neat, because the ABC Sunday Night Movie was airing films like Dr. No and the other early Bond pictures at the same time, so there was some "synchronicity" there.
Through the eighties, my love affair with soundtracks grew exponentially and came to include everything from the Star Trek films (though I hated the soundtrack to Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - it sounded too Christmas-y to me, and I could have done without all the whale noises...), to the Roger Moore James Bond movies, to - gawd! - Back to the Future (with songs by Huey Lewis!) Does that make me an American Psycho? At one point, I even had the soundtrack to To Live and Die In L.A.
My favorite movie composers include all the ones you would expect. Not just John Williams (loved his Raiders of the Lost Ark score best of all, perhaps), but Jerry Goldsmith, John Barry and even James Horner. I loved the score to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, but then experienced deja vu when I listened to his Aliens score from 1986. I even liked the score to Dune (by Toto!)
Perusing my collection in the 21st century, I can even see that some of my choices are downright embarrassing. For instance, I own the soundtrack to Jewel in the Nile, which features that immortal mid-1980s Billy Ocean hit, "When the Going Gets Tough, The Tough Get Going!" Also, describing my teenagers years, the soundtrack include's Whodini's "Freaks Come Out At NIght."
Given my long and storied history with genre record albums, I wanted to spotlight them in this post, as my 28th toy flashback even though - technically - record albums aren't really toys.
Still, I've been thinking how much I truly miss these full-sized record albums, not because the sound quality was better on a "record player" or anything like that, but merely because albums offered the additional bonus of gorgeous box art. Many albums came with two records, and so you could open up the box/sleeve to see two full pages of glorious stills from your favorite movie. Somehow, the little photos on CDs don't have the same appeal to me. And with downloads? Nada!
Anyway, bear with my photography here, folks.
Album covers are way too big to fit in my scanner bay, so I had to photograph my collection with my digital camera. Some photos probably could be better, but if you want to know who I am - and understand my work - you just gotta see my record albums!! These are the "tunes" I had on in the background while I began writing short stories and film scripts in the tenth grade. While others listened to Cindy Lauper, Devo, Rick Springfield, The Clash, etc., I had on John Carpenter's soundtrack to Halloween, or Prince of Darkness. What can I say?
If you recall the glory days of vinyl, record albums and trips to the "record store" to get sci-fi and horror soundtracks, give a shout out in the comments below. Which ones did you own? What's your fondest record album memory? What's your guilty pleasure? Come on now, quid pro quo, Clarice. I did tell you about Jewel of the Nile, after all...
Personally, the album that still thrills me most today is the Flash Gordon soundtrack by Queen from 1980!
"Flash....Savior of the Universe!"