One thing about the revival of vinyl and the huge demand, especially where soundtracks are concerned, is that things generally roll back around. There are always exceptions – good luck finding some of the older Mondo LPs without having to pay through the nose – but if you miss out on something, chances are you’ll get another opportunity fairly soon, even if it’s a Record Store Day “exclusive”. It might not be the same colour, but it’s the music that matters, right?
Such is the case of John Carpenter and Alan Howarth’s iconic score to Escape From New York.
Having had several vinyl releases since the movie came out in 1981, including one from Italian label Dagored that I didn’t even know existed, the soundtrack is notable for being Death Waltz’s sophomore record and as such long sold out. There’s actually someone on my Twitter feed who has every DW record but this one, so if anyone out there has any that they’re willing to part with, maybe help a brother out.
So now we have Silva Screen’s new reissue, which is actually based – at least in terms of assembly – on an older CD release of theirs. It’s actually identical to the Dagored LP, and is similar to the Death Waltz in all but one respect: Silva’s release includes dialogue from the film. The term “dialogue” generally sets alarm bells ringing amongst soundtrack fans, and indeed I recently mentioned on a podcast how disappointed I was that Mondo’s Halloween was interspersed with clips from the picture. So, allow me to be a gigantic hypocrite when I say that it works great with Escape, possibly because of the type of film and soundtrack it is, at least compared to Halloween.
We all know the music is great – it’s an amazing score period, and the main theme is a stonewall classic and if you don’t own a copy of this then I suggest checking your priorities. Remember, super noodles are cheap. Because of the extra dialogue tracks, Silva’s is set across a double LP set, with artwork from the original film poster. It’s a tricky one this – I love seeing original era-specific artwork used, but Jay Shaw’s cover for the DW opened my eyes up to an alternate approach to things. So I will say both are awesome, although Silva’s is a gatefold with some notes about the film and score.
But it’s the tunes that count, and how they sound on vinyl. I A/B’d both the DW and Silva – DW on solid orange, SS on black 180g – and while both are excellent sounding records, with great depth and clarity, the Death Waltz is just a little bit more punchy. Which is interesting considering both records seemingly come from the same master. But this is just a note, certainly not a dealbreaker. The Silva LP is a great record, it looks great, sounds great, and is another opportunity to get this groundbreaking soundtrack on vinyl. Don’t miss out.
– Charlie Brigden
Escape From New York is out on July 31st from Silva Screen