Sometime between the 1960s and 1990s the so-called “death of vinyl” was supposed to have occurred. With the 8-track, Compact-Cassette, and the CD all being introduced as cheaper and more accessible alternatives to the large and expensive vinyl record, sales were suspected to halt; factories to shut down. But, here we are post-2000s and vinyl sales are still strong (relatively speaking). In fact, new plants specializing in vinyl production are opening. Record Store Day, an annual event used to promote the production and sale of vinyl, is stronger than ever. And, now with the introduction of numerous labels focusing on vinyl soundtrack releases (both reissuing classics and releases modern scores), vinyl soundtrack records seem to be as popular as ever. As horror fans, genre fans, film fans we have an affinity for nostalgia, for the “good old days” of analog, and that is what this column is about. This column is a dedication to those days; it’s a celebration of the vinyl soundtrack (both old and new) and the companies that keep putting them out; and this column exists because artwork just looks better bigger.
I got the idea for this column a little ways back, but I wasn’t exactly sure where I wanted to take it. Originally, it was going to focus on the slew of new companies concentrating on horror soundtrack releases (Death Waltz, Waxwork, One Way Static to name a few) as a place to review their releases. But, something about that felt wrong. I wanted to appreciate not just the current wave, but also the history and share my connection to it. I wanted to open “Analog Alleyway,” allow it to exist as a place to appreciate the medium and the subgenre. So, what better way to start this off than to share with you my story?
I was fourteen or fifteen when I started collecting records. At the time, I played in a punk band and I found myself intrigued by the fact that all the bands we played with usually had vinyl for sale. Young and a bit naïve, I assumed (like many) that vinyl was dead. Here I was standing in front of band after band’s merch tables and admiring the large format artwork of a medium I had assumed completely vanished. But, I didn’t own a record player, I didn’t know where to even buy one; so what good was there in buying a record if I couldn’t even play the thing? Luckily, punk can be a community of generous people and I found myself amassing a collection of records that were given to me by fellow bands. Growing up in the 90s I had been a child of the compact disc. Cassettes were present, but they were certainly being ushered out quickly. Holding these LPs and EPs in my hands was something completely different. Just the size of a record allows for a much greater appreciation of the packing, the artwork, the physicality of the medium. I was hooked. I bought a player and my collection has been growing since.
It took me awhile, however, to get into collecting soundtracks. I have been a life long cinephile, but for some reason it never really clicked with me why I would want to own a soundtrack. A younger version of myself would tell you that I would rather own the film; experience both together. Sure, I bought a copy of John Williams score for Star Wars at a thrift store, and I may have even snagged a few various scores from dollar bins at various record stores, but serious collecting was out of the question.
That was until I bought Goblin’s original score for Dawn of the Dead. This record changed me. In many ways it was a blind buy. Sure, I had seen the film numerous times and I had always considered myself a fan of Goblin, but I didn’t really have any motive in place. As the story goes, I found the record for insanely cheap online and I just bought it; a total impulse purchase, I didn’t even read the description. As I would learn, there was a reason it was insanely cheap: it was completely water damaged and beaten up. But when I got it I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t disappointed in myself for being brash, all I was enthralled. It didn’t matter to me that the cover looked like hell, it didn’t matter that there were pops and scratches; I fell in love. From there, the rest (along with a great deal of my money) is history. I became a fan, a collector.