The FOW Guide To Buying Film Scores, Vol 1
Obviously we talk about a lot of film scores here that are released as commercial albums, be they on vinyl, compact disc, or digital download, but being that they're part of almost a niche within a niche, it's not always clear where to purchase said music. Here in the UK, the high street music chains such as HMV and Virgin have all but been exterminated by supermarkets selling CDs at cheaper prices, so it's got to a stage where physical product is homogenised. It's easy to walk into Tesco and buy a One Direction album, but look for any kind of film score that isn't either huge (such as the Disney records) or paired with songs, and you'll be bitterly disappointed. What I've tried to do is put together a basic guide of who puts out film scores and where they can be bought. The answers are potentially similar, with a lot of labels doing mail order as well as distributing through other channels. This list is certainly not supposed to be exhaustive; there are a lot of labels out there, and not all deserve coverage for various reasons. And I'm all for people suggesting additions - the wonder of the internet is that collaboration is so easy, so don't be afraid to speak to up and tell me if I've missed anything. This will also be a reasonably UK-centric list, although most places will ship worldwide for a decent price (assuming the relevant postal service doesn't ask for a cut).
Death Waltz Recording Co. - Founded in 2011, DW are one of the main catalysts for the film score vinyl market as we know it today. While they also work with CDs and digital, DW's vinyl releases have been a continous source of wonder, with scores like Halloween III, Escape From New York, Zombi 2, The Fog, Maniac, and Assault on Precinct 13 - all with custom artwork from the top artists in their field - ensuring that every record is awaited with baited breath. Composers like Clint Mansell and Goblin have seen releases, while they have a deal to release material from the Hammer vaults. Their newest release is undoubtedly their biggest; Akira Ifukube's score to the original 1954 Godzilla, ensuring that the label is only going to grow bigger.
Waxwork Records - Coming from New Orleans, Waxwork have amassed a great body of work in a relatively short amount of time. Coming out of nowhere with a release of Re-Animator on glow in the dark green vinyl, they've moved along with scores such as Day of the Dead, Creepshow, and the Krzystof Komeda score to Rosemary's Baby, which has amazing art by Jay Shaw. Future releases will include notorious robot supermarket slasher Chopping Mall and Harry Manfredini's infamous score to the original Friday the 13th.
One Way Static - This Belgian label hit the big time with a massive inaugural release - David A. Hess' music to Wes Craven's sleazy shocker The Last House On The Left, and continued in that vein with the score to The Hills Have Eyes. OWS have done a fine job with their own releases as well as distributing albums such as the soundtrack to The Walking Dead, and have a big release coming up with Roberto Donati's score to Cannibal Ferox.
Finders Keepers - Andy Votel's niche-niche label has been a popular destination for the more psychedelic and avant-garde side of film music. Releasing a great amount of European scores, the label have issued many scores by Bruno Nicolai - including the recent All The Colours Of The Dark - and Krzystof Komeda (Knife In The Water and The Fearless Vampire Killers), as well as music from Stanley Myers and Andrzej Korzzynski. They've also released a series of 7" singles, covering scores from films such as The Night Of The Hunter, Bell, Book and Candle, and The Bad Seed.
Invada Records - Not strictly a soundtrack label, Invada are nevertheless an important label for their dedication to both producing and distributing some wonderful score releases. One of their biggest is DROKK!, the unbelievably cool Carpenter-esque album that is inspired by 2000AD's Judge Dredd, and they also put out Cliff Martinez' massively-popular Drive. Through a relationship with Milan Records they've distributed the scores for Stoker, Under The Skin, and Only God Forgives, but their biggest release by far is Martinez' score to the Steven Soderbergh SF flick Solaris. They've also recently started dabbling in video game music, with a massively-popular issue of the score to Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon on Record Store Day 2014 soon to be joined by Brian Reitzall's music from the record-selling WATCH_DOGS.
Mondo - Originally just a creator and vendor for limited edition posters, Mondo entered the vinyl market with the soundtrack to The Beyond and the original Maniac, and have gone on to issue Jerry Goldsmith's Poltergeist and The Omen, Jon Brion's ParaNorman, John Carpenter's Halloween, and Steven Price's Gravity. By far their biggest release is happening this month, with John Williams' Jurassic Park hitting in two different editions.
Silva Screen - This British label has been around seemingly forever, always putting out a fine mix of original scores and re-recordings. They've recently made ventures into vinyl with music from Dr Who, The Wicker Man, and an awesome set of Gerry Anderson singles, and will be putting out a limited coloured vinyl edition of Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard's Batman Begins. But maybe their coolest record was the recent Record Store Day release of selections from Brad Fiedel's Terminator 2 - wrapped in an embossed silver foil cover. Awesome.
Of course, there are many others. Varese Sarabande have recently started doing vinyl again, releasing Michael Giacchino's Star Trek Into Darkness, and there are Private Records, who release a lot of amazing but obscure European music, Audio Fidelity, who recently put out Vangelis' Blade Runner, Music On Vinyl, who will be releasing Alexandre Desplat's Godzilla, and even Disney are in on the act with a crazily expensive 3xLP set for Frozen.
Where to buy:
Given the wide breadth of records available, where you purchase from is largely down to whether or not you have an independent record shop nearby. There are many famous stores around, whether it be Brighton's The Record Album (which is run by an amazing gentleman named George and only sells soundtracks) or Los Angeles' Amoeba, or even Cardiff's Spillers, the world's oldest record shop. Generally the indie stores are top notch, and will order stuff in for you if they don't stock it. If you want to find your local store, just visit the Record Store Day page and put in your postcode.
However, if you need to have your vinyl delivered to you, there are a ton of options. All of the above labels have their own online stores for you to by from (in the US many are available through Light In The Attic), and then there are the online stores of record shops, such as Norman Records in Leeds and Rise in Bristol. Of course, there are other, bigger stores, but as far as I'm concerned, going to the label itself or the indie stores should be the first port of call.
We'll be returning soon with the second and final part where we'll look at film scores on CD, and see the progress that has been made in presenting film scores as they are in the films, for better or for worse.