Blade Runner is one of my all-time Top 5 films* and along with the highbrow debate about what constitutes life and consciousness, the moral validity of taking said ‘life’ anyway even in a good cause, the modern spin on Frankenstein (the Mary Shelley book, not the bolt-sporting film dude), a brilliant future-noir take on life, my favourite opening sequence of any film, several boobs and the bit where that dude like totally gets his eyes gouged out by Rutger Hauer, an integral part of what makes it great is the soundtrack by Vangelis. I had never thought of getting the soundtrack though until, my big pop crush, Alison Goldfrapp talked about how it was one of her favourite albums ever in a couple of interviews and so I decided to investigate further, on the off-chance that it would impress her if she ever decided to pop round for coffee one day. Without more ado I immediately bought a lovely vinyl copy of the soundtrack on eBay, which came with a free promotional poster chucked in. Cool.
Dear friends, I blush to tell you I got so ripped off.
My own stupid fault of course, I hadn’t done my research first I simply assumed that the only soundtrack LP would be the proper Vangelis one, instead what I got was the New American Orchestra Music From Blade Runner; the seller hadn’t done anything wrong I just hadn’t read it right. I didn’t know my history.
The film came out in 1982, the end credits advertised the soundtrack LP but it was not actually released until 1994. There are conflicting views over why this was, but essentially they seem to boil down to contractual disputes of one sort or another. To plug the demand for the acclaimed soundtrack the record company rush-released the LP I had bought, which I understand uses Vangelis’ original underscore** and then an orchestral re-recording of the music. Obviously bootleg copies of the original score and the piece of incidental music in the film proliferated like wildfire at comics and sci-fi conventions. I stumbled across a great, lovingly prepared and researched overview of the whole story when I was preparing this, on the Blade Zone website, which I would heartily recommend.
I concur totally with that gentleman’s view of Music From Blade Runner, it was meticulously done but lacked the subtlety and textures of the original soundtrack and the sudden Wah-wah guitar on ‘End Title’ is a real WTF? moment, in fact as the ‘Zone guy above mentions, it does veer somewhat nearer Shaft than it should. Class. I think this should happen with more LPs, I mean I really liked this year’s Clutch and Nick Cave LPs – but just imagine how much better a session musician version of both would be.
The original soundtrack, which I own on CD is a thing of beauty and joy forever of course, even all the two disks of extra bits are brilliant. The fact that the synths sound a little dated now, just adds to the whole future-retro-noir-retro-futureness of the project. I listen to this a lot and when I was studying I used to play it over and over and over because it was background music (something a soundtrack is by definition) but it wasn’t mush. I particularly love the eastern touches on ‘Memories of Green’ and ‘Damask Rose’ and I was interested to learn that in the rushes one of the tracks they used to soundtrack the film was ‘Qu’ran’ from the completely God-like, My Life In The Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno and David Byrne.
There isn’t a wasted second here as far as I am concerned, the sequencing is perfect and I’m always a sucker for bits of dialogue in soundtrack albums too (Queen Flash Gordon being another firm fave) and ‘Blade Runner (End Titles)’ really just rocks. However I do have a quibble, why has this album never, ever been released on vinyl? why? I’m not anal enough that it ever spoils my enjoyment of it, but I genuinely do wonder about this once a week, or so. So whoever is in charge of RSD 2014, please take note and make an old fella happy the way that only a deluxe gatefold, neon yellow vinyl limited edition re-release can.
As for Music From Blade Runner I think I only played it once when I bought it in 2004 and I only got half way through this time; it’s not your fault guys, it really isn’t you, it’s me. The poster magazine the ebay seller threw in for me is pretty cool though.
A closing thought, Blade Runner is set in 2019, Replicants are closer than we thought.
Here you go – make you own minds up, or play both simultaneously to really freak out.
*I’m not as geeky with films at all , trust me, I could probably only give you my top 37 at any given point.