10 Great Film Soundtracks That Were Impossible to Find

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You may have noticed that we’re kinda David Lynch fanatics here at Flavorpill (we have an in-house band who do a live re-soundtracking of Twin Peaks, for Chrissakes), so we greeted the arrival yesterday of the fancy limited-edition double-LP Eraserhead soundtrack with unconstrained joy. The sound design on Lynch’s mind-bending debut is almost as important as the visuals, creating an atmosphere that echoes the film’s ominous, industrial setting. Until now, however, it’s been nigh on impossible to get a copy of, so in celebration of the fact that you can finally get it on vinyl, here’s a selection of other soundtracks that we had to wait way too long for — and some that we’re still waiting for.

Eraserhead

The soundtrack to Eraserhead has had a storied history — given the lack of budget and the decidedly non unit-shifting nature of its music, it’s no surprise that an album wasn’t released along with the film. A soundtrack LP surfaced in the early ’80s on IRS Records (best known for being home to REM) and was also distributed via Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles imprint. A CD release was apparently available briefly in the 1980s, although we’ve certainly never come across a copy.

Donnie Darko

It’s usually surprise hits that end up without soundtracks — if a studio doesn’t expect a film to be a commercial success, it doesn’t budget for an accompanying album. So it went with Donnie Darko — Michael Andrews’ score was released on CD in 2002, but it wasn’t until two years later that you could get a record that included the various killer ’80s tracks that featured in the film.

The Goonies

No such problem for The Goonies, which was a massive hit and came with a big-selling soundtrack album featuring Cyndi Lauper, The Bangles, and Luther Vandross. The score, however, was another matter — despite the memorable nature of some of the incidental music (particularly “Fratelli Chase,” which is the first track in the above video and which pretty much anyone of a certain age will remember from their childhood), it took until 2010 for Dave Grusin’s score to be made available as a separate album.

Dirty Harry

When you think of Dirty Harry, you most likely think of “You’ve got to ask yourself one question…” and all that, rather than the music — but the film’s theme and incidental music were pretty great (the theme is kinda reminiscent of Shaft, actually). You couldn’t get them on record until 2004, 33 years after the film’s release.

Solaris

As well as being a serious contender for the title of Best Film Ever, the Andrei Tarkovsky version of Solaris featured a pretty fascinating soundtrack by Eduard Artemyev, which mixed proto-electronic music, classical music, and ambient sounds to great effect. We’re not entirely sure of the music’s release history in Tarkovsky’s native Russia — according to some sources there was an LP released in 1972, but not, as far as we know, on this side of the Atlantic — but getting hold of it legally in the West was (and is) pretty difficult.

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off

Wait, what? Despite the memorable use of music in this ’80s classic — “Oh Yeah,” “Twist and Shout,” etc — almost unbelievably, there’s never been an official Ferris Bueller’s Day Off soundtrack. Apparently John Hughes thought that the various sounds used in the film were so different that they wouldn’t work as a coherent soundtrack album, a rationale that seems touchingly quaint in this era of “Music from and Inspired by” cash-ins.

Knocked Up

But even in the 2000s, there were films that used a heap of memorable songs and yet didn’t get accompanying soundtrack records. So it went with Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up, the soundtrack to which was a curious record by Loudon Wainwright III, who also appeared in the film. Although it was billed with the dreaded “Music from and Inspired by” label, it was a pretty fine record in its own right — but it meant that if you happened to want a compilation of the various songs used in the film that weren’t by Mr. Wainwright, you were shit out of luck.

Mean Streets

Meanwhile, as far as we know there’s never been a soundtrack record for this Scorsese masterpiece, mainly because its release pre-dated the advent of money-spinning soundtrack compilations (and we guess that these days, trying to license all the tracks used in the film would be a nightmare). It’s a shame, though, because as far as a primer for early ’70s rock ‘n’ roll goes — and opera, for that matter — you could do a lot worse.

Lucifer Rising

This rather strange 1972 experimental film was something of a holy grail for Led Zeppelin fans, mainly because Jimmy Page made a brief appearance in the film and also composed the soundtrack — which didn’t get used, because Page had a falling out with the director. This meant that Pages’ music went unheard for 30 years, until he released it via his website earlier this year.

Blade Runner

And finally, the grandaddy of all soundtrack holy grails — Vangelis’ iconic Yamaha CS-80 score to Blade Runner. It inexplicably took over a decade for a soundtrack album to appear, which meant that during the ’80s and early ’90s, all you could get was bootlegs and a strange album of orchestral “interpretations” of Vangelis’ compositions. Even when the soundtrack was officially released in 1994 (winning a belated Golden Globe for best original score), several pieces featured in the film were missing, while the deluxe 2007 triple-disc reissue omitted the main title theme. This means that 30 years after the film’s release, we’re still waiting for a comprehensive Blade Runner soundtrack.