Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Harold & Maude soundtrack finally released



On vinyl! I loved the movie Harold & Maude when I saw it for the first time in college, for an elective called Music in Film. The film's soundtrack by Cat Stevens is one of the best original soundtracks ever written, and the way director Hal Ashby used it was groundbreaking and made it integral to the film. It opens with Harold setting up one of his many attention-getting exercises by putting a record on the turntable, and it plays "Don't Be Shy," one of Stevens' most touching ballads. Which is soon set to what we believe to be a suicide by hanging. One of the great film openings, with an incredibly memorable and catchy, ironic tune.
Cameron Crowe decided to finally get the soundtrack released as a whole; for the last 37 years the songs have only been available on various collections, and some haven't been available at all. If you're a fan of the Cat, many of his famous songs are included here: "Where Do the Children Play," "Tea for the Tillerman," "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out," "On the Road to Find Out," "Trouble," and the aforementioned "Don't Be Shy."
The new LP is on heavy vinyl and comes with a spate of goodies, such as a 36 page booklet of interviews and photos of the filmmakers and musician, a bonus 7" single with demo takes, a reprint of the Japanese movie poster, a Cat Stevens poster, a handwritten lyric sheet, and a gatefold sleeve full of photos. Everything is printed on extra-heavy cardstock to last through the ages. About 60 of the 2500 albums will include bonus items from signed posters to turntable mats and film strips. I didn't get one myself.
Fellow blogger Lightning's Girl got a nice marbled vinyl pressing, see photos on her blog. Breakdown of the goodies from Crowe's blog:
20 copies - One-sided Radio Spot 7″
20 copies - Silkscreened Film Strip
10 copies - One-sided Radio Spot 7″ + Silkscreened Film Strip
10 copies - Glow-in-the-Dark Turntable Mat
1 copy - Original 1971 U.S. One-Sheet
1 copy - Autographed Cat Stevens poster (by Yusuf Islam)
1 copy - Autographed booklet (by Yusuf Islam)

Tracklisting:

Side One:
Don’t Be Shy
On The Road To Find Out
I Wish, I Wish
Miles From Nowhere
Tea For The Tillerman
I Think I See The Light

Side Two:
Where Do The Children Play?
If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out
If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out (banjo instrumental)*
Trouble
Don’t Be Shy (alternate version)*
If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out (instrumental version)*

Bonus 7″
Side A:
Don’t Be Shy (demo version)*
Side B:
If You want To Sing Out, Sing Out (alternate version)*

* previously unreleased

It's some of my favorite music, having grown up with it (my mother was a big fan) and then rediscovering it in college. And it's never sounded better. The mastering is impressive and every song sounds full and warm, almost like he's in the same room. I can almost smell the patchouli. "Don't Be Shy" builds up nice and slowly just as in the movie, and I half expected to hear it end with the rope pulling taut around Harold's neck.


The famous opening scene that I ruined for you.

Despite converting to Islam and declaring jihad on James Taylor, he created some of the best folk rock music ever created, and while the vague spirituality can inspire my curmudgeonly side, musically he is one of the great talents. Even today, on the album An Other Cup released as Yusuf Islam, he's still got it; not as catchy as his earlier stuff, but it's not the Call to Prayer with his guitar over it or anything. Thankfully he got off the stupid no-fly list (it was supposed to catch another guy with the same name) and can play in the U.S. again. This disc will be spinning at the Tommycave for quite some time, and if you loved the movie or the music, it is definitely worth tracking down. I got mine at Music Direct, and they were very professional.

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