Bat-mania: Batman Soundtrack

LP Promo!
Warner Bros

Guest Post

This is a little late, I know. But what you have here is the first ever AO review of a movie soundtrack, and of an LP. Yes. That is correct. LP as in long playing record album, the kind you find at Goodwill except that this is not a beat to death copy of Perry Como Christmas or one of 50 random Lawrence Welk albums.

You all must think that I am an extreme-league Bat-fan to have hunted down the Batman Soundtrack on LP, but for those of you out of touch with collecting vinyl these days, they are not all too hard to find, in South Central Pennsylvania at least. Every second Sunday of the month, the Keystone Record Collector’s club has a trade show in Lancaster, PA. It has become something I have frequented with less consistency as my disposable income has dwindled since I started visiting the show around ten years ago, but one thing is always constant no matter how little I spend. I always come out with a pirate’s booty of loot, and much of that value comes from what has always been the core of the show for me: The $1 bins!

I am not the kind of comic-book guy type record collector who has his records kept in a humidor, sealed until I can unload them on Ebay for a killing. I actually like listening to them! And finding them in the often abused condition appear in the $1 bins normally satisfies the value quotient and a good album. Scratch free listenability is a trait uncommon, but found on very rare occasions in these mysterious treasure troves. The Batman Soundtrack is the rare Jack of all trades, since I found it for a buck, it plays sublimely and cleanly on my mid 1960’s GE Trimline turntable, and its a horrifically entertaining listen. It actually made its value back at being Tim Burton Batman memorabilia but the extra pluses are always welcome. Additionally, it complements my John William’s ’78 Superman LP very nicely.

Why, in 2008, the year of the Bat, would you listen to a format whose sales peaked during James Spader’s first reign as the king of yuppie-prick cool? A big reason is the physical size! Yes records are a pain in the ass to flip and whatever, but the experience is more intimate and intense because you do not just slide it into the slot and fire up your car for a stressful commute to work where riding the line between hauling bacon and conserving fuel dominates your every thought resulting in instantaneous road rage every time some jerk in a 5000lb vehicle decides to flip the bird to Mother Nature, God, Vishnu, JC or you personally if you do not believe in anything, by hitting the brakes going DOWN HILL. That moron is not only wasting his own fuel, but also your own.

My point here is that most of the time that you are in a car, it is seldom for pleasure and despite your best efforts, you are generally preoccupied with other things than paying honest attention to what is pouring out of your crappy-paper factory speakers. Sadness, I know. It would be great if we could all get driven around in Rolls Royce Phantoms so we could listen to our music and be able to afford a pleasure drive, but such is not the case.

Inner sleeve and album!
Warner Bros

Turntables, however, are something modestly priced and the same can go for the media, like this gem which is positively bizarre. Composer Prince has produced a concept album of sorts with mixed results that sample sound bites from the movie heavily. Each song is told from the perspective of a different Batman character, which is hilarious. The lyrics are literally prefaced by notations like “lead vocal by Batman.” When I first looked at the sleeve and saw this development along with Kim Basinger, Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson being credited I thought I might have been up against the respective actors singing the songs! Fortunately, Prince sings most male parts which makes everything more funny, with Sheena Easton playing Vicki Vale.
This album does have the movie greats like “Trust” and “Partyman”, along with what I imagine was a 1989 slow dance hit in “Scandalous (lead vocal by Bruce Wayne)”. The rest of the songs, aside from “Electric Chair”, a hard metal-funk song are throwaways generally except for novelty value to hear which songs the classic movie sound bites will turn up in and how or if they will be remixed. “Batdance” the show stopping ending to the album is too complex and audacious to describe here, other than it starts out with some classic Jack sound bites like “Oh we got a live one here” and “woo hoo” which always make me laugh every time I hear them in this recording,

If you really love the Burton Batman, this LP is easily worth the ten bucks plus shipping you will pay on Ebay. Or if you are a Prince nut, you probably already have it and are one of the sixty-nine people that helped the CD version get an average of four out of five stars on Amazon dot-com, where it is also available in that format for as low as $2.95 plus shipping. I do not see the worth of this recording on anything other than LP, however. The novelty factor of the music is evenly matched by the physical size of the LP and its packaging which makes the ridiculous Prince role playing all the more entertaining since the lyrics also get printed super-sized. All told, you could always be as lucky as me and find the LP for a buck.