Wednesday, May 25, 2011


This is one of my Holy Grail records for sure, the problem is I found it years ago even before I was seriously collecting so the real impact of finding this grail was lost on me at the time.  This album had been a ghost to me and my friend David and was surely the catalyst that began my vinyl obsession.  You see my dear friend David Ballantyne and I have had an obsession with this book and movie for many years, and we were both convinced that this soundtrack didn't even exist.  Which thanks to the wonders of the internet i found out that the soundtrack was released and then pulled because of licensing issues.  Initially Kubrick hired Wendy Carlos and Rachel Elkind to do the whole score but as was Kubrick's fashion he ended up using only 2 of their original compositions and replacing others using classical music.  If you have the dough there is a CD called Re-discovering Lost Scores:  Volume 2. which contains much of the Carlos and Elkind score for a cool 130 bucks.  I am curious, but I am not that curious.  However Kubrick did use Wendy and Rachel's highly creepy main titles sequence which does emphatically set the tone for the film to come.
I found the Shining Soundtrack at the Academy Annex (one of my favorite NYC shops) when it was located on 10th street and 4th Ave about 4 years ago.  It was up on the wall and I gasped audibly when I saw it.  I was sure it was going to be a hundred plus dollars so I immediately gave up the idea that it was going to come home with me.  To my shock and aw it was only 20 bucks which at the time was the most I had ever paid for a record and to this day its still the second highest price I have paid for something as i am a true digger at heart.  But come on!!!   There was no leaving this behind.  This album is as close to mint condition as it comes and though this wasn't my first LP ever it was the one that got me interested in collecting.
Musically speaking this is a demented thing to listen to; that being said this year while I was trekking home during one of the huge blizzard's that pounded NYC this winter dropping over 4      feet of snow in one night I decided to let The Shining score my way home and it was truly amazing stuff.  The track above is one of the most bone chilling selections from the score, and probably my favorite use of music in the film, called Utrenja by Krzysztof Penderecki, the actual classical piece is about 10 minutes long, Kubrick's music editor Gordon Stainforth is the one who distilled it to this excerpt. 
I guess you are either a fan of the movie or a fan of the book.  I definitely fall into the movie category.  Though I like the book I find a lot of it to be just too silly to be scary, like topiary animals coming to life and attacking people, I have only been scared of one bush in my life...George W.
There is a lot of analytical debate online amongst movie buffs and film historians surrounding The Shining.  What it all means, what the final image signifies, why Kubrick took so many liberties when scripting the film, how they got Nancy Regan to play the dead old lady in room 237?  But when all is said and done Stanley made a horror film that is truly a slow boil.  It creeps into you and haunts you much like the Overlook Hotel, and this film is entirely dependent on the music to build suspense.  The score is really the driving force in Kubrick's version of horror.

The art for this album is exquisite, the font, the yellow, the creepy pixilated face that I guess is supposed to be Danny.  Or is it one of the ghosts?  Or could it be the physical manifestation of the shining itself!  Naw it's probably just Danny.  
Of the billions of records we own this is one of the only ones we have up and out for display,  I love the ghostly glow that lamp is giving off, in fact our house is a kind of homage to the overlook, even the hooker we keep frozen in our hedge maze is just another way we pay tribute to this brilliant film.  So love it, or hate it, this is some creepy music and a rare find.  It's fun pulling off the wall now and again and going on a cleaning spree, after all "all work and no play make jack a dull boy"


  1. Truly, truly, a grail of mine. I know I know. It's on Ebay. But that is what ruins the hunt. My favorite post yet!

  2. This post is as good as the Gypsy post. You are a freaking historian.