- Thu Apr 02, 2020 8:13 pm
COMPARISON CORNER #6:
Music Composed & Performed by John Harrison
A comparison between the two vinyl editions of the score (Varese Sarabande and Waxwork Records) with an A/B of the title track using both LP versions against the film version (from the 2013 Second Sight bluray), and some scattered notes on the different track listings.
1. Varese Sarabande (1982, STV 81160)
This Varese LP came out hot on the heels of the film's release in '82, so after working with Romero on NotLD, Martin and DotD, they obviously had this one planned plenty in advance. And when comparing the opening Side A 'Prologue/Welcome to Creepshow (Main Title)' track to the bluray version of the film, it's immediately clear that there is good news with this edition: the LP is definitely the same recording that is in the movie. Hallelujah! Yes, the mix is a little different though - after some extended thunder and lightning sound fx at the start, you notice that the piano on the LP version is more upfront, and doesn't have the same amount of reverb as the film cue. Throughout this track the sound fx 'stingers' that we know and love are all present (such as the one when Atkins brutally slaps l'il Joe King) and sound much the same, not much tinkering there. Overall, I'd say that beyond the alteration to the balance of the mix, this very accurately represents the experience of the music that we want, as it is represented in the film itself. The only odd thing being (and I'm pretty sure it's nothing to do with my deck) that the recording on LP is a quarter tone lower in pitch than the film version?
So you likely know the story with this version of the soundtrack release - all of the cues for each episode are somewhat re-arranged and remixed into 'suites', which represent the whole 'story' of each episode. I compared throughout 'Father's Day' however, and again I'm very happy to say that it's a similar story to the main title - the music is the same performance/recording, but there is again a little re-balancing of the elements in the album mix, with the piano once more being given a more prominent role in the mix (makes sense, it's the driving force through the score) and certain sound effects/atmos given different prominence. Once again though, nothing that has been tweaked compromises the listening experience.
With 'The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verill' a different aspect of Creepshow's distinctive soundtrack becomes more pronounced - that is, the blending of Harrison's original music with Romero's beloved library cues. If you know and love the film, this is where your memory starts to play tricks! Right from the jump, this suite begins with the synth drones and sound fx of the meteor approach, but then it diverges where in the film there's that distinctive NotLD-style Capitol library cue which blends with Harrison's drones and the foley fx, but on the LP this is absent and we get extended synth drones instead. Then when Jordy first imagines his trip to the expert 'up at the college', the little 'quack quack' tune which is a library cue in the movie is replaced on the album by a squelchy synth version. I sort of lost track at this point, as there's just a ton of library cues in Jordy, but suffice to say that this episode runs pretty short on LP for that reason - there just isn't a massive amount of Mr Harrison on this one.
So there you have it - I'm not going to go through the entire film/LP scene by scene, but suffice to say I think it's a fairly safe bet that this sort of thing continues throughout the album. But what is undeniable is that the music on the Varese edition is the music from the film, slightly re-mixed, and jumbled around to create suites which follow the narrative of the film (while we have to accept that there a large chunks of the musical story missing, in the form of those extensively deployed library cues). But it's a killer listen, and if it's The Feels that you're after as a fan of the film, this pressing delivers a fantastic listening experience. Oh, and needless to say - my near-40 year old VS pressing, which I've had since I was 13, sounds absolutely flawless, dynamic and I'll wager as good as the day it crawled off the presses!
2. Waxwork Records (2015, WW004 - 2nd Pressing)
I moved on my first pressing of this Waxwork edition having noted the pressing error ( track A18 is actually a repeat of track A1) and picked up the purple vinyl second press which corrected the mistake. That's the edition I'm using for comparison here.
On to 'Prologue / The Creepshow Welcomes You'. Aside from the slightly odd alteration to the main track title, this iteration once again stacks up very nicely against the version in the film - more good news, it's definitely the actual film recording! Similarly to the VS release, this mix emphasises the thumping piano, and plays with levels of sound fx/drones to good effect - it sounds really great! (Again, as with the VS it's also a quarter tone out in terms of pitch, which leads me to believe that this issue is actually to do with the bluray speed). So how does it sound up against the VS?
Well I have to say, based on the title track, this is a really impressive job - considering that they went back to the 24-track masters for this release, there has been admirable restraint in not succumbing to the 'yes, but how would we mix it NOW' curse that often befalls old recordings. There's a real consistency between this mix and the original VS preparation, and tonally they both have similar punchiness which is missing from the film version. This sounds really damn good. It's a bit noisier than the VS version, but.... no surprise there really.
So moving forward, the Waxwork track listing doesnt demarcate the different episodes in the way the VS did with it's suites, so the cues comes thick and fast and sometimes pretty short - I listened through Father's Day, and my impression is that the cues are presented here as they appear chronologically throughout the story. Again, they sound really excellent, and just as you would want them to sound without too much tinkering (or the dreaded re-recording). I have to say, it's a fuck ton of fun listening to the score in this way and conjures vivid mental images of the gruesome action unfolding onscreen. Having not really listened to this version as much as the VS (hey, I'm an OG kinda guy, and I get the built-in feels of listening to an LP I've had since I was a monster kid) I will say that I plan to reach for this edition more frequently from now on.
Conclusions: it's pretty simple actually - grab the Waxworks (2nd pressing) for sure! It sounds great, and really represents the film and it's score brilliantly. I'm into it! Of course I'll never let go of my VS original, but tbh if it's out of your price range to get one, don't sweat it too much. With the WW you get all the music represented on the VS and more. Yes, the Varese is a really pleasant (and well thought out) listening experience, so it's actually worth having both if you can swing it, but it's not worth losing any sleep over.
Last edited by ScoJo on Thu Apr 02, 2020 8:47 pm, edited 5 times in total.