Geek Collections: Movie Story Recordings

Continuing with my tendency to write from the way back machine, I’m here to remind you older folks about something you may have forgotten about, or to marvel the kiddos with something they could never imagine. Back before they had the internet, movie marketing was hard, and with the rise of the blockbuster movie came a lot of funny and unique attempts to raise interest in movies. One of these was the Movie Story Recording. I’m not talking about Movie Soundtracks, or audio books, I’m talking about taking movie dialog, music and a skilled (or not so skilled) narrator and making a vinyl record. If the targeted audience was teens or adults, you make it a 12 inch 33rpm LP, if the target is children, you make it a 7 inch 45rpm (so it will fit in those little pastel colored kids record players)

I don’t recall if I ever had any of these as a child, but in my adult life I have happened upon, quite by accident, several of these recordings. I’ve never gone looking for them, most of them were found at Goodwill or Salvation Army, or other such places. I’m going to share a few of them with you, so you can either reminisce with me, or if you’ve never heard of such a thing, so you can see the genius marketing of the 1970s and 80s movie industry. Now, which do I begin with?

EwoksBattleForEndor-BookAndRecordYes that’s right, the story of the Battle For Endor, that awesomely terrible post Jedi made for TV movie from 1985. This is a 1985 story recording on 7″ vinyl at 33rpm. You can see the specific details of the record by clicking through to see the full size photo, but I’ll describe it for you anyway. The record comes with a 24 page read along book and the audio contains word for word narration of the book, character dialog from the movie itself, sound effects and music. The book contains photos taken driectly from the movie so you can feel as if you’re right there (not really) and the audio provides tones telling you when to turn the page.

This particular copy I actually didn’t find at a thrift store, this one I found in the back room of a used books store where they had a whole lot of old records, some of which were priced to sell, but others that were priced for collectors. I WAS there to buy records, but I was looking for your stray Prince and the Revolution, or Duran Duran (both of which I also found there) but when my wife brought my attention to this little gem, and I saw it sitting atop a shelf propped up with a clear plastic display stand, my eyes got REALLY big. The fact that it was in it’s own special display stand was telling me it would be priced for collectors, and thus beyond my justification to purchase, but when I asked the clerk how much,  and she said “Two dollars.” I was filled with joy….well not really but you’re damn sure that record went into my pile on the counter.

On the topic of Star Wars, I also have the 7″ Star Wars “Read Along Adventure” album, but the book was missing from it when I found it. I also have the “The Story of Star Wars” on 12″ LP, with a photo book to follow along to. But I’m not going to detail those, because George Lucas wasn’t the only one to use this marketing tool.

Black HoleHere we have “The Black Hole Souvenir Photo Album” I was just listening to this one tonight before writing this post. I saw this movie when I was eight years old and it has always been a nostalgic favorite. Listening to this sound recording tonight I wondered if it was entirely made up of dialog from the movie, or perhaps they actually had the actors record specific dialog for this album. It seemed they were making some unnecessary statements, over and above the narrator, to help along the story due to the lack of video. The album running time is very short compared to the movie itself, so the story is of course abridged quite a bit, but it does the job at telling the story. Interestingly, of the many times I’ve watched this movie, I never realized until tonight, when listening to this album, that “The Black Hole” is nothing more than a re-telling of “20 Thousand Leagues Under the Sea” with distinct parallels between the Cignus and the Trident, and between Captain Nemo and Doctor Reinhardt.

Black Hole 2I found this one at Goodwill for a dollar. Goodwill is good for that kind of thing, most of my vinyl collection is from Goodwill. Right now I only have 5 movie/TV sound recordings on Vinyl, but I always keep an eye out for more when I’m hitting my record haunts. But I refuse to pay collectors pricing, so I don’t go out of my way to look specifically for this kind of thing. If you aren’t already a collector of this kind of thing, and they appeals to you, let me give you some pointers.

You can find sale prices as low as 60 dollars on modern record players, that will plug right into your Mac or PC via USB so you can rip vinyl to MP3, or just use your computer as your sound system. Go old school with new school. That’s the way I roll anyway.

As for finding these kinds of gems, you can of course go the way of Ebay, or various other collectors resources, but for me, I find it much more entertaining and fulfilling to search yard sales, estate sales, Goodwill, Salvation Army, St. Vincent Depaul, Half Price Books, and any number of antique stores or antique malls. You can often find great albums for as little as a quarter to 2 or 3 bucks, and the thrill of the hunt for whatever you can find, is definitely the way to go.

To the left you can see the 5 Story Recordings that I have managed to find. I hope I can expand my collection over time.

Flourish 1

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