Thursday, May 21, 2015

Visiting La-La Land

Have you ever heard of a company called La-La Land Records? If you like movie soundtracks, you’d do well to familiarize yourself with them.

I came across them a few years ago purely by fluke. I was looking for an old behind the scenes video for the movie Krull that I wanted someone to see, and one of the hits that popped up was for a limited edition, two CD soundtrack album for the film that was being exclusively offered through their website. Since then, I’ve found a number of soundtracks there that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, and, with at least a few of them, soundtracks or versions of soundtracks that I’ve been unable to find anywhere else.

The only downside to finding them is that a part of their deal is that almost everything they’ve put out is designed to be limited edition. James Horner’s Krull soundtrack was limited to just 3,000 copies. Their recent expanded Ladyhawke soundtrack release is likewise limited to 3,000 copies. Still others like Clive Barker’s Book of Blood soundtrack is even more limited with only 1,500 copies being pressed.

There’s both good and bad news with that. The bad news is that really good soundtracks with a rabid following tend to sell through pretty damned quickly. I snagged my Krull soundtrack as soon as I saw it, and it was sold through shortly after that. There have been a couple of soundtracks that I’ve wanted but not had the disposable income to use on them at the time of the release, and they’ve sold through before I could grab them.

The good news is that, unlike most of the limited edition items that most of us tend to deal with in geekdom, these won’t cost you an arm and a leg. The two CD Ladyhawke soundtrack (with initial copies autographed for no extra charge) is $24.98. The two CD Planet of the Apes Television Series soundtrack sells for the same price. A four CD Danny Elfman Batman set will set you back $49.98. Some soundtracks, such as The Dogs of War, sell for under $20, and a few have even popped up now and again for under $10. The only time that a reasonable price will still drive you up a wall is with something like the Batman set or, for me right now, the Ladyhawke soundtrack.

I’m sure you’ve notice that your average soundtrack CD tends to leave out a lot of shorter musical cues and even some of the longer compositions found in the actual film. You also occasionally get a situation where the film has one version of a track, the soundtrack CD has an alternate version, and the difference is noticeable. Then there’s that whole single release version thing or that music video version that occasionally pops up as well.

The La-La Land Records soundtrack releases typically have all of those tracks on them. Do you already have the various Danny Elman Batman soundtracks? Good for you, because now you get to look at the track listing on their release, see a bunch of stuff you don’t have, and figure out if you want to drop $50 on a set that you have 50% of already. With me, I already have the extended Ladyhawke soundtrack that was released in stores about a decade ago. The La-La Land Records’ version contains a small ton of tracks that are previously unreleased, early versions of what finally made it to film, and a few pieces that were finalized in the studio but ultimately cut from the film’s final theatrical soundtrack for various reasons.

And pretty much all of their limited release soundtracks are like that. They’re absolutely packed with cues and full compositions that you’re not going to get anywhere else for the foreseeable future.
Now, I can see some of you saying that, yeah, this sounds good so far, but I’m talking a lot about quantity and not touching on quality at all here. For the prices they're selling their wares for, some of you are telling yourselves, there must be some corner cutting going on somewhere in the overall quality. The short answer- Nope.

As far as audio quality, the soundtracks I’ve bought from La-La Land Records to replace older CDs are of equal or superior sound quality to my older, store bought soundtracks. The physical end of the product, the CDs themselves, the jewel cases, and the inserts, are, again, of equal or superior quality to anything I’ve bought elsewhere. I’ve never received any product from them with cheap CD artwork, whether in the form of poorly transferred artwork or an el cheapo sticker with printed artwork slapped onto a CD. The inserts are gorgeously done; both sides typically having artwork and/or information printed on them, and more than a few releases contain a nice booklet insert. I’ve also never gotten a soundtrack from them that was in a cheap, all paper or thin cardboard CD case that wears out and deteriorates over time. Everything I’ve ordered from them has been in the standard jewel cases that most store bought CDs are in. In my experience with their products, no aspects of them have ever been subpar or cheaply done.

They also don’t jerk you around with waiting for your product. They give you a set release date with pre-orders, and they ship the product fairly promptly on that release date. My experiences with orders for items that have already been released have all been the same as well. My orders have always shown up quickly, and the only time I’ve ever had an issue with them it was handled on their end with far less hassle on my part than I’ve encountered with some brick and mortar stores.        

Finding out what they have to offer is easy to do, and keeping up with their products is even easier. The La-La Land Records website is a piece of cake to navigate. On top of your basic search function, the main page typically gives you multiple products and product highlight options right up front. News about upcoming releases, the latest releases, featured releases, special offers, and low stock items are all featured prominently on their main page. At the top of the page is your basic set of tab options giving you access to all of their products, specials offers, events, contact info for the site, and anything else you may need. They also have a fairly comprehensive newsletter that you can find the sign up info for under their “Contact” tab.
If you’re a soundtrack geek, these guys are absolutely your hookup. Check them out, give them a try, and see what you think. You won’t be disappointed.

Jerry Chandler is way too into film and television soundtracks. But they make great background music when writing, so that works.

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