Varèse Sarabande - The Combat Records of Soundtrack LPs?
Years ago, when I first started collecting vinyl, I found a pretty beat up copy of the soundtrack from the 1978 George Romero film, Martin. It was a former library copy, so the sleeve was pretty shitty, dinged up, white cardboard spots where tape or stickers were unceremoniously ripped off etc. However, there was something intriguing about the record, both in the novelty of the subject matter and the seemingly obscure record label it was on, Varèse Sarabande. Varèse Sarabande was started in 1972 and is still in semi-operation today, releasing mostly film scores and works by classical composers. There’s a whole wikipedia page on the label, so I wont delve into it too much, but at some point during the late 70’s or early 80’s, the label became the go-to place for many b level and cult movie soundtracks. After my initial curiosity, I made some half ass attempts to get more information on the label, but with the internet still in it’s adolescence, and wikipedia not yet a thing, info was scant. However, as time went on, record store bins were scoured, and more vinyl was collected, I found that my most prized soundtrack LPs always seemed to be on this label. Conan the Barbarian, Videodrome, Escape from New York, Dawn of the Dead, The Road Warrior, Robocop, all on Varèse Sarabande. Although somewhat unrecognized due to specializing in what can categorically be considered non-genre releases, as well as having a name that doesnt exactly roll off the tongue, this almost makes Varèse Sarabande imo a sort of cult record label akin to NEAT, Combat, New Renaissance, etc. This opinion is given weight when considering that newer labels such as Death Waltz, are re-releasing a lot of (expensive) stuff from the Varèse Sarabande back catalog with new artwork and informative inserts, similar to the plethora of labels popping up to re-release deluxe editions of OOP metal albums. In summation, credit, where credit’s due. Varèse Sarabande released a ton of soundtracks for independent and mini-budget films that might not have been able to do so any other way, and that’s pretty rad. So keep an eye out for these gems before they all end up on ebay with overinflated prices.