To­tal Re­call

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - News - Will Salmon, News Editor

Will Salmon loves his Wicker Man LP – and it’s red vinyl!

It’s all about “Wil­low’s Song” for me. The mu­si­cal cen­tre­piece of The Wicker Man’s sound­track has been cov­ered many times and re­mains em­blem­atic of the film’s weird ap­peal. It’s a se­duc­tive and spooky slice of acid folk writ­ten by Paul Gio­vanni and beau­ti­fully sung by Rachel Ver­ney. Find­ing a copy of the sound­track, how­ever – at least in its filmic form – is harder than you might think. That’s be­cause there are two ver­sions avail­able. The one you can pick up to­day in your lo­cal HMV was re­leased by Silva Screen in 2002, and is great. The sound qual­ity is pris­tine, it fea­tures the lovely “Gen­tle Johnny” – a high­light of the film’s ex­tended edi­tion – and the cover is beau­ti­ful.

And yet... some­thing about it feels wrong. It’s too clean, too pol­ished – some­thing The Wicker Man, with its faded film stock and win­try colour pal­ette, never was. Cru­cially, the “Wil­low’s Song” here is not the same as the movie’s – it’s per­formed by Les­lie Mackie, who played Daisy. The Ver­ney ver­sion is only avail­able on the edi­tion put out by Trunk Records in 1998, now long out of print on CD and god’s own for­mat, vinyl. Back then, no­body had at­tempted to re­lease the sound­track be­fore and, with no mas­ter tapes avail­able, the tracks here were taken from a mono mu­sic and ef­fects tape, with some songs ( like “Gen­tly Johnny”) ab­sent or in­com­plete. Vinyl copies are tricky to find and ex­pen­sive, tend­ing to hover around the £ 50 mark th­ese days – es­pe­cially the red vinyl ver­sion. It’s a strange arte­fact: oc­ca­sion­ally feel­ing more like an abridged au­dio ver­sion of the film than a col­lec­tion of mu­sic, but the at­mos­phere is unique. It puts you back on Sum­merisle in a way that the sparkly stereo ver­sion doesn’t. And “Wil­low’s Song” is the Rachel Ver­ney ver­sion – the proper ver­sion! – in all its murky, mys­te­ri­ous glory.

Will is fin­ish­ing off his spooky poo­dle mask as we speak.

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