Collector Contributions: Hans Zimmer's True Romance
Today, we’re taking a trip back to 1993. A world where Clarence and Alabama met, fell in love, got married and became unwitting cocaine dealers all in a matter of days. Does it sound unrealistic? Maybe so, but never-the-less- it’s a great story! I loved True Romance from the very first time I saw it about fifteen years ago, and it’s been on my “movies I need to watch once a year” list ever since. What’s not to love? For starters, it was written by Quentin Tarantino, although he did not direct it as he was too busy with Pulp Fiction. Second, it’s got a star-studded cast featuring Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Val Kilmer, Gary Oldman, Brad Pitt, and Christopher Walken. Still need more convincing? Enter Hans Zimmer.
I’ve always been of the opinion that a soundtrack, or in this case- a score, can make or break a film. Never has this been more than in the case of True Romance. Hans Zimmer has scored many a great movie, but True Romance might just be his finest hour. Don’t believe me? Read on. I’ll change your mind. The main theme, titled ‘You’re so cool’ clinks and clonks along with a quirky and meandering xylophone-driven beat that walks in perfect lock-step of the movie itself. The music undulates along, dropping in and out just in time for pie in the sky moments through out the movie, and it has a way of easing the thick, violent tension that permeates throughout this (feel good?) story. How can we be sad that Clarence will be a half blind, eye patch wearing (former?) drug dealer when Hans Zimmer and his nine-man symphony is urging to crack and smile, and not worry? All the while we see Clarence’s new bride, Alabama looking on adoringly while repeating, “You’re so cool.” It’s a prime example of the masterful interplay that director Tony Scott and composer Hans Zimmer share throughout the film.
The score that Hans Zimmer has gifted us has an urgency to it, but shining through that urgency is a hyper-active whimsy; if you’ve seen the movie, then you understand that like many Tarantino written films, these characters firmly straddle the line between good and evil, light and dark, and violence and camp. Tarantino’s mind is full of various universes too embellished and vivid to ever exist realistically. But Tarantino doesn’t deal in reality. No, these are hyper-flawed characters, existing in a fluid universe, buoyed by nothing more than suspension of disbelief. The music that Hans Zimmer has set in motion perfectly coincides with the events we watch unfold in True Romance. They say nothing is perfect, but this time around Hans Zimmer came pretty damn close.
All poetry and praise aside, for a long time, too long really, this triumphant score was unavailable in the physical form; more importantly, it wasn’t available on vinyl. However, vinyl collectors need not wait any longer, as Enjoy The Ride Records has come to our rescue just in time! While it’s actually been available trough Enjoy The Ride since 2018 (the film’s 25th anniversary), that doesn’t mean we can’t take the time to sing Enjoy The Rides praises now, right? Right. So, initially we had the ‘Blood Splatter Variant’ which coincided with the film’s aforementioned 25th anniversary. Sadly, I missed the boat on that. After that, we saw three more awesome variants with ‘Leopard Print’ (my favorite), ‘Cocaine Explosion,’ and lastly and also the one I happen to own, ‘Gun Metal Grey,’ which happens to be the retail variant. With that all out of the way, let’s talk pressing quality. As usual, Enjoy The Ride held up their end of the bargain, and delivered a dead quiet pressing, which spins flat as a pancake on my Technics SL-1200. I have a very sensitive setup, with a high-end cartridge. If there was an issue with this pressing, my rig would gobble this thing up, chew it up and spit it out like it was nothing, but that’s not the case. My Audio Technica cart glided along the grooves of Enjoy The Ride’s True Romance Score like a hot knife through butter. Not a pop, click or hiss to heard, and it looks beautiful to boot.
Speaking of looks, if there’s one thing that Enjoy The Ride has a handle on, it’s packaging. There are some really beautifully-done illustrations of the film’s most iconic scenes littered about the front and back cover, but the gatefold is the real showstopper here. Crack open the gatefold, and you will be greeted with a bloodied and battered Alabama about to bludgeon a mafioso to death with the butt of a shotgun. Her platinum blond hair drenched in blood and sweat, glued to her makeup covered face, as she shrieks in the pain and horror of what she’s about to do. Those that have seen the movie will remember this scene well. I found myself looking at the intricate details of the front and back covers, listening along to music, and getting lost in the scenes of this movie I have come to know and love over the last decade and half of my life. The packaging, like the soundtrack, encompasses this film so well, and through it, I was transported into Quentin Tarantino’s effervescent world of violence and mayhem all from the safety of my couch!
True Romance is a great movie. It’s also a movie that also happens to have a wonderful and iconic score. Over the course of twenty-five plus years, the film has gained a ravenous cult following, and so when Enjoy The Ride took on this project, they must have known it was critical that they deliver…and deliver they have! There are a lot of companies out there peddling nostalgia via soundtrack, but all too often we end up with a halfcocked, slipshod product filled with a myriad of defects, poor pressing quality, no quality control, and underwhelming packing writhe with a lack of vision or care for the consumer. This is not the case with Enjoy The Ride. Yes, it’s true that Enjoy The Ride does deal in nostalgia, which comes with heavy expectations as we tend to hold our fondest memories of the past near and dear to our hearts. It in this arena that Enjoy The Ride truly rises to the occasion. What they manage to do, time and time again, is elicit memories of days gone by, and cast them in the kindest, most technicolor light so that as we look upon this artwork, set to this music, we cannot help but smile, and fondly remember. Yes, Enjoy The Ride knows that if you’re going to deal in nostalgia you absolutely have to deliver, and with the True Romance Score, Enjoy The Ride has shrewdly delivered the album that the cult of True Romance as well as hordes of vinyl lovers have been waiting for. In the world of soundtracks, when Enjoy The Ride shows up - we know it. When they hit - they hit hard. And when they do what they do - no one does it better.
Andrew Daly is 32 years old, and is from Long Island, NY, where he lives with his wife Angela, and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew the Editor of the Vinyl Junkies newsletter as well as a freelance writer and guerrilla journalist. In addition to his Tales From the Stacks series, he also conducts interviews with various artists, labels and people of interest throughout the industry. Having collected vinyl since he was a child in the 1990’s, Andrew’s collection of over 4,500 vinyl albums tells the story of his passion for all that is music.