The force is strong with vinyl. You don’t have to be a long-time or newbie record collector to know that. Forbes recently reported vinyl records are projected to sell 40 million units in 2017, with sales nearing the $1 billion benchmark for the first time since the 1980s. Sighting the emotional impact of something tangible, with a nostalgic tie-in, it’s no wonder why much of the collector’s vinyl market involves movie soundtracks.
John William’s scores to the Star Wars saga have been available since the first release in 1977. That album, along with his score to Episode I, went Platinum. It entered the charts on vinyl once again last year, in a remastered collector’s edition. The boxed set of the original trilogy’s scores finally went Gold last year. Now, not one, but four limited collector’s editions of the composer’s Oscar-nominated score for Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens have been unveiled.
According to the label (see the image below, via I Am Shark), each two disc release will be available in four different collectable covers, themed as follows: “Rey” in Yellow/Orange/Brown Marble, “Poe” in Yellow/Green Half & Half, “Phasma” in Clear w/Red, Yellow, and Orange Splatter and “Finn & Kylo” battling it out in Blue & Black Smoke. The records, pressed on 180 gram disc, are limited to 500 copies each. The albums are available today as an exclusive pre-order at the I Am Shark official website. Records will be shipping out around March 24th.
This isn’t the first vinyl pressing of the Force Awakens soundtrack. There have been previous editions from Walt Disney Records, including last year’s hologram edition, which featured a hand-etched 3D Millennium Falcon on disc one and a TIE Fighter on disc two. This I Am Shark release is more in line with licensed product releases from Mondo, Death Waltz, and Waxwork Records.
For collectors and fans, that’s likely to be fanfare to their ears. As with other coveted vinyl editions of soundtracks, it’s all about the aesthetic. No doubt, the artwork on all four editions of this release, from UK pop culture artist Dan Mumford, adds an exceptional drool factor. The discs themselves are unique works of art. As Lord Vader would say, all are impressive. Most impressive.
While it is interesting that it’s 2015’s Force Awakens and not the more recent Rogue One: A Star Wars Story that’s getting this special edition release, it’s not surprising. Vinyl is still a niche market in an increasingly streaming marketplace for listeners. John Williams is as much a brand name as the sagas he’s scored, and several of those have made their way to rereleased, remastered vinyl. It’s also not unusual for these releases to be split runs, leaving the hardest decision to the buyer. Which one to choose?