Music by John Carpenter
Distributed by Sacred Bones
For a director who hasn’t made a film for seven years (2010’s The Ward) John Carpenter has kept incredibly busy of late. For starters, Carpenter entered the world of comics with the highly praised Asylum, which he co-created with his wife Sandy King. This month sees Volume 3 of the comic series, another of the partnerships ghoulish projects, Tales for a Halloween Night. And lo and behold, a new Halloween film is on its way next year to mark 40 years since the classic original. Although Carpenter won’t be behind the lens, he will be producing and providing the soundtrack. On the small screen, two television shows are in the works with Nightside and Carpenter adapting his aforementioned graphic novel Tales for a Halloween Night. In short, Carpenter, who will be 70 this January, has been pretty darn busy for a guy who Hollywood thought was yesterday’s man.
Carpenter, of course, has always been held in high regard for composing his own soundtracks for the majority of his films. The music has become so integral it is undeniably attached to his work. Three years after The Ward, Carpenter found himself, his son Cody, and godson Daniel Davies making music once more, and a year later that resulted in his first ever studio album Lost Themes, released through Sacred Bones. A follow up, aptly named Lost Themes II, was released in 2016 and, in total, we have been treated to 20 brand new dark and twisted tracks. One of them from Lost Themes II called “Dark Blues” was interesting due to its title as Carpenter had planned to release a dark blues album with his son which as yet has not materialized. In the summer of 2016, a North American and European tour got under way and was met with critical praise. So it should come as no surprise to learn about Carpenter’s third studio album, Anthology: Movie Themes 1974-1998.
Ten of the 13 tracks on offer were staple set list songs when Carpenter and his band went on tour and, if they blew you away in the flesh, you will be stunned listening to them on this record. What hits you when Anthology opens up with the Metallica inspired licks of “In the Mouth of Madness” is the production values. Whilst blasting out Carpenter for your neighbors to hear is not a problem, go pop on your headphones to hear the crunching guitars of Daniel Davies. Your ear drums will thank you for it later. The ominous beats to open up “Assault on Precinct 13” will transport you to late 70s LA as you track Austin Stoker and his patrol car to a backlit horizon.
There are some nice surprises here with new compositions that did not appear on Carpenter’s tour. “Santiago” from Carpenter’s 1998 movie Vampires is mesmerizing and we are also treated to the Darkstar theme, Carpenter’s first movie, which will have dedicated fans jumping for joy even if the running time is less than 90 seconds. But there is one song that fans were asking on last year’s tour that appears here and it has always been rather special: the theme to Starman. Carpenter’s adult answer to E.T. has meant a lot to fans of both Carpenter’s work and science fiction followers in general. Originally written by Jack Nitzsche, the theme is a wonderful tribute and still has the tendency to be melancholic and uplifting at the same time. Another cover is The Thing theme written by Ennio Morricone.
Both The Fog and Prince of Darkness themes are eerily haunting, which sums up the movies themselves and are arguably Carpenter’s darkest films. The Escape from New York theme was used to open up every night of Carpenter’s 2016 tour and, of course, no retrospect would be complete without the Halloween theme, played so well by both Carpenter and his son.
Utilizing Davies’ guitar skills again on the Big Trouble in Little China (“Pork Chop Express”) theme, highlights what a talented musician he is (Davies is the son of The Kinks’ Dave Davies). They Live has always been one of Carpenter’s most chilled out and bluesy tracks. The album is rounded off by the theme to Christine, which has changed the most over the years. Again, Davies gives the song a new feel and edge that just kickstarts your heart, if not your car, and has in turn become of the best Carpenter tracks of his career. Notably a video was released for this track last month, directed by Carpenter himself.
When Lost Themes was released Carpenter explained that the best idea was to listen to the songs with the lights off and imagine images from his movies. With this anthology, you can keep the lights on and turn it up to 10. Carpenter’s themes have simply never sounded so good.
John Carpenter’s Anthology Themes 1974-1998 is released through Sacred Bones on October 20th. BUY IT NOW!.
John Carpenter is on tour from October 29th.
10/29/17 – Las Vegas, NV @ The Joint at Hard Rock Casino
10/31/17 – Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium
11/2/17 – Anaheim, CA @ City National Grove
11/4/17 – San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield
11/5/17 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
11/7/17 – Maplewood, MN @ Myth Live
11/9/17 – Chicago, IL @ Aragon Ballroom
11/10/17 – Detroit, MI @ El Club
11/12/17 – Toronto, ON @ The Danforth Music Hall
11/13/17 – Montreal, QC @ Metropolis
11/15/17 – Boston, MA @ Royale
11/16/17 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
11/18/17 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Trocadero
11/19/17 – Syracuse, NY @ The Palace Theatre