Waxwork Records Exorcist vinyl coverWilliam Friedkin was on one hot streak in the 1970s. He arguably directed not one or two, but three back-to-back masterpieces in that decade. Between The French Connection and Sorcerer is perhaps his most known contribution – 1973’s adaptation of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist. The film’s music has a storied history as notable as the film itself, with attempts from legends Lalo Schifrin and Bernard Herrmann (who infamously told the director “I can’t help you with this piece of shit…”), all failing to meet Friedkin’s demands.

Needing a temp score, Friedkin compiled contemporary cues by the likes of polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, Anton Webern, George Crumb and Jack Nitzsche, amongst others. Following Kubrick’s approach on 2001: A Space Odyssey, the film’s temp tracks eventually became its soundtrack and sonic identity. The results turned Mike Oldfield’s prog rock piece, “Tubular Bells”, into one of film history’s most iconic and recognized works.

44 years later, Waxwork Records is honoring Friedkin’s collection of tracks with a special edition vinyl release. Among the reissue’s exclusive supplements, are new notes from Friedkin himself and striking artwork by Phantom City Creative.

The movement to get away from tonal music at the time proves a perfect match for the surreal images of Friedkin’s film, and any listener will easily be able to conjure the film’s most frightening moments with this compilation – it’s magic. The tracks, which were originally re-recorded in 1973 by Leonard Slatkin and the National Philharmonic Orchestra (due to licensing issues) sound as powerful and vibrant as ever in their remastered form. If there’s a highlight amidst the song selections, however, it’s Penderecki’s “Polymorphia”, a favorite of mine replete with insane percussive textures and ominous atmosphere.

Complimenting the soundtrack’s aural tension and beauty, Friedkin’s liner notes take us through his trials with Herrmann and Schifrin. It makes for a great read, and Friedkin’s writing, anchored by his love of the medium and the music that supplements it, is an absolute must-read.

Waxwork Records Exorcist vinyl bookIt’s worth noting that Waxwork made a splash last year by announcing they’d acquired the rights to Schifrin’s unused cues (which total to about 15 minutes of music), but these rarities didn’t make it on to this release. Still, their absence in no way diminishes the beauty of this deluxe package.

Overall, Waxwork has absolutely outdone themselves on this release. They’ve set the bar high for any other re-issues of this property and the genre at large.

You can pick the record up now via Waxwork Records. Check out some photos below even though they don’t do the release justice, and yes, William Friedkin was nice enough to tell me about his meeting with Herrmann, after he signed my copy:

Waxwork Records Exorcist vinyl gatefold Waxwork Records Exorcist vinyl book spread Waxwork Records Exorcist vinyl book Waxwork Records Exorcist vinyl back cover Waxwork Records Exorcist vinyl disc Waxwork Records Exorcist vinyl review180 Gram clear black smoke vinyl (Pazuzu) or blue smoked vinyl (Exorcism) / 12″ x 12″ booklet / Old style gatefold jackets with soft touch coating  / Liner notes by William Friedkin / Art by Justin Erickson of Phantom City Creative / $32