To our chock and surprise…

Happy 35th anniversary to the Phantom of the Paradise soundtrack, released Feb. 25, 1975!

Also released that day:  Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti.  Which do you think sold more in Winnipeg? 

I had the soundtrack LP long before I made the deal with my parents that allowed me to see a “Mature” movie at the Garrick theatre (hint:  I’m still shoveling their sidewalks.)  But in retrospect the greater achievement was how I somehow convinced my Dad, military brush-cut and all, to make the trip into enemy territory — Opus 69 Records — to procure a copy…

For a lot of us at the time, this was our first exposure to “rock,” and therein lies perhaps the real secret to the film’s isolated success in Winnipeg:  it’s the music, stupid!  Remember, these were simpler times, with fewer media outlets…if a band didn’t have airplay on either CFRW or CKRC they might as well not have existed.  Indeed, the “heaviest” thing most of us had heard up to that point was the guitar riff at the beginning of Terry Jacks’s Seasons in the Sun.

But was it rock?  Or a fiendish pastiche perpetrated by composer Paul Williams?

All I know is, I was so utterly obsessed with this LP that I played it on my Mom’s ramshackle Garrard turntable until the grooves started to disintegrate.  I would pore over the liner notes like a Kremlinologist.  Who were these musicians?  Art Munson…Dave Garland…Gary Mallabar… And who the hell was Ray Kennedy, and why was he “the voice of Beef”?!

But who wants nostalgia anymore?  My favourite memory of these glorious tunes is decidedly contemporary.  During the hype leading up to the first Phantompalooza, the soundtrack briefly re-entered the charts on BOB-FM.  A ‘palooza co-conspirator phoned from the highway, breathless, having pulled over his vehicle to alert me to an upcoming airplay of opener “Goodbye, Eddie, Goodbye.”  We listened in unison, awestruck, instantly 10 years old again.

Carburetors man…that’s what life is all about!

 

12 Comments

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12 Responses to “To our chock and surprise…”
  1. Art Munson says:

    I enjoyed reading your comments. Phantom Of The Paradise developed quite a cult following throughout the world.

    Anyway, I was the guitar player on the album and in the movie, except for the last scene. We (the band) all wanted to go home for Christmas. We were allowed to go and a local Dallas TX band stood in for that very last scene.

    Ray Kennedy was actually a great singer around L.A. in those days. Wonder what happened to him?

  2. Michela says:

    Hey there,

    I didn’t know there was a tribute website to the Phantom of the Paradise! I just wanted to let you guys know that to my knowledge this film was considered a cult in Italy for many years, particularly in the 1980s and early 90s. I have seen it for the first time (and loved it) when I was four (1989) and my uncle had the soundtrack on CD. In the early 1990s I used to read this horror comic (Dylan Dog, extremely popular in Italy) and I remember that in one adventure Dylan goes to a concert and the band is playing “Somebody Super Like You”. In my town there was also a rock/punk brand of shoes called Swan, and the Death Records’ bird was the logo. They were pretty cool shoes.
    But now I live in England and no one has ever heard of the film! Odd. Winnipeg, Italy, France. Random.
    So there you go, add Italy to the list of Phantom of the Paradise-obsessed places!

  3. TK says:

    This is my all time favourite movie. I swear, I’ve seen it about seven hundred times and it never gets stale. I had the soundtrack on vinyl too….. and then when cassette tapes came along I bought one. And THEN, when CD’s came out, I bought it AGAIN LOLOLOLOL

    Awesome movie.

  4. Francesco says:

    I love this movie!!Phantom is a movie that makes me always good thrills….is a movie that gives to me many emotions,all the time that I’m watching to….And I still love the entire soundtrack,too….I have two versions of the record LP(Holland and italian versions)!!!!!Surely is my all-time favourite one!!!!Paul Williams is a genius,and William Finley is a God on high levels on this movie!!!I like so much Jessica Harper,too,everything in this movie is perfect!!!!

  5. Kevin Rosentreter says:

    I came from religious folks and that made this movie more tantalizing the more i seen of it, it celebrated the darker side of things in life, the nastier underside of the music biz, the deals with the devil as a shrewd business man rather than a raging ugly goat Oh those satanic seventies, the devilish reds, black leather,blue silks,and silver 70’s chrome and metal, hidden rooms and secret passages full of stereo wires. With this commercial spot nightly of the strange owl faced masked man singing his haunting distorted ballads and his bloodshot eyeball and horrific distorted scream fueling my imagination of how the movie might be like.It’s a laugh now,when you get the inside jokes but I was only 6 and my parents blacklisted it immediately,so i heard only strange interpretations from other 6 yr olds of what went on in the flick, and they were funny but freakish.My only chance at seeing this was when one of the big networks gave it it’s first tv, debut in 79, i counted the days to January 19th i believe. My parents seemed to soften a bit since it was only on tv and not some dark dingy theatre,so they complied.Before this i had memorized every lyric and detail of the album cover that belonged to our neighbors with it’s bright neon blue and green bulbs,and that fantasy cover was something else.This was heavier than anything i’d heard before, my first slice of bleak or even existensial,you might say poetry.This was not Elton John.The names were all unkowns to film except for adults who knew Paul’s Carpenter’s stuff and Brian Depalma. I finally caused a big enough scene and fussed in Woolco,in 77 and my mom gave it up for 4.99. I went home elated smelling the plastic wrap,and played it out ragged out for my less enthused friends ,and immediately i got the what’s your kid saying to my kid treatment’. and i guess for good reason i was the only kid singing ‘The Hell of It’ in church and stores, but i now know i wasn’t the only one. I relate to you all in this, no matter where you came from. It is true as stated above it was our only visuals at the time of the far away rock world on the coasts and in Britain. Our local radio was tame then, and mostly Helen Reddy and ‘trumpet rock’ was in.It appealed to anyone who loved the fantasy of fame and the useless pipe dream of trying to make it, even if you had the goods as a singer or songwriter. It looked larger than life and had the first masked comic book character who was an anti hero and fought for the musician’s fairness, so to say.I don’t know if it was intended but it aimed at kids as well as the adults,not only the rough kids were seeing it but it attracted the quiet nerdy types to who liked comics.How quick parents jump on something before they understand it, and it all makes sense that the majority was thinking it was either image overload or silly or way too glum. It’s a music lovers movie above all else and should be held as a keepsake for that reason. Thanx you guys

    • Joanna says:

      Hi Kevin;

      I was a bit older… 10, when everyone was going wild over this flic. A neighbor had the album and I was practically camped out at her place on weekends. The Album COVER, alone, was a WORK. You could be as near-sighted as Mr. McGoo and STILL see the vivid neon color!

      As well, I did hear some pretty wild interpretations of what the movie was about. Including how Winslow came to wear the mask. (He got his head stuck on a RECORD PLAYER???) I failed to see how this was even possible. If so, how it could produce such dramatic physical effects.

      Finally, on a icky overcast Sunday in 1975, my mother took my brother, my two sisters and myself to the Garrick. While most movie hype has since let me down, this particular situation was the exception.

      I remember one occasion, only MONTHS after seeing the movie, where my mother commented, “Joanne, they won’t remember this movie next year. I LOVED the irony of asking for a loan to buy a ticket to Phantopalooza 2 , 30 years later.

      Now, as I write this, I’m working on edits to my retrospective, that I HOPE to have available on Smashwords.com

  6. Pete says:

    The comments above are fantastic. Art Munson! Man, your guitar playing on that whole album is awesome, seriously. I used to air guitar to your solo on “Life At Last”. Hell, I used to air guitar to the entire album. ‘Cept for the piano songs, heh. If you read this, please tell me what guitar(s) and amps/effects you used.

    I saw the film in the theatre when it came out in ’74, I was twelve. It made a huge impression on me.

    For years afterward I religiously pored over the tv listings each week because occasionally it would be shown as a late-night movie. That would be a special occasion.

    I bought the LP in the day. Now I’ve got CDs, DVDs… a truly great movie with a truly great soundtrack. RIP Bill Finley…

  7. Adam R says:

    Hey,

    I love this movie too, what I’m really curious about is if anyone knows what guitar Beef is playing right before he dies? It’s a red electric 12-string and I’d really love to know some more about it. If someone could give me info that would be great!

  8. For what it’s worth, I think Beef’s “Life at Last” red guitar is a ’60s era Framus. Not sure of the exact model.

    -The P.A.

    • Adam R says:

      Is there any way to find out the model? Any ideas?? I love that guitar so much, would really like to find it somewhere.

      Thanks,
      Adam

  9. Diane DeSanders says:

    I love reading all of this — came upon it by accident!
    One of my favorite things I’ve ever done was having been an extra in this film. I’m in green dancing behind the band in “Goodbye Eddie Goodbye” in the opening scene.
    And that was my bra they waved around just after.
    They called me to come back the next day but my parents were breaking up and I had to pick my dad up at Love Field! It’s always something!
    I had long been a fan of Paul Williams, enjoyed meeting him, wondered for years what happened to him, and have been mystified at the way all that great Phantom music disappeared. So it’s good to know he’s still around, etc.

    Great to find this, more power to the movie — always been proud to have been a tiny part of it —
    Great stuff will out —
    best to all —
    Diane DeSanders, Brooklyn

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