Review: Blade Runner Original Soundtrack (Audio Fidelity Edition)

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It’s easy to forget, but when Blade Runner was first released in cinemas in 1982, the film was both a commercial and critical dud. It wasn’t until the Director’s Cut was released to theaters ten years later that many began to turn around on the film and see it for the sci-fi classic that it is now considered to be.

However, one point that was never in contention even during the harshest critiques of the film was its score. Composed by Vangelis, who also brought us the iconic Chariots of Fire theme, it was instantly lauded as sensational, and even earned itself several award nominations.  Oddly enough though, an official soundtrack was never released during the film’s original run. Instead all fans got was an album of “orchestral interpretations,” something that was not at all representative of Vangelis’ haunting, mostly synthesized, score. It would take over 10 years for the actual soundtrack to see the light of day. But by the time it was released in 1994, LPs were at an absolute nadir in terms of sales, so it was only given a CD release.

Now, over 30 years since the film’s original release, the original soundtrack has been released properly on vinyl, thanks to re-issue label Audio Fidelity. And while I wouldn’t say it’s been worth the wait, fans who were holding out all these years for a vinyl copy of the film’s iconic score probably will not be disappointed.

The record comes in a very nice, very glossy, gatefold sleeve that serves as a proper reproduction of the 1994 CD packaging, complete with the original Vangelis linear notes from that release. While the high gloss shine is no doubt prone to smudging, it looks great otherwise and feels very durable.

The record itself looks even better. Audio Fidelity really went above and beyond for this one, pressing the soundtrack on virgin 180g red transparent vinyl. It looks incredible, and the transparency almost gives it a glowing effect when you hold it up to the light. I own a lot of transparent and colored vinyl, this one looks better than almost all of them. They did a fantastic job with it.

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And the record sounds as good as it looks. The virgin vinyl sounds perfect, with nary a pop, scratch or snap to be heard, and the master by Kevin Gray (which was done specifically for this release) is equally flawless. In an age where more and more labels are just taking CD masters and slapping them on to vinyl with no regard to the limitations or advantages of the format, it’s great to hear a proper master, one that gives the source material the respect it deserves.

This is a spot-on vinyl re-creation of the original soundtrack CD, and that’s probably the only complaint I really have about it. In 2007, Warner released an expanded edition of the soundtrack that featured two CDs of music from the film. It would have been nice if Audio Fidelity could have used that release for a template. I’m sure most Blade Runner fanatics would have loved to have that edition on vinyl, even if the cost was a bit higher.

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That’s just a slight nitpick though. This record is tremendous, and it belongs in the collection of any fan of Blade Runner or Vangelis. A real top-notch job by Audio Fidelity, I hope they get more soundtrack work in the future.

 

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