Popeye - dvd coverThere's plenty of great vinyl out there that has never made the (legit) transition to the digital realm. Sure, there are services that will transfer vinyl copies to CDRs (folks like Going Digital Music and cdBBQ), but it’s not the quite the same thing as a honest-to-goodness commercial edition. For the die-hard collector, it has to be the real McCoy. Soundtracks, in particular, notoriously fall through the digital reissue cracks for a number of reasons … complicated licensing problems, lack of master tapes to transfer from, lack of wide interest, etc., so it’s not a big surprise that the music from Robert Altman's 1980 film Popeye lacks a currently available, commercially legitimate CD edition. Boardwalk Records issued the soundtrack on vinyl, cassette, and 8-track tape in the '80s. After it went out of print, a scant number of CD editions were issued in Europe (now fetching ludicrous amounts of cash on collector sites)... and then, that was it. Popeye was buried in the vaults for years until Jon Brion resurrected the excellent "He Needs Me" for prominent use in his soundtrack for the 2002 film Punch-Drunk Love.

The music of Popeye featured the talents of some heavyweight folks indeed. Harry Nilsson, Van Dyke Parks, eccentric Elton John percussionist Ray Cooper, and artist/bassist (and historical Beatles figure) Klaus Voorman (collectively dubbed the Falcons) wrote and recorded the soundtrack in a purpose-built studio on the island of Malta -- the location of the film's elaborate set. The resulting music was chock-full of Nilsson's trademark tunefulness and wry wordplay, and augmented beautifully by Parks' outstanding string arrangements (most notably, the aforementioned "He Needs Me" -- arguably the finest piece of string arranging the man has ever done).