Harry Sukman – Salem’s Lot (Waxwork Records remaster)

3 out of 5

Label: Waxwork Records

Produced by: Joe Tarantino (mastered by), J. Yuenger (vinyl master)

An expansive 2 LP set that covers all of the cues and alternate themes and whatnot from Tobe Hooper’s ‘Salem’s Lot’ miniseries, Harry Sukman’s score is an example of when getting the complete picture is a bit too much.

Just as Hooper’s directorial style is generally fairly structured and forward-moving, with dashes of childish humor and then dashes (depending on the film) of in-your-face fright, Salem’s Lot’s score has an old-fashioned backing to it – something fitting for a calm, pastoral family scene – then is then sprinkled with surprising and appreciated flashes of the aforementioned tones.  Sukman’s work sneaks up on you after a few listens: it seems rather rote at first, and the side treks random, but on further spins, the way the tracks are massaged from one mood to the next come out and it becomes a pretty rich experience.  Side A and B are fairly tight in this respect – a couple of tracks veer away from the general mood, but it gives the experience a slightly quirky, surreal vibe that’s nice – and would make for a rather excellent score.  Over C and D, however, perhaps owing to the inclusion of some alternate tracks, meaning we get rather directly repeated themes, the subtleties seem less so, and the sensation that we’re listening to somewhat a generic score returns.  Having not seen the film in quite a while, I can’t match up cues to scenes to recall how this pieces together – that is, if the LP flows in sequence with the film – but regardless, the second LP just doesn’t cast the same spell as LP 1, regardless of the amount of playthroughs.

Waxwork’s mastering of this is quite excellent, though, with a nice sense of “grain” to the music, and though I’m not gaga over Francesco Francavilla’s art, I think he was an excellent choice for this, and the whole package – swirled vinyl included – look great.

I realize that only including part of a score invites its own complaints, but as I tend to listen to these as holistic experiences (meaning I want a score to be listenable to on its own), Salem’s Lot has 1 LP worth of great material, and 1 LP worth of so-so material that drags the whole listen down a bit.