There was a time when movie soundtracks were the lifeblood of the recorded music industry?the lp record, which was introduced in June 1948, was developed at least partially at the behest of movie studios and Broadway show producers looking a better listening experience.
The first movie soundtrack to be released as a record seems to have been ?Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? in 1938?but the problem was that everything was divided up over multiple 10-inch 78 rpm records?every four minutes, you had to get up and either flip the record over or change it entirely?the same thing happened with ?The Jungle Book? in 1942.
That all changed in the summer of 1948 when the 33 1/3 rpm lp allowed up to 22 minutes of audio per side?movie studios bought in and the marketplace was flooded with not only movie soundtracks but original cast recordings of Broadway shows throughout the late 40s, all through the 50s and into the 1960s.
Movie soundtracks were seen as ?serious? music for adults?the kids and their rock?n?roll had their 7-inch singles?even as late as the middle 60s, movie soundtracks often did the biggest business.
Take ?The Sound of Music??it was a top 10 record in the U.S. for 109 weeks between May 1, 1965 and July 16, 1967?it was the best-selling album in the UK in 1965, 1966, and 1968?for years, the Guinness Book of World Records listed it as the best-selling album of all time?the best guess we have is that it sold 20 million copies?a very big number, especially back in the day.
As the years passed, it became standard practice to release a soundtrack album with your movie?in many cases, it was just the score, the incidental music written for the title credits, the closing credits and scenes in between.
In others, the records featured songs from the movie, some original, some licensed for the purpose?and some of these soundtracks went on to sell very, very well.
Prince?s ?Purple Rain,? 25 million copies??Titanic,? 30 million copies??Dirty Dancing, ? 32 million??Grease,? 38 million??Saturday Night Fever,? 40 million??The Bodyguard,? 45 million?even ?Space Jam? from 1996 sold six million.
By the 90s, every movie had a soundtrack as part of its business plan?they were cheap to compile and the margins were fantastic?they even launched a career or two.
Let?s take a look at some of the key alt-rock-based movie soundtracks of all time?
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