THE ADVENTURES OF PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT (1994) / COMPOSERS: VARIOUS ARTISTS / LABEL: MUSIC ON VINYL - AT THE MOVIES / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
There are many reasons to be thankful for director Stephan Elliott's 1994 musical comedy The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert: introducing the world at large to actors Guy Pearce and Hugo Weaving, just ahead of their respective breakout roles in L.A. Confidential and The Matrix, for one, as well as portraying LGBTQ characters as actual people with lives beyond facile caricatures. However, if all that was remembered of Priscilla were its soundtrack that would be completely understandable.
If anyone's ever wanted to make sure that they have a party soundtrack, the songs from Priscilla set the gold standard for campy-yet-earnest music. The soundtrack release for the film presents a series of disco gems from The Village People, Gloria Gaynor, and Peaches & Herb alongside cheeseball oldies like R.B. Greaves' Take a Letter Maria and Patti Page's I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine in a non-stop mix of songs which instantly generate feelings of nostalgia and - just as importantly - make the listener want to shake their groove thang.
Perhaps due to the fact that all of the songs were preexisting tracks, and thus there was no need to flog a single from the hot new artist of the moment, the music of the Priscilla soundtrack plays out in the same order in which it appears in the film. It's not all of the pieces, of course, but the omission of Abba's Fernando and Verdi's E strano! Ah fors e lui are fine, especially given the inclusion of five disco mixes of some of the iconic tracks featured.
In terms of musicality, it's pure cheese, but the fact that some of these songs are sheer forces of nature is undeniable. Anyone who's seen the film and hears Ce Ce Peniston's Finally or Mamma Mia by Abba, and doesn't immediately begin dancing exuberantly isn't to be trusted. The way those two songs bolster the film's ending performances are just phenomenal, and are pure cotton candy, sugary joy.
The vinyl release from At the Movies bolsters the kitschy fun of the film, with two postcards featuring imagery from the film (including the iconic shot of Guy Pearce's Felicia performing atop Priscilla as it drives through the desert), a reproduction poster, in a limited edition of 2500 vinyl copies pressed on pink and not purple, but ‘lavender, darling!’ wax. There's a nice liner sheet which gives song credits, and the music sound amazing, as one would expect. The lavender LP features all the disco remixes, and is pressed at 45 rpm, as opposed to 33, and those tracks have a little more room in the grooves, and really boom out the stereo.
While it took 25 years to get The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert on vinyl, this anniversary edition certainly made the wait worth it. Whether a fan of the film, disco, dance music, or just plain good music, this is a necessary addition to any soundtrack fan's collection.