Just a few scant years ago, the John Carpenter (in association with Alan Howarth) score for his film, Big Trouble in Little China, was a bargain bin closeout release. Fans of the composer/director's work could easily snag the album still-sealed on vinyl for $3 from online clearance retailers.
Now look at it: a luxe and reduxe double vinyl LP, expanded to double the length of the original Enigma Records pressing, in a fancy gatefold sleeve, and containing the complete score, as originally found on La-La Land's 2009 double compact disc release.
If this isn't already sitting on the record shelf, the Mondo pressing is certainly the one to take that place between Assault on Precinct 13 and Christine. The red with yellow splatter vinyl will look like Lo Pan's exacting his revenge from the turntable as it spins.
This Big Trouble in Little China vinyl release from Mondo sounds amazing, and really demonstrates just what the pairing of Carpenter and Howarth were able to achieve: the title theme, Pork Chop Express, is a muscley bit of guitar and synth rock, and probably stands up there as part of the definitive Carpenter canon, but it's ably matched in style and exceeded in scope by the likes of The Great Arcade. Pressing the album at 45rpm and spreading it over two discs really gives the music some room to breathe in the grooves, and certainly boosts its dynamicism.
The reliance on stereotypical Asian themes is a trifle trite, definitely cultural appropriation, and more than a little dated, but the intensity and verve Carpenter and Howarth bring to the Faltermeyer-esque The Great Escape manages to find its own groove as it builds to the climax. And, of course, Abduction at Airport is perhaps one of the most underrated cuts in the Carpenter discography, coming across like a hyper-caffeinated version of Giorgio Moroder's epic The Chase from Midnight Express.
It's all very wonderful, and even though one might marvel at the cheesiness of the Coupe de Villes' Big Trouble in Little China, as performed by the rock band featuring Carpenter, director Tommy Wallace, and actor Nick Castle, it'll still bring a smile to the face of any fan of this release, right before the needle hits the runout groove.
BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA (1986) / COMPOSER: JOHN CARPENTER AND ALAN HOWARTH / LABEL: MONDO / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW