For the past few weeks, a user over at eBay has been selling off copies of the Lost In Translation soundtrack, in a variety of vinyl colors. The copies, which feature Japanese text on the back, appear to be from a bootleg run, though, which according to Discogs, was originally released in 2008 (the matrix numbers do match). And while it’s described there as “Partially Unofficial,” I’m just assuming that’s a very nice way of saying “Completely Unofficial.” Anyways, since there didn’t seem to be a reissue coming anytime soon (watch it get repressed next week now), I figured I’d pick up a copy and let you know what the quality was like. For your reference, the only official pressing is the black vinyl with the same cover art.
If you like what you hear, I’d watch that account as they’ve been putting up copies quite a bit or I’d pick one up here while supplies last. I’ve also read and heard that they’ve popped up in a few record stores.
Editor’s Note: I won’t be giving these the typical star ratings. And no, I don’t know who the label is behind this or really where they came from. Kinda the nature of bootlegs.
I’d assume we’re working with some form of digital transfer here, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have a passable sound. The opening keys of Kevin Shields’ “City Girl” have a nice depth to them, quite nearly reverberating throughout the room. “Goodbye” is another that shines, and another from Shields (My Bloody Valentine), on side A. The repeating female vocals are balanced properly with the deep beat anchoring the track and the purposeful distortion layered atop the guitar work. A track from Phoenix, titled “Too Young,” closes out that A side and it’s the first time the bootleg attribute starts to show. The vocals are a bit muddy, the varied percussion just kinda slams together into one beat and the track doesn’t have that sharpness present in your standard digital version. It did feel good to have some older Phoenix on the turntable, though.
Maybe Kevin Shields’ material just sounds great on vinyl, or maybe I’m just a fan, because “Ikebana” is a highlight of side B, despite some surface noise creeping through. On that note, my side B was pretty funky when it first arrived, but even after a couple cleans, some pops and noise remained that just aren’t going away. Meanwhile, My Bloody Valentine contribute a version of “Sometimes” that I’m sure is quite close to the standard vinyl release. And “Just Like Honey,” which closes out the film and is close to the heart of its fans, has vocals from The Jesus & Mary Chain’s Jim Reid that blow through the distortion, echoing. Don’t fear, the track is in its original shape and form.
The pressing as a whole is a bit low, as I had to really crank the volume to properly digest each layer. And as I mentioned a couple times, some tracks aren’t even as clean and sharp as a digital version (“Kaze Wo Atsumete” is another example). In the end, though, it’s no worse than some of the lesser pressings put out by professional labels that have everything they need for good quality.
The standard 2-panel jacket certainly suffers from the “bootleg” label, as the cover art is pretty blurry, as are the series of film images used on the back. If you’re unaware (or haven’t looked at the picture below), the backside of Scarlett Johansson is the front art, barely covered. The image is the first seen in the actual film and is one of the more memorable moments (minus perhaps the ending whisper) and this replaces the standard cover of Bill Murray sitting on the bed. It’s the same as the past, official pressing and I think vinyl fans appreciate that alternate artwork. Besides the fuzzy art, the back art does include some great detail on each of the tracks.
An insert is included with the package, featuring the two main characters, with the previously mentioned Murray on the bed image. It’s again a little blurry, but the grimy quality is actually kind of endearing this time around, especially with the opposite image of Scarlett laying down on her hotel bed. The record, which in my case was a translucent blue with black streaks, is housed in a white inner sleeve. The color doesn’t really match up, but the record by itself is a nice sight. At least I didn’t get one of the green copies.
The bootleg pressing that’s been floating around of the Lost In Translation soundtrack should be good enough for fans of the film that previously missed out. It’s got the normal miscues of bootleg items — photos that are a little blurry, sound that’s just below sharp — but I wasn’t kicking myself for the $30 purchase during the spin. If it’s going to be a casual purchase, I would shy away, but for big fans of the film, you’ll be okay if this is the version sitting on your shelf.
Each of the Kevin Shields songs and “Just Like Honey”