Monday, July 18, 2011

Burton and Taylor's Double LP

It's a shame that such a gifted actor as Richard Burton will be better remembered for his matrimonial antics than for the corpus of cinematic work that he produced. For the most part 'Mr Elizabeth Taylor' sleep-walked his way through a quagmire of lucrative but artistically unrewarding Hollywood fodder. Fortunately there were a handful of cinematic roles worthy of his talent. His performance opposite the missus in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (1966), in particular, was outstanding.

The celluloid version of Edward Albee's play marked the creative highpoint of the whole Burton and Taylor franchise. Fans will be familiar with the extended slanging match performed with obvious relish by the volatile couple. The presumed echoes of their own turbulent relationship lending extra spice to proceedings. Despite his brilliant turn as hen-pecked George, Burton missed out on an Oscar. A deliciously slattern Taylor on the other hand deservedly picked up an Academy Award for her portrayal of Martha.

It's a great film but what of the soundtrack? Or to be more precise, what of the soundtracks - because, unusually, there were two of them. The music from the flick was issued as a single LP comprising 11 tracks taken from Alex North’s score. So far, so conventional. However, released separately, was a gatefold double LP (see pic) consisting of the film’s entire dialogue. This spoken word double album is actually shorter than the film as long pauses were excised. The double LP is quite rare and highly sought after by film buffs. I can only imagine that it was released for study purposes, as chilling out to a 2 hour argument is not most people’s idea of a fun night in.