Real Gone Music has recently given soundtrack lovers and vinyl aficionados something to talk about with two new color vinyl reissues of turn-of-the-millennium soundtracks: Music from Vanilla Sky (on “blue cloud” vinyl) and Orange County: The Soundtrack (on orange vinyl). The plots of both films are tied to the music within. The soundtrack for the far-out Vanilla Sky shifts moods and tones while maintaining some sense of cohesion as it takes listeners from classic rock to folk, trance and hip-hop. Meanwhile, Orange County‘s soundtrack is more of a music time capsule of the late-’90s and early ’00s rock and hip-hop scene, which underscores a tale of an O.C. surfer kid as he tries to get into Stanford University. While the two releases serve as an audio document their visual counterparts, like all good soundtracks, they work also well as a standalone listening experience.
One of the best soundtrack creators is Cameron Crowe, whose music journalism background informs his meticulously crafted fusions of story and sound. Indeed, his selections for Music from Vanilla Sky reflect the waking-dreamlike quality of the film. The 2001 psychological thriller, itself loosely based on Alejandro Amenábar’s Abre los ojos (Open Your Eyes), explores the impermanence of memory, perception, time, and space. It follows the recollections of a real estate magnate (Tom Cruise) who attempts to recall the details of a debilitating car crash, ultimately finding that the divisions between dream and nightmare, and reality and fiction, are not as rigid as they seem. Like the film, the soundtrack changes moods often. Crowe and soundtrack co-producer Danny Bramson include classics and new tracks that span several different genres, including a good dose of the atmospheric.
Music from Vanilla Sky kicks off with R.E.M.’s “All the Right Friends.” Originally prepared during the band’s first sessions, the band re-recorded the song especially for the soundtrack. The uptempo jangly accompaniment underscores a dour lyric about someone who seems to have it all. Another track recorded especially for the film is its title song, “Vanilla Sky” by Paul McCartney. The Academy Award-nominated track picks up on the same hypnotic and atmospheric vibe that propels Radiohead’s “Everything in Its Right Place,” another highlight of Side One, then leads into another swirling acoustic guitar-driven number, Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hill.” The side closes with a rocking number sung by Cameron Diaz, who plays the film’s antagonist, Julie Gianni. The song was written by Crowe’s then-wife Nancy Wilson of Heart, who also composed the score for the film. Her “Elevator Beat” also features on Music From Vanilla Sky.
The second side opens with a classic track that featured in Abre los ojos, The Monkees’ dramatic and psychedelic “Porpoise Song,” before slipping into another musical mood with electronica pieces by Looper and Leftfield featuring Afrika Bambaatas. Red House Painters’ “Have You Forgotten,” meanwhile, marks a return to the the slower, acoustic aesthetic that marked the first side. The emotive, lengthy ballad features a laid-back accompaniment of acoustic guitars and a jangly lead that at times recalls Dylan’s “Not Dark Yet.” The highlight of side three is a similarly chilled-out track called “Svefn-G-Englar,” by Sigur Ros. Swirling guitars and electric piano provide the backdrop for an gorgeous vocal that build along with the accompaniment for nearly ten minutes. The track, named after the Icelandic word for “sleepwalkers” perfectly epitomizes the half-awake, spaced-out tone of the film. Following it are two more songs that illustrate the end of a relationship: Jeff Buckley’s rocking “Last Goodbye,” and Todd Rundgren’s “Can We Still Be Friends.”
Side Four kicks off with Bob Dylan’s “Fourth Time Around,” as recorded live at Manchester Free Trade Hall in May of 1966. Crowe then transitions to a somber acoustic guitar and synth track called “Elevator Beat,” composed by Nancy Wilson. Nest up is another R.E.M. track, “Sweetness Follows,” which combines brooding cello, organ, and acoustic guitar to great effect. Closing out the set is the jaunty and hypnotic “Where Do I Begin.” Its repetitive vocal line and simple guitar riff lay the groundwork for a slow and subtle build into a full rock groove. Over its nearly 7 minutes, the track weaves dynamically from one mood to another with an array of synth textures.
By combining newer songs and stone-cold classics from different genres, Crowe and company were able to create a soundtrack that perfectly reflects the mercurial film. But it also serves as an excellent standalone listening experience, even without seeing the scenes unfold on-screen. The visual elements of Real Gone’s release — which is strictly limited to 1,000 copies — are similarly striking. Both discs are pressed on “blue cloud” colored vinyl and the deluxe gatefold sleeve, newly designed by Tom D. Kline, features stills from the film and credits for the songs. The music itself was cut to vinyl by John Golden at Golden Mastering.
Altogether, Real Gone’s new vinyl presentation of Music From Vanilla Sky is a welcome addition to any soundtrack lover’s music library, and it brings the soundtrack back to vinyl for the first time since 2002. With eclectic selections old and new, it’s a creative and compelling music experience with a beautiful presentation, to boot.
If early-2000s rock and hip-hop is more your scene, Real Gone’s new vinyl edition of Orange County: The Soundtrack has plenty, from Cake, Quarashi, and The Offspring to Pete Yorn, Phantom Planet, and Foo Fighters. The 2002 film is a tale of an Orange County resident (played by Colin Hanks) who gets into Stanford University, only to leave academia to be with his girlfriend on the beach. For its vinyl debut, Real Gone Music has pressed the soundtrack onto two discs of orange-colored vinyl, placed in a deluxe gatefold sleeve full of stills from the movie. brings the soundtrack album to vinyl for the first time ever with this release.
The soundtrack opens with “Defy You,” a track that was recorded especially for the soundtrack by Orange County legends The Offspring. The rollicking credo of youth and vitality is followed by a 1998 live recording of “Story of My Life” by Social Distortion, which chronicles high school antics and failed love interests, and reflects of the impermanence of those blissful youthful days. Another track written for the film is Foo Fighters’ “The One,” an angsty, angry rock number that hit No. 20 on Billboard‘s Rock chart in 2002. Side One closes with Cake’s “Shadow Stabbing”
One of the highlights of the second side is Brian Wilson’s “Lay Down Burden,” a late-career ballad about loneliness that was originally dedicated to his brother, Carl. Its lush strings and horns provide a counterpoint to the mostly rock-fueled soundtrack. Side Three marks a return to the raucous, high-energy late-’90s rock with Quarashi’s “Stick Em ‘Up,” a boisterous rocker with industrial influences that underscore a rapid-fire rap lead. The side closes with an emotive piano ballad by Pete Yorn called “Lose You,” a slice of beautiful pop songwriting that builds into a layered but understated organ and synth finale.
Side Four, meanwhile, spotlights the rock ballad. It kicks off with the uptempo but reflective “Under the Tracks” by San Francisco indie rockers Creeper Lagoon, followed by another Brian Wilson track, his trademark solo song “Love and Mercy,” and then an iconic early ’00s rock track: Phantom Planet’s “California.” The original CD included a hidden track of jangly rock called “Hello” by Sugarbomb. Although not listed in press materials or on the back cover, the 2001 song is part of the LP program.
All the songs, whether consistently heavy or pleasantly dynamic, sound great on Real Gone’s new, two-disc vinyl pressing, which is limited to only 700 copies. The presentation is also visually enticing, from the creamsicle-hued orange vinyl to the deluxe gatefold sleeve filled that’s with production stills and song credits. In all, it’s another excellent addition to any soundtrack lover’s record collection; a great collection of ’90s and early 2000s rock and pop that’s new to vinyl!
Music from Vanilla Sky and Orange County: The Soundtrack are available now in strictly limited editions from Real Gone Music. You can find copies on the label’s website, or from the Amazon links below!