Soundtracks on Vinyl: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (Reissue) (Reviewed)

In 1992, David Lynch took what many perceived as a nose dive with his instantly successful but sadly short lived television phenomenon Twin Peaks.  After an abrupt cancellation which ended the series on an unresolved cliffhanger, Lynch emerged with a prequel film that seemed to make everybody angry: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.  All but burned at the stake upon initial release, Fire Walk with Me died a tragically quiet death at the box office and disappeared for over a decade until the release of David Lynch’s TV-pilot-turned-feature-film smash hit Mulholland Drive. 
With a fresh pair of eyes looking on well outside of the controversy it engendered during the initial run, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is now regarded as one of Lynch’s most deeply affecting works with a powerful central performance by Sheryl Lee.  The renewed love for Twin Peaks and David Lynch sparked something people never thought would happen and still seems impossible now: a third season of the show was in the works with Lynch’s full participation almost twenty years after the show ended.  Despite the passing of actor Frank Silva (BOB), nearly everyone came back to Twin Peaks along with many new faces.

As the long awaited third season of the beloved television series Twin Peaks prepares to debut on the small screen later this year coupled with renewed interest in all things David Lynch, it was only a matter of time before the ever popular Death Waltz Recording vinyl releasing company would reunite with mondotees to put together a special limited vinyl reissue of Angelo Badalamenti’s astonishing original score for the much maligned but now revered cinematic prequel, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me.   

Easily this listener’s personal favorite Lynch offering and inarguably one of Badalamenti’s greatest original soundtracks for a film, Badalamenti’s mixture of jazz, ambience and atmospheric electronica picks up where the second season of the show left off and over the course of the film’s running time manages to transcend the compositions of the show itself.  Like the show itself, the film and Badalamenti’s score form an eclectic smorgasbord of of soft jazz, easy listening and stark, atonal terror.  You’re never sure where Badalamenti and Lynch are going to take you, making some of the subtler cues in the score that much more haunting.  The opening cue itself is truly an amazing piece of work and inarguably one of the best horror movie themes in living memory, forecasting a kind of requiem that initially feels seductive but with a sinister edge.

Initially released on compact disc and vinyl by Warner Brothers in 1992, the long out of print soundtrack on vinyl could be found on eBay going in the hundreds with staunch Lynch collectors hanging onto their copies for dear life.  Thankfully and at least temporarily, that kind of buyer/scalper bidding war can come to a stop for a short time with this newly remastered 180 gram double vinyl repressing.  Produced by Death Waltz under the total supervision and approval of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti, this newly remastered edition created from the original master tapes at Warner Archive easily is the best the soundtrack for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me has ever sounded on any home audio format.

One thing owners of the 1992 vinyl will notice about this new limited edition is the layout.  As the 1992 edition consisted of a single two-sided platter with all the tracks crammed onto both sides, this new edition recuts and separates the tracks over two vinyls, offering listeners a slightly more nuanced listen and easier ability to move between tracks.  While both vinyls offered an interior gatefold, this new edition includes a specially designed slipcover with reprinted lyrics and a newly written essay by BBC film critic Mark Kermode, one of the only critics defending the film back in 1992 against an ocean of dissent.   

Back to the remastering job, having listened to the compact disc countless times over the years, hearing the opening cue on vinyl for the first time was an overwhelming sonic experience.  Bass levels come across very strong with greater depth than previously and the sharp percussive sounds of drums and cymbals have never been clearer.  One of my favorite tracks on the album is when Kiefer Sutherland and Chris Isaak are at the diner, Don’t Do Anything (I Wouldn’t Do).  A soft, ghostly mixture of piano, drums and the xylophone, bass levels thunderously reverberate throughout the speakers and reach depths I haven’t heard since seeing the film itself in 35mm last year.   

Another standout is the Julee Cruise track Questions in a World of Blue which washes heavy synth tones, clarinets and bass over the listener.  Though this track would later resurface on a standalone Cruise album, The Voice of Love, this is the first time hearing this track on vinyl and now feel I’ve been closer to the original studio recording than was previously available.  As Cruise’s angelic vocals bleed into the ambience and heavy bass, you feel yourself slowly becoming organically overwhelmed with sound, almost to an infinitesimal degree.  It’s an incredible piece of music and vocals that come through as loud and clear as possible here.

Fans of Twin Peaks should absolutely rejoice over this lovely package Death Waltz and Mondotees put together, though owners of the 1992 release might be encouraged to hang onto what they have if only for the collectible posterity.  Those hankering for the album on vinyl for as long as I have however should consider this an essential purchase and important companion piece to the television soundtrack vinyl released by Death Waltz and Mondo last year.  Sadly that Twin Peaks vinyl sold out almost instantly and only wealthy collectors have been able to get their hands on it.  That said, if you have the means and it’s still available, Angelo Badalamenti’s score for Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is a definite must for any soundtrack collector and for my money represents the composer at the peak of his powers, taking listeners on a monumentally powerful sonic journey that is positively unforgettable!


 - Andrew Kotwicki