We all have grudges that we hold onto throughout our lives. Some are valid, like family disputes or relationship betrayals, while others are about trivial things that have taken on a conflated importance in our minds as time passes. I’m not sure which category this falls into, but I’m still pissed at my brother for taping over my Howard the Duck soundtrack in the early ’90s. You see, I was on board with the film version of Marvel Comics‘ maladjusted mallard from the start. Seeing the movie (in a nearly empty theater, natch) with my father is one of my prized childhood memories. I loved the weird tonal shifts and how bizarre the events unfolding on screen were. But more than anything, I was obsessed with the film’s music. As a kid who gravitated towards new wave music anyway, the fact that Thomas Dolby — of “She Blinded Me with Science” fame — was the Dark Overlord of the flick’s songs was really appealing to me.
And oh, what songs they were! From the Bowie-referencing, Runaways-esque swagger of “Hunger City” to the movie’s riff on George Clinton/Prince funkiness that was the title track, the Howard the Duck soundtrack was pretty much all I listened to from 1986-88. (It also was a rare piece of merchandise from the film, like its bonkers novelization, and that alone endeared it to me). Yet at some point during my high school years my brother snuck into my room, grabbed the tape, used nail polish remover to erase the song titles on the cassette, and then recorded over it with songs he taped from the radio.
Seeing how I’ve just written nearly 300 words about this trauma, clearly I’m not over this blatant disregard for my childhood music collection. But let the healing commence, as Intrada will be releasing a deluxe 3-CD set of music from the film next month that promises to be the definitive Howard the Duck soundtrack.
Available now for pre-order, this $34.99 set (which is worth every mother-plucking penny if you ask me), contains a treasure trove of music from the film. Here’s the dirty, ducky details:
When MCA Records released the soundtrack on vinyl and cassette, they chose just 40 minutes of music, divided roughly in half between songs and score. Intrada now happily presents all of the music John Barry, Sylvester Levay and Thomas Dolby recorded, spread across 3 CDs, most of it being released for the first time! In addition, that original 1986 MCA album also makes its CD premiere! Howard The Duck was created for Marvel Comics by Steve Gerber in 1973. Star Wars filmmaker George Lucas produced with his friends Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz. Heck also scripted and directed. Lea Thompson, Jeffrey Jones, Tim Robbins star alongside Howard, who later rose to contemporary CGI fame courtesy Marvel/Disney’s Guardians Of The Galaxy films. To present this gargantuan score, all of it in stereo, including all of the alternates and rewrites, Intrada was provided access to the complete session masters for all three musical artists, including 2” 24-track, 1/2” 3-channel and 1/4” 2-track stereo elements preserved in the Universal vaults in beautiful condition.
It is mind-blowing to think that these unheard tracks and other aural treasures are finally unearthed. And so it seems like the Howard the Duck redemption tour is finally completed. It only took 33 years, but it seems like the world finally knows that if it ain’t funk you don’t feel it.