Thursday, January 31, 2013

"The Empire Strikes Back" Read-Along Record - 1980

In February of 1980, I turned ten years old.  Three months later, “The Empire Strikes Back” was released in theaters for the first time.  I was already way into “Star Wars”, and my best friend’s mom took he and I to see the new movie. They lived right next door, and he (Shawn) was a couple of years younger than me. Not that that has anything to do with anything, but he was one of my “Star Wars” buddies. I believe most kids at that time were into the “Star Wars” craze. Saturday morning cartoon breaks were riddled with commercials for the latest "Star Wars" toys... so like a lot of kids, I had a lot of "Star Wars" merchandise.

In this post I recall a particular “Star Wars” item from my memory, which I had nearly forgotten about -- a read-along record of "The Empire Strikes Back". There’s no particular reason I remember this thing… no great tale to tell. Just having a flashback here, to a time before there was a trilogy... before there was VHS or DVDs... before there was cable TV... before there was an internet... and Yoda and Tauntauns were still pretty new to me.

blue portable record player
Exhibit A.
TESB read-along record
Exhibit B.
So it’s 1980. I’m ten years old, sitting on my bedroom floor (of sky blue carpet), indian-style, in front of a small blue portable record player (see Exhibit A.)... it might even be around Christmas-time... listening to a small record I just got, while reading an equally small booklet that accompanies it (see Exhibit B.). There’s probably even a plush Chewbacca lying somewhere nearby.  "Big deal.", you might say. Well, this is how kids, at that time, got to experience the movie, over and over again (aside from going to the theater, over and over again). You could experience it at home, in about 15 minutes time, depending on how long it took you to flip the record over.
I don't think I have seen nor heard this record since I was ten. Funny, listening to it now (through the video below)... it probably never occurred to me (in 1980), that the voices were not the actors from the film. The voice-overs are not too far off, as far as sounding similar to the actors... although Han is a little over-the-top. I remember the scene of Vader’s confession giving me the shivers. How dramatic! C’mon... I was ten.

And here it is, in its entirety (Side A and Side B)… “The Empire Strikes Back” (sort of), executed in 15-16 minutes. Although this is a cassette version, the booklet images and the audio are identical to the 1980 product.

These are not my videos, but the memory is.

“The Empire Strikes Back” Read-Along Record - Side A  

“The Empire Strikes Back” Read-Along Record – Side B