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My Musical White Whale.

The Big Trouble in Little China Soundtrack!

Last night marked the end of a tradition of mine that's been going on for roughly fourteen years - I finally found a copy of the "Big Trouble in Little China" soundtrack. Now before you go telling me how easy it is to find a copy online, allow me to explain. I enjoy the hunt. In a time when finding just about anything we could possibly want is only a few mouse clicks away, the thrill of tracking down something you've long desired has been diminished. Also, it may date me a bit, but when it comes to music and movies, I'm not a big fan of digital downloads either. I like having something tangible to hold in my hands; I appreciate good packaging design and often consider it like purchasing a small piece of artwork. You just don't get that with an mp3 file.

So about fourteen years ago, I decided I needed to own a copy of the Big Trouble in Little China soundtrack, because I loved the movie and had always been a huge fan of John Carpenter's music (and before you ask, yes... I promise I'll write a feature article on the movie sometime because it's my all-time favorite flick). At first, I figured it wouldn't take long to find in a store, but it turned out the album had long been out of print and no places had it in stock. I soon came to realize that this search wouldn't be something I could occasionally remember to do if I wanted to track it down, so I made up my mind that any time I was in a store that carried film soundtracks, I would always take the time to search for this one album before leaving. When eBay came into the picture, the Big Trouble in Little China soundtrack was one of the first things I considered buying on there, but for some reason, with this one item, it felt like I would be cheating myself if I acquired it that way. So, the search continued for many years...

Last night, at my favorite music / movie store in the world (Amoeba), my long search finally came to an end when I found the Big Trouble in Little China soundtrack for only 9 bux. It's such a weird feeling when you finally track down an item that's eluded you for ages. Every time I went to a music store, I would practically roll my eyes as I scoured through the miscellaneous "B" soundtrack section, as if I was telling myself, "Yeah right, you're never gonna find that album." When I actually saw it there on the rack, I did a double-take, said "holy crap!" out loud and then grabbed the album as fast as I could, as if I actually believed somebody else was in the store at 10:30pm looking to snatch up a copy of this old soundtrack. But it was real... I found the soundtrack and I couldn't be happier about it.

The other thing I love about hunting for things out in the real world is the other things I stumble onto during my search... things I never knew existed or had simply forgotten about long ago. Stumbling onto those kind of things rarely happens when I'm searching for a specific item on eBay since those queries only return exact results. That's simply not the case when you're rummaging through a store filled with loads of random CDs and DVDs or a flea market.

If you prefer digital downloads, much like Bobby Brown, that's your prerogative, but I am curious... do any of you have your own white whale of music, movies, games, toys or something else that you've been seeking for ages? If so, tell us about what lengths you've gone to find these elusive items and if you actually managed to track 'em down.

Also, hit the jump to see one reason why this soundtrack is so awesome.

Yep, John Carpenter and his band, the Coupe de Villes, made a music video for the movie. Isn't that one of the most gloriously eighties things your face has ever been exposed to? We got biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig trouble... in little China! Gotta love it.


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Ex Leper on 04/05/2011 1:21 pm

I like to hunt for psychical copies as well. Most recently I snagged a copy of Crispin Glover's CD "The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be".

While I do own iPods, I use them for specific reasons. My older iPod video contains all of my Halloween and Christmas Music, and my newer iPod touch is exclusively for songs that were only released digitally or never officially released.


Shane Skekel (Guest) on 04/05/2011 2:49 pm

I have to agree with you on this. As much as I have to emulate hard-to-find games, and download MP3s. Owning a physical copy has a certain kind of satisfaction level, and copyright owners won't bitch as often. In addition, with these download services, they'll pull something down due to either poor sales or offensive content, which often results in having to pirate it.

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10,000 Volt Ghost on 04/05/2011 2:49 pm

Its so much of a better feeling finding a copy of something.


Matija (Guest) on 04/05/2011 4:13 pm

I wanted to buy MadWorld for Wii as soon as it came out, but in Zagreb (Croatia), where I live, no one was selling it. I went to every place that was selling games of any kind. They never heard of that game. I thought they were kidding me but no, they were looking at me like I fell from Mars. Needless to say I was pissed. After two years I've finally found it but I didn't have enough money to buy it. I just hope that nobody buys it before I manage to get some money.
Still, this can't measure with your 14-year hunt :P


Zawmbie (Guest) on 04/05/2011 5:24 pm

When I was child, I had a copy of a horrible video game for the NES called "Dragon Power." I can't remember the circumstances, but I found that I no longer had it when I was about 13. I later came to learn that Dragon Power was one of the few Dragon Ball series games that were brought over to the US. (This was before a new Dragon Ball game was released every year.)

One year ago though, I had managed to find a copy of Dragon Power sitting on the shelf of a giant 2nd hand store I visited. Needless to say, I snatched it up and bought it without any consideration to it's price.


Captain Morgan (Guest) on 04/05/2011 5:35 pm

I am absolutely with you. Unless it's for review purposes or the sake of extreme expediency, I absolutely prefer purchases of CDs (I also worship Amoeba).

I just recently scored a copy of SLC Punk on DVD. Before that I only had the VHS version. You could not believe my elation.

Stick with the hunt man, I'll be there with you.


captain five-sixteen (Guest) on 04/05/2011 5:38 pm

You're preaching to the choir here.
I agree with everybody above me that owning the physical version of something is better than just scans or avis or mp3s. Holding the real deal in your hands is an awesome feeling, just knowing that it's yours is even better. Searching flea markets and swap meets and thrift stores for old, obscure stuff, despite what my friends and family think, is also fun.
But I rolled my eyes when you said you could've easily gotten the thing from ebay and instead went searching for it on foot. What if you never found it?


ColdFusion (Guest) on 04/05/2011 5:52 pm

The only thing I can say against physical media is you have to insert them every time you wanna watch/listen.. I bought HomestarRunner DVDs, and they're great, but I'm not gonna go search for the disk I want when I wanna watch a toon with commentary..
However you definitely have a point, and I'm hella happy for you finding that :D

my current white whale, appropriately enough, is Yellow Submarine.. the DVD they printed out briefly before discovering they didn't have the rights to it. *bonk!*


Mr.Bananular (Guest) on 04/05/2011 6:10 pm

I've been looking everywhere for Smashing Pumpkin's first album (Gish) and an unused copy of RUSH's "Farewell To Kings". I'm still looking for them. Though, I did find them once at a Second Spin store, I didn't have money on me. I have never been able to find them since. Also, any Shabutie EPs. I've hunted Shabutie both online and offline, either finding them too expensive or finding them gone before I could bid.


AC (Guest) on 04/05/2011 8:17 pm

Nice bullshit. How much does the "entertainment" industry pay for this type of marketing?


Ash2Dust (Guest) on 04/05/2011 9:24 pm

I've been on the lookout for Earthbound for the SNES, though not with the determination and fervor that seems to have gone into your quest.


bgdg (Guest) on 04/05/2011 11:15 pm

Spent 15 years looking for the soundtrack to Runaway Train and 20+ years looking for Omar the Vampar. Nothing better than vinyl. I guess Big Trouble in Little China may be my new search.


DMan (Guest) on 04/06/2011 3:40 am

I've been looking for a horror movie with the tagline "Bullets can't stop them" (in the TV ad), featuring some kind of creatures, zombies maybe but not quite. In washed out greenish black/white, might have been 3D? Circa 1973-ish. Very B-grade. Saw the commercials when I was 5 and have wanted to see it ever since. Don't remember the title.


Erofeev (Guest) on 04/06/2011 6:03 am

I didn't have a debit card until I was like twenty. For the longest time when I was a teenager I was trying to track down a recording of Zeus und Elida. It's an opera, or an operetta, or a musical grotesque or whatever from the 1920s by a guy named Wolpe, about the god Zeus descending straight down into Berlin traffic and falling in love with a prostitute who he thinks is the beautiful woman on a billboard advertising the fragrance Elida. I think at the end he goes on trial for something or another and gets thrown into prison. In general it's kind of a comedy but for some reason there's a crushingly depressing (judging by the lyrics) song called Voices From The Mass Grave somewhere in the thick of it. I've got no recollection of why I wanted it so bad, I listened to about as much opera as any other kid my age. Something about it was haunting me, I guess.

I haven't thought about that in years. I looked it up and I guess I could download the whole thing off Amazon right now for like ten bucks.

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HowardC on 04/06/2011 8:33 am

I'm actually anti digital download when it comes to music.

It is sheerly a matter of principal. The cost of a digital album and a physical album is roughly the same. But a cd is uncompressed wav while a digital download is almost always compressed. You also get liner notes with a cd that you don't get with digitla files. On top of that, the cost of advertising is included in the price of a cd... they don't advertise digital downloads and yet the cost is the same.

So to summarize:

uncompressed, physical copy with all the extras that I can hold in my hand > crappy compressed, bare-bones, digital download.


rizzo (Guest) on 04/06/2011 11:33 am

My white whale: Even a digital copy of the Band of Brotherz song Riversong. Pretty sure they've never put out an album and they're not on Grooveshark at all.


Frostor (Guest) on 04/06/2011 1:07 pm

I do have a white whale or two, but not for anything media-related. The only reason I lack any media that I would like to own is because of a lack of funds. I don't have any sort of attachment to finding sought items "in the wild" or to physical media. I hate to admit it, but I like instant gratification. I don't go out all that much, and I don't need more objects cluttering my living space, so I like online shopping and digital downloads. It's like how I eat a lot of microwaved food versus cooking: it's not that I can't appreciate the value of effort and higher quality... but when I want to eat, I want to eat NOW. Or, then.

As for specific white whales, it is sometimes hard to find obscure toys from my youth even online. It took me ages to find some Snailiens on eBay, and even then they were unboxed and incomplete. Barnyard Commandos are also hard to come by, and about a million others whose names I can't remember. I did manage to find something I never thought I would a few years ago, though. A tiny Crayola bunny figurine I had had as a young child. The magic of eBay provided me with FOUR of them.


Poop On A Stick (Guest) on 04/06/2011 5:32 pm

great article...

Have never seen the video for that song. It was absolutely horrible, in a good way. The "little Chi-nuh" singer reminded me of Adam Sandler for some reason.

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ryot on 04/06/2011 6:16 pm

I remember a game I rented called "Foxhunt" for the PS1, but it also was released on PC. It's an original game with a cheesy b story element to it. Plus it's all in FMV, one of the first after "Nighttrap". It has three discs, takes up 6 memory blocks and has Rob Lowe in it.

I found it at an old movie store that was going out of business for sale and bought it immediately!! I still haven't beat it...

On another note... I still would love to have and/or play again a game for the Playstation called "Tecmo's Deception". Basically your main goal is to resurrect the devil, and trap people that enter your mansion with some very devastating traps. Brutal stuff, and a very scary game.

Oh btw, John Carpenter's score for Vampires was great, as with most of the movies he makes. :D


Alan (Guest) on 04/06/2011 9:23 pm

I am still looking for the Original Arkham Horror from the 80's and the three Megabug Gladiators (had the spider wheh i was little) but have never seen one or the other on ebay or anywhere else :(

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Blackdrazon on 04/07/2011 12:29 am

Mine was Breath of Fire III, which I played to completion at a friend's house probably over the course of a few years. I don't care what you say, gene combinations to create a huge permutation of dragons, plus a town building segment and Rei in general, just outweighed any flaws in my mind. My friend found the PSP PAL re-release on the shelf, I also said "Holy crap!" and then went to the desk with a probably-too-demanding "PSPs aren't region locked, right?" They are not.


Algonquin J. Calhoun (Guest) on 04/07/2011 12:34 am

I, too, am like you when it comes to tactile pieces of music. Unlike your quest, I found mine years ago: "Rustler's Rhapsody" and "Escape from New York", the former on cassette and the latter on vinyl.
I still own both and glad to be able to pop in the cassette on occassion, but prefer the vinyl to be preserved.

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The_Punk_Hippie on 04/07/2011 2:18 am

Around 1998 or so, my boyfriend at the time introduced me to the awesome world of the Playstation 1, by getting me hooked on Azure Dreams.
This game was only produced for 1 year, & because I wasn't willing to spend $70 on a copy of it (what can I say, I'm cheap), it took me about 5 years to find it - my parents actually found it for me in a game store in the states (I live in Canada)
I played it & all was good, until 2009 when I lost my apartment & everything I left behind in it.
I actually JUST got another copy about a week ago, because I lucked into it at a local used game store.

I don't have any current white whales, but I'm sure it won't be long before I do (like if anything ever happens to my copy of Suikoden II...)

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JoeyJoJoJr on 04/07/2011 9:59 am

I also found my "Big Trouble In Little China" album a few years back in a record store that was going out of business. Got my copy on vinyl record unopened.


kitsu (Guest) on 04/07/2011 11:23 am

Seconding Azure Dreams. God I love that game.


Ahab (Guest) on 04/07/2011 1:10 pm

My white whale is a 1st edition copy of Moby Dick. I keep checking the local flea markets (we have two really good ones here) but nothing ever turns up. I've taken to sailing across the lake to scan what the bookshops carry but we may just be too small market. It's a shame too, because I'd harpoon that book post haste if I could just find it.

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toolz88 on 04/07/2011 5:46 pm

ROG once again you have proven yourself that you are a man of excellent taste.


Trekkie313 (Guest) on 04/09/2011 1:20 am

Oddly enough, Noah Antwilers aka SpoonyOne's favorite movie is also Big Trouble In Little China.


Ian (Guest) on 04/09/2011 10:17 am

Way back in 1992 Nirvana released a tour E.P. called Hormoaning. On that E.P. was a song called "Turnaround" with a writing credit assigned to Mothersbaugh. I assumed it was Mark Mothersbaugh from DEVO but I had never heard that DEVO song before. Using old record books and magazines (there was no internet) I found that it was the B side to the first pressing of Whip It. Once Whip It made it big subsequent 7" were double A sides with Girl U Want. It took me about 4 years of checking at every record store I came across before I finally found the original 7" at a shop in North Miami. Good times!

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Drew Bludd on 04/09/2011 8:20 pm


It's going to be GREAT when you upload those MP3s and send them to me.

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Jony B. Good on 04/10/2011 12:42 pm

The Ninja Turtles! The all 4 original short round bundle. I use to have them and for some stupid reason I gave them away. I have some pics of them i found around the web the I like to watch with my kid. He's always asking what stuff did I play with when I was his age, And i have just pictures to show =(. Also, the very first and original He-man and Skeletor, I never had those. Just some crappy he-man enemies that no one remembers. And no, no one payed me for this (If anything, I wish they payed me with Ninja Turtles and He-Man Action figures)


Raph (Guest) on 04/10/2011 7:00 pm

Well I have a couple of white whales. One of them is a Street Sharks Ripster hand puppet. When I was a kid I always saw it in a store but my parents never got it for me. The show eventually got pulled and the toys were taken off the rack. Four years later I found one but again I was still young and without a job so I couldn't get it. At that point they were going for $11-15 if I remember correctly. Since then I've seen them pop up on eBay which is probably my only resort at this point but they run for $50 or more. I'd rather find it at a flea market to be honest.

There's other stuff as well, games, records, soundtracks, and even things I saw on tv ages ago that I was unable to see again.

One clip I have been searching for years is an MTV bump. At least I think it was an MTV bump it definitely aired on MTV though back in the 90's when actual music videos and animation ruled the channel. Anyway it was about 30 seconds to a minute. It was a cgi short about a guy walking home. He was walking on a street full of buildings at night. It resembled New York, on his way there were obstacles, the only one I remember was a face on a brick wall attempting to bite his head off. Anyway he was walking from left to right on the screen and eventually got home and it ended. All the while either the music from the quartet in Swan Lake was playing or 'Funeral March of a Marionette' pretty sure it was Swan Lake though. No one ever knows what I'm talking about. I've asked on yahoo and other message boards but I never had any luck finding it. If any of you guys know anything about this and think it could help with my search I'd truly appreciate it.

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-RoG- on 04/10/2011 9:50 pm

Very cool seeing what some of your white whales are... best of luck with your continued searches to those of you who haven't found those long lost items yet.

Raph - There actually was a VHS tape that came in a yellow sleeve a while back called "I Want My MTV" and it was a big collection of some of their best promo bumpers - both live and animated. I suggest you track down a copy of that tape, because even if the one you're talking about isn't on there, you'll absolutely love some of the others that they did include. That channel had some brilliant people working for it back in the day. It really was art.


Raph (Guest) on 04/12/2011 12:33 am

Oh man, I hadn't heard about that one. Guess I've got myself a new white whale, I appreciate it very much, Mr. Barr. The channel definitely did have a lot going for it at the time. I personally wish they would release Cartoon Sushi and Liquid Television in its entirety [the vhs compilation doesn't count.] Hell might as well add Idiot Box into the batch while they're at it. Anyway I'll definitely try and get my hands on a copy of 'I Want My MTV.' If'n I do, I'll try to make a digital copy for you unless you already have it. Again, thank you!


The Doctor (Guest) on 04/12/2011 2:33 pm

I had some sort of weird knockoff Transformers toy when I was a kid that turned into a dragon. For years I thought it was an official TF toy (for a bootleg it was pretty good), but never saw it anywhere.

A few years ago on a whim I utilized google-fu and found out that it was indeed a knock-off, but a pretty good and rare one, and that buying a copy would set me back quite a bit. Always on the lookout for one.

On the digital front, I had a Christmas special on tape as a kid that I could never find anywhere. It was simply called "Elves", which is far too vague to google, and I had taped it off the USA network sometime around 1989-1990.

After years of wondering, I finally tracked it down. Turns out it was a dubbed anime called Mori No Tonto Tachi, which is pretty much as obscure as it gets. Other than some youtube clips in Italian and German, so sign of any episodes anywhere on the internet.

But since I know it aired in English in the US, I'm sure that SOMEONE else had it taped, and that sooner or later it will surface in a language I can understand (or at least with subtitles).

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Kat on 04/15/2011 6:49 pm

I have a video game white whale that I still haven't found.

I haven't been looking extremely hard, but I still believe I would explode if I found it at a flea market or something.

It's called "Brave Fencer Musashi". It's s PS1 game I used to play a demo for as a kid. Judging by what I've seen on Ebay, it runs at about 30 dollars. I'm hoping that one of these days I'll pop into a video exchange place and be able to trade it for some of my dead brother's old videogames that I don't like to play.

...the hunt continues.

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toolz88 on 04/17/2011 8:49 am

The Stuff on DVD that is my White Whale


rwwehrthrt (Guest) on 04/18/2011 8:23 am

It's called "Brave Fencer Musashi". It's s PS1 game I used to play a demo for as a kid. Judging by what I've seen on Ebay, it runs at about 30 dollars. I'm hoping that one of these days I'll pop into a video exchange place and be able to trade it for some of my dead brother's old videogames that I don't like to play.


Turrel (Guest) on 04/18/2011 5:15 pm

A physical copy of Soul Reaver. Doesn't matter what system, I just want one. When I was younger, that was the first game I really played through and felt something.

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replicant on 04/19/2011 3:15 pm

My white whale was the soundtrack to Krull - Complete Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. If you look on Someone is selling it new for $125 and used for $54.99. I got it used from a seller for $24.99. It was in mint condition. Most awesome soundtrack.

I am in search of Big Trouble In Little China too.

I really wish there had been an authorized authentic soundtrack for Real Genius, but as far as I know, it never existed. However, you can just do some research and buy the songs on-line - even though I hate this. I too like CDs more than digital file downloading.


aaron (Guest) on 04/20/2011 6:20 pm

I sold that copy of "B.T.I.L.T" CD to Amoeba hollywood 2 weeks ago. That and a few anime its possible you bought my copy of BTILT

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-RoG- on 04/21/2011 12:17 am

Aaron - Are you kidding? I can't imagine many copies of the soundtrack come through there, as I've been going there ever since I moved to LA and hadn't seen one until just recently when I bought it.

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monster_movie_night on 04/24/2011 2:01 am

omg I remembered this movie just didnt know the name of it.I thought that how raiden was created in Mortal Kombat once it came out


squid (Guest) on 05/02/2011 8:25 am

I definitely want to hear more about the other treasures you stumbled upon during your THAT'S a fun tangent!!! :)


Latif (Guest) on 05/02/2011 12:00 pm

Congrats to you Rog!

Ever since 1999, there was this semi obscure graphic novel, BODY BAGS, that I wanted to read but always seemed out of print.
It took 12 years, countless used and new bookstores, and over 4 cities I visited on holiday, until I finally found a spanking new copy of it in a bookstore in Seattle (while visiting my brother no less) just on a random walk in. Never was I happier to lose 10 dollars out of my wallet.


Inferno505 (Guest) on 05/21/2011 7:58 pm

TO EVERYONE SEARCHING FOR BRAVE FENCER MUSASHI. Keep looking, it's worth it. I had the exact same demo disk, PS Underground, And I loved the demo, so I looked for the and, this was during the play station one generation, found it used at a game stop. The game is awesome and defiantly worth having, the music is great, the story and characters and lands are done beautifully, and the action is extremely fun. Its one of the best adventure games I've ever played, full of complex back stories, countless abilities to get, a entire world full of interesting things to find and due. Its thousands of times better than any Zelda game I've ever played. I've never beaten it though,I've (lack of spoilers) due the stuff and gotten the things and learned the stuff and saved the things and all of that to get to the final point where I go to do the thing that I originally set out to do and I am, in final level style, travailing through an area and going to beat the bosses, conveniently waiting in acceding order of evilness, with the the thing that I originally set out to do waiting with the most evil at the end, I can not beat the first one, not the (use of direct content, shield eyes) wall of guns, that I think is part of a flying base if I remember, but the first girl, who makes me (WARNING WORDS AHEAD THAT MAY MAKE YOU FEEL LESS DESIRE TO FIND THE GAME DO NOT READ IF YOU WANT TO FEEL RESOLUTION WHEN YOU FIND IT)play simon says with the four face buttons. It Kills me every time. But in closing, the game is awesome, but I suggest just getting it at any means now because the quest of finding it will only make you sad when you find it because the quest is over.
Also, does anyone remember a game where you are a cave man like child who fights evil pigs, I remember playing it as a kid and being little, found parts of it to fill me with wonder, so I would like to get it again and hopefully not ruin the memories.


Inferno505 (Guest) on 05/21/2011 8:12 pm

HEllo again, sorry for the over use of font effects there, I didn't know it would do that. The game I was looking for was Tomba 2. But also, There was another game, about some red haired person who I think was some ultimate evil, but he feel in love with some girl who I believe put a neckless on him that imprisoned him, but then the girl was captured and he broke his bonds to go and find her. The only game play I member is that it was 2d, and that there was a cave of bats, and for some reason the graphics make me think it was on Sega Saturn. Does anyone know what this game is, it is one I would love to find.


Aaron (Guest) on 06/07/2011 3:47 am

You need to get the 2-disc remastered version that came out a few years back. Unlike the first 2 releases, it has ALL of the music of BTILC. The other 2 didnt even have the airport song! It's still on Amazon for not a bad price.

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