Stanley Kubrick was one of the greatest film directors of all time, his attention to detail and appreciation for music are well documented. In the film A Clockwork Orange, Alex (the protagonist) visits a record shop after a night of ultra violence with his droogies. I’m not sure why, but reviewing the records in the film never crossed my mind until recently. I wrote several essays about Kubrick in college and have always been a vinyl hunter, I’m not sure why I didn’t pay more attention to the record store scene. What surprised me even more was that nobody else has either. I searched the web and consulted a few texts I had on Kubrick and the best I could find was John Coulthart’s blog, in which he identifies 12 records visible in the scene.
Kubrick was aware of every aspect of his films, everything was intentional and had meaning. I thought the albums selected to be visible would probably carry some sort of commentary or insight into the themes of the film, unfortunately I have not been able to identify every record in the shop, but it does not appear that the records were purposefully selected. The shop used in the film was the Chelsea Drug Store in London, and it was a record store during the time filming, which was between September of 1970 and April of 1971. As you can see from the albums I identified from the film below, most are from 1970 or 1971, suggesting that they were just pulled from the shelves of the drug store. It is interesting that two records are present in two parts the scene, Pink Floyd’s Atom Heart Mother (released in October of 1970) and two different versions of the 2001 A Space Odyssey soundtrack. Looking at the tracks on Atom Heart Mother, a few stand out – Breast Milky, Mind Your Throats Please and Remergence, which broadly follow the plot of the film. Another interesting detail is the Magical Mystery Tour album (number 34 on the list) was not released in the UK until 1976, but released in the US in 1968, this seems to indicate the selection may have been a bit more intentional.
The following are the albums I could identify, I hope to be able label them all at some point (any help would be appreciated). There appears to be 42 visible albums throughout the scene, I was able to identify 28 (well 16, plus the 12 from John). The Discogs database was a tremendous resource in this effort, I filtered the results by LP’s from 1970 or 1971 that were pressed in the UK, this cut the search from 600,000 to about 8000 albums. I paged through the cover images looking for matches, often only partial elements of the cover were visible in the film. Even if there isn’t some larger hidden meaning with the albums in the Clockwork record store, geeking out and collecting the albums in the film could be fun.
1) Canned Heat – Livin’ the Blues ($13) – 1969
2) Keef Hartley Band – The Time is Near ($14) – 1970
5) Area Code 615 – Trip in the Country ($20) – 1970
6) Freedom – Freedom ($30) – 1970
7) New York Rock Ensemble – Roll Over ($4) – 1970
8) Pink Floyd – Atom Heart Mother ($15) – 1970
9) Various – Rock Buster ($4) – 1970
11) Tim Buckley – Lorca ($10) – 1970
12) Incredible String Band – U ($8) – 1970
13) Johnny Winter – First Winter ($16) – 1970
14) Iron Butterfly with Pinera & Rhino – Metamorphosis ($22 or $2) – 1970
15) Rare Bird – As Your Mind Flies By ($44) – 1970
16) Rare Earth – Get Ready ($10) – 1969
17) Liverpool Scene – Heirloon ($20) – 1970
18) Tangerine Peel – Soft Delights ($50) – 1970
19) Hot Hits 2 ($3) 1970
22) 2001 A Space Odyssey Soundtrack ($5) 1968
23) Troubadours Du Roi Baudouin, Les – Missa Luba ($2) – 1965
24) Stray – Stray ($21) – 1970