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Death and Horror – Yes Folks its Volume 13 in the BBCs Sound Effects Vinyl Records and Tapes Series

bbc sound effects death and horror vinyl record front cover

Tis the season to hide behind the sofa quivering and glimpse a cackling witch fly across a full moon. In the spirit of things that go bump in the night and all things a bit weird – I thought we’d take a deeper look at this record – Sound Effects No 13 – Death and Horror.

Firmly sitting in the novelty record section, the first thing that comes to mind when I see a horror sound effects record is why and who would buy records like this? Through the lens of today, on one hand you find yourself thinking the marketplace must have been made up of Jeffrey Dahmer on one end and prepubescent boys in their bedrooms on the other. Clearly folks dug this sort of thing, so let’s take a closer look.

History Of Death and Horror Volume 13

Wonderfully positioned as number 13th in the series and released in 1977, Death & Horror is a landmark record within the BBC‘s Sound Effects records range. Principally aimed towards amateur film makers, dramatics societies, theatres and sound effects enthusiasts this series was phenomenally popular. In many respects this record was pitched at the YouTube equivalent of the content creation generation of the Seventies, perhaps things aren’t as different today as we sometimes think. Even more surprising is how large and involved this niche of records was. When you look at the effort that went into marketing and making this record you realise how vibrant the sector must have been.

Charting in The Top 100 UK Albums this remarkable recording drew considerable demand in the marketplace. We must of course bare in mind this is when vinyl records shifted in serious numbers so it makes it even more surprising that a sound effects record managed to hit the heights of the album charts given what is was competing against.

Partly driving the demand for the record was the genre and controversy that surrounded this release. Condemned at the time by the campaigner Mary Whitehouse as being outrageously irresponsible and violent the release was actually pulled from sale for a period. This no doubt fanned the flames of demand and mean’t a huge queue of buyers were waiting with their hard earned cash when the record went back on sale.

Sir Christopher Lee Hammer House Of Horror

The horror niche also fuelled interest for this release. Horror has always had a strong allure and in the Seventies the Horror genre was at its height with films like the Exorcist released in 1974 and the Hammer House of Horror series fanning the flames of the publics consciousness.

How Does The Recording Sound and Play

Listening to the record is a giggle as there are elements that do sound, shall we say, somewhat amateur now. This though adds to its overall charm and its quintessential Britishness. There are also some seriously impressive components – the Monster and Animals section is outstanding. When considering the technology the engineers were working with it is astonishing the results that they achieved. The organic quality of each and every sound is a real testament to its appeal. We lack this kind of reality in todays sonic effects universe. Many BBC productions of the time were genuinely scary and monumentally creative. Series like Blake 7, Doctor Who and the Ghost Stories For Christmas had a gritty and unnerving quality that kept the public petrified. The creativity of those productions is clearly evident in this record and was obviously part of BBC DNA.

BBC Sound Effects - Death and Horror Vinyl Record Rear Cover

Many of the records elements were drawn from the depths of the BBC’s archive while others were made uniquely for the recording. The BBC producer Mike Harding was the mastermind behind the Sound Effects series and no doubt saw and understood the instant commercial value of the BBC archive in the amateur and enthusiast marketplace.

As a piece of social history and on its own merit this record is as wonderful as it is deliciously weird. Andrew Prewitt was responsible for the cover artwork which is a real delight and has echoes for me of Dracula Annuals which scared the pants off me as a child. Another rather natty thing about this wax is hidden until you hold it up to an intense light – and yes folks, it glows blood red! How awesome is that?

1980s Dracula Annual

It would be easy to dismiss this recording but as ever with the obscure when you take time to look you discover something special. You can find Death and Horror within our novelty records section, but be careful……… its horrifying.

Colin Davenport