Our Ten Favorite Sexy, Swinging Porno Soundtracks (NSFW)

Categories: Lists

It was a night of porn like no other.

Before relocating to Arizona I did a night shift at KUNC, a public radio station in Fairbanks, Alaska. Broadcasts occasionally adopted a theme and one show was devoted to '70s soundtracks. My friend Nathan, who has the most eclectic taste in music, frequently joined me at the station. For this theme show he brought some special recordings.

"I've got a nice collection of porn," he said --or something to this nature-- opening his shoulder bag to reveal a deep stack of vintage porno soundtracks. As the warm sounds of porn filled the airwaves on a cold winter night, Alaska's citizens were none the wiser.

Would they have come pounding on the studio door to drag off into the night had they realized it was the theme to Deep Throat they were snuggling to by the fireside? We didn't hide the fact of what we were playing, but let's just say it wasn't overly advertised either.

As track after track spun, Nathan and I both agreed that modern porn soundtracks just don't stand up to the golden era of porn, the 1970s. Back then, the music was part of the movie, a compliment to the action, something that helped set the pace and give rise to what was happening around (and to) the actors. This old school porn music fit precisely in the era with strings, vibes and horns and tasty groove, and didn't try to circumvent it or be something it wasn't. Think about it: Imagine the chase scene in Bullitt with Steve McQueen racing his Mach 1 through San Francisco if it was set to some repetitive poppy number made with synthesizers and tacky guitar leads? It wouldn't have worked. Instead, musical scores were racy and added to the tension--pushed the pulse higher. Vintage porn soundtracks did the same thing.

That's not to say any porn soundtrack is the equivalent of anything from Lalo Schifrin, the composer of the Bullitt soundtrack and hundreds of others, but at least there was an effort to make porn music seem legit and quantifiable. Take away the movie and much of this music was still good to spin at a party.

Today's porn soundtracks just seem to be lacking. Considering almost every kink is covered by the porn industry, one would figure that the music would be creative: industrial metal for bondage flicks, girl pop for lesbian scenes (or riot grrrls rock for lesbian bondage). Instead, we find frighteningly smooth jazz that makes Kenny G sound like Coltrane,'80s new wave synths, badder than bad rock, horrific metal, and lifeless pop that demands the sound be lowered. Even the porn scores made in 2006 by Eddie Van Halen--yes, that Eddie Van Halen--fall prey to cliché kitsch. In fact, one song seems better suited for something on AMC, while the other track is no better than one of those tedious scenes when the actors pretend to develop a storyline before the sex begins. It's where everyone hits the fast forward button.

(This also brings up the question of whether porn should have soundtracks. Given the, uh, vocal nature of the actors, shouldn't that be sufficient? Well, let's leave that for another column.)

Getting back to the heyday of the porn soundtrack, there are quite a few good ones out there. Many have been reissued on CD; some remain vinyl rarities, but put one on at a party and see if the room gets all hot and steamy. Probably it won't, but some foot tapping or break dancing just might ensure.

Here's a list of 10 vintage porn soundtracks and compilations that would be a fine addition to any music collection. And, you never know, but they just might help you score.

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