Category: 80s movies

Echo & The Bunnymen “People Are Strange” from The Lost Boys soundtrack, 1987. 12″ single, UK import, 1988/1991 release. “People Are Strange” is, of course, a Doors cover that Echo & The Bunnymen recreated rather faithfully (and Ray Manzarek produced) for the opening sequence to one of my favorite 80′s movies. (Back in the day rumor had it that one of the punks filmed on the Santa Cruz streets was one of our friends who had run away to California, but I’ve never been able to spot him in any of the scenes). The B-side has three more covers, recorded live, that are slightly less faithful to their originals though still quite respectful, all great and Echo’d up: “Paint It Black” (Rolling Stones), “Run, Run, Run” (Velvet Underground) and “Friction” (Television). That last song in particular is notable because I’m not a big Television fan but Echo & The Bunnymen’s cover is hard-driving (well, to be fair, the original is as well), melodic and a bit Talking Head-ish with notes of neo-psychedelia thrown in. These three tracks, along with “People Are Strange” also appear on Echo & The Bunnymen’s 1988 EP New Live and Rare; the live songs were recorded in Sweden for a radio show in April 1985. 

“The Breakfast Club” soundtrack, released on this date, February 19th, 1985. The Breakfast Club (released on Feb. 15th, 1985) was one of the most acclaimed – and successful – movies of the 80′s. A John Hughes film, it’s considered one of the greatest films of all time and in 2016 was selected by the Library of Congress to be included in the US National Film Registry. It certainly was one of the most important movies to me in the 80′s. I’ve probably seen it close to 50 times, 40 of those in ‘85 and ‘86 alone. In ‘85 I was finishing my last months of the hellscape that was 8th grade and the pain, bullying, clique-ish social structure that rots teenage life was depicted with glorious accuracy in the movie. While I didn’t specifically identify with any of the archetypes depicted in the film (princess, outcast, geek, jock, delinquent), I definitely empathized strongly with each one by degrees – parental and peer pressure exerted on all of them and the desire to flip-off that authority. 

The soundtrack, though…not that great. John Hughes’ film Pretty in Pink from 1986 had an amazing soundtrack – one of the best, actually – but with the exception of the hit single by Simple Minds “Don’t You Forget About Me” (released on Feb. 20th, 1985) and, to a much lesser degree, Wang Chung’s “Fire In the Twilight,” the rest of the album is totally forgettable. (I do kinda like Karla DeVito’s “We Are Not Alone” mainly because of the sequence that it plays over during the film). “Don’t You Forget About Me” plays during one of the most iconic moments in 80′s film history at the end of the film (Bender fist-pumping the air) and almost 35 years later the track still gives me all the feels. The song was offered by writers Keith Forsey and Steve Schiff (Nina Hagen band) to many other bands after Simple Minds initially declined to record it. Finally, after pressure from Jim Kerr’s wife Chrissie Hynde, Simple Minds agreed and it ended up being their biggest hit ever going to #1 in the US and #7 in the UK. 

“Dirty Dancing” soundtrack, 1987. Starting off the New Year with some major guilty pleasure listening (some of it so very very bad that it’s great). Dirty Dancing was a massive smash; the album spent 18 weeks at the top of the Billboard 200 album chart while the movie, starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, became the  first film to sell more than a million copies for home video after a wildly successful theater run. 

My friends and I loved Dirty Dancing back in ‘87, the sexy dancing, the drama, not putting Baby in the corner, etc. I guess by default we also fell in love with the film’s music, though we mocked many of the songs relentlessly. The first single from the soundtrack, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” is a sappy soft rock duet by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes that went to #1 and won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award and a Grammy. The second single, “Hungry Eyes” by Eric Carmen, went to #4. Back in ‘87 the rumor was that it was written after Carmen saw the way that Jennifer Grey looked at Patrick Swayze during the filming of Dirty Dancing. I hate to break this to my friends, but the song was actually written back in ‘84 by John DeNicola and Franke Previte, long before Grey ever set her hungry eyes on Swayze. But it was the third single from the film that inspired most of our mirthful ridicule: “She’s Like the Wind” performed by Patrick Swayze (he cowrote it back in ‘84 with Stacy Widelitz and it was originally intended for the movie Grandview, USA). Oh it so very very bad, an over the top schmalzy and dramatic 80′s power ballad. People loved it, though, and it went to #3 on the Hot 100 and to #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts (though I doubt most of those adult contemporaries listened to it while driving around with a bunch of teenagers hanging their heads out the window so that their hair could be like the wind. That was probably just us). A few of the songs on the soundtrack are great classics, originally released long before the late 80′s. “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes is classic Wall of Sound Phil Spector production from 1963. “Hey Baby” by Bruce Channel is late 50′s/early 60′s rock-n-roll, harmonica front and center, from 1961 and hit #1 on the Hot 100 chart. “Love Is Strange,” performed by Mickey and Sylvia, was written by Bo Diddley who first recorded it in ‘56 but that recording was not released until 2007. Mickey and Sylvia’s version went to #11 in early 1957 and in 2004 was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. The original soundtrack concludes with The Five Satins’ “In the Still of the Night,” one of the most popular doo-wop songs from the 50′s which went to #24 on the Hot 100 and has been covered over the years by She Na Na, the Beach Boys, Boyz II Men and Debbie Gibson among others. 

Danny Elfman – Big Top Pee Wee (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Arista, 1988

Danny Elfman – Big Top Pee Wee (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Arista, 1988