Category: movie soundtrack

“The Decline of Western Civilization” 1980. Slash Records. Today, November 7th, is Alice Bag’s birthday (b. Alicia Armendariz, 1958) and the only recording we have of her and her band, The Bags/Alice Bag Band, is on this soundtrack from the film directed by Penelope Spheeris which documented the ‘79-’80 LA punk scene. Quite recently I read Alice Bag’s autobiography Violence Girl (from Feral House publishing) and it was a can’t-put-it-down read. She was an integral part of the LA music scene, starting off as a super-fan of David Bowie, Freddie Mercury and Elton John before starting her own band and hanging out with members of the Germs, The Weirdos, etc. She spends a short chapter describing her experience with the recording of the track (“Gluttony”) for Decline of Western Civilization: “The filming of the performance was an ordeal. It was supposed to be a live show, but because several bands were being filmed and there were five bands on the bill, it became a marathon. Fights broke out backstage as people tried to change the order of performance. In a small are overflowing with testosterone, I was the only woman and nobody was fucking with me…We were nearly out of steam even before we went on. The show had gone on far too long. The film crew was packing up equipment, members of the audience looked spent and it was hard to get excited about playing, but we went out and tried to revive the night. I knew it wasn’t our best show, but it wasn’t our worst, either.”

The soundtrack features several other prominent LA punk bands (all filmed at various locations and dates from December 1979 through May 1980). There’s a great version of “White Minority” by Black Flag, a messy version of “Manimal” by the Germs (are there any versions of any Germs live songs that aren’t messy?) and X play a really excellent set that includes “Beyond and Back,” “Johny Hit and Run Paulene” and “We’re Desperate.” Circle Jerks have four songs (the best “Back Against the Wall”) and Fear have three including “I Don’t Care About You,” “I Love Livin’ In the City” and “Fear Anthem.” There’s also a song by Catholic Discipline (“Underground Babylon”) but I never really heard much by them beyond this record and don’t care for that track. 

Wayne Strange & Tim Stoney – Resurrection Of The Night: Alucard’s Elegy | Materia Collective | 2019 | Red Translucent with Black Swirl

Orchestral arrangements of music from Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night

Midsommar OST by Bobby Krlic (aka The Haxan Cloak)

“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. 

First Man Soundtrack signed by composer Justin Hurwitz. Art by Marc Aspinall.

“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. 

Soundtrack from “Sixteen Candles,” the movie released on this date, May 4th, 1984. Like most who were teens in the 80′s, Sixteen Candles was one of my favorite movies and may or may not be partially responsible for the name of my kid (Jake Ryan = swoon). While the 5-song mini album is nowhere near the level of John Hughes’ epic Pretty In Pink music selections, there are a couple of strong tracks including punk godmother Patti Smith’s “Gloria” and The Thompson Twins’ “If You Were Here.” The other tracks are basically filler: “16 Candles” by the Stray Cats (not their best song), “Hang Up the Phone” by Annie Golden and “Geek Boogie” by Ira Newborn and the Geeks (though this last one makes me smile a bit because it reminds me that Sixteen Candles was my first introduction to John Cusack and I love John Cusack). John Hughes was totally dialed in to teenage popular culture as evidenced by all of the music that appeared in Sixteen Candles that didn’t make it to the soundtrack including “Happy Birthday” by Altered Images (my favorite birthday song ever), “True” by Spandau Ballet, “Little Bitch” by The Specials, “Turning Japanese” by The Vapors, “Young Guns” by Wham!, “Rebel Yell” by Bily Idol, “Young Americans” by David Bowie and “Tenderness” by General Public. 

“Pretty in Pink” soundtrack, the film released on this date, February 28th, 1986. One of the best soundtracks from the 80′s (and on many best-of-all-time lists): The Smiths, Echo & the Bunnymen, OMD, INXS, New Order and of course the title track “Pretty in Pink” by The Psychedelic Furs who re-recorded it for the movie, jazzing it up from the original (the song provided John Hughes with a bit of inspiration for the movie). The Smiths’ “Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” is one of my favorites, and one of their most aching, which is no small feat for The Smiths. I also love Echo’s “Bring on the Dancing Horses” which they recorded specifically for Pretty in Pink; it appeared a few months earlier in November ‘85 on their Songs to Learn & Sing comp.  INXS’ “Do Wot You Do” is classic mid-80′s Listen Like Thieves era INXS: big, stomping beats, saxophone and Michael Hutchence’s sultry voice. I think “Left of Center” was the first time I heard Suzanne Vega; she’d manage to irritate the hell out of me later with the inescapable “Luka” in ‘87. While I generally like New Order, “Shell Shock” is not one of my favorites on the soundtrack – I think it’s the vocals that grate on me – nor do I particularly care for “Wouldn’t It Be Good” by Danny Hutton Hitters or Belouis Some’s “Round, Round.”

But it’s Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark’s “If You Leave” that holds the most nostalgia. I was in 9th grade, the last year at my junior high, when Pretty in Pink came out. Though I was new to the school that year, I had somehow managed to get myself elected onto the student council (it wasn’t that hard – I think like 40 students from each grade were voted in) and one of our tasks was to organize the Farewell Dance that happened in late spring. I suggested Farewell’s theme song be “If You Leave” and the council agreed. Heavily influenced by the movie, I found my aunt’s flouncy blue prom dress from the late 50′s or early 60′s in our attic and decided to wear it to the dance (though unlike Molly Ringwald,I didn’t do any fancy reconstruction) and pair it with my spiky hair, ripped tights and black boots. The look would complement the blue hair of the beautiful punk rock boy I had asked to be my date for the dance. I never got to wear it – beautiful punk rock boy canceled the night before so I stayed home “sick” the next day to avoid the humiliation of being ditched at the dance. (In hindsight I guess I am grateful he had the grace to call and not just leave me hanging.) 

If you leave, don’t leave now
Please don’t take my heart away
Promise me just one more night
Then we’ll go our separate ways

We’ve always had time on our sides
But now it’s fading fast
Every second
Every moment
We’ve got to, we’ve gotta make it last

I touch you once I touch you twice
I won’t let go at any price
I need you now like I needed you then
You always said we’d still be friends someday

If you leave
I won’t cry
I won’t waste one single day
But if you leave, don’t look back

I’ll be running the other way
Seven years went under the bridge
Like time was standing still
Heaven knows what happens now
You’ve got to, you’ve gotta say you will

I touch you once, I touch you twice
I won’t let go at any price
I need you now like I need you then
You always said we’d meet again

I touch you once I touch you twice
I won’t let go at any price
I need you now like I need you then
You always said we’d still be friends

I touch you once I touch you twice
I won’t let go at any price
I need you now like I need you then
You always said we’d meet again someday

If you leave
If you leave
If you leave
Don’t look back
Don’t look back

Hellraiser score by Christopher Young

The Eyes of My Mother score by Ariel Loh