The Sound of Movies

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends. I hope you've all been doing well in my absence. Life has been good overall in these parts; progress is being made on the house and we are still looking at a move-in date around the end of April. In the meantime, there's always music to talk about!

Joel, Shane and Karl spoke about the Black Panther soundtrack on the last episode (Ep 161) and also Joel had brought up memorable movie soundtracks on his Twitter feed and so it got me thinking. I have always been a fan of soundtracks, ever since I was a kid and my folks bought the Star Wars soundtrack on 8-track. I used to run around the house, acting out the scenes of the movie as best as I could remember while listening to it. As I got older I began to buy myself cassette tapes of soundtracks through my parents membership to Columbia House Record Club. The earliest ones I can remember having were Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Flash Gordon (yes, the one by Queen). As I moved into high school and started to really listen to the local rock stations (hello WQFM and WLPX!) I was really digging the Heavy Metal soundtrack. As the early 80's progressed, there were lots of soundtracks that were cultural touch points (such as Beverly Hills Cop, Footloose, Miami Vice to name a few) and a few that were mega sellers (Purple Rain, Top Gun I'm looking at you). As the decade came to a close, it seemed as if the business of soundtracks was picking up, yet for the record companies it did not seem as if they were a real priority. That would change soon enough.

Enter the compact disc boom of the 90's. Sales on albums were through the roof, with everyone replacing their vinyl (and now the reverse is happening in some circles) and just embracing the format. The first soundtracks that I can remember from the early nineties that everyone needed was New Jack City (sorry, I didn't bother with it, I stuck with the soundtrack to Juice) and of course The Bodyguard. Then along comes the soundtrack to Judgment Night and for me it was a wake up call. Here was a soundtrack that had all new material (and a new concept to boot) and every song was a keeper. A year later and we had The Crow soundtrack. In my eyes this one has not aged very well, but at the time it had new songs from Rage Against The Machine, Pantera, Rollins Band, and Helmet - all of which were in my wheelhouse. And the record companies saw this and decided that "alternative" rock soundtracks were the way to go. Soundtracks became mixtapes and ways for record collecting obsessives (read: me) to get hard to find tracks and b-sides not readily available. Just about every movie had at least something for the collectors to find. Let's take for instance: The Jerky Boys soundtrack. On this one alone you had a  DJ Hurricane track credited to him, but really featured the Beastie Boys. You had Tom Jones singing the Lenny Kravitz tune "Are You Gonna Go My Way" (don't laugh, it was pretty good, if memory serves) as well as cover tunes from L7 and Helmet. And lots of soundtracks did this. It got to the point that even if I wasn't remotely interested in the movie I'd still buy the soundtrack for the music. Of course, there were the soundtracks that merely curated older music, but did it well - such as the soundtrack to Dazed & Confused. In my mind, the best soundtracks mixed the two, giving you a wide range of music to try. The boom lasted through the early 00's but occasionally you'll find the very well done soundtrack these days (Baby Driver comes to mind).

In no particular order, my top 5 soundtracks:

Pulp Fiction, From Dusk Till Dawn, Grosse Pointe Blank, Return of the Living Dead, and Clerks.

Be sure to leave comments here or on the Discord app as to what your favorites are!!

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Barrence Whitfield & The Savages: Soul Flowers Of Titan More garage rock and soul from the madman himself, Barrence Whitfield! His soulful vocals mesh with (ex-Lyres axeman) Peter Greenburg's guitar, Tom Quartilli's saxophone and the best rhythm section in the business to bring you an album full of goodness. Lots of 50's style rockers with a lowdown, dirty feel reminiscent of Andre Johnson. It all builds to a climax, ending with a great soul song called "Say What You Want". This is one of those soul ravers that starts off slow, then builds to a cathartic release. Really, just a perfect way to end an album. (RIYL: The Dirtbombs; The Sonics; Andre Johnson; Wilson Pickett; Howlin' Wolf)

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Judas Priest: Firepower The return of the Metal Gods!! Rob Halford and company deliver the goods (see what I did there?) with their first new album in 4 years. I've been a fan of Priest since my freshman year of high school, but most of the current albums have left me cold. There's nothing wrong with them, they just don't match up to their strongest output. This new album though! I hesitate to say "return to form" but it's damn close. The album itself is a little long - they could have cut three or four songs and it would have been stronger - but there are some killer tunes on here. Rob Halford's voice hasn't lost a step, the guitars are on fire, the rhythm section is rock solid. With Glenn Tipton's recent revelation that he has Parkinson's disease, it could be that what we are hearing on this album could be his last recorded work. Hopefully not, but he is definitely not touring with them this time out. Even with that piece of news, he has some great riffs and tasty solos to marvel at here. Highly recommended! (RIYL: classic Priest; Iron Maiden; New Wave Of British Heavy Metal classics) 

Current Listening: Jimi Hendrix Both Sides Of The Sky; Greta Van Fleet From The Fires; The Regrettes Attention Seeker EP; Mudhoney Piece Of Cake