Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The Dark Ages.

Streets Of Fire (1984)

Ghostbusters (1984)

Footloose (1984)

Top Gun (1986)

I think the next major stage in my musical development must have come at the hands of the movie soundtrack explosion in the early '80s. Sure, some radio had begun to filter into my ears -- and some of it was so racy that my babysitter had to cover my ears (cue The J. Geils Band’s “Centerfold” right about now) and that song about Johnny coming out to an empty garden to play got turned up every time it came in over the FM dial—but what truly marks this time in my musical development would be my discovery of the soundtrack.

To a little kid with not too much cash to his name, the soundtrack was an endless sampler of musical talent culled from my favorite movies of the time. The Jim Steinman led Fire Inc.’s rumbling anthems, Kenny Loggins both ushering me into the danger zone and teaching me how to cut loose, footloose and put on my Sunday shoes and Ray Parker Jr. and a dazzling array of celebrities invited me to call up the Ghostbusters. In retrospect a lot of these tunes were total crap. Hell, most soundtracks only have one or two good pop tunes on them and then an endless sea of filler that plays for three or four seconds in the background of a scene because the label needed to get the band some exposure. At least that’s the way it was in the ‘80s but I’m sure labels don’t do that sort of anything anymore in out illuminated world.


The main influence I think soundtracks had on me was getting me to accept various musical styles, side by side, as being equally worth my attention. It’s cheesy but impressive that Streets Of Fire mixed bombastic rock, doo-wop and ballads and to a kid that was pretty freakin' cool.

Jesus Christ Superstar (1971)

This is my musical grail...I can't even write about it. One day I will play Judas and get to sing those songs.

Let's move on.

Michael Jackson Thriller (1982)

Huey Lewis and the News Sports (1983)

Madonna Like A Virgin (1984)

Prince Purple Rain (1984)

Bruce Springsteen Born In The U.S.A. (1984)

Now we really begin to enter the world of albums. I was now growing addicted to both the radio and my walkman but the biggest development here was the idea of an extended long playing piece of work by a single artist actually being appealing.

I think Queen's soundtrack to Flash Gordon might have helped bridge this gap.

My taste was still crap but it was slowly improving. I had begun to grasp the important tools to separate pop from pap and was beginning to flex my own consumer dollar to reinforce my beliefs. Unfortunately this was in the days before SoundScan so my consumer vote was thwarted at every corner but dishonest retailers and shady accounting. No matter.

The above albums are really the first ones I can remember playing until they were nearly worn out. I owned both Thriller and Sports on vinyl and cassette tape so I could listen to them everywhere. As a matter of fact this is where cassettes begin to rule my life as I would sit next to my parent’s television, gaze into the ol' MTV and hold my little tape recorder up to the speaker to tape the songs I loved the most. “Goonies,” Don’t Come Around Here No More,” “We’re Not Gonna Take It”…it was here that my love of the mix-tape found its seed and it was here that I learned the lengths I would go through just to possess that…one…song…I just had to I would sit up until 3 A.M. waiting for the new Murray Head video to come on so I could tape that damn song about Bangkok…

QUERY: Just who the hell was Johnny and why was DeBarge constantly asking about him? Loved the song but I guess I never paid much attention to the lyrics…

ADDENDUM: Kick. I'm not sure how this missed the original cut when this series first ran in 2004. Maybe the headspace of that guy was just overlooking that very important album as he tried to look cool? I doubt it—there's plenty in this series that makes me look like the dork I am. I think the most obvious explanation is I hadn't recently listened to the INXS catalog for pleasure at the time, though I know they made MANY appearances in my DJ sets.

I suspect I'll wrote something longer next week about INXS in general, since the 30th anniversary of Kick has resurfaced, erm, a LOT. But for now, let's readjust my 2004 timeline and admit that INXS firmly fits within this era as having a profound effect on me.

Original version of this post published on January 13, 2004

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