Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lost Gem of the 80s #4: Some Kind of Wonderful - Soundtrack (1986)

Hopefully, you've voted in the poll on the right. It's one of the most important questions of our generation. (I am shocked, SHOCKED, Ferris is in first and BC in last. I would have totally had that reversed). My vote went to Some Kind Of Wonderful, but when I think about why, I come back to the soundtrack. Much of my affection for the film comes from my appreciation for the mood and attitude created by the songs.

The soundtrack is a collection of songs by mostly underground bands you've probably never heard of. The biggest names are the Jesus and Mary Chain (oddly the most forgettable song on the album, though still a good one), and maybe Pete Shelley (Buzzcocks lead singer) and Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy (an early member of Duran Duran, and sort of successful solo artist), but only die hards would know who those two are. The beauty of the album is in the strength of the tunes. While they do sound unmistakably 80s, they also sound like the best the 80s underground had to offer. It manages to sound of its time, but never dated.

There was one modest hit in Flesh For Lulu's "I Go Crazy" which is still one of the greatest new wave singles of the era. Chances are you know it and don't know you know it. The rest are all mysteries with names like the March Violets, Furniture, Lick the Tins, and Apartments. It would be interesting to research each of their output beyond this soundtrack because all of it is solid. The Lick the Tins track is especially cool, a sort of Irish hootenanny version of "Can't Help Falling In Love". It starts with some Burumbi drums, then introduces one of those Irish whistles, and then the lead singer's baby girl voice. Before it ends, you get fiddles and a Pogues-like jam erupts. Genius. Another song, "Cry Like This" by Blue Room, sounds like an eerie version of "Lady In Red". That doesn't sound cool, but it is.

Sadly, two of the best songs in the film don't appear on the album for some reason. Both Propaganda's "Dr. Mabuse" and Charlie Sexton's "Beat's So Lonely" are missing. Shame since they would have complimented what is there wonderfully.

Still, this remains a near perfect sampler of 80s underground new wave. It deserves to sit in a time capsule for discovery by future generations.

The Nugget - "I Go Crazy". It's the hit that deserves to whet your appetite.

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