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Remembering “Soundtracks”

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image credit: billboard.com

Remember when movie soundtracks were a big deal? I’m not sure if they even make them anymore. I know movies still feature music, but I mean, when’s the last time somebody bought a movie soundtrack? Oh yeah, that could be because most people don’t buy albums anymore, let alone music. Yet I feel like soundtracks went the way of the dodo bird even before the masses started consuming their tunes via mp3 download, streaming pay services, and Youtube.

Once upon a time however, they were a big deal. In fact, many of them sold in the multi-platinums. The good folks at mentalfloss.com offered up the Top 20 selling soundtracks of all-time here:

In looking at the list you quickly realize either you or someone you know owned several of those titles. I didn’t own any of them, but I was familiar with several. The Big Chill? I listened to it years before I actually saw the movie. (Great film by the way) Titanic? I remember buying that cassette for my mom so she could blast some Celine Dion while driving her Oldsmobile. Top Gun? Hell, Kenny Loggins made a career out of highlighting soundtracks.

Personally I owned very few. Ok, ok, I once had the Rocky III soundtrack on LP record. I was seven years old and it was gifted to me for Christmas circa 1982 I think. No, in scanning through my personal collection I discovered three soundtracks. All purchased on CD back in the day. All transferred to the ipod/iphone library with the other 4,000 plus songs I have. The three films they represent took place between 1992 and 1997, aka, roughly my college years.

1) Singles – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – 1992

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all album images credited to wikipedia.org

Full disclosure, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this film from start to finish in one sitting. I believe I’ve “seen” the whole thing, but in bits and pieces. Don’t get me wrong, I like both Matt Dillon and Bridget Fonda, but I always could of cared less about this movie. If the acting was the style, the music was the substance. In this case, the substance far outweighed the style. The film certainly intended to cash in on the growing popularity of Seattle’s music scene and the soundtrack’s selections were well-chosen for the purpose. In fact, the first three tracks, Would, Breath, and Seasons, were songs by Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Chris Cornell respectively. Cornell’s band Soundgarden would contribute a number (Birth Ritual). Pearl Jam featured a second selection (State of Love and Trust). Early Seattle rockers Mudhoney (Overblown) and Screaming Trees (Nearly Lost You) were featured as well. The soundtrack even included the beautiful song Crown of Thorns from the band part of Pearl Jam was formed from…Mother Love Bone.

For a young man completely consumed by the alternative rock scene coming out of Seattle in the early 90’s, this soundtrack was wheelhouse material. An absolute have. All these years later, I still could care less about the film, but the music holds up.

 

2) The Crow – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – 1994

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I enjoyed The Crow very much. Since X-Men in 2000 there’s been seemingly hundreds of comic book movies made. Yet back in the 90’s there hadn’t been many yet. Not only do I think The Crow was good, I still think it’s better than 95 percent of the comic book movies put out there in the past 20 years. Additionally, the film featured a soundtrack that seamlessly meshed with the times. The Cure, Stone Temple Pilots, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, Violent Femmes, Henry Rollins, Helmet, and a list of other less notables, the soundtrack was one powerful beast. Robert Smith’s The Cure kicks the album off with the excellent track, Burn. It sets the tone for the rest of the record. Joined by Trent Reznor’s cover of Joy Division’s Dead Souls, these two songs mark the album’s high point.

Overall this soundtrack hasn’t aged as well with me as Singles. Now in my mid-40s I no longer possess the angst requisite for Rage Against the Machine, Pantera, and Henry Rollins. Yet in its day it was a perfect representation of the times and the soundtrack of my early college years.

 

3) Boogie Nights – Music from the Original Motion Picture – 1997

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Whereas The Crow soundtrack had its fill of darkness and angst, Boogie Nights is all about a good time. The album kicks off with Feel The Heat, the fictional track performed by Mark Wahlberg and John C. Reilly’s characters “Dirk Diggler” and “Chest Rockwell.” It features classics such as The Beach Boys’ God Only Knows, and ELO’s Livin’ Thing. Feel-good tracks include The Emotions’ Best of My Love, Marvin Gaye’s Got To Give It up, McFadden & Whitehead’s Ain’t No Stopping Us Now, and the Commodores’ Machine Gun. Then top it off with closet classics, Magnet and Steel by Walter Egan, Sister Christian (Night Ranger), and one my personal favorites, Spill That Wine (Eric Burdon & War).

Remember how the movie Boogie Nights was all about the fun and laughs until the last 30 minutes when all the characters’ lives turned to shit? Well its soundtrack is all the fun without the tragic fallout. Don’t get my wrong, it’s not some all-time great film soundtrack. But it’s one I’ve enjoyed listening to for years.

Thanks for reading,

Vic

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Albums/Songs

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