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“Miami Sound Machine”

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Blogger’s note: It’s been a month since I’ve posted anything new or updated I had the unfortunate distinction of contracting the Covid-19 virus. Though my symptoms were considered ‘mild,’ the experience was no walk in the park. I’m just now getting back to feeling like myself. With that said, I wanted to get back to doing a little blogging. 

Being a school teacher, things naturally slow down in the summer. The past few summers it seems like I tackle an old t.v. show I liked back in the day and give it a fresh run. Last year I rolled through all seven seasons of Star Trek Deep Space Nine. This summer, the old show of choice was Miami Vice.

Now if you’re thinking, I thought rocktakes was a music website, what’s this guy doing talking about ’80s television? Well you see, when it comes to this particular television show, the music may very well have been the star of the show.

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Consider the following information from the Miami Vice site:

While other television shows of the time used made-for-TV music, the Miami Vice production team would spend $10,000 or more per episode to buy the rights to original recordings by contemporary artists. Getting a song played on Miami Vice became a considerable boost to both musicians and their respective record labels.

For those of you old enough to have lived 80’s t.v., or someone at least familiar with it through re-runs, you know how bad t.v. music was back then. Though it’s far more common in t.v. today, what Miami Vice was doing was downright revolutionary in those days. Nothing else on t.v. featured real music from well-known musicians the way Miami Vice did. Not even close. Whereas typical dramas feature 10-13 episodes a season these days, back then a typical season was 22-24 shows. At 10 grand-plus per episode just on the music budget, the producer’s commitment to music was palpable.

The most commonly featured musician over the show’s five-year run is often thought to be Phil Collins. Phil was featured several times. The scene featuring his song, “In the Air Tonight” in the show’s pilot episode was one of the show’s more memorable music sequence scenes.

In actuality, the artist featured the most over the show’s run was a one-time bandmate of Collins’ in the early days of Genesis….Peter Gabriel. The list of musical artists, old and contemporary at the time, featured throughout the show’s run is quite vast.

Rolling Stones
Phil Collins
Bob Marley
ZZ Top
Tina Turner
Joe Cocker
Eric Clapton
Rod Stewart
Lindsey Buckingham
Frankie Goes to Hollywood
Todd Rundgren
Pat Benatar
Glenn Frey
Bob Seger
The Police
Elvis Presley
Booker T & the MGs
George Thorogood
Peter Gabriel
Billy Ocean
Aaron Neville
Huey Lewis and the News
Lou Reed
Bryan Ferry
The Who
Dire Straits
Wang Chung
Robert Plant
Fleetwood Mac
The Doors
Ted Nugent
Mike + the Mechanics
Jimmy Cliff
Mr. Mister
Pete Townshend
Wilson Pickett
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Howard Jones
Public Image Ltd.
Jimi Hendrix Experience
Chris Isaak
Steve Winwood
The Pretenders
Lynyrd Skynyrd
John Lennon
Jackson Browne
The Who
Iggy Pop
Bon Jovi
Depeche Mode
Meat Loaf
Billy Idol
Steve Miller Band
Jefferson Airplane
The Smithereens
Bryan Adams
James Brown
Don Henley
Crowded House
Peter Cetera
The Cure
Pink Floyd
Iron Maiden
Derek and the Dominos
Guns N’ Roses
Edie Brickell
Public Enemy

Many of those artists’ songs were featured multiple times. There’s no question the presence of so many various artists’ music set Miami Vice apart from its contemporaries and probably just about any show since. Yet it wasn’t just the show’s use of other’s music that defined it.

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Who could ever forget the show’s original music scored by the Czechoslovakian Synth-God genius known as Jan Hammer? What a name and what a sound! I know one of my biggest complaints about contemporary music in the 1980’s was the overuse of synthesizers and the like. Yet when it came to Miami Vice and Hammer’s material, it just fit perfect.

I stumbled upon this video on youtube. My compliments to its poster, ‘Stat Chile.’ Granted it’s the extended version of the show’s famous theme song, not the clipped version from the opening credits people are more familiar with. I had to include it. If you lived the 80’s, you can remember this perfect level of cheese and cool-for-it’s-time that’s present here.

All kidding aside, I actually really enjoyed some of Hammer’s samplings spread out over his run working on the show. His complete Miami Vice Soundtrack contains upwards of 40 tracks I believe. A couple in particular that I always took a shine to are “Airport Swap”……..

and ‘Rain.’

Whether it be the tons of offerings from famous musicians A to Z, or the in-house work of Mr. Hammer, Miami Vice was nothing if not for the music. If there’s ever been a t.v. show worthy of analysis on a music blog site I gotta believe it’s the one that featured good ol’ Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs!

Thanks for reading this somewhat unusual yet very near and dear to my heart post!



Music Biz

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