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RBR Friday Random Ten Goes to the Movies

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Greetings kids. Kleph here. Todd is busy shirking off his blogly duties hard at work at his real job and asked me to fill in again with the RBR Friday Random Ten. And much like my last time in the captain's chair, I'm gonna take you back to the the 1980s.

But this time I'm going to visit all those films that were filled with music that crawled into my soul those heady days between 1980 and 1986 or so. Let's face it, when you are young you tend to pick up a lot of your favorite music when they are in a movie and things weren't any different back then. But, you see, there was a lot more to music in movies than the sentimental scholck that John Hughes and Cameron Crow stuffed their mediocre cinematic efforts full of. And that's what this (Not So) Random Ten is all about.

So lets get crackin, why don't we? But, be warned, there's weirdness ahead...

1) Repo Man: As much as I had heard about this thing called punk back in the day there wasn’t much hardcore behind the pine curtain in north Louisiana. But then, by chance, I got a gander of Alex Cox’s 1984 masterpiece Repo Man and it's blisteringly awesome soundtrack and suddenly it all made complete sense. The album proved to be a chaotic cross section of the merry DIY madness that the Southern California punk scene bequeathed us in that era. From Iggy Pop to Fear to the Circle Jerks it covers the gamut of musical anarchy. All this and the Burning Sensations' epic cover of the Modern Lover's "Pablo Picasso."

2) Paris, Texas: I knew nothing of Wem Wenders 1983 masterpiece when I walked into the theater but I walked back out with a completely new understanding of the power of cinema. I wasn’t quite sure what had happened in the film I had just seen but I knew it was momentous. And, for the first of many times in my life, I stopped bought another ticket, and went back and saw it again. The score is an interpretation of Blind Willy Johnson’s "Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground" by slide-guitar master Ry Cooder. And it is as breathtaking beautiful as it is heartrendingly sad.


3) Something Wild: Long before whiny law enforcement trainees started bleating about loud lambs and whatnot  Johnathan Demme was making some fantastic noise with this offbeat cinematic effort. It introduced the director's famous quirky style in terms of settings as well as music (something he pulled of again with "Married to the Mob"). The soundtrack boasts a notably eclectic but always groovy selection of songs by New Order, Fine Young Cannibals, Laurie Anderson, UB40 and Sister Carol's ska-tastic version of the Trogg's "Wild Thing" is simply superb. Of course Melanie Griffith sporting the Louise Brooks bob still slays me wholly and completely every time I watch it.


4) I Was A Teenage Zombie: Fantastically low-budget cheezy flick that wears it's heart on it's undead sleeve. It's soundtrack, though, is a superb sampler of the finest alternative bands from the legendary Slash Records. With the The Del Fuegos, the Violent Femmes, The Smithereens and my beloved dB's all present and accounted for there simply is not a bad song on the soundtrack. The movie and the soundtrack both are well worth digging up.


5) URGH! A Music War: Possibly the greatest cult music film ever made. Everyone who was anyone in early-80s alternative music was included in all of their raw brutal glory. This is the first record I ever bought that truly lived up to the recommendation "PLAY LOUD!" And you better believe I did. You got XTC (a very rare live performance of these guys), Echo and the Bunnymen, the Dead Kennedys, Pere Ubu, Gang of Four and the Cramps at their most horrible twisted glory (which I fr. Legal entanglements mean this fantastic slab of musical glory will never be released for sale but you can still catch the performances on YouTube now and then before the lawyers catch wind of ‘em.


6) Valley Girl: Now this one might seem to be a bit of an orthodox selection given the others on this list but it certainly wasn't at the time. It's a great film, first off. Second, legal issues kept this soundtrack almost completely unavailable for years. It was the holy grail of second-hand records during most of the mid-80s. And while this teen film/soundtrack formula begat a legion of craptastic imitators, none could match the balance between gutless techno-pop and grungy post-punk bar rock of the era. The Plimsouls, Modern English, Gary Myrick, and the unfairly forgotten Bonnie Hayes and the Wild Combo.


7) Athens, GA—Inside/Out: In the same live music vein of the above-mentioned URGH!, this is a rarely-seen documentary of the legendary Athens, GA music scene. While the success of R.E.M. has made this place and particular era of the southern college music somewhat difficult to discern objectively from the standpoint of today, this film gives a taste of what it was like at the time. A lot of great bands show up on this effort such as Pylon, Love Tractor, Flat Duo Jets and  the Squalls that would have otherwise been completely forgotten are present and accounted for.


8) Bachelor Party: This film is one of those lamentable mid-80s sex comedies that would have gone into complete oblivion except for one single fact – it starred an up and coming Tom Hanks. While the now-megasuperstar might wish this cinematic travesty to be forgotten, it turns out it actually boasts a pretty great soundtrack. IRS Records was somehow involved and included a bunch of their artists such as R.E.M., Oingo Boingo, The Fleshtones, The Alarm and a few others. It’s worth rescuing from the bargain bin if you happen to see it. The record, not the film.


9) Rumble Fish: When Francis ford Coppola’s "Rumble Fish" was released I chalked it up as another Matt Dillon teen-boy crapfest that were so typical in the early 80s. Turns out I was way wrong. It’s a fantastic film and boasts a powerful soundtrack as composed by The Police’s Stewart Copeland. Something about the strange minimal-sounding score really appealed to my restless teenage soul and it’s lost none of its power since. A very good film (but not nearly Coppola’s best) but and absolutely excellent soundtrack.


10) Raiders of the Lost Ark: Oh. Come on. Don’t even act like this still doesn’t get you every time you hear it.