Here’s a very simple question for you – what is the best 1980s film soundtrack? What is your favourite? I ask this because I’ve only recently realised that I am something of a collector of film soundtracks – particularly ones from the 1980s. Obscure, obvious and all points between. You want it (or most likely you do not in fact want it) and I’ve got it!
Need to hear Sammy Hagar singing The Winner Takes It All from Over The Top? Well, I can do that. I have that record.
I have been collecting soundtrack albums to films from the 1980s for a lot longer than I had realised/am prepared to admit. I mean I knew I suffered from a collecting compulsion. I knew it was largely music-based. I knew that I was a fiend for 1980s music – particularly compilations and soundtrack albums – and it’s obvious that part of the reason I have so many 1980s soundtrack LPs is because these vinyl copies would otherwise be clogging up landfill. They’re easy to find and cheap to buy because they were clearly – at the time – bought on a whim and very quickly discarded.
Music stores and other second-hand traders, Salvation Army stores, TradeMe, garage sales – I’ve been to all and picked up a soundtrack from the 1980s (or two, or three…)
I have classical and jazz scores that evoke other eras but were made to suit a film that was released in the 1980s because that is how a particular writer/director works (for example Woody Allen’s Hannah And Her Sisters). I’ve got scores by Randy Newman and Ry Cooder because I collect everything by Randy Newman and Ry Cooder. And I have collections of pop and rock songs – compilations that tell part of the story, or try to.
Now, for this question – your favourite 1980s film soundtrack – you have to name a film that was made in the 1980s (it can’t be a 1980s-referencing film/soundtrack like The Wedding Singer or Grosse Point Blank or Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion). It also cannot be a film made in the 1980s that features a soundtrack evoking another era altogether (like The Blues Brothers or Stand By Me or Dirty Dancing).
I own copies of every soundtrack I’ve mentioned here – and hundreds more. Some to films I will probably never see. Some to films that I love. And some to films that I would probably not like at all. But you find interesting things on soundtracks – a Madonna vehicle that also houses a Scritti Politti track for example.
Lately I’ve been enjoying the soundtrack to The King Of Comedy – a really decent compilation of strong songs – and it has this great tune by Robbie Robertson. And I’m also digging Ry Cooder’s score to Johnny Handsome (a film I watched years ago because of the score).
I’ve never really questioned my attachment to collecting this music, these soundtracks. I figure, most obviously, it’s to do with the era I grew up in – the music and films I was absorbing. And because I love a bargain. Somewhere between those two ideas – and the fact that it’s a good way to collect some one-hit-wonders, some kitsch sensations and some stone-cold classics – I arrive at the fact that I’ve become obsessed with collecting 1980s soundtracks.
I’m a big fan of the Less Than Zero soundtrack.
So what’s your favourite soundtrack of 1980s music from a 1980s movie?