Before graphic novels, there was Heavy Metal magazine…and the movie…and yes, the movie’s soundtrack…
I subscribed to Heavy Metal magazine in the early ’80s. It was awesome. Mature oriented, thought-provoking comics. A precursor to the ’90s graphic novel era. That’s what probably best describes it. The movie was a culmination of the most popular storylines from the magazine into continuous cinematic theme. Because of my being a regular reader of the magazine, I followed the storyline fairly seamlessly. For those occasional readers…well, I guess they had to figure it out for themselves. Oh well, their loss.
To me, the syncopation of the storylines was one of the glories of the “Heavy Metal” movie. Who cares if it wasn’t a perfect melding. It was far better than I could have ever imagined; especially given the diversity of the already established sub plots.
But this isn’t about the movie. This is about the music from it. “Heavy Metal” stands as one of the greatest soundtracks of all time. Need proof? How about Sammy Hagar, Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, Stevie Nicks, Journey, Grand Funk, Nazareth, Cheap Trick…need I go on? Who cares if you saw the movie or not? Just make sure you listen to the music from it.
“War Child”, the seventh album from Jethro Tull, was originally planned to be a double album soundtrack to a black comedy of the same name. When the band couldn’t find a studio to financially back the film, the more ambitious project was scrapped and the album was trimmed back to a single record. The result was a record that has a bit more lyrical humor than prior Tull albums.
The story of the film, and of the album, to a lesser degree, revolved around a teenage girl who dies and in the afterlife has encounters with three shrewd businessmen who are actually avatars of Lucifer, St. Peter, and God.
“War Child” was received harshly by most music critics, but that didn’t stop it from debuting at the number 2 spot on the Billboard charts and earning the band another gold record. The album contains one of Jethro Tull’s biggest hits, “Bungle in the Jungle”. It also has what is quite possibly my favorite Jethro Tull song, “Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day”.
Neil Young is a deeply philosophical guy. You can tell this from the lyrics in his songs. “After the Gold Rush” is a deeply philosophical album based on the script for a deeply philosophical film of the same name. A film that was never made.
The story was one of self-discovery – an end of the world tale that revolved around psychiatrist Carl Jung’s theory that deep inside, many of us are on a quest for wholeness. Weaved into the story was the Kabbalah principle of searching for the relationship between the realm of God and one’s own mortal existence.
On a perhaps shallower, but no less gratifying level, it’s just some great music.
I’ve seen The Rocky Horror Picture Show probably more than any other movie; no other movie even comes close. If there wasn’t anything else happening on a late Friday night when I was in high school, you’d find me in the balcony at the Punch and Judy Theater in Grosse Pointe armed with a squirt gun, newspaper, flashlight, rice, and probably a few other items, ready for action.
But my appreciation for The Rocky Horror Picture Show was also about the music. The songs were written by Richard O’Brien, who also plays Riff Raff, made it my favorite movie soundtrack at the time. It still is today, and not because of the nostalgia either. The music is great rock and roll which, like the movie, is filled with sexual tension and kitschy theatrics. The perfect movie and soundtrack for any high school teen.
Although the soundtrack to The Who’s 1979 film Quadrophenia tells the same story as their original 1973 rock opera, it is definitely an album that stands apart from its predecessor. The difference doesn’t make either a better or worse record, they’re just distinctly different.
First off, because it has a film telling Jimmy’s story, the soundtrack doesn’t need to tell all the details, so there are fewer Who songs on it. Side four of the album is actually filled with other bands that had songs featured in the movie. James Brown, Booker T and the MG’s, The Ronettes, and others fill side 4.
Another difference is in the songs that appear on both albums. All of them were re-recorded and for the film and this album. The mixes are noticeably different, most of the time bringing the guitars more up front. Again, this doesn’t really make one version better than the other; just different. I really wouldn’t be able to pick a favorite between them.
There are also some several Who songs on the soundtrack that are not on the original double album. On side 3 for example, only the final track, “The Punk and the Godfather”, appears on both albums. Speaking of side 3, I probably should mention that there are a couple other bands playing on it as well, but not really. “Zoot Suit” is credited to The High Numbers, and “High Heel Sneakers” to the band Cross Section, but it’s still The Who performing them. Both are very early songs by The Who. So early in fact, that the members hadn’t fully settled on a final, permanent name for themselves.
I really have a hard time choosing which “Quadrophenia” I like better, the 1973 original or the 1979 soundtrack. Usually, when I listen to one, I end up putting the other on right after in an attempt to settle the debate in my head once and for all. It never is, but I always enjoy trying.
Terrible movie. Amazing soundtrack.
You can tell I really like an album if I have an original master recording of it. If you have a decent turntable and turntable and sound system, the dynamics of an original master recording are so much better than standard records. They were also much pricier. I only ever bought an original master recording if it was an album that I felt should never be listened to as a backdrop. Whenever it was cued up, it deserved to be appreciated.
“The Jazz Singer” was Neil Diamond at his absolute best. Well, at least the album was. The movie on the other hand… … …Let’s not go there.
“Deadwing” is essentially the soundtrack to a film that has yet to be made. Whether it ever is, remains to be seen. Steven Wilson wrote most of the songs on it as music meant to accompany a screenplay he had written with director David Bennion. Although they were unable to get funding for the film, Wilson decided to record and release the songs in 2005 as part of Porcupine Tree’s eighth album, “Deadwing”. Because he still hopes to have the film made, Wilson has never released all the details of the storyline or the concept behind the songs.
From the songs on “Deadwing”, it’s easy to deduce that the story has a somewhat dark theme to it. The album artwork was also created around the story and has that kind of feel to it and Steven Wilson has confirmed that the songs on “Deadwing” tell a ghost story of sorts. Both Wilson and Bennion have remained fairly tight-lipped about the “Deadwing” storyline, although they did make the first fifteen pages of the screenplay available on the Internet:
Reading experience part one: DEADWING script by Steven Wilson & Mike Bennion (first 15 pages)
I don’t know a lot about the movie making process, but I have to guess that as more time passes, the likelihood of the film “Deadwing” ever being made becomes slimmer and slimmer. Even if the movie never happens, I’m glad Steven Wilson decided to release “Deadwing” as an album. It would have been a tragedy to leave music this good unheard.