This movie is a mess but somehow HERC remembers liking it the first few times he watched it - but that was almost 30 years ago and it didn't hold up well during a recent viewing. Director Steve Barron had been a music video director before this movie and he went on to direct Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Coneheads yet Electric Dreams is a confusing jumble of visual styles best described by the opening line of the film's Wikipedia entry:
Electric Dreams is a 1984 British-American science fiction romantic comedy-drama film set in San Francisco, California, that depicts a love triangle between a man, a woman, and a home computer.
|1984 VHS cover|
|1991 VHS cover|
Both Siskel and Ebert threw their thumbs up for Electric Dreams when it was released. It's rated PG if that's of any consequence and it was the first major motion picture that Grease 2's "Cool Rider" Maxwell Caulfield appeared in after that star-making turn in 1982. He appears in a much smaller role here so don't get your hopes up. What's that? You didn't come here for a movie review? You want music?
The Electric Dreams soundtrack is a nice slice of mid-80s synth-pop featuring Culture Club, Heaven 17, Jeff Lynne and Phillip Oakey, better known as the male voice from the Human League. Disco producer and electronic music pioneer Giorgio Moroder, who appears on Daft Punk's new album Random Access Memories, also has two tracks on the soundtrack album as well as the collabo with Oakey. P.P. Arnold and Helen Terry round out the album's list of artists. (HERC's M!X features other songs heard in the movie as well.)
Director Barron had hoped to mimic the success of Flashdance (1983) so he hired Moroder, who had compiled that film's soundtrack, as music director for Electric Dreams. Moroder provided most of the score and came up with two instrumental tracks featured on the album and released as a single. Barron asked for an emotional song to play as the film's credits rolled and Giorgio came up with "Together In Electric Dreams". When he asked Barron who he'd like to sing it, Barron suggested Oakey, whom Barron had known since he directed the Human League's "Don't You Want Me" music video a couple of years earlier.
Released as a single, the track did well in England and on US Dance chart. Oakey and Moroder released a self-titled album together in 1985 featuring "Together In Electric Dreams" before Oakey regrouped Human League and headed off to Minneapolis to work with producers Jam & Lewis on Crash, which came out in 1986 and gave the group their second US #1 with "Human".
Another single from Electric Dreams was Jeff Lynne's "Video!" starring Lynne and Bud Cort, who provided the voice of Edgar, the computer in the film. Unlike "Together In Electric Dreams", "Video!" actually cracked the Billboard Hot 100, eventually peaking at #85. A 12" single (below) of the song released in various European countries featured an instrumental version.
Culture Club's "Love Is Love" was another single spun off of Electric Dreams. It was only released outside of the States however. It is HERC's favorite track from the album and was used extensively in the wooing of MRS. HERC. The music video is pretty funny, too:
After working with Culture Club on their first two albums, Helen Terry teamed with Giorgio Moroder for the track "Now You're Mine" from the Electric Dreams soundtrack. The single was released in the UK and Germany but failed to chart. HERC has always appreciated Terry's soulful vocals and considers her a key contributor to Culture Club's initial success. She often appeared in the group's videos and even filmed one of her own for this track:
Probably the album's most difficult single to obtain is the actual title track by P.P. Arnold. It was only released overseas and didn't make any impact on sales charts. The track was written by Culture Club's Boy George and Ron Hay and does feature guitar work by none other than Peter Frampton so it appeals to collectors of their work as well. Arnold also sang a version of "Love Is Love" which appears on the hard-to-find Electric Dreams - Video Soundtrack EP VHS tape. The way the song's video was filmed, the artist is never shown so here's the same video from above, this time with Arnold's vocals:
Thanks to DJ Paul T for his recent series of features on the music of ELECTRIC DREAMS.