1978 was a positively golden year for movie soundtrack albums, with something for everyone. Even dated dreck like Convoy had a star-studded soundtrack album featuring (former) Number One songs. The big soundtrack albums of 1978 were the double disc monster sellers from Grease, FM, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and Thank God It's Friday. By comparison, 1979 was not a very good year for movie soundtrack albums but the eight below have a place in my heart as well as my collection.
I saw very few films at the theater in 1979. We had gotten Home Box Office the prior year and it became our family's primary source for motion picture entertainment. Though some Saturday mornoings, my sister and I were dropped off at the Base theater for kids movies from prior years like classic Disney Kurt Russell movies or badly dubbed Pippi Longstocking imports or films about autonomous cars or giant dogs. The Summer of 1979 was spent with my Texas Grandma and it was a similar experience as she got The Star Channel that year and I binged on Animal House and other movies. Sometime in 1980, I saw an odd little film called The Wanderers. With my limited point of film reference at the time, I thought it was like Saturday Night Fever set in the early Sixties timeframe of American Graffiti and had a great soundtrack of oldies from the Sixties compiled by the films's director and the author of the book the film is based on. If memory serves, some time in the Eighties the soundtrack album was listed in a $1.99 Clearance Sale in a Columbia House mailer and I ordered, two copies - one for me and one for my Dad, who counted it as one of his three favorite oldies soundtracks, along wth American Graffiti and Mischief.
I am fairly certain I talked my parents into taking me to see Meatballs at the Base theater, which meant I convinced Mom and she convinced Dad. I loved the film and it made me really wanna go to Summer Camp until I watched Friday The 13th on The Movie Channel (formerly known as The Star Channel) the following year. I know exactly four songs on the soundtrack album and back then my favorite was "Are You Ready For The Summer?" which opened and closed the film and the soundtrack album. These days my favorite track is the dang near seven minute unique version of David Naughton's "Makin' It", a disco anthem for the ages. The included Bill Murray soundbites from the film are sweet, sweet icing on the cake. It's a shame rights issues have prevented a legitimate CD release of this soundtrack album.
Didn't I just talk about this film and it's soundtrack in a post not too long ago? Found it! Though you'll have to scroll down a little more than halfway through the post to find it. I'm about to list five soundtrack albums from 1979 that I like better than the Rock N Roll High School soundtrack and I really love this soundtrack. Instantly makes me feel at least 25 years younger when I listen to it.
The Warriors was an exciting movie to watch back in the day. Not so much for the gang violence but for the chase sequences as The Warriors tried to get back to their home turf, pursued by every other gang in the city. (Hill would explore a similar thme in 1984's Streets Of Fire, another Hideway Favorite) The music was an integral part of the viewing experience and while I never saw the soundtrack album in stores, I did order it from the Schwann Catalog as a member of the Record Club Of America. I enjoy Barry De Vorzon's instrumental themes as well as Joe Walsh's original version of "In The City" (co-written with De Vorzon) before he re-recorded it with his Eagles bandmates for The Long Run album. The Warriors soundtrack was given a lovely expanded double disc CD release by La-La Land Records in 2013 though I must admit I have only listened to the first disc. And I tried watching The Warriors: The Ulitmate Director's Cut on blu-ray when it was released a few years back and didn't make it past the first half hour. Still gonna hold onto my first time seeing it memories though.
Another hard to watch now that I am older film is Skatetown USA. But I saw it on one of the movie channels in the early Eighties and fell in love with it. My second ever eBay purchase was a copy of the movie poster you see above and that was followed a month later by a near mint condition copy of the soundtrack album. While the soundtrack album has never been released on CD, the movie has never been issued on VHS or DVD or blu-ray.
The sequel to one of my favorite movies of all time is a hard to follow, narrative mess. But I like it. It is obvious that George Lucas had zero involvement with the film on a creative level but it was through his newly enhanced clout (thanks to Star Wars) that the soundtrack album came together the way it did, a double album featuring thirty-three tracks from throughout the mid to late Sixties heard in the film which takes place on four consecutive New Year's Eves, from 1964 through 1967. Even Wolfman Jack reprises his role (in voice only) as he is heard throughout all four sides of the More American Graffiti soundtrack album.
Much like The Muppet Show, The Muppet Movie was a smartly executed, star filled and music laden tour de force that touched the hearts and tickled the funny bones of both young and old. It probably stands as my favorite G rated motion picture of all-time. The Paul Williams/Kenny Ascher score was a must-have as a pre-teen and it remains a must-own as a fifty year old. The six songs that make up Side One are classics. Well, not the Miss Piggy interludes but "Rainbow Connection", "Movin' Right Along", "I Hope That Something Better Comes Along" and "Can You Picture That?" are classics and I included those songs on mixtapes throughout the Eighties. Even when I started working at the video store in the early 90s as a father of three, whenever it was my turn to pick the flick showing in the Kids Corner, I always picked The Muppet Movie just so I could hear those songs. And when I closed down the video store in 2013, the very last film I played before dismantling the AV setup was The Muppet Movie, so now it has some bottersweet memories attached to it as well.
Over The Edge was another one of those movies I discovered on HBO. I saw it dozens of times from 1980-1981 and it left a lasting impression on me though I had never seen this particular movie poster above until researching this post. If you are thinking some sort of zombie children terrorizing a town a la Children Of The Corn, then it is giving you the wrong impression. The film is more real than that and that makes it more terrifying than any horror motif. But we're here today because of the movie's rockin' soundtrack which I first picked up in cassette form from a .99 clearance bin in 1981 or 1982, after we moved from the rural plains of Illinois to a sleepy desert metropolis in Arizona. That eleven song compilation got many, many plays in my Walkman before eventually breaking and being replaced by a vinyl copy that still occupies a place of some importance on the Vinyl Wall. According to the oral history of the film compiled by Mike Sacks in 2009 over on the VICE site, the soundtrack was entirely influenced by the music the teenaged stars of the film were listening to on set. In particular, Pamela Ludwig ("Cory") is unofficially credited as the film's music supervisor by director Jonathan Kaplan in the article. Pamlea in turn credits her unnamed boyfriend at the time, who worked as a rock roadie, for introducing her to all the music she was listening to. Kaplan said there was only one song they wanted that they ultimately couldn't afford to license:
"Teenage Wasteland" "Baba O'Riley" by The Who, which the director felt would be perfect for the film's closing scenes and end credits. Fortunately for me, they went with Valerie Carter's deeply-felt cover of "Ooh Child" and since the first time I heard it playing as the bus was loaded and driven away, it has been a favorite. None other than soundtrack master Cameron Crowe has said that the soundtrack to Over The Edge is among the best ever assembled. I give the film's soundtrack full credit for introducing me to the music of Valerie Carter and Little Feat as well as three Cheap Trick songs I was unfamiliar with at that point. My blog buddy Matt assembled the soundtrack playlist below. Thanks, Matt.
Let me know what some of your favorite soundtrack
albums from 1979 are in the comments below.